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Jean & Richard

Friend…there’s little redemption in this piece.  Maybe none.

Nothing uplifting either.

But my heart said, “go ahead.  Write it down.”  And I did…weeping the whole time.

I wept for my grandparents whose shoes I can’t imagine a single step in.  I wept for my mom and her siblings who rekindle a faded memory each year.  And I wept for the words, which–no matter how I wrote them–felt too heavy to be typed. 

Too.  Heavy.

Sigh…I weep even now for unanswerable questions…How? Why? But…?

So, forgive me.

I write from my mother’s memory about…about what happened to Jean and Richard.

Sixty-five years ago.  Today.

That’s what my mother’s e-mail said.

She’d just talked with her brother, Russ, like she has on this date every year.  August 10. 

Only they talk to remember.  They talk to heal.  They talk because even after sixty-five years the loss of a brother–my uncle’s twin–and the loss of a sister–the one for whom I’m named–still aches. 

I scarcely know the details of the tragedy.  Only its summation.

There was trouble in the water.  The Columbia River.  Jean needed help.  A current had swept her under and away. 

No one even knew about Richard.

My grandfather was alerted and dove in after Jean.

He even had Jean in his arms.  But…

But then Richard surfaced–still holding Jean’s hand. 

And my grandfather–now forced to decide whom to save–couldn’t…and lost them both.

He lost.



In the same few minutes.

They were nine and ten years old, dear Jesus.

…Sixty-five years ago.


2 Responses to “Jean & Richard”

  1. Linda H says:

    It’s so sad. Sad for Jean and Richard. Sad for your Grandparents, sad for your mother, sad for your family and sad for you. I wonder why God lets these kind of things happen … I know it’s God’s Love and Grace that helps us through these terrible times. Let the tears flow … they are healing. And know Dear friend I’m weeping with you. You told the story beautifully.

  2. kristine kwok says:


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