17 May 2011

To (My?) Mourning Family

To the Family of Frederick R. Suriman (May He Rest in Peace),

A few weeks ago I learned of Fred's death. I am very sorry for your loss. I never knew Fred and he never knew me. However, I was a little surprised to find nothing of my husband and children in his obituary, and I was quite surprised to see no record of my mother-in-law, and her mother. Had Fred made different choices, we would have been the ones mourning now.

Fred had another family before those listed as surviving him. His first marriage was to Ida Crane and they had a daughter, Martha. He abandoned this family when Martha was yet an infant. I married Brian, the elder of Martha's two sons (the younger is Scott). Martha kept her maiden name so that Fred might have a way of finding her if he ever wished to. He didn't, but the story goes that he owned a restaurant in Kalamazoo, and Martha's husband Tom visited a time or two to make himself known, and Martha, by proxy. Nothing ever came of it.

The reason I write is to make some connection between the past and the future, especially for the sake of my children. I don't hold any of you responsible for the decisions that Fred made, but I do mourn the rift in the life of this family. You see, when I saw the picture accompanying Fred's obituary, I saw the face of my seven-month-old son Arthur: eyes, cheeks, chin and mouth. I know that with Fred, clues to my children's identity passed away. While they will never meet him, I want them to be able to climb their family tree. My sons' names are Max and Arthur, two years and seven months, respectively. I ask on their behalf, and on behalf of our children yet to be born, simply for a willingness to tell stories about Fred and his life, should the children ever pursue it.

Again, my deepest condolences for your loss during this time of grieving.
Elena Tinnon