last photograph

Memory of Gloria Hempley

The day before George left, Lacey, my sister, took our photo. Of course I didn’t see it for weeks. Didn’t see it until after he died.

We had all been to church that morning and George came back to our house for lunch. His parents came later for dessert when preaching was over at Bethel Baptist. They left late in the day and George rode as far as the bridge with them, stayed for a while talking, then hugging goodbye, and then he walked back to the house.

Since we lived three miles closer to town and the train was coming through at 6:30am, Pa had invited George to sleep over. Lacey and I had made a pallet on the porch for him, right under my window. That way he and I could talk through the night. And we did. In the morning I rode with Pa to take him to the train station and then he was gone. Forever.

The letter George’s parents got said he’d been in an accident outside Madrid driving an ambulance. That was about all it said. The letter came in a small box that contained a ring that had belonged to his grandfather, a pair of silver cufflinks and a pocket sized Bible. After his father died George’s mother gave the box and all the contents, except the ring, to me. She wore the ring every day and was wearing it when she was buried. I have the Bible and the cufflinks. And this photo.

I miss him most about this time of the year, when the summer is slipping away and there are some ever so slight hints of autumn, when the stars are just a little brighter because the air is a little clearer.

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