Cumberland Times-News

Columns

November 24, 2012

It was good for him that she was a poor girl

Everyone should have a mystery; not one that bugs you constantly, but which resurfaces every now and then when you least expect it, and it makes you wonder.

Mine involves a romance that never happened. Maybe it never happened. I’m not sure.

Here is a case in which I apply Goldy’s Rule 102: There are too many What Ifs and If Onlys. Concentrate on the What Is and the What Can Be. These are the ones that matter.

Romances alone pose a mystery. No one can say how and why they begin, or how and why they end ... and some might never end at all, surviving even death itself.

My Grandfather James E. Goldsworthy never learned to read and write. Grandmother Margaret had to teach him how to sign his name. How they got hooked up, I don’t know.

He sent postcards to her while they were courting, dictated to someone else who wrote them. This may have cramped his style ... even though folks back then weren’t nearly as unrestrained as they are today.

I learned from old family correspondence that I share the nickname “Goldy” with my grandfather, my father and Uncle Abe. What people called my great-grandfather, who like my grandfather, father and I was named James, I have no idea. Probably “Mister Goldsworthy.”

“Goldy” was one of the names Mother Ruth called my father, along with other titles of endearment like “Ducky-Wucky,” which she used light-heartedly, to make him cringe.

If my parents had any idea that their son would find and read some of their letters more than 60 years after they were written, they probably would have been mortified.

Mother was engaged to Warren Harding’s nephew when she met my father. Dad was engaged to another woman whose name I don’t remember.

They started teaching at Piedmont High School and rode together for about a year. Then they both got dumped at about the same time ... literally, in the case of my father-to-be.

He went to his girlfriend’s dance and, after finding out she had not arranged a place for him to sleep that night (as I said, folks were more restrained than they are now), he wound up somewhere between Morgantown and Fairmont, hitch-hiking home.

My mother-to-be’s fiance tossed her for a rich girl. As Mom said in one of her letters to my dad, she was a poor girl from McCoole.

Unfettered, it didn’t take the two of them long to find out they were in love.

Two of my friends plan to be married next May. He’s a friend of longstanding, and she’s of recent vintage.

They were together years ago, but circumstances intervened. He went to Vietnam, and she married someone else — even though she would have waited for him.

More recent circumstances have put them back together — best friends as well as lovers.

She tells me she wonders what their lives would have been like if they had stayed hooked up, back in the day.

I told her things happen when and if they are meant to happen ... not when we want them to happen. If they had stayed together back then, they might now be apart.

Some scientists believe there are alternate universes, so many in number that everything that could happen, has happened in at least one of them.

If that’s the case, versions of me are associated somewhere with each of my numerous ex-girlfriends. Some of those me’s, I do not envy.

When I was much younger, I had recurring dreams about a young blonde woman, and we were in love.

For as vivid as they were, I was aware they were dreams. As they came to an end and I knew I was about to wake up, she always said, “Keep looking, and you will find me.”

One night when I was in Morgantown, I was walking behind the student union when someone called to me by name ... a young blonde woman on the walkway between two buildings.

It was dark and she was far enough away that I couldn’t see her face. She obviously knew me, but I had no idea who she was.

We exchanged a few words from a distance, but it was late, I was tired from working on the school newspaper and wanted only to go to bed. Besides, I already was occupied by a young lady who eventually would become one of my first ex-girlfriends.

So I said good-night and walked on. As days passed, I grew curious and wondered who she was. I looked in yearbooks and student directories, but found no answer. Nor have I, to this day. It may well have been an old friend I’d known for years, but with different-colored hair.

However, the day came when I noticed that I no longer had those dreams about the young blonde woman I would find, if I looked for her. Did I find her, only to walk away?

One of those old dreams was about being with her in a diner. Then a few years ago, I was driving through a town I’d been to before, but in a neighborhood that was new to me.

That is when I saw it. Stunned, I stopped the car and thought to myself, “I know that diner. I have been there.”

I could have parked and gone inside, but it would have been too late. She would no longer have been there.

Since that meeting behind the Mountainlair, I’ve dreamed about her only once while I was asleep — and not too long ago — but I remember none of it.

However, I may have dreamed about her one other time while I was very much wide awake and sober, under extremely vexing circumstances that had me wondering where my future would take me ... if indeed I had a future.

Was this a romance that never happened? Or was it a romance that did happen under circumstances I can’t explain? Or is it a romance that hasn’t happened yet? I don’t know.

The most unfathomable thing about the human mind is that just when we become convinced it is playing tricks on us, we may find out that it is not.

One thing I of which I am sure is that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. (We don’t have enough time today for me to explain that.)

What happens next? I don’t know that, either.

Which brings me to Goldy’s Rule 102a: The best thing about the future might be that we don’t know what it is.

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