An Ojai Widow
After the death of her husband John after 65 years of marriage, Rose moved from her home in Santa Monica to Ojai, California to live with her son John Jr. and his wife, Trudy and daughter Lizzy and son Chris. J.J. was a businessman and professor at UC Santa Monica. Trudy was a stay at home mom with a very active Lizzy and Chris.
Rose become interested in pottery and art. It was a way to spend her spare time, and forget her grief. Trudy took Rose to art shows to display her pottery.
The grandchildren loved being around Rose. They loved her stories of her adventures as a young woman living in Santa Monica and a brief stint as a silent film actress.
"Grandma tell us about how you and Grandpa met." asked a young Lizzy.
"We met in Santa Monica in the May of 1922. I was working as an extra in silent films, and supplementing my income working as a photographer. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant as our 1st date. He proposed to me a few months later then we married and moved to Cedar Rapids."
Jackie still kept in contact with Rose. Her and husband, Steven traveled the world as journalists for major magazines and newspapers. They had two children, Steven Junior and Madeleine. Jackie taught school for a short time before settling down to raise children then took up writing to follow her husband when the children were grown.
Rose kept busy, and the family dwindled little by little in size. She enjoyed her pottery and the many dogs kept as pets at the home. She had several Pomeranians and an Irish Setter. She also enjoyed her goldfish too.
She stayed at home dressed in simple Indian-Asian style dresses and jewelry to work on pottery creations. She enjoyed good health and luck. Lizzy ensured that "Nana" Rose always had what she needed. Lizzy took a job as a writer for a magazine that allowed her to work from home and help Rose as was needed.
Lizzy will never forget the day (April 1996) when her "Nana" told her to "turn that up dear" when Brock Lovett was discussing the TITANIC expedition.
"I’ll be God Damned", Rose said when the drawing was shown on TV. It was she on that the piece of paper on an April night 84 years before. Rose’s story is in the journals and stories to follow.
Lizzy was going through Rose’s things after her death and burial with her Aunt Jackie and Uncle John, Rose’s surviving children. They came across a wooden trunk with many things in it. Among them was a long black man’s wool coat, a white and pink chiffon dress, a pair of art deco pearl earrings, several boxes of photos, and envelopes containing letters from her family and copies of letters written to members of her family that she kept and treasured.
Lizzy took out the envelopes with the letters in the letter and began to read them to the family gathered around her. Here are the letters as Rose and others wrote them.
From the desk of Mrs. Rose D. Calvert
April 15, 1996
To my darling Lizzy:
Thank you dear for taking me in when your mom was placed in a rest & care home. I really liked that you were always there for me and Freddy (the dog).
In my trunk, are many journals and letters. Please read them carefully and treasure them. Do show them to your nieces and nephews, and any other relatives, as they are part of our family history. I did not have courage prior to our trip to tell you about my life prior to meeting your grandfather. Once you read everything, you will understand my dear.
I will leave you with a last word, "Make each day count." If you can, find a husband and make babies so that they will know my stories. Please let Mr. Lovett know I appreciate his kindness in allowing my story not to go untold.
Do make sure nothing happens to my pictures and my mementos. I will go to Jack soon. I had a dream where your grandfather John told me to go to him.
Goodbye and love always,
Nana (Rose Dawson Calvert)
April 30, 1996
The Akademik Keldysh
North Atlantic Ocean
Dear Mr. Brock Lovett:
Thank you for allowing my grandmother to share her stories before her passing. I was glad that I got to hear it. If you come out to California, I will show you some of Nana’s (Rose’s) belongings and other things before the estate reading in May.
I really enjoyed your company and those aboard the Keldysh. Please pass this news to them.
I wish you continued success in your TITANIC expedition and anything further you may do.
Do remember to make each day count! My grandmother ensured that I would do that always!
With much fondness and remembrance,
Ms. Elizabeth (Lizzy) R. Calvert
From the desk of Ms. Jacqueline Dawson
January 15, 1965
Steven and I are in Paris. It is a beautiful city. I am covering the spring fashion shows for several major designers. We will be here for a few weeks then we are going to Milan, Italy. Steven surprised me with a beautiful necklace while we ate at a wonderful old café for our anniversary. Madeleine joined us in Paris for a brief time with her fiancé Jerry, a newscaster. She will be getting married in April. Steven called us from his home in Florida. He is doing well in the law firm.
Thank you for the present of a necklace and money for my birthday. Steven took me for dinner to a beautiful century old restaurant along the Seine to celebrate my birthday.
