The Shortest of Lives
An unknown, un-understandable tragedy occurred on April 6th in 1963. Un-understandable because of my youth and naiveté to comprehend what had just occurred to our young family. A baby’s life didn’t happen. Rona Lynn Hart, a full term baby girl, didn’t survive the birthing event. She was stillborn and laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Blytheville, Arkansas. I was unable to ask questions because I didn’t know I could have (and should have) done so. Today I would like to know more about that day; did she breathe, did she cry, did she see the light of day? I would like to know more about what had happened to our family on that spring day in 1963. Depression and family breakdown are known complications of events such as these.
Who would have recognized, barricading oneself in their bedroom and shooting holes in the floor with an ill placed 22 pistol, as post-partum depression in 1963. Thinking it was nutso behavior then, wouldn’t be fair today would it.
We didn’t have the money at the time for what would be a proper burial so one of my squadron’s administrative officers at the Air Base contacted the Red Cross on our behalf. They agreed to give us the required two hundred dollars, but first we would have to sign a twenty-five dollar a month allotment over to them to repay the advance. I didn’t think much about it then but today I don’t harbor great thoughts about the organization, although I feel certain they have and continue to do good things in the world for many people in need.
Over the years I often thought about Rona Lynn and her unmarked grave. Ten years ago I decided to do something about it. I paid her a visit; she would have been in her late thirties by then, and I arranged for a monument to be placed on her unmarked grave. I am so happy I did that… in fact I am ecstatic. Because, about two weeks ago, I paid her another visit and I cried of course. I had difficulty saying goodbye. Now, in my advanced years, because of time and distance involved I realize I may never get back to pay my respects again.
What is even more remarkable about this my latest visit, I learned only a few days ago, Rona Lynn’s mother had been to the grave site just a few days earlier; we almost crossed paths. I wish we had. She too suffers the same time and distance problems as do I. Life travels on and you never forget the memories, both the good ones and bad.