Fletcher, My Son

by Joyce
(Southern California)

Fletcher

Fletcher

Fletcher
(l-r) Visiting at the hospital, with Cousin Helen, my mother Verna, Fletcher, Aunt Dorothy, my sister Sandra

I wrote this story about my deceased brother while in high school. My brother and I were very close, even though he was seven years older than me.

He was extremely handsome--so much so, that all the girls in the neighborhood wanted to be my friend and his girlfriend.

My brother was diagnosed with liver disease at age 13-- cirrhosis of the liver. The doctors told my mother that the progression of the disease was such that he would only live to be about 21-years-old.

He died on January of 30, 1956, at the young age of 22, having had his birthday the previous November of 1955.

No other incident in my life since then, or now, has had such a profound impact on me, as did the early death of my brother. I spent many a night praying that his soul had gone to Heaven.

I dreamt of him often and each dream had the same outcome. That is, he would visit with us for a short time, but we knew it was not permanent and that he would have to return to his new home.

Moreover, when I awoke from the dream my heart was heavy with grief because I missed him so.

This is the story I wrote in the voice of my dear mother on April 25, 1958:

FLETCHER, MY SON


"Fletcher, my son, it has been two years since you left this world, and yet, I still grieve for you as if you had passed only yesterday.

"You are on my mind every hour and minute of every day.

"I think of the first time you became ill. You were only 13-years-old. Your condition was so bad that an operation was necessary.

"The doctors said you had a case of appendicitis, but the after the operation was performed, it was disclosed that you had a liver ailment, cirrhosis of the liver.

"The doctors did not know the cause, but they said that you would not live to be 21.

"How I wished them to be wrong, for how could I tell a 13-year-old boy, a boy who loved life so much, that he would not live to be 21-years-old.

"I made the decision not to tell you. Instead, I let you believe that you were as healthy as the boy next door.

"I think about how at the age of 17 you decided to join the army.

"I was very much against you joining because of your medical condition, but your stepfather assured me that I had nothing to worry about because you would not pass the physical.

"How wrong your stepfather and I were. You were, indeed, inducted into the Unites States Army.

"This was music to my ears as I thought that by chance, a miracle had occurred and you were no longer suffering with cirrhosis of the liver.

"Three weeks after your physical you left for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and you were not in the army 3 months when you suffered a heart attack.

"I rushed to you as quickly as possible and when I arrived, I found army officers scolding you about your condition.

"They claimed you knew you were not well and had deceived the army. They also claimed that you knew you were not physically capable to complete basic training, but they were so wrong because I had withheld that information from you.

"You received an honorable discharge, but you were unhappy with me because I had known of your medical condition and had not shared the information with you.

"Suddenly all of your dreams and plans for the future were shattered. I was to blame, but I honestly believed that not telling you that you were sick was the best thing to do.

"Now I see I was wrong. You had a right to know. However, in time you realized that I only wanted to shield you out of love and compassion.

"I admired you my son, because you did not let your illness hold you back. You were determined to make the best of what little time you had left on this earth.

"You found employment and it appeared on the surface that you were accepting of the inevitable--

"--until one evening, you broke down and cried, telling me how you would never marry, never have a family...I cannot imagine the suffering in your heart and soul. I only know I love you so very much.

"On November 7, 1954, you celebrated your 21st birthday, which was a happy occasion for us all.

"Our family did not have much money and the gifts you received were few things like a sweater, pair of socks, underwear, and a suit.

"Later, I watched you in your room as you cried when you clutched your presents. I do not know if you cried because of the presents or because God had let you live to see your 21st birthday.

"On December 15, 1954, you became ill and we took you to Hines Veteran Hospital in Hines, Illinois. You were there for 3 months.

"In July of 1955, you begged your stepfather to let you work with him in the steel mills in Indiana. Your stepfather was reluctant to give you a job, but you pleaded because you wanted to make some money and not be so dependent on us.

"He agreed and you were on the job one hour before you suffered a heart attack and fell into a twenty-foot pit. Back to Hines Hospital you went, back to the same ward and to the same bed.

