I never knew my grandfather. He died when Mom was very young. Our family never mentioned him, and our questions were answered with brief responses; so I learned not to ask. But letters to my grandmother included his name in the title, Mrs. F.W. Smith, so I always wondered about this mysterious person. Her home was filled with photographs of family in albums and framed on walls and tables, but none of them included my grandfather. Those were hidden away in a drawer; found after she died.
One day when I reached adulthood, our aunt invited my sister and me over to her home and shared our family’s “secret.” She felt we needed to know this piece of our history. I am grateful to her for telling us about our grandfather, a captain in the Army who died at Jefferson Barracks. If she had not told us, we would still be wondering. I feel as if we received a gift that day; a gift of story, connection and family. Yet I will never know the whole story. It’s tempting to solve more of the puzzle, but that could lead to disappointment. Mysteries surround our lives; unknown truths that remain hidden. I am okay with living in mystery.