Saturday, October 5, 2013


Carol Craig 9/32 ~10/5/60
Dudley Craig 10/11/59 ~ 10/5/60

No, I don't even know my mother's birthday.

I've been reading the two letters I have, two letters that she wrote to my (paternal) grandparents from the house on Vero Beach at which this picture was taken, mailed together on April 25, 1960.  I found them in my grandmother's attic decades later. Long, chatty letters in which she describes what we were all up to, laments some of the challenges of young motherhood, anticipates summer at home in Ohio, and reveals herself to have been a thoughtful and articulate young woman with a gift for self-expression:

"One of the things I really miss here [in Florida] is the freshness of spring.  Sometimes I think that's what a lot of the alcoholics here need ~ a change of season to sort of cleanse and re-charge their souls and spirits."

I wonder, sometimes, who she would have become.  She would not even have been fifty when we all finished college; I imagine her returning to school herself, reveling in the opportunity to study.  She and my dad had been planning a permanent move to Florida; maybe she would have become a master gardener, or a teacher, or a photographer, or a writer.  She had a beautiful singing voice; she would have been overjoyed to hear my daughter sing.

And Dudley, who might he have been?  No clue at all.  What if we kids had grown up on the beach, instead of in the midst of corn and soybean fields?   Would the two of us still here be different people? 

And me, now?  My mother would be 81.  Would she have come here and stayed for weeks after Josh died?  Would we be talking on the phone every day?  Would I be looking for a way to move to Florida ( Would I have ever left?) to live nearby and help her out?

What if we could have just skipped this particular day in 1960?


  1. Your mother was so young when she died. I'm sorry she never had the chance to enjoy watching her children grow up. My mom passed away 4 1/2 years ago and I have wondered how she would have responded to Graham's death. Although she was the strongest and wisest woman I've ever known in my life, I think it would have been too much for her to lose not only a very loved grandson, but to watch her daughter suffer so deeply. In a way, I'm glad she never had to experience this, even though I miss her every day.

    1. My mother's mother once said that my mother would never have been able to stand knowing that her baby had died. I think of that occasionally as, like you, I have had to stand it, and without my own mother's help. Very big :( .

  2. Condolences, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful piece. "What might have been" is a scary thought, but your mother would have never left your side when you needed her most. Do you see any of yourself in the woman she was at her age?

    And thank you for your kind comment.

  3. Do you mean at my age? She never got close to my age.

    Or the reverse? When she died at 28, she was a wife and mother, a kind and generous young woman. When I was 28, I was a completely self-absorbed young lawyer.

    1. Yes, sorry, I meant the reverse. You were probably far more kind and generous than you realize, and most twentysomethings are at least a little self-absorbed.

  4. I wish you the best. I am fortunate, my mother is 84. I think you are right about your mother. A master gardener, or an artist in any event. Still mothering, even now. Her influence on you seems like mine upon me. They are the same in that way. I know it is different - I'll see mine come Thanksgiving. But your's is beautiful too. Then and now. Always. I wish you well in this time of remembering.

  5. Your poignant writing and the beautiful picture together create such a connection. And even though it has been so long since either of them were here, I feel like they are both very much here.