While studying the photographs on the Veteran’s Day board at my
Mom’s senior apartment building, I pointed to a tall, gangly looking
young man wearing an Air Force uniform from the WWII era. I asked
Mom if she recognized the name of the man. She looked at his face,
then the name and said, “I think I knew him!”
I turned to her and saw a rapt emotion covered face. I told her that I
had asked about the name of the man not if she knew the man. She
asked what did I mean by that? I told her that one of her favorite
Westlake High School 1971 graduates shared the first and last name
of the man, but the picture resembled him. I exclaimed with some
verve in my voice,
“That resident of Westlake Village Senior Living Apts. may be the
father of the young man from your World Lit and Spanish classes!”
She looked at me, kind of a funny expression, “Well, that would still
mean I may have met his father, too!”
We headed off from the main part of the building towards the “C”
building part. This is the area where the residents may have some
form of disability and more challenges in their daily living skills.
As we headed off on our “wild goose chase,” Mom, her dog, Nicki
on her leash, (patient saint of a little dog,) and I down the quiet
corridors towards the door I reflected back on the numerous times
over the years where Mom would cross paths with her students. Some
had ended up living in Vermilion (where Dad and she had retired),
some were living in Westlake, and we would see them in shopping malls
and stores around the western suburbs of Cleveland.
This particular student, who may or may not be one of her students,
had been one of MY favorites, too. He had gone on to Cornell University.
Jim had come home over holidays and during my four high school years,
I had written to him, along with my Mom’s enclosed letters. When I went
off to BGSU, I heard he had moved on, gone to medical college somewhere,
but we had lost touch. Mom had more new favorites to write to. I have only
his high school graduation picture, had his old address at Cornell, and did
not carry his torch once I met my first husband on my first day of college.
I thought of how paths twist and turn, criss and cross, I had some bubbles
of hope float up to greet me.
A silly song, kind of old but a “goody” starts out,
You move too fast.
You’ve got to make the morning last,
Just kickin’ down the cobble-stones,
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy…”
Song, “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” otherwise known as “Feelin’ Groovy.”
Written and performed by the legendary folk music duo of Simon and
I had the true feeling of “Anticipation,” another great song, by the special
songstress, Carly Simon. She sang this song the year the young man, my
Mom’s past student graduated, 1971.
We went to a door of a man who had a flag and another copy of the young,
handsome uniformed Air Forceman’s photo on his shelf outside his door.
This shelf is one I like to decorate for Mom, using some of my seasonal
decorations. I am glad to remember the servicemen around the world
who dedicated their lives to their countries.
I hesitated for a moment, then decided to knock. I heard a waverly and
faint, frail sounding man’s voice ask,
“Who is it?”
I said, “My name is Robin and my Mom lives in B building. We were
wishing to talk to you.”
The male voice gave a little louder reply,
“Wait a minute… I am coming!”
When the door opened, a tall, handsome but much older, slumped version;
a “shadow of the man in the photograph” answered the door.
I launched into my introductions, telling him enthusiastically that we were
hoping he was the father of a man my Mom had taught. I identified which
high school, the one that is only two streets over, in the same town as her
senior apartments was. He repeated the words,
“Westlake High School… my son attended one in another suburb of
Cleveland. He named it.”
I said that his name, James, with his last name was the same as one of my
Mom’s “favorite students.”
He leaned against the wall by the door, having forgotten, I imagined a cane
or a walker in his rush to open the door. He was very pleasant and regretful
of being the “wrong” James or Jim.
I looked at him, decided to give him a big hug for those thoughtful words,
and he imparted some information that may or may not be helpful on
the further investigation to where in the world is Jim or James…
When my son moved to Medina or Mentor, I forget which city, he would
get his mail mixed up with another man with the same first and last name,
who was a doctor.
This new “lead” on the man in my memories and my Mom’s held some
possibilities. We both thanked him very much, he seemed reluctant to
have us go. We mentioned we hoped to see him sometime in the future.
I took his whole name with the middle initial added to it, thinking that it
may be able to be traced or followed with a little internet help.
I have not done this yet.
I am a little afraid, maybe might seem like a “stalker” but I have a little
glimmer of hope. You know why, don’t you?
Maybe, it will be kharma or kismet…
I can always hope this may lead me to my happy ending.