泰坦尼克号上的最后一名幸存者

距离1912年4月14日夜里撞上冰山并于次日凌晨彻底沉睡于冰冷的3800米深北大西洋海底的泰坦尼克号沉船事故,整整106年的时光已经过去。

作为一艘奥林匹克级邮轮,泰坦尼克号是同级的3艘超级邮轮中的第2艘,与姐妹船奥林匹克号和不列颠号为白星航运公司的乘客们提供大西洋旅行。

这艘由位于北爱尔兰贝尔法斯特的哈兰·沃尔夫船厂兴建并成为当时最大的客运轮船,由于其规模相当一艘现代航空母舰,因而号称「上帝也沉没不了的巨型邮轮」。

但在其从英国南安普敦出发,途经法国瑟堡-奥克特维尔以及爱尔兰昆士敦,计划横渡大西洋前往美国纽约市的处女航当中,因为人为的错误,最终邮轮不幸撞上冰山,导致超过1500人罹难,堪称20世纪最大的海难事件。

同样作为一场20世纪技术、资本、人力、时间共建的奇迹,泰坦尼克曾经让人看到一个世纪之初鼎盛的欧洲工业时代生产能力、社会阶级形态、审美风尚与生活文化。

但它的沉没,却更像是那个时代中某些光辉的陨落。

借助于现代科技与海洋探测技术的发展,人类最终于海难发生73年后的1985年9月1日成功定位这艘世纪巨轮的沉船遗址,其残骸被美国海洋学家罗伯·巴拉德发现。

然而,伴随着泰坦尼克号沉船发现以及残骸打捞的却是,当年幸免于难的乘客的相续离世。一百年后的二十一世纪初,泰坦尼克号仅剩3名幸存者,皆为女性。

2006年5月6日,一名见证事件的生还者逝世,终年99岁,事发当时5岁。

2007年10月16日,另外一位生还者逝世,终年96岁,事发当时她不足一岁,因此对事件没有回忆。

2009年5月31日,最后一名生还者密尔维娜·狄恩(Millvina Dean)逝世,享寿97岁,事故时她只有9周大,是泰坦尼克号船难中最年轻的生还者,她同样对事件没有记忆。

最后一名生还者逝世后,亦代表泰坦尼克号的所有乘客都已逝世。

关于密尔维娜,多年以来,因为回避众人的关注,而且她本人对其作为泰坦尼克号幸存者的身份避而不谈,所以外界对于她的故事知之甚少,幸而在其晚年的时候,她开始面对自己的那一段往事,并且参加了几次与泰坦尼克有关的活动。

也很少人知道,纵然密尔维娜在1912年这场海难中幸存了下来,但是她却因此失去了自己的父亲。甚至连乘坐泰坦尼克号这件事情本身就是一个错误。

那是1912年的2月,密尔维娜刚出生不久,她的父亲就决定移民到密苏里州堪萨斯市,他计划在那里开一家烟草店。一家人本打算乘坐白星航运公司的亚得里亚号前往美国,却不料碰上煤矿的工人罢工,最终只好转乘了泰坦尼克号。

密尔维娜和她的母亲以及哥哥最终因为被安排在10号救生艇上,幸而得救。但和多数船上的男性一样,密尔维娜的父亲留了下来,并且在那场灾难中罹难。

密尔维娜后来被卡帕西亚号救起,并于1912年4月18日抵达纽约。

起初,密尔维娜的母亲想要继续前往堪萨斯州,以完成丈夫在美国开始新生活的遗愿。但是在失去丈夫,并留下两个小孩需要照顾的情况下,生活变得异常拮据而艰难,以至于他们不得不乘坐RMS亚得里亚号再次返回英国。

在返航的亚得里亚号上,密尔维娜却引起了相当多乘客的关注。1912年5月12日的《每日镜报》中的一篇文章曾这样记载:

“在航行期间,她(密尔维娜)是亚得里亚号的宠物,女人们甚至为这可爱的孩子展开了争夺。以至于一名乘务员只好宣布,一等舱和二等舱的乘客可以轮流举着她,但是每人不得超过十分钟。”

这样的宠爱和眷顾并没有持续密尔维娜的一生。在后来的人生中,密尔维娜和她哥哥的抚养费和教育费不得不来自慈善组织为泰坦尼克号的幸存者提供的基金。密尔维娜本人也是直到八岁时,才知道自己也曾是泰坦尼克号上的乘客。

八岁那年,母亲决定再婚,密尔维娜却终身未婚。父亲罹难于那个冰冷的夜晚,哥哥最终也于1992年4月14日去世,恰逢泰坦尼克号海难80周年。

在第二次世界大战期间,密尔维娜也曾为英国政府工作,后来担任当地工程公司的采购员。她还做过制图员、秘书和烟草商的助理。

2008年4月,密尔维娜一度接受了在南安普敦举行的纪念沉船96周年的活动,但因呼吸道感染导致健康状况不良被迫取消。

2008年12月,为了支付个人的医疗费,96岁高龄的密尔维娜被迫变卖家中的财物。这其中就包括泰坦尼克号救济基金会发给母亲的一封信,以及沉没之后在纽约提供给她以及母亲的手提箱。变卖筹集了大约32,000英镑。

但在2009年2月,她再次宣布,为了支付日益增加的医疗费,自己会变卖更多的物品。

密尔维娜最终于2009年5月31日上午死于肺炎,在汉普郡Ashurst的一家护理中心。火化之后,她的骨灰于2009年10月24日在南安普敦码头撒落。

南安普顿,正是97年前,那艘彻底改变密尔维娜人生的泰坦尼克号当初出发的地方。

她的生命,也曾在这里出发,最终在这里结束和到达。

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