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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Ashes - Landmark and a farewell (for awhile at least)

   
Author Topic: Ashes - Landmark and a farewell (for awhile at least)
sndrake
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(As promised, I've condensed the first message in this thread - also changed the title a little, since it's not really a mayfly. If anyone comes on this late and wants a copy of the original message, you can email me through my email address in my profile. I decided it's important enough to me to save.)

I made an oblique reference of "more to come" regarding a project I'm working on concerning an old Super 8 movie in this thread.

Fact is, it's just the first of many "projects" I will be working on over the next few months. Something happened three weeks ago that has made me decide to reorder my life.

For all intents and purposes, I tend to live my life as though it began about 15 years ago. I don't have any connection to people I knew and was close to before that time - it's kind of like the time from high school to the age of 35 or so doesn't exist for me, except for the time spent with family.

That all came crashing down about three weeks ago when an old friend emailed me. I hadn't heard from him for about ten years. He identified himself in the header. The message, in part:

quote:
I'm afraid that I have some bad news.
C died today.

He gave me his phone numbers and after a few phone tag sessions we connected. I was sad, but more or less OK for about 3 days - then everything came crashing in...

Back in 1973, C was 16 and I was 17. We'd been pretty good friends for a couple of years and had ended up being the girlfriend of two of my closest friends at various points. C was a slim, dark young woman about 5 and half feet tall, the thickest head of really dark hair I've ever seen, with large gray eyes.

To make a long story short, we began a relationship that resulted in marriage in 1977.
We broke up - my doing - in 1885. Over 12 years of being a couple and good friends before that.

Again, due to the way I mostly did not handle things, turns out I need to spend some time doing some serious reflection and to work on one final thing I can do for "C" - and maybe work some things out for myself in the process in a way that gives someone else something of value.

But thanks for everything. I've had a good time here and hope to be back again.

[ January 07, 2006, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: sndrake ]

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Eaquae Legit
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(((Steven)))
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breyerchic04
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Sndrake, this really hit home with me and I'm not totally sure why. I"m trying to compile similar documents and stories about my grandfather and his 11 siblings, but I think we've waited too long and may have lost the opportunity.
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twinky
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Best of luck. I hope we see you again sooner rather than later.
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Wendybird
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Best of luck to you. It sounds like a very ambitious project but one through which you can find some peace. What a wonderful gift you will be giving her son. ((hugs))
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Uprooted
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sndrake, I don't know you but wishing you well with this. You will be so glad it is one of the things you made time to do in your life when you look back on it.
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Noemon
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I'm sorry that things have unfolded like this for you, Stephen. It sounds like what you're doing is going to be a very good thing for you, in terms of reconnecting with your past, and the end result will be priceless for C's son.

I'm glad that you're going to be actively nurturing your relationship with Diane as you're working on this--that was something that I was debating suggesting that you do, but I'm not surprised to find that there was no need for me to be concerned.

Good luck. Hope to hear from you again when you've finished this project.

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Kwea
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Steven, I hope you find the closure you need, and manage to do something special for her son.


You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Kwea and JenniK

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katharina
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Oh, wow. I'm very proud of you, and I think this is a wonderful thing you are doing. Her son will love it. I remember when my mother died, the notes I cherished the most were the ones where they shared memories of my mother with me that I hadn't known. He'll love it, more than I can say.
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ElJay
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Thank you for sharing this. All my sympathy, and good luck with this project.
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Sopwith
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(((stephen)))

That's not an easy road, but I hope you'll find it rewarding. There's a young boy out there who will be deeply encouraged about life because of what you are doing.

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El JT de Spang
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It's never too late to make amends, and I hope it goes smoothly.

How did she die, if I may ask?

