A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Monday, February 23, 2015

Like a Coat From the Cold

I don't mean to turn the blog into a sad chronicle of my loss, but one of the reasons I started it was to write things to share with my family. So indulge me today, please, as I talk of grandfathers, grandmothers, and uncles long gone.

Great-grandfather Roberts, a former Justice of the Peace in Illinois, wrote a letter to his daughter Hattie when her 24 year old son Gene was killed in Korea at Heartbreak Ridge. I don't find the majority of it comforting as he mostly just says, don't cry, it's worse when you lose a spouse, god's will, etc. If I ever lost a child, especially to violence, and someone told me it was god's will, they better duck because I'm fixing to punch them in the face. And I mean that sincerely.

But it has a sadness when he talks about losing his wife that I can now understand. He says "you stand alone, your life shattered, with the wreck all around you and you do not know which way to turn. I have had that experience and only I know the loneliness. She is in heaven and there Gene finds her and is gathered with those who have gone before....
I am writing you this sitting by the fire in the kitchen this cold, rainy Sunday, and living over the past 60 years since I first met our Mama. I am an old man, and I have left the rest of my life in the hands of my god, knowing that when I have finished my mission, I will receive my reward, and there is entire peace between us."

While my beliefs on the ways of the universe are different than his, today I find his comments like a big hug from a grandfather that I knew only vaguely when I was a very young girl and he was a very old man.

And as I write this sitting by the fire in my kitchen this cold, icy Monday, and living over the past 34 years since I first met Rickie, I feel a connection with Grandpa Roberts. And it comforts me, as much as I can be comforted today. This "blog post" of his from 1953.

And I marvel at how I've saved this letter all these years since Grandma Hattie gave it to me back in the 1960s. A letter written on his J.P. stationery, with his office phone number of 474 and home phone number of 1008 in the top corners. It's survived every downsizing and move I've made to surface this morning.

Some things can't be explained and people need to stop trying to make up stories to explain them; it's not necessary. Some things just are. I've walked with sadness this morning and Grandpa Roberts has come to walk with me. And it warms and comforts me, as Guy Clark says, like a coat from the cold.

Like A Coat From the Cold by Guy Clark

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