Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Open Letter to Leo Cavanaugh

Forty years ago today Mrs. Colombo stopped me on my way home from school. She gave me a glass of 7-Up. She told me something had happened to you. She walked me to the house. Mom was there, people were there, everyone was crying.

Lots of things happen over 40 years. I always feel this way when certain milestones are passed. Now I have a blog where I can post a letter to you.

It’s a big anniversary, so here’s my update:

I had my First Communion. I finished grade school, junior and senior high. I was an exchange student to South America. I went to college. I lived in Spain. I got married. I have two children.

My girl just went off to college and my boy has three years of high school left. They’re really interesting and fun people; I know you’d like them. Boy-child is fascinated with your history, particularly about your stint in the service during WWII. You never talked about it that I know of, so we can only speculate. We “borrowed” my girlfriend Bonnie’s dad once to talk to us about his time in Papua New Guinea during the war, but of course it wasn’t the same as it would have been talking with you.

People don’t get dressed up anymore; no one wears hats. Television missed its potential and is a waste of time. We landed on the moon and now look beyond the moon with unmanned spacecraft. Computers are smaller than a briefcase and everybody has them. We are all connected through the web. We passed into the 21st century and nothing of note happened, but everything is changed.

You were spared living through the day when Humphrey lost. I wish you were here to see Obama. I always wished we could talk politics; this year would be particularly interesting. The Republican National Convention was in St. Paul this year. More people were arrested here in 2008 than in Chicago in 1968.

You have two grandsons who have done overseas service in wartime; one is back from Iraq and another has just left. One of your sons served during peacetime, after the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam. Yes, we lost that one. The Cold-War is over. Terrorism is the new war.

Mom was diagnosed with mid-level Alzheimer’s this summer. She’s in a nursing home. My brothers don’t live in town. We didn’t hold together very well as a family after you were gone. Too many stresses, not enough glue.

There are not many family members around from when I was a kid – Auntie moved back from Washington, D.C. in the 1970s and we are very close, but that’s about it. I feel like I’m too young to be the last one left. Milton is still around too. Remember Milton? He turned out to be a true, true friend. He took me under his wing when I was a teenager. He made a real difference in my life. He’s still around, but he’s not well.

My children will carry us forward and I trust them to do a good job. They are intellectually curious. We have traveled the world. We have a home in St. Paul and one in Chile. I work at the University. I have lots of friends from all aspects of my life: the airline people, the knitters, the librarians, book club. It’s a good life; I just wish you had been able to participate in it more.

So that’s it. Just a note to let you know we’re thinking about you. Still miss you after all these years.

2 comments:

Susan said...

Leo,

What a good friend your daughter is to me. Thank you for your part in that....

Susan

Anonymous said...

oh my, Anne ... such a lovely letter ...
the fish person