I fell in love with Sybil, the youngest daughter of the Crawley family on the TV series, Downton Abbey. Born into an aristocratic, wealthy family in Yorkshire, England, yet she went to nursing school, and helped care for the wounded soldiers who had returned from the war. Many servants worked and resided in the huge, magnificent castle in which Sybil grew up, and she treated them all as equals. The head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, described Sybil as “the sweetest spirit under this roof”. She helped one housekeeper named Gwen, with her dream of getting a job as a secretary. And, much to the family’s chagrin at first, she pursued a romance with their Irish chauffeur Tom, and they ran off to marry in Ireland, and got involved in egalitarian political activity, which was quite contrary to the Crawley’s way of life.
Eventually the Crawleys accepted Sybil and Tom’s union, and the couple returned to England to live at Downton, and Tom became an important part of the family. Just as everything seemed set up for living happily ever after, Sybil gave birth to a daughter, but tragically died hours later of eclampsia, with Tom and the family at her side. I was utterly devastated by her death, and grieved for several weeks. This might seem an excessive reaction from just a TV show, but such is the emotional pull of Downton Abbey. The characters and story are masterfully woven and presented, and I became completely immersed in their world. To assuage my sorrow, I wrote a little piano piece, which I called “RIP, Sybil”.
With the expert help of my niece, Zoë Reed, and Zack Philipps of Tribeswell, I created a Ken Burns-ish style video slideshow of pictures of Sybil and her family, to accompany the music.
And if you haven’t already, watch Downton Abbey!