Posts Tagged ‘loss’

I’ve already seen snow this season, most inconveniently.  Wove my car around telephone and electric wires bowed down by snapped tree limbs still dressed in their autumn best. Scooped up family history and plunked it elsewhere, much as I’ve dug out the tropical plants and repotted them for indoor living during the winter season.  You can’t stay there — it’s not compatible with your biology.  Your home is somewhere else now.  Learn to like the other side of the glass.

Those transitions were expected.  And given that the holidays of endings and new beginnings were rolling around, I had some other commemorations on my mind.

However — I wasn’t expecting to lose a friend I’d only been talking to days before. Yes, his voice had been labored during our last few conversations; he insisted it was a touch of bronchitis…yes there were other health issues that probably meant four-score and ten were unlikely. But I expected to be kvetching with him about academia, politics, and fine food for many years to come. He was someone I could disagree with, test ideas against, and along the way we could each see a bit more of why someone would hold opposing views.  People like that are so very valuable — and unfortunately it’s increasingly easy to never meet them, since so many of us gravitate to places where our ideas are affirmed rather than respectfully challenged.  To be honest, I didn’t meet him on purpose — his presence in my life was a gift from a friend of mine from graduate school, who, to bring the circle around, gave me the news yesterday evening.  Part of me hoped it was some elaborate Halloween prank, but the obit has just posted….

Travel well, William.  You have earned your rest.

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“The Mens”, as we often call them, have been in the attic again.  Having got the AC installed, the electric upgraded, and the insulation foamed in, the next steps are to get the walls and the floor into shape. That involves getting all the loose boards an old insulation out of the way, and in the process, we have found a few oddities:

  • Parts for a bentwood rocker
  • Remaining parts for the bed with the elaborately-carved headboard we found earlier
  • Part of, and instructions for, a small toy sailboat
  • An old barrel that might have been used for shipping ceramics or glass
  • Some much-gnawed bits of folded paper

The bits of paper, really, a letter from 1926, are in terrible condition. I’ll take a few pictures, jot down what I can, and then I think that’s the end of them. They seem to be from a single pad of paper, bound with blue glue on one side, roughly 6 inches tall, and probably not that wide.tatteredletter1

What makes them interesting to me is the sorts of words that appear.  Request words, maybe even pleading ones.  Words that hint at a secret someone might not want kept anymore. Wishes. Hopes. Almosts.

I’ll put the words I can read in separate paragraphs below, separated by dashes to mark the missing areas, one page per paragraph:

My dear B- – from – really – to tell – keep –

Nov. 23, 1926 – ju – ve – you – did wirt (?) me – ing when you – me adopting – ?stand altho – him the –

greatest wrong — the world by briging him – the world, illegally why st – for him?  Bud, you  – still love you, and would marry you, if only you will l – Of – then I will have to –

before – d – get married. This spring – him,  – im now. We can – for 4 or 5 yrs. No one will h – Then I am sure – take –

him to board – he is older – and not tell F – ours [might be “yours”]. Bud, if you care for me as you say you do, I hope, please for his and my sake help him and me he- – any even –

you – me to – up – He is our own flesh – blood – had many others – a – we – could never – thing – all have given – and sacrificed for him, my – my present and future, but – he is worth it.  I would – give my life –

you – for me, so please show – doing as I ask. I am going to – get next – ??i and Sun – but next, so I

to see – you t – will – the present – from you – I know – please – letter

I want – ne, then, – ye for – hear – I am – you – you – out. also, – how this – ose


I don’t know who “Bud” is, or what decision he made.  I don’t know the name of the woman [yes, I’m assuming, based on handwriting and statistics], or the adopted son.  I suppose I could do a search and figure out who was here in 1926, or who the family was…  Perhaps they are all in the graveyard out back.  Perhaps Bud stashed this note in the rafters of a house he was working on, because he didn’t want to deal with how complicated being with this woman might be.  Maybe he ‘stepped up’ and became a father, as my brother has?

I am likely never to know. But now the story of her devotion gets to transcend the crumbling paper, and we can honor her love, even if Bud could not.

Given the shreds of data, what do you think was going on?


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