The Poisoned Ink Well

Monday, October 07, 2002

We named our son after both of his grandfathers. Both died before he was born and we thought that if we gave him their names then he could always have them with him. I had never seen a picture of Ric’s father, and until recently, although I have heard stories about him and even heard a tape of him telling a joke. He was a part time DJ (yes, he loved music as much as Ric) who owned the Bowling Alley in Ric's hometown and he was a big Elvis fan (I saw pictures of Ric and his brother outside of the gates of Graceland, taken before Elvis died) and now I have a picture of him on my wall for Ed.

It’s funny but in the picture he is a smiling young man with the same beguiling eyes that made me fall for his son. I never met him and I’ll never see Ric alive again, but you know they are so much a part of my life, now.

Ed’s grandmother was the sweetest lady and reminded me so much of my own mother, her age and even her furniture and style of decorating was a lot like my family ( she had lots of antiques and tons of pictures and china with gold edged bowls and depression ware) I think it was no accident that Ric and I got along so well.

Father’s are important, even if they are not around, and for anyone to think that they aren't is unrealistic.

Hindsight is like watching a news reel and knowing what will happen next and wanting to change it and knowing you could fix everything, but being helpless to affect the outcome.

I want so badly to fix things. I know what I could do now to make it different. I have maturity on my side. I didn’t have it then. I was dumb and young and he started drinking and I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. I thought he would come to his senses, maybe go to AA (I think he would have, had he lived) He was so smart and funny and talented and he had worked hard all his life.

He didn’t live long enough to make things right. I don’t know how to explain this, but days turned into months, months into years, and I got really busy . I got my Nursing license and continued in college. I was busy and I literally ran from place to place, meeting to meeting, job to job, sometimes I was so tired I couldn’t even eat dinner without falling asleep in the middle of it.

I just didn’t notice time passing, if I had, then I know I would have realized that he should have shown up by now. I never went after him for support. I didn’t want him to go jail and I knew if he could have sent us money, then he would have, and anyway I was making it without him. Now, I wonder, if I had been more diligent and made him pay support, would that would have saved him?

His heart gave out because he was drinking and his roommate had kicked him out (he was sleeping in a car) and he got pneumonia and he died. He was so far away from his family in Ohio and so far away from me. It happened all the way out in California. Those people didn’t know him or love him like his family. Here I am a nurse, and I didn’t even know it was taking place. I would have liked the chance to nurse him back to health. I feel responsible for this. I feel bad, like if I had kicked his butt and made him do what was right way back then, then maybe he would be alive. Maybe………………………………......

(I am being self indulgent right now and I know it. I just can’t get this idea out of head. I am no angel and I’ve had my problems too, maybe I was too hard on him or maybe I was not hard enough. I wish I could roll that reel back and make things different)

It isn't all sad. I met his family and they were wonderful. Ed and I moved a lot and they didn't know how to get in touch with us when he died.

Last year I was going through a box of books, and in a family bible that belonged to my mother I found and poem and a letter that R had snuck in somehow.He wrote it Shortly after Ed was born. I didn't know it was in there and I had never read the message or the poem.

It was so loving and sweet that I started going through the process of trying to find him, never expecting to find out that he had died.

I'll share that later. I feel sad right now.

This is about genes, DNA, and the powerful pull of heredity. I had never met any member of Ric’s family and knew them only through brief phone conversations after Ed’s birth and what I remembered that Ric had said about them.

It was a surreal experience for us all when Ed and I came to Port Clinton. It was very comfortable with no awkward moments or lulls in the conversation. I had already come to know them through raising Ed and they were instantly taken with us after meeting him.

His Mother wrote me after our visit that it was the most amazing event in her life. We were never strangers. So many quirks, habits, and personality traits that I had become used to over the years were the embodiment of their family.

My son is 15 and I hadn’t spoken to them in at least 13 years. I haven’t spoken to Ric since about a year and half before his death 1994.

I want to say more. It is hard to explain, but we knew each other. It was incredible.

I learned so much about my son in this visit. I’ll come back to this later when the words come to me. It was awe-inspiring.

[The tale of the family is a whole other story, complete with a gangster grandfather (John Zetzer, a pilot who helped Karpis escape Hoover back in the 1930's) we got a tour of the old hideouts.]