Tuesday, October 09, 2007
This is Walter Dittemore, the grandpa I never got to meet. Aside from his wedding picture, this is the only picture I have of him. I love it. I think maybe he had just taken a bath and had gotten dressed, but forgot to put his shoes on, and sat down with his little girl (my mother). But on this day, October 9 in 1936, just before she was 10 years old, their lives changed forever. It happened to be a Friday, and I suspect the day started out much like any other day on their small ranch near Elbert, Colorado. At some point during the day, Walter got his gun, saddled the horse, and headed off across the fields. Maybe he was going to shoot a rabbit for dinner, or maybe a coyote that was eating the chicken. Eventually, the horse came back, but Walter didn’t. They found him later on the ground, dead. They think the horse probably stumbled, the gun went off, and the bullet hit Walter. That day changed my mother’s life forever. Knowing how much I love my own father, I can’t even image the devastating loss that must have been for her, not to mention her mother and her brother. If I had the chance to go back in time and tweak things just a bit so that he had not died, would I do it? There’s a question. I guess I wouldn’t. Because his death was the beginning of a chain of events that led the little family to California, where my mother eventually met my dad. So, going back to fix things for her would “undo” me, and my brothers and sister and heaven only knows where else those ripples would have gone. As terrible as the past sometimes is, I guess it is a good thing that we can’t “fix” it. I hope we will recognize our loved ones in Heaven. I want to thank this man with the kind face for loving my mother and being a good father to her, so that she was able to choose a good man for her own husband, who eventually became my father.