I was returning from my father’s funeral. He had died unexpectedly. I had left my home in Washington, D.C. as soon as I received the telegram from my mother Mamie, the only mother I had ever known. I had lived in Washington since I left home at 18 to make my own way in the world. My way had eventually led to college and law school. I was clerking for ?. I had not become a farmer like my father and older brother. I knew, even as a child that was not the life I wanted. I knew it had saddened my father that I would not be staying in North Carolina with the family but he also knew that I had to follow my own path.
Now, I was returning to my life in Washington. Yet, it felt like it was not my life at all. When my mother handed me the diary and explained that my father wanted me to have it on his death, I knew from the look on her face that I was about to have my world irrevocably changed. I could see the mixture of sadness and trepidation in her eyes but she would not talk about it, insisting I read the diary first. I also could see that she knew what was contained in these pages.
I could see the effort my father had made to write clearly and legibly. I faintly noticed areas of smudged inkwhere what I assumed were tears had fell on the page. I never remembered a time that my father had cried and I knew he must have struggled to put his memories to paper. He had been a very private man quiet and not prone to discussing his feelings. Still, I knew I was loved and so it was easy to accept that he chose to keep his feelings inside.
I stared out the window of the train, seeing but not seeing the country side flash by. It was becoming dark out now and although I felt tired, I knew that I needed to read this diary before I slept or I would not sleep at all. I asked the porter to bring me a pot of coffee and while I waited I looked down at the page that began,
“You’re mother’s name was Eliza….
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