The name of the house, now, I think is associated with the sort of graying old old age, or perhaps the fading of something once bright and lovely (a sort of candle being snuffed). However, the actual name for the estate came from its former owner, Anita Hill, the author of Forty Years of Gardening. She wrote that the estate was “truly a gray garden. The soft gray of the dunes, cement walls and sea mists gave us our color scheme as well as our name.” She allowed only pale flowers on the ground, which added to its ghostly quality.
And so Edie stayed there, for a long time. The rooms became filthy. Animals began defecating behind antiques. Big Edie began to take in dozens of cats and raccoons as pets. They stopped going out and began having groceries – like canned liver pate – delivered, whcih they fed to the animals as well as themselves.
Little Edie seemed to revert to an almost infantile state. She later told Gail Sheehy while walking on the beach near Grey Gardens:
“Mother never allows me to show myself on the beach after summer, but `this fall I had to come out…Shall I tell you what I’ve done for twenty years? Fed cats. Mother wouldn’t let me go around with American men, they were too rich and fast. She was afraid I’d get married. Nothing has happened in twenty years, so I haven’t changed in any way.”
I know that we all grew up watching One True Thing but, I will say, be really careful about moving home to take care of your mother. Especially if your mother is going to live for a few decades.