“If I knew the way, I would take you home.”Ripple, Grateful Dead – Hunter/Garcia
In 2020, pre-COVID, I found a book hidden in a basement. It was over one hundred years old, and belonged to a family of schoolchildren who lived in Carleton, Michigan. It was a History of the United States for 8th graders, and had the signatures of these kids I assumed had all used it in their studies. This book stayed with me for the last two years.
I had contemplated trying to find some local relative who might be interested in having it, but I never acted on that impulse. Part of me wanted to hold onto this piece of history; this secret treasure I had uncovered. And I would have probably not have ever found it’s true home had my car not broken down a month ago.
Since my car was in the shop, I’d been catching a ride with my colleague. She dropped me off from work on Friday, March 11th when I discovered I had no lighter, even though she had given me one at work – which I left behind. I walked over to the corner market and got distracted walking back home. I found myself in front of the entrance to Glenwood Cemetery and felt compelled to go in. After spending a few minutes taking photographs of the headstones I was drawn to, I walked back home.
I began looking through these photos and trying to discover who the people were, buried beneath these hunks of concrete and granite. After about ten minutes of doing Find a Grave research, I discovered one of these people was from Ash Township, just like the Kramer children had been. He would have lived there around the same time, but I think this particular man would have been older when they were kids.
Regardless, it piqued my interest in the old book again and it led me to finding a man named Terry Schmelz. As it turns out, Terry was the great-great nephew of Minnie, whose funeral card from 1963 was also on the inside of the book – she was the children’s mother, I learned through my research. I reached out to Terry with the news of what I had for him. As I told him, I only found him because he had done so much work on Find A Grave, helping me to learn about his family. He is local to me, so we agreed to meet at a halfway point.
What better place to meet than the church where Minnie and her husband got married in the early 1900’s? Now called something something diocese, the church was originally named for St. Patrick. And what better day to go to St. Patrick’s church than on March 17th?
My car was due out of the shop, so that is exactly what we did. I drove down there to meet Mr. Schmelz and make delivery of the book to him. He was so grateful to have this important piece of family history. I don’t know how the story of that book will end, but I know that my time with it was up. I could not be more grateful for letting go of something that really wasn’t mine to keep to begin with – at the very least it could have gone to a local museum in Carleton, right?
The funniest part of that meeting was that Mr. Schmelz asked me if I read Tarot, unprompted. He said he has a family member who reads cards and is kinda “weird” too. Ha!
The first quarter of the year is over, and I have let many things go. It’s time to start fresh and set off on the path before me, wherever it may lead. May you have the peace and wisdom to let go of the things that are no longer meant for you. May you be set free!