Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Letters to the dead: Marjorie

My friend Ren has started a blog where she posts letters to the dead. It's an interesting concept. I have several I'd like to write, when I have time and focus. Meanwhile, here's one to my sister Marjorie who died when we were in a car wreck on September 10, 1950. Margie would have been 64 this past January. In that wreck, I suffered only a scratch below my eye while my mother and grandmother wound up in the hospital for quite a while. And, of course, Margie died. Ask me my opinion on seatbelts and child carseats. My letter to Margie:

Hi, Sis,

It's been a while since I chatted with you. I haven't gotten over to Yakima to visit the cemetery in a coupla years, partly because I've been busy (with Ronnie) raising our daughters, Chloe and your namesake Marjorie. And partly because I've finally started healing inside my own psyche from the intensity of losing you and I no longer have as strong a need to think about you, especially in the context of woulda, coulda, shoulda. Part of me is a little sad about that but most of me recognizes that it's something that should have happened decades ago for the sake of my sanity and that of those near and dear to me. But what is, is and what was, was. Thinking about changing the past is futile and I don't dwell in that morass very much nowadays, even though it used to be my default condition. I think you'd be happy for me. Actually, lemme change that: I know you'd be happy for me. You were my mentor and guide primus inter pares on the initial trails of the path of life; and exploration, discovery, and fun were our experiential parameters.

You were two years older than I and pretty much my only friend. When you died, I was traumatized, in the strongest sense of the word. I was two and one-half years old and my best, and pretty much only, playmate was gone. Mom was in the hospital for months, which to me was an eternity of her complete absence from my life, and dad went away to work every day. My known universe changed almost completely and I, of course, lacked the ability to comprehend what was happening. All I knew was that I had been essentially completely abandoned by those who had initially surrounded me with love and support.

I was severely psychologically damaged and it took me decades to recover. But that's my story. You… I think of the flow of my life in the context of what you've missed. You (we) have two younger sisters and a younger brother. They all have kids of their own and even grandkids! Hell, you'd be 64 now, if you were still with us, and they're all in their 50s. You would have liked them, all of them. I especially wish you could be here to know my daughters, your nieces. You'd love them and they would love having Aunt Margie to share stories and adventures with. So many adventures already and so many more to come.

I still miss you but not as much as I used to. That's a little sad but it's better for me to live in the present and focus more on those around me who are still living, changing, and discovering. They need me and I need them. I still need my memory/thoughts of you but you don't need anyone and haven't for almost 60 years. Nonetheless, I like to fantasize that you still enjoy hearing about what we're up to when we visit you. Marjorie (who likes to go by "MJ" nowadays) and I always get that frisson of mortality when we stop by your grave (for her) and grandpa Frank's grave (for me). It's a reminder that no one is here forever and one day we'll be joining you. But not quite yet. (To paraphrase the quote from "Gladiator.") There's still lots to see and do and be.

I miss you and I love you,

Your brother always, Frank

Marjorie (R.I.P.), Dad (R.I.P.), and me (still kickin') - Constance St. in New Orleans 1949


  1. Frank - this is really touching. Thanks for sharing. I really like Ren's project, it's amazing.

  2. I didn't know IF I could read this when I saw the title. But I decided I should, and I am glad I did. All teary, sending hugs, I understand and I hope to be in that place where you are now one day myself.

  3. Heather, thanks. Ren is a pretty amazing person. You ain't so bad yourself.

    Cindy, thanks. I'm looking forward to a new blog name, new boat name, and y'all being a 4-person family! Congratulations!

  4. Wow. Just, wow. Thank you for sharing another glimpse into the history that makes Frank...Frank. So touching and beautiful.

  5. Hi, Mary! Thanks. I'm so anxious to see you. Pretty soon, now!

  6. That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.