[ January 03, 2006, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: El JT de Spang ]

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dkw
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Virtual hugs and real-life thoughts and prayers for you and Diane and the young man.
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Storm Saxon
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You'll always be welcome here, Steven. Don't be a stranger.
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Belle
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We'll miss you.

quote:
We can't give him his mother back. But we can give him as much as we can of the story of his mother before she got to be his mother. If we don't tell her stories, no one will and he'll never know.
Trust me, as someone whose father wasn't part of her life for 30 years, that is a powerful gift. Hearing stories about him and my mother when they were together, listening to people talk about things that previously were verboten has helped me connect with who I am. you're a good man, you're doing a good thing, but come back because you make hatrack a better place. *hugs*
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JennaDean
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Good luck, Sndrake. My father died when I was 15. I still love to hear from people who remember him - they're getting rarer. Hearing stories about him that I hadn't heard yet makes it feel like he's still around, somehow. Like his life isn't really finished because I'm still learning new bits of it. Her son will really appreciate your work. And I hope it gives you some peace as well.
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Farmgirl
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Wow. Stephen, my thoughts and prayers are with you during this. What a time of soul-searching for you. I hope you will come back and let us know how you are doing some time in the future.

Farmgirl

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mackillian
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It's things like this that make the intangible goodness in the world become tangible.
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rivka
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(((((Stephen)))))

Go in peace, and return in peace.

It is a very good thing that you are doing.

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jeniwren
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Wow. This hit home with me too, but I know why, though the cases are a bit different. Midsummer last year I got a similar email about a man who'd been pivotal in my life for about 15 years. My family and I visited his widow last autumn. It was very strange, but good. I was glad we made the effort. It hadn't occurred to me to gather some of my photos from those years to send her -- she was around during all those years too. But his son might like to see them. I might make it a project too.

I think it's wonderful what you're doing too. And that you're handling it this well. I was a bit scattered for months after getting the news in my situation.

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MyrddinFyre
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I think this is a wonderful project youve taken on, and I wish you good luck. I'll be thinking of you and the young boy.
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Derrell
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(((sndrake))) I hope the project goes well.
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Shawshank
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I hope everything goes well sndrake. Reading this touched me- and I don't have any similar situations at all. But that sounds pretty amazing- good luck and God bless.
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romanylass
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((((Steve))))
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JonnyNotSoBravo
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That was a heartbreaking story. Thank you for sharing that part of your life with us. Please email me if you're in the Seattle area and need a place to stay to reduce travel expenses.
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Tante Shvester
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Good luck. Take care.
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Icarus
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Wow.

I'm touched right to the verge of tears.

Good luck with that. See you when you return.

(((Stephen)))

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ketchupqueen
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Godspeed on your mission. It's one of love, and I admire you for doing it. I know it must be painful for you to do it, but knowing the kind of person you are, I think it might be more painful not to. And I admire you for that.
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imogen
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Good luck, Stephen.

I'll be happy to see you return - but take all the time you need. I'm pretty sure you don't need me to tell you that though. You strike me as someone who, when they have made up their mind to do something, sees it through.

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sndrake
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I am going to try to take the time this week to respond to all the kind responses from folks.

Noemon:

quote:
I'm sorry that things have unfolded like this for you, Stephen. It sounds like what you're doing is going to be a very good thing for you, in terms of reconnecting with your past, and the end result will be priceless for C's son.

That's my hope. And so far, every bit of feedback I've gotten has indicated this really is the right thing to do.

The Super 8 I alluded to in the other thread is - I believe - of our wedding. I have to see what's on it. J - the guy who is one of the temporary (and will undoubtedly be a permanent one) guardian told me that C's son doesn't have any pictures of his grandfather, who died before he was born. His great-grandparents should also be on it - and C was very close to one of her grandmothers. But I have to see what's on it and write down explanations of who is who in the film.

And then I'll call J to ask him what he thinks should be done with it and when since he knows the young man better than almost anyone and is legally responsible for him. Could be that for now, I see if I can grab prints off the film, provided this 29-year-old tape still has anything viewable on it.

quote:
I'm glad that you're going to be actively nurturing your relationship with Diane as you're working on this--that was something that I was debating suggesting that you do, but I'm not surprised to find that there was no need for me to be concerned.

Well, even someone as dense as I am can learn from lessons of the past. And relationships can die from neglect as effectively as they can from irrational bridge-burning behavior. It just takes longer.
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Morbo
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I'm sorry for your pain and loss. ((Stephen))
Good luck with your project, it sounds like a great idea.

I'll miss you, Stephen. [Frown] You have made me rethink various opinions, and that's a good thing. Hatrack will be poorer in your absence.

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KarlEd
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quote:
And relationships can die from neglect as effectively as they can from irrational bridge-burning behavior. It just takes longer.
Or in another sense, relationships never die. Even a neglected one is there as long as one party remembers the other. That's part of what makes them so precious. They can bring us joy or sorrow, but whichever it is, they are there as testaments of our past, who we were, are, and will become.