Please get your journals together so that I can type them up so that they can be preserved.
With love from your eldest,
Mr. James Calvert
Frankfurt, West Germany
Sorry I haven’t written in sometime. The Navy can keep you busy. I have been doing a variety of things. I am glad that I can retire soon so I can spend more quality time with Jacob and my wife, Emily. He does seem to enjoy the traveling though. He likes to brag that he has been to 3 or 4 continents in addition to North America. Emily misses California but she loved Europe though.
Jackie wrote me recently. Shortly after she sent a letter to you, she came to Frankfurt, Germany with her husband for a brief visit. I will be coming home in the summer. My retirement papers go through in August.
With much love to all,
From the desk of Mrs. Rose D. Calvert
January 15, 1985
To my darling Jackie:
I want to tell you more about your father. Please do not tell anyone else about this letter until after I am gone to heaven. I wish I told you more about it but I never wanted to bring up the topic. I regret it to this day.
I met your father, Jack Dawson, aboard a steamship TITANIC. He saved my life after I tried to kill myself by throwing myself off the ship. He was caring and kind unlike my fiancé, Cal Hockley. I thanked him for saving my life the next day. He was an artist who traveled the world and was fabulously talented. He wanted me to experience many things like riding horses in the surf, riding roller coasters, and more. I wanted to deny my feelings initially because no man seemed so real. Cal invited to dinner where he told his story. Afterward, we went to a 3rd class party where there was great music, dancing, and beer. Then, we strolled the deck some more then I had to leave.
On Sunday, April 14, I had breakfast with Cal and we argued again. Then my mother forbade me from seeing Jack again. Jack approached me after Divine Services to convince me to stay with him. I turned him down but deep down I wanted Jack more than Cal. Eventually I changed my mind, and went to see Jack at the bow of the ship. We were inseparable for the remaining hours up to the iceberg collision that I witnessed. He drew my portrait, and then we ran through the ship to the cargo hold where we became 1 flesh literally in a maroon Renault. We were separated after Cal tried to frame him for stealing my necklace. Then I rescued him from certain death in a room where he was cuffed. I was placed in a boat by Cal but I was unwilling to leave or stay. I got out, and rejoined your father. We stayed together through the end. He saved my life by placing me on a large piece of wood floating in the water. He died about 20 minutes later due to freezing water. I promised him that I would go on with my life and have children. The Carpathia rescued me. In New York, I told immigration my name was Rose Dawson. Then Molly Brown saved me by getting clothes and a place to stay. Then I made my way to California where I kept promises to your father to do things we would have done together.
In case you wonder, his gravestone is in the Chippewa Falls Cemetery. I got it a few months after the sinking. Do not tell anyone about it until after I am gone!
With love from your mother,
From the desk of Mrs. Rose D. Calvert
Lizzy, Jackie, and the rest of my family:
My name before coming to America was Rose Dewitt Bukater. If you read my other letters and journals, they will explain everything to you. I changed my last name after the sinking of the TITANIC. Sorry to keep this secret from you but my life as a Bukater is no longer.
I will always be a Dawson-Calvert as long as I live! The Heart of the Ocean necklace has returned to the bottom of the Atlantic to be with Jack my true love. Soon, I will rejoin him for eternity. I keep having dreams what will be and what should have been. I loved your father dearly, but my heart always has the largest spot for Jack.
Mom (Rose Dawson Calvert)
Lizzy finally read Rose’s final will and testament that she added to while on the Keldysh. It was very simple and written on plain paper:
"I, Rose Dawson Calvert, give my worldly possessions to be divided equally among my living children and grandchildren.
To my granddaughter Lizzy, please keep my pictures and Freddy the dog. My monetary savings are to be donated to charities supporting the arts and freedom. Those things that were retrieved from the TITANIC please keep and tell my story to the world.
Please bury me at sea so that I may be reunited with Jack. I had a dream where your grandfather told me to go to him and he was there waiting for me on the Titanic’s grand staircase.
Love to all,
Nana & Mom"
Lizzy kept the promise to share Rose’s story to her family and friends. Everyone would be thoroughly touched by the story that had courage, love, cowardice, and more in it. Many were reduced to tears when Lizzy told it. It had special meaning to Lizzy’s Aunt Jackie since she got the chance to learn more about her biological father that she would have wanted to meet.
Lizzy would marry 6 months later to a man named Jack. They named their only children (twins) Jack Junior and Rose in remembrance of the young lovers aboard TITANIC. She did this to keep their memories alive. Lizzy knows that Rose and Jack’s spirits keep an eye on them at all times.