One of my favorite trail walks meanders past a small prairie dog colony, and facing the colony is a memorial bench in honor of “Molly.” Molly was a dog, and I am sure she loved to watch “her” prairie dogs. A few months ago, I saw something I had not seen before, and which I later learned was the characteristic prairie dog “jump yip.” This was early summer, and I suspect one of the jumpers was pretty young: it jumped, yipped, and promptly fell over. And because it was so much fun (?) it would do it again . . .
Around the same time, on one of my other favorite walks, I met Nick LoFaro, a metal artist who was putting the finishing touches to an enormous sculpture called “Poseidon”:
A few months later, I commissioned my own (much smaller) sculpture from Nick. I wanted the jump yip, but Nick could not build in the jump and still have it look like a prairie dog . . . so he made him into the sentinel. But I still call him “Yipper”:
Why yes, there are spoons and forks and gears and all sorts of reclaimed metal parts! I am especially fond of the drill bit for the tail, and the blue marbles for his eyes. These days, he either hangs out as a guardian/sentinel on our tiny front balcony overlooking the commons area, or in our equally tiny backyard overlooking the next subdivision. And just think: we are art collectors!
My brother called and told me Dad was no longer getting out of bed. He didn’t want to eat. He was incontinent. He could not walk anymore even with his walker. He could not get up from the toilet without help. Dad could not.
Dad had been dying for almost five year, ever since Mom passed away in 2014. And now, he was at the end. My brother refused to recognize it. I flew out, put on my doctor coat, and made the same decisions for Dad that I had made for Mom, decisions that my brother could not make then or now. Dad became an in-hospital hospice patient, and I stayed in the room with him that night. A little after midnight I came awake suddenly, and I knew Dad was gone.
I am convinced Dad was listening to Mom; I am convinced Mom finally forgave Dad. And I am convinced they are together again.
A few months ago, in a rather singular moment of craziness, DH and I thought about buying a historic house listed at $$$ . . . I went into historian mode and dug around in the archives for information about the house and its occupants, and found out that what the seller had proudly presented as part of the unique history of the house was wrong. There it was, printed in a very glossy full color brochure, and it was just wrong. And I was reminded again how easy it was to rewrite history.
When I research a house, I try to establish a chain of ownership. Most of the time, all that remains is a listing in the City Directory: a name, perhaps an occupation, perhaps the number of people in the household. Sometimes, if I get really lucky, someone will get a mention in the newspaper: “Miss Lucy Smith celebrated her birthday with a garden party attended by . . . ”
In the case of this historic house, the seller stated that the house was built and owned by a member of a prominent farming family. A member of the prominent family did indeed live there … after he married the daughter of the house. Her parents had built the house a few years after their arrival in the town, and after their deaths, the daughter inherited the house. She retained ownership of the house, and passed the house on to her daughter.
None of this stuff is particularly important, unless you believe that facts are important. Even in this era of postmodern history, perpetuating a falsehood is perpetuating a falsehood. DH and I came to our senses and did not buy the house, and I did not find any more information on the daughter or her daughter . . . but then, women tended not to exist in their own names.
Which brings me to Miss Mary. Her little travel diary had been my pet project a couple of years ago, and I was always sorry that I did not know what she looked like. She was daughter of, wife of, mother of . . . Then a descendant posted her picture on Findagrave.com (love that website!):
Mary Campbell Andrews Matzinger
Finally, Miss Mary!