Ann V. Klotz

 

Ann V. Klotz is a teacher, mom, reader and writer.  She is the Head of Laurel School in Shaker Heights, OH.  In her home live 3 rescue dogs and two cats, who kill things more often than she would like.  What keeps her up at night is thinking about how to do the best job she can educating girls without getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Follow her on Twitter:  @AnnKlotz. 

If God’s Up There and You Think He’s a Good Guy, Say “Hi” From Me (August, 2014. Issue 45.)

Dear Uncle Jimmy,

I’m writing from the roof of Eagles Mere; don’t tell Mom. We don’t really knoweach other, since you’re dead. The other day, Mom asked me to put clothes in the dryer, and the dingy lint from the screen stuck to my fingers and tore—like us now Rod is dead.

I talk too much. I need to say we passed his accident on Rte. 80 and Mom knew. But no one wants to talk or answer questions; they sigh and look exasperated. Recently, I feel so full of words I might collapse, like Blockhead—the towers Rod and I would build and topple, pieces scattered, after, for everyone to trip on. Could you listen and not be mad? I wonder if what I know about dead people is the truth, or if we lie to make ourselves feel better. I have a lot of questions.

1) Did you really run a hose from the 3rd floor window of this house down two stories to have a water fight with Charlie? How old were you and did you get in trouble?

2) Why did you tie an elk antler to the bumper of your car in Wyoming and hang it on the gable of this porch? Don’t most elk have two antlers? Did you just find the antler lying around or did you shoot an elk? If yes, what happened to the other antler?

3) Were you really a great musician? That’s what they say. We don’t have a piano because Mom couldn’t bear the sound after you died. She says once, in Italy, you kidnapped a piano, so you could play and sing for all the boys stuck on that beachhead with you. I wish I could have heard you. How’d you move it? What were your favorite songs?

4) Your fiancée, Aunt Joan—that’s what we call her—married your Princeton roommate, Collier? Are you okay with that? Every Christmas, she lays a spray of Juniper on your grave. Can you love someone forever after he is dead?

5) Did you know Mom loved you best—of all 4 brothers? That’s what I think. You took her to Porgy and Bess—sometimes, she slips that record out of its paper sleeve and lets me play it, carefully, on our old Victrola—I think she loves it because you gave it to her.

6) We have a framed snapshot of you and Uncle Bill. You have a helmet on, but your smile’s just like Mom’s. Bill got leave to meet up with you in Naples—he came from Morocco a few weeks before you died. Did you like Bill? He makes me kind of tense.

7) That May afternoon, at Anzio, did you know you would die? Were you scared? Did it happen all at once or did you lie there, lonely?

8) After Rod’s accident, I thought, “Oh, God, I’m just like Mom—she lost her brother, too.” Do you think that was a terrible thing to think?

Mom has a portrait of you (and one of Charlie, too) painted by some famous artist when you were little boys. Do you remember those? They hang right by her bed. You’re about seven, I guess, wearing a red sweater. You look a little bit like Rod. If there’s a heaven, I hope you’re playing backgammon with my brother—be careful; he has the family gift for rolling doubles. Mom says he got that from you.

The niece you never knew,

Ann