"After the second heart attack, your resistance became compromised. You constantly caught colds, you lost so much weight that your clothes no longer fit.

"You spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital. You had been in the hospital a long time and you wanted to come home for a weekend visit. Your doctors initially were against giving you a pass to leave, but relented and home you came.

"On this trip home I noticed how you walked through the house as if you were taking a last look at the house you grew up in.

"You were only home a day, when again, it was necessary to immediately return you to Hines Hospital. This was your last visit home.

"On January 7, 1956, your uncle, who was also a patient at Hines Hospital died. I came to Hines to get your uncle’s belongings and saw you.

"You were surprised to see me and before I could explain why I was there you stated, “Uncle Charles died, didn’t he?” I said “yes,” and you cried.

"You then told me that you had a dream and saw yourself as you would look when you died. That in the dream you met death just before daybreak.

"I wanted to scream. Here I am getting my brother’s belongings and my child is telling me that, he too, will be leaving this world shortly.

"On Sunday, January 29, 1955, I visited with you at the hospital. During our visit I never once saw you make eye contact with me. You looked away during my entire visit.

"You told how cold your legs were and that you were not able to get warm, but you never looked my way.

"In my heart I felt that I was losing you. When I arrived home I went to my room, fell to my knees, cried and prayed that God’s will be done.

"Your dream came true at 3:45 a.m. on January 30, 1956.

"I got a call that you were passing and to come to Hines Hospital immediately, but before I could dress, the hospital called at 4:07 a.m. and said you had passed away.

"After your burial, you came to me in a dream. In that dream you said that you were put away as you hoped to be.

"You told me that although you had loved life--where you were now, you were at peace--and you would never return to this life for anything.

"So now, Fletcher, my son, I am lonely for you. My greatest comfort will be to see your face once again, to touch your hand, and tell you how very much I love you.

"You no longer belong to me, but to God."

Comments for Fletcher, My Son

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Aug 06, 2014
Beautiful
by: Myra

Fletcher was indeed a very handsome young man. Even reading your words now, so many years after he passed, I feel the pain that your mother and the entire family must have felt.

Why does it happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? We have no answer for those questions but we know that God is love and in Him we can find peace even when we can't find all our answers. Joyce, that was beautiful.

May 24, 2014
Love You Uncle Fletcher
by: MICHAEL

I remember my Uncle Fletcher. One time, I had zipped a zipper too far up my neck, and couldn't get it loose. He helped get it loose for me. I really appreciated that!

Apr 07, 2014
A Beautiful Soul.
by: Cousin Linda

Joyce I remember my Mother talking about Fletcher, she talked about how unbelievably handsome he was but more importantly she talked about how kind he was.. She would say Linda he was the kindest sweetest man she'd ever known. Well looking at the photo of Fletcher I can see she was right. He is everything I imagined as a young girl when I first heard my mother speak of him. I only wish I had the pleasure of knowing his beautiful spirit. Thank you for sharing that story. It has truly given light to what I had only imagined in my mind. God Bless

Jan 31, 2014
Fletcher, My Son
by: Joyce

Thank you all for your kind comments. I, too, wish you could have known him because he really was a cool kind of guy. He would have loved all his nieces and nephews.







Jan 31, 2014
Fletcher, My Son
by: Vicky

What a moving story! I am in tears. What must it have felt like for your mother to keep such a secret?

And, then, when Fletcher was aware of his fate, to have to come to terms with it at such a young age.

Like my other family members, I wish I had the opportunity to meet Uncle Fletcher. Thank you for this story.

Jan 31, 2014
Uncle Fletcher
by: Janine Phillips

Very moving story. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet him. Thanks for posting this.

Jan 31, 2014
My great uncle
by: Troy

Aunt Joyce that's a great story. I would often hear my grandmother talk about your brother. I'm sorry that I never got to meet him.

Jan 31, 2014
Your cousin
by: Sylvia J

Thank you for sharing this great story! Fletcher came from a strong & loving family.

Jan 31, 2014
My Uncle
by: Anonymous

Great story

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