My most recent newspaper piece is David’s Uncle Ed – you’ll find it right up at the top where it says “This Week’s column” – and it occurred to me that maybe people would like to see what he looks like. Here he is on his honeymoon, pretending to be exhausted by his husbandly demands. He was 33 when Auntie Fran set her sights on him and she was 40 and a real ‘looker’ as they used to say.
Here she is seeming to point in merry fashion at the bed in the little New Hampshire cabin where they had their honeymoon:
Two people on their honeymoon have only each other to take pictures of so here’s Ed with the drinks at sundown and then savoring one of his first breakfasts as a married man.
They had 45 years together though for the last ten of them Fran was like a bird trapped in a cage: perplexed, sometimes cross and finally so resigned to the her state that she stopped talking altogether – even let the food you put in her mouth dribble right on out again the second you looked away.
Fran isn’t even a mile down the road now, over in Oak Grove, in the lot which was bought for David’s young dad, dead so tragically at just 45 and now also holding David’s mom his wife Ruthie so that Ruth and Francis Payne sleep together as they slept as children in the little house in Manchester, New Hampshire, two girls born when the century was in its teens.
Ed was born in 1920. He wrote poems in the War – also profiles essays and funny songs, all while stationed in the jungles of the South Pacific with the bodies rotting on the beach. Then he came home and took care of everyone: his darling Fran, his mom til she died in the bathtub, a heavy old lady weary with the years. He takes care of me now. though he thinks it’s the other way around.
Here he is two springs ago holding our newest family member. Not your wispy old man with a jawbone thin tin as an axe-blade. He’s as substantial as they come in every way. He will leave a very large void when at last he goes to join the Payne girls over in Oak Grove not even a mile down the road.