Here we are, once again, the first of April. National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, Autism Awareness Month, Child Abuse Awareness Month, Jazz Appreciation Month — and that is just a fraction of April's responsibilities. It is also known as the "cruellest month" thanks to T.S. Elliot's poem, "The Wasteland."
For me, April is a bit more personal, the month I was born, an observation that is forever entwined with the sudden sickness and death of my father, 3 weeks after my birth. He got to hold me once, tears streaming down his face. His cause of death was listed as "uremia" - the family recalls being told it was from nephritis. So many years later, I collected his Marine Corps. service records, have a medal sent to me, and find something disturbing on his death certificate.
There is a second line for "cause of death." The second line says "pending chemical." No test results are attached. Suddenly, all the TV commercials about a water problem at Camp Lejuene become personal. I've been on a quest to get those Veteran's Hospital records, if they still exist. This is too much of a coincidence. Can the mystery of why a healthy 23-year old, new father, died suddenly from nephritis/uremia/renal failure?
This year, I dedicate my participation in NAPOWRIMO to the father I only met once, and I strengthen my resolve to find out what happened so many years ago.
|William Johnston Braman|