[This is Part 5 of a series on Norwich State Hospital and its effect on my family. To start at the beginning, go to Part 1.]
After the incident in which she threw her dentures down the toilet, Graziella’s condition steadily declined. The notations in her record appeared less frequently after that, sometimes months apart. It seemed that the hospital staff had given up on her. In March of 1910, she was transferred to a ward for disturbed patients, in a building called North D which was later renamed Dix.
Graziella never got better. In December 1910, after a short illness, she died at Norwich State Hospital.
One of the things that bothered me most about Graziella’s case was that there was no notation in her patient record of
- why they decided to pull all her teeth,
- when the procedure took place,
- and whether Philippe was contacted for permission.
I find it very suspicious that up to that time, there were frequent notations on her condition and then there was a significant gap around the time her teeth were extracted. It seemed like the hospital staff was trying to cover up their mistake.
The family secret that that came out of Graziella’s patient record was that Philippe hadn’t left her and returned to Canada, causing her to go insane. He was with her when she became mentally ill and visited her regularly. There are letters in her correspondence file in which he asked the Superintendent about her condition and when she could come home. He last saw her the day before she died, when he brought a Catholic priest to her to administer last rites.
However, Philippe had not been faithful to her while she was in the hospital and he disappeared from her children’s lives after she died. I found an article in the Norwich Bulletin from 1910 in which he was accused of stealing a necklace. His accomplice was a woman with whom he was living in Norwich.
I believe that to avoid telling the children about this scandal, Graziella’s family come up with the story that Philippe had deserted them and gone back to Canada — a story passed down to Mom, and then to me. Using newspaper reports and census records, I found out where he really went. You can find out the answer to this question in the blog post I wrote called “Family Myth Busting.”
Coming next: “Beatrice’s Story.“