By The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
When my parishioner Mr. Holberg Meyer came to me with a question I thought it was a simple one. So I thought the answer would be simple. The question was “Should I go to my niece’s graduation?” But I was wrong. As I pulled back the veil to reveal the history between Mr. Meyer and his niece Ashley I understood why he had difficulty deciding.
Holby, as we all call him, is a retired conductor whose family has owned a house in Halo for many generations. He lives in it now with his Boxer whom he calls Mendelson. Before he retired he was a visiting conductor at Trinity Church at Wall Street and Broadway in New York City. He conducted their “Concerts at One” series which is acclaimed.
Before he moved to Halo he lived in a house near his mother’s nursing home. He had cared for her during her ten year history with Alzheimer’s. When he placed her in the nursing home he turned one of his three bedrooms into a sanctuary for his mother so she could visit her collections of expensive antique music boxes, Hummels, antique crystal and antique silver. She enjoyed all of them. He thought if she could visit her possessions her life in the Spartan nursing home would be easier. It was a meager salve.
Holby took on the responsibility for his mother because his only sibling Ella lives in Portland with her family: her husband Alec, her daughter Ashley and her son Nathan.
When his mother passed away Holby inherited his family’s home in Halo and he decided to move here. His mother had left other assets to his sister. As he was packing up his house to move to the smaller house in Halo, his niece Ashley and her husband John visited him. His sister Ella paid for Ashley and John’s trip because she wanted her daughter and son-in-law to have a closer relationship with their uncle.
“When I came home from conducting my last concert at Trinity I walked into my mother’s room only to see that Ashley had placed yellow Post-its on all of my mother’s expensive items. She had written ‘Ashley’ on them. As I looked at the many Post-it items my soul became silent and empty. A horrible sadness fell over me. During the ten years that my mother had Alzheimer’s, Ashley never called, wrote, nor in any way asked about her grandmother. This was the same grandmother who had given Ashley $10,000 toward her college education.
The week after Ashley and John returned to Oregon my sister called me. During a pleasant conversation she mentioned that Ashley wants my silver and tapestry. How wrong I was in thinking that Ashley and John came to have a closer relationship with me. She came to take inventory so that at my death she can put Post-its on my valuable possessions.
I reflected on my relationship with Ashley. During each year of her twenties I sent her birthday and Christmas cards with a $25 check in them. She never thanked me nor contacted me. Oh that’s not correct. One year she did call me to say that there was no check in the card. I mailed her another one. When she turned thirty, I stopped.
Last week my sister called me and said that Ashley wants me to attend her graduation. She will be awarded a Ph.D. in bio-nuclear-molecular studies. Do you think I should attend? ”
I asked Holby if he wanted to go. He said that he was conflicted. He had never told his sister how he felt about Ashley. He also never told Ashley. “Sometimes if circumstances allow you not to pass judgement on a person, that road is preferable. But now I have to make a judgement. I guess it’s about forgiving. It’s also about supporting someone’s ambition and success in getting educated.”
“Why don’t you call Ashley and ask her why she wants you to attend?”
Ashley: “To be proud of me.” Holby went.
The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Choir Master (part-time)
The First Church of God’s Love