I wish you well on your quest. As someone who has recently buried his (still living) father, your story has hit me in an odd way. Thank you for sharing. I hope you find peace and will bring comfort to C's son and to yourself through your project. Please post again when you're done. We'll miss you.

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sndrake
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quote:
It's never too late to make amends, and I hope it goes smoothly.

How did she die, if I may ask?

JT,

I disagree. There is no way to make amends, since the person in question is gone. What this is falls into the category of "what I can do.

She died of cancer - according to J, the guardian, he's heard unofficially it was colon cancer. C didn't like doctors much, but had been feeling lousy and had a doctor appointment scheduled that day. She never made it. Her son found her when he came home from school.

Note that if it *was* colon cancer, being a regular visitor to the doctor probably wouldn't have accomplished anything more than giving her some warning (although that is worth something) - they don't start screening for it until you turn 50. She was 49.

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Miro
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Good luck, Stephen. This sounds like a really big and worthwhile project. I hope it turns out well for you.

See you on the other side.

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Space Opera
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quote:
Originally posted by mackillian:
It's things like this that make the intangible goodness in the world become tangible.

Mack nailed it. Thanks for the goodness, Stephen.

space opera

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sndrake
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Belle:

quote:
Trust me, as someone whose father wasn't part of her life for 30 years, that is a powerful gift. Hearing stories about him and my mother when they were together, listening to people talk about things that previously were verboten has helped me connect with who I am. you're a good man, you're doing a good thing, but come back because you make hatrack a better place. *hugs*
That's kind of you. But I know I haven't been the most supportive of people here of late. There have been a lot of people here going through stuff and I realize I haven't been doing or saying much in the way of support for those like you going through some scary struggles.

Your message and this one by JennaDean are tremendously helpful:

quote:
Good luck, Sndrake. My father died when I was 15. I still love to hear from people who remember him - they're getting rarer. Hearing stories about him that I hadn't heard yet makes it feel like he's still around, somehow. Like his life isn't really finished because I'm still learning new bits of it. Her son will really appreciate your work. And I hope it gives you some peace as well.
I'm trying very hard to separate the issues of what I need for myself and what I can offer that can actually be of any comfort to this teenager. I think maybe my instincts on this are on track and it will be something meaningful I can do for C - and her son - even if she doesn't know.

I'll keep on doing replies through the weekend, condense that first post and then log off.

In the meantime, I'm beginning to play with pictures and trying to provide some context to them with a website xnera recommended:

Pictures

I like this site. When I start digging through my boxes, I'll probably make a new folder for Diane. [Smile]

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El JT de Spang
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You can never patch up things with her, since she's gone. But you can assuage your guilt doing something for her son, which is what you're doing.

That's all I was suggesting.

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Noemon
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quote:
That's kind of you. But I know I haven't been the most supportive of people here of late. There have been a lot of people here going through stuff and I realize I haven't been doing or saying much in the way of support for those like you going through some scary struggles.
All of us who are here for the long haul have periods of quiesence--it's necessary to take a step back from the forums sometimes.
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sndrake
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Departing from the general tone here, one of the many people I contacted after C's death was the minister who married us - a guy who was a youth minister to a bunch of misfits, most of whom didn't even belong to the Church. Among other thing, he's the guy who gave me my first copy of Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky.

He's not the only one whose politics haven't changed and is being creatively annoying:

How would Jesus vote?

quote:
Updated: 1:06 p.m. ET Aug. 18, 2004
AUSTIN, Tex. - Just a few miles from George W. Bush’s former office at the state Capitol, a panel of religious experts weighed a question with relevance to many people of faith: How would Jesus vote?
***

“The sound bites and the headlines have co-opted people of faith,” said the Rev. Tom Heger, pastor of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Manchaca, south of Austin. “It would be a surprise to a lot of folks to discover that there are some very faithful, regular church attendees who aren’t going to vote for Bush.”

And, more recently, this:

Voters could end marriage for all?

quote:
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"I do" could become "by golly, we didn't" for more than 4 million married couples in Texas if voters approve a clumsily worded proposed constitutional amendment, opponents said Monday.

