Amazing coincidence


We were in Vermont on Sunday to bury my older brother Vin; an event that amazingly coincided with the first visit to the cemetery by a woman named Sue who had been close friends with my younger brother Jon, who had died at the age of 20 in 1966. It was a short friendship, a month or so in person & a year or so of writing letters, but one, she said with tears streaming down her face, that had “changed her life.” Although I have no memory of writing to her about Jon’s death, she said I did and she still has my letter; she also has all of Jon’s letters.

When the service for Vin started, I motioned for Sue and Bill (her husband of eleven months) to join us. They stood slightly behind and off to the right of me in front of Jon’s grave. It was quite amazing–beautiful, Linda said–to experience her quietly mourning for Jon, 44 years later.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous New England day. The headstones from left to right are: Vin, Dad, Jon.


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One Response to Amazing coincidence

  1. Susan Nelson Vernon says:

    Hi, Penny. It took me awhile to visit your website as we traveled to Tucson, Arizona, to visit my daughter Renee and her family for Christmas, returned before that incomprehensible tragedy, only to end up in bed for 5 days with a terrible cold, then finished celebrating the holidays with daughter Anastasia and her husband in Conshhocken, near Philly, and my husband’s son Tom and girlfriend here.
    Wow! What an accomplished career and life you are having! I’d like to read many of your books. Can you make a suggestion where to begin? Thank you for being such an active advocate for women’s /girls’ rights and women’s history. My mother always used a quote that went something like, ” To be on an equal level with a man , a woman has to to work twice as hard. Fortunately, that’s not too difficult.” She would have been a suffragette if she had been born a little bit earlier. I could have used some of your work as a teacher.
    I searched around looking for some information about your family and some insight about Jon. You can’t imagine how I felt when I finally went to the blog and found this.
    Thank you once again for your caring attitude and sensitivity. I, too, am still blown away by the coincidence. The exact minute!! We could gone there at so many diferent times on our trip.
    You are a sensitive and thoughtful person, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to open any old wounds for me or you , especially after your brother Vin’s passing. But, there are a few questions I have and finding the answers, probably would help. Your letter dated Jon’s death as March 12, which has always been significant for me over the years, and then my first granddaughter, Ashley, was born on that date in 1991. By the way, she plays the clarinet. In Vermont I noticed the date on the headstone was March 14. Which one is correct? Also, I couldn’t help but notice that your father passed only a few years later. Was there any connection? Jon described their relationship as strained, but still amicable and loving. This is presumptuous of me, and I apologize for that. The answers might keep my head from working overtime. In one of Jon’s letters, he said he was going to Mexico to live and study, and then in another, that he had to make a hasty return. There was no explanation. I always wondered what really happened. Since our time together was brief, I can barely remember what he looked like, and always romantically imagined that he bore a resemblance to James Coburn in the In Like Flint movies. He had a style that was charismatic like Coburn’s. If you have any pictures you could share, I would appreciate it. Jon told me very little about his family history, but spoke very well of you and your time together in Ann Arbor.
    Thank Linda for her kind observation. I hope you are both well and ready to enjoy an early spring. Carpe diem! Susan

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