The Associated Press, April 27, 1962, tells how in Belmont, California, a lifetime secret was shared too late and how two sisters who vowed never to part, died together.
The inseparable Ellis sisters—75-year-old Buena, 84-year-old Aline—still had flecks of gold in their white hair. These hinted of bygone days when they were very blonde, very young and very pretty.
Thirty years ago, a brain operation reverted Buena to childhood mentality. Thereafter she called Aline "mother" and was obsessed by the fear Aline might leave her. Aline never did. They always were together, in one rest home after another. But Aline got to feeling so bad that she called a sanitarium. "Turn this way, dear," Aline said, helping Buena out of the car at the sanitarium entrance. "Yes, mother," Buena obeyed. Then—"You won't leave me, will you?" "Of course not," Aline assured. "I told you we could never be separated, didn't I?"
Aline always carried a purse which she never allowed anyone to touch. She said it contained a family heirloom. The purse was in her hand when she and Buena went for a walk in the sanitarium garden after lunch. It was open when sanitarium officials later found the bodies of the two sisters in a garage. Both had been shot in the head. In Aline's hand was the family heirloom—an ancient, nickel-plated .38-caliber revolver.
Perhaps—for one of them, at least—death was armed with a new terror. If that pistol could talk, I wonder what it would say. I wonder if it could say what Whitman wrote about "the hands of the sisters, death and night, incessantly, softly wash again and ever again, this soiled world." And I wonder if one sister could truly say:
Come, lovely and soothing death,
Undulate around the world,
Serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate death.