Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dedicated to Posterity

There are those stories that make you feel like life does have magic. It simply must, otherwise the story would never exist. I love those stories. They bring inspiration to our existence.


I can’t remember when Jeannette Harris first shared her story with me. I think it was one Christmas day after all the presents had been opened, after my fifth slice of pumpkin bread, after the Wassail, and the craziness of friends stopping by. I imagine it was in the dim light of her living room with the Christmas tree aglow and the stained glass window in the hall lit up. Ah holiday lighting: it’s cozy and creates the perfect setting for a story. She began:

“My mother, Ruth Carey, had moved from the Poconos to Key West. Her family was Pennsylvania Dutch and she was the pioneer of our southern Florida family. My brother, George, was five at the time when I was born. My Gramma, Emma Hohenshilt, ran a birth announcement about me in the Stroudsburgs newspaper up in the Poconos. She then watched for the printed version and clipped two copies to send to my mom as a keepsake.”


Ruth received the letter and read the birth announcement. She was beside herself upon reading an error in her baby girl’s name. She wondered how they could make such a mistake and how her mother did not catch the error before sending the clippings along in the mail. Disgruntled, she pasted the birth notice on the inside cover of Jeannette’s baby book, the Log of Life Dedicated to Posterity. It sat across from the baby photos and cards that accompany the joy of a new life.

Fast forward to the days leading up to Jeannette’s wedding. Her fiancĂ©, George, had been anticipating some sort of “sign” to validate their decision to spend their life together. Six months before the wedding George started talking about this sign. He had full faith that something would appear by their wedding day.


The sign became a fixture in the hustle and bustle of the wedding preparation. As the days before their wedding day dwindled, the curiosity of friends and family grew. Everyone began asking about it. Though George had full confidence in the matter, even his nervous mother wondered, “What does this mean?” Jeannette was apprehensive but sure something would appear. She would kid about it with the rest of the group as the jokes ensued: “Maybe you missed your sign in your sleep, George...”

Two days before the wedding, Jeannette began to wonder when this sign would come. Still she packed up her childhood and prepared to move into her married home. That afternoon as she was going through stuff with her father, they had a very sentimental and reflective time deciding what to save and what to toss. They found the old baby book and looked through the few photos in it. Ruth hollered, “Finish packing and get ready for the rehearsal dinner. Please make sure everything is in the box.”

When her father went to put the Log of Life in the box, the old birth announcement fell out. He picked up the little square piece of paper and slowly sat down on the floor upon reading it. Jeannette thought something was wrong as she watched her dad. He said to Jeannette, “Call George, here is his sign.” He also yelled out, “Ruth come up here immediately. We found George’s sign.” When Ruth came in the room, her husband handed her the announcement. She looked at it but didn’t read it. They had to tell her to re-read it again. When she did she said, “I remember that,” and started to cry.

Birth Announced
Word has been received here of the birth of a daughter to
Mr. and Mrs. George Carey, of Key West, Fla., on November 10. Mrs. Carey is the former Ruth Hohenshilt, of the Stroudsburgs and they have a son. The baby will be named Jeannette Harris.

Mrs. Carey’s mother, Mrs. Emma Hohenshilt,
who recently returned from California, expects to visit her new granddaughter at Christmastime.


Jeannette called George. She was so excited and giggly; jumping up and down. “You’re not going to believe this: we’ve got your sign!”

She went on to tell George about their discovery. George was blasĂ© and said, “Oh yeah? Cool.” Jeannette asked if that was his sign and he said, “Yes.” Jeannette’s dad got on the phone and said, ‘What do you think about this?” George said, “I knew it would come.” Jeannette’s dad commented, “He had more faith than all of us.” For his part, George was glowing at the rehearsal dinner.

On her wedding day, Jeannette placed the second copy of the announcement in George Harris’ bible, which she carried up the aisle.

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