Remember the first time you watched Up, feeling completely and utterly tricked by Pixar? Remember seeing the preview, believing it was another fun-loving film that would have you tapping your toes and quoting the lines for days to come? Of course, you remember that. You also remember the sound of your heart shattering, the feeling of a cold tickle of wet tears rolling down your face fifteen minutes into the movie. Remind yourself just how sad:
Up was the saddest movie you'd seen in a long time. Every time you think about the movie, you feel like writing Pixar another letter accusing them of false advertisement and ask them again why they put you through all that. At least... that's always how I feel towards this particular Pixar project. So, on a Wednesday morning, when I heard the true story behind Up for the first time, I was shocked to feel a whole new shift of change towards Pixar for putting this project together.
Meet Edith Macefield
Born in Oregon in 1921, she was a young girl when she lied about her age to join the service and support the war effort in England. Even after others discovered that she was not 18, she stayed overseas for years after growing fond of the children who were left orphans after the war. She only had one child of her own, a son, who died of meningitis at the age of 13.
It wasn't until 1965 that she returned home to the United States. After hearing that her mother was greatly ill, she moved into her mother's little house to take care of her during her time of sickness. Her mother died a few years after, leaving Edith her 108-year-old house in the neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle, Washington.
This is where the story we know, the story of Up begins, for Edith grew old and stubborn, all the while living in that same little house.
Edith told Seattle P-I,
"My mother died here on this couch. I came to America from England to take care of her. She made me promise I would let her die at home and not in some facility, and I kept that promise. And this is where I want to die. Right in my own home. On this couch."
As the years passed, Ballard became grounds for modern progress. All the land around her little house was turned into a shopping mall, except for her little plot.
In 2006, Edith was offered a million dollars for her house and land by the construction team. She turned it down. When asked why, she replied,
"I don't want to move. I don't need the money. Money doesn't mean anything to me."
A man named Berry Martin, construction chief over the project for which Edith's house was in the way of, was put in charge of buying Edith's land from her. He decided diplomacy would make for the best strategy.
"Good morning, Mrs. Macefield," He would say, "I've come to tell you that we're going to be making a lot of noise today. If there are any problems, here's my phone number."
However, Edith told Seattle P-I that whenever cranes were installed over her house, she would turn up the television.
"I went through World War II. The noise doesn't bother me. They'll get it done someday."
A few days after receiving Berry's phone number, however, she did in fact call him and asked him... to take her to her hairdresser. She told him, "I can't drive my old Chevy Cavalier anymore." This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Berry then became Edith's caregiver after 2006 when she fell ill with pancreatic cancer. He was the person who took her to her doctor's appointments, he fed her, he bathed her, he took care of her after she couldn't, all the while listening to her tell stories of how she escaped from Nazis during the war in England and became a spy for the Allies, though Berry says he's not sure if any of her stories were true.
Edith Macefield died on June 15, 2008 at the age of 86, one year before Pixar finished the film that was inspired by her adoration for her little home.
Edith left everything she owned to Berry, including the house that he spent so long trying to tear down. However, he didn't sell it to his boss after he inherited it. Instead, he sold it for $310,000 to a buyer who vowed to keep it in the order that Edith loved. The house still stands today, wedged in the middle of public buildings where it's used for real estate training and as a community center.
Berry Martin wrote a book after his time with Edith ended, titling it, Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House.
He also said about Edith's years of ruthless determination to keep her house standing:
"She said that it didn't really matter, because 20 years from now, she said, this building around me, they're going to tear it down and build a new one."
If this story doesn't strike you right in the feels, I don't know what will. In Up, Carl's character is inspired by Edith, a local elderly hero who just wanted to spend the rest of her time on earth in the comfort of her home.
Berry is also featured in the movie. His good nature and friendly spirit is represented in the construction worker who's voiced by the Pixar famous, John Ratzenberg.
Pixar, you never fail to amaze. Knowing the story behind Up, I have a whole new appreciation for the movie and I certainly will never watch it the same way again. And thank you, Edith, for standing up for your own.
Source: Strange Inheritance