Meeting and losing a virtual friend

When I started blogging and uploading photos more than a year ago, there was one thing I didn’t really consider: that I would make friends with people I’d never met, and I would lose one to sudden death. “Meeting” people from all over the world has been one of the best parts of blogging for me. It’s so cool to hear how everyone is living their days in places like South Africa, Spain, France, Switzerland, etc. I even get to see daily photos on a photography site.

I’ve already blogged about Molly, the extraordinary journalist I came to know on the photography site. Her last journal entry has turned into a place of remembrance. There are many, many messages of condolence, and the number of page hits was over nine thousand the last time I looked. It’s the strangest, nicest thing.

Since my last post about Molly, I’ve learned that she was even more extraordinary than I knew. Molly was born in South Dakota, but grew up in Santa Monica and married a man from one of the oldest families in Scotland. She made vague references to downsizing from a larger place in Scotland to their house in Tuscany, but I never suspected the former home was this:

photo from

Fingask Castle was built by Partick Bruce in 1594, according to the castle website. The ancestors of Molly’s husband, the Threiplands, “first came to Fingask at the end of the 16th Century, when Partick Threipland married a Miss Bruce. The Bruces had lived at Fingask since at least the 14th Century. During the 18th Century Fingask was plundered and occupied by Government Dragoons.”

The castle was repurchased by Molly’s husband in 1968. He has the title of baronet. According to the website, visitors have included James VIII in 1716, Bonny Prince Charlie in 1745 and Sir Walter Scott. One of the baronet’s ancestors was Bonny Prince Charlie’s physician.

Molly did a photo series on artifacts like Roman coins and Jacobite objects, but no one seemed to find it unusual. I remember thinking, “Not many people have stuff like this,” but Molly often talked about how she got things really cheap at tag sales. I even commented that one of Molly’s photos could be in a very nice catalogue. Little did I know that many of the things in the castle were auctioned off by Christie’s when it was sold.

I learned something else about Molly that really surprised me: her age. She was eighty-five! Let me tell you, she was the youngest octogenarian I ever encountered. Molly was so savvy about photography and computers. What kills me is that she had just bought a new computer and only got to use it a couple of days. Molly even designed the labels for their olive oil business and printed them herself. She would often talk about traipsing all over the Tuscan countryside to get the shot she wanted. Please let me be like that when I’m her age.

I know there are people who’ve met some creeps on line, but I was lucky enough to cross paths with a person who was truly interesting, humble and kind. I hope someone writes a book about her one day. In my opinion, Molly’s story is worth telling.

Great weekend, everyone….

{ms. pearl}

About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
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12 Responses to Meeting and losing a virtual friend

  1. 36x37 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Ms. Pearl. It’s hard to explain to non-bloggers that the bonds we form online are true ones. I’m glad Molly received a posthumous outpouring of sympathy. I’ll bet that means everything to the people she left behind. She sounds like she was a special and unusual woman. Hugs to you from Columbus.

    • So good to see you again, Maura! I really miss reading your blog and hope you start up again. Maybe after the summer’s done?

      Molly had a lot of followers on the photo site, and 7000+ followers on twitter, so she touched a lot of lives.

  2. flyinggma says:

    Thanks for sharing this interesting story Ms Pearl. I’d love to see the inside of the castle, any castle some day.

    • According to the website, Fingask Castle is the site of many weddings and the Fingask Follies (music and dinner in the castle). I would suggest seeing the castles in the Loire Valley in France, Jeanne–they are spectacular.

  3. Caroline says:

    Thanks for sharing this fascinating life story. I thought she was still a young woman. There are some extraordinary and humble people out there. That’s so good to know.

  4. Lady Jennie says:

    It IS worth telling. Thank you so much for sharing this, I find it fascinating and sad that the world no longer has Molly.

    • Thanks, Jennie. I think so too. Even at an advanced age, Molly still had so much she wanted to do. I keep thinking of a photo of her brand-new monitor on her desk overlooking the Tuscan countryside. I hope I get more warning than that, y’know?

  5. jacquelincangro says:

    What a lovely and touching tribute, Ms. Pearl. I’m heading over to Molly’s site now. She sounds like an inspiring and fascinating woman. And I agree that she’s an example of how to grow old gracefully.

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