But it's not so, replied a Dallas-area lawyer who helped write Proposition 2, which would ban same-sex marriages and will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
***
In the automated telephone calls that began Monday, the Rev. Tom Heger, a former Austin pastor leading San Antonio's Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church, says in part: "A greedy insurance company, tricky divorce lawyer or a liberal Austin activist judge can easily use these words to overturn traditional marriage and cause people to lose health insurance, tax breaks and pensions."

I've been meaning to contact him for years. Turns out he's been tracking my own career - and approves, which still matters. And for a half-hour he was a pastor to this agnostic once again.
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Bob_Scopatz
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Cool.

JennaDean, I was a similar age when my father died. I value every nugget of information I can get from people about him. We were just putting the building blocks down of what I like to think would've been a beautiful adult relationship when he died. Other people knew him in ways so radically different than I did -- I agree that it's wonderful to hear the stories from their POV.


Stephen, I really admire what you are going to do for that young man.

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sndrake
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Bob and everyone who has replied on this thread,

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and support.

Some individuals:

Noemon: thanks for the link.

JNSB: thanks for the invite - and my next bit of business, btw, is to transfer all my meat and goodies to the clan stash on KoL, because I don't plan on having time for that any more either.

KarlEd: Thanks for your thoughts on the enduring nature of relationships. Someone wrote me privately about the impact of these kind of events on the sense of our own mortality. Oddly, that's one thing I'm NOT dealing with right now. It's probably that I'm a creature of limited capacity and am too full of both the past and present to focus on the all-too-certain future.

But maybe this is preparation for that kind of thinking. A lot of this is almost a form of reintegration of a self that's been walled off. I think when I'm finished I'll have that better sense of who I am, where I am and how I got here.

Bob: I didn't remember that you lost your dad so young or I never read anything you wrote about it. The young man left behind right now had no father. C's two immediate family members are estranged and likely to remain so for some time. Those connections with the past will only happen if those of us who are not family take the task on.

Hopefully on Tuesday I'll get the footage back I took to be converted. It's from our wedding. I don't plan on sending that to the teen - but I think if I'm lucky, I might be able to have prints made off the film of his grandfather and great-grandparents. He doesn't have any pictures of them and I'm told he'd like some.

Well, that's all for today. I'll post again tomorrow for my final goodbye. I won't be logging on after Sunday night.

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whiskysunrise
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Good luck.
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Kwea
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Stephen, I hope that the pictures come out well, and the conversion does as well....but keep in mind that if they don't you still have the most important thing left.

Your memories of her.


Even if all you can do is write them down on paper for him, it still gives him something tangible, something he didn't have before he met you.


My grandma had a letter from Johnny Unitas about my uncle that she read over and over again until it fell apart. My uncle, who died before my father was ever born, played college football with Unitas, and they were both All_Americans while they were there. We even have a play book saying "Brill to Unitas" where my uncle passed to him rather than the other way around. [Big Grin]


His memories of my uncle meant more to my grandma than most pictures. Unfortunately the letter was worn to shreds after so many years of reading it, but it was always a bit of comfort to her.


Save those memories for him, one way or another, for his sake, C's, and your own.


God Bless.


Kwea

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sndrake
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Kwea,

thanks.

I'm not counting too heavily on the conversion and what I can get out of it. But it would be nice...

The photo project and the written story project are two separate, but related things. As I sift through old pictures and get others to do the same, it helps trigger a lot of memories stretching back several decades. (that's why some travelling is important - a couple of middle-aged people talking face to face over old photographs will be a lot more helpful to the memory process than any amount of phone calls.)

When the written project is complete, my hope is that it will cover a lot of C's life from about the age of ten until about 11 or 12 years ago. So it will begin before I entered her life and end after I was out of the picture.

But, yes, I'll have a much clearer set of memories of the time C and I spent together once this is done.

And it won't be a gift from just me - I figure it should be clearly labeled as a gift from all the people who contributed. People who knew and loved C at various points in her life - and still carry her stories and their love for her.

(Back later at least one more time today...)

And here I am. [Wink]

Decided to sneak this little goodbye by editing my last post rather than bumping the thread again.

See y'all when I get to the end of this - as long as fortune permits. Be well.

[Wave]

[ January 08, 2006, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: sndrake ]

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