The Things That Money Can’t Buy

It may be seven years old, but Pixar’s movie “Up” has finally struck a chord with the whole of the Virardi family!

The 2009 animated feature has managed to create a roller-coaster of emotions for my wife Christine and our son Rolando as well as for me. We love it so much that we have seen the whole movie 10 times and watched the “Up” trailer more than a 100!

If you haven’t seen it and you’re thinking that I seem to have become rather over-excited about a children’s film just bear in mind that “Up” made over $735 million in cinemas around the world.

Knowing that many writers and directors are inspired by a real person or a true story, I began digging to find out how this particular one came about. Lo and behold I did discover a real story that has partly inspired the writers of the movie.

The true story behind Edith Macefield

In 2006, an 84-year-old American woman called Edith Macefield refused an offer of $1 million to leave her house in the Ballard neighbourhood of Seattle where she had lived for almost 60 years. Property developers wanting to create new retail and office space had managed to gain all the land they wanted, apart from the 100 square metre plot on which her 106-year-old former farmhouse stood. In the end, the developers were forced to awkwardly erect their tall new buildings around Edith’s home.

Both Edith and the house became a symbol of courage, of standing up to corporate giants but, in truth, she did not like the worldwide attention she received for just wanting to stay put in her home. It wasn’t about “standing up to corporate America”. She simply didn’t want to leave the house that she had lived in since 1952 when she moved there to take care of her ailing mother. In her own words “it contained six decades of memories…”

The connection with ‘Up’ was made clear in 2009 when a clever local publicist affixed balloons to Edith Macefield’s house to promote the Pixar movie. It was a year after her death so she never saw the film and, ironically, in another of those “strange but true” incidents, she left the house in her will to the supervisor of the project that had tried to displace her. Barry Martin was one of several construction workers who got to know her and would often drop in to check that she was OK. His kindness was definitely rewarded.

Edith Macefield was a very private person and she would doubtless be surprised to know that on the arms of several people in Seattle is a tattoo of her house created by a local artist in her honour. What’s more, you can drink a cocktail named after her at a local bar; and the Macefield Music Festival attracts a crowd of several thousand people every year. All this, because an elderly woman stood up for her beliefs, her rights and her memories and she refused to be bought, even for $1 million.

Her determination reminded me of a poster that I saw recently. It read, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.”

Here is a list of 20 such things that I have counted and still there are many more.

Read down and feel ‘rich’!

  1. Love
  2. Manners
  3. Good friends
  4. Respect
  5. Character
  6. Common sense
  7. Trust
  8. Patience
  9. Class
  10. Integrity
  11. Peace of Mind
  12. Wisdom
  13. Happiness
  14. Humility
  15. Talent
  16. A Positive attitude
  17. Luck
  18. Morals
  19. An aim in life
  20. Great memories