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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gray Matters: On confirming those rumors

Friday, September 22, 2006

Today I'm bringing you what might be called a "cautionary tale". 

The moral, I guess, is to carefully check the facts before you share a rumor.  The following happened to me recently.  So as not to alarm you, I will tell you, up front, that it did have a happy ending.

One recent evening a neighbor stopped by.  She saddened me by asking if I had heard that a mutual friend of ours had  passed away.  I had taught school with this friend, Eleanor Tostlebe Peterson,  years ago here in Marcus.  Following  that year she married her college sweetheart, Dennis Peterson,  then an air force flight instructor.  After the war they both taught in the Quimby schools for some years -- she commercial and he music.  They then moved to his home town of Odebolt where they finished their careers.  Denny died some years ago, but Eleanor still has many associations in Cherokee county.

My neighbor had been one of their Quimby students, and it had been through some of her former schoolmates that she had heard the sad news.  I found it hard to believe, but some of the  details sounded possible.  Frankly, I didn't sleep well that night remembering my friend and how  we had spent a delightful evening together recently at a 60th Reunion of our sophomore class.  She told of some health problems, but so did we all, and she had such an amusing way of making light of them.

            The next morning I decided to see what I could learn.  First, I called the local Funeral Home to get the phone number of a similar institution in her area.  Their answering service advised me to call back.  Next, I went on-line and got Eleanor's daughter's number.  This time I got an answering machine.  At that point, I decided if the tale were true, her family might be at the house in Odebolt, so I screwed up my courage and dialed her number.  Eleanor answered the phone! I was shocked, to say the least, and still thought it could be that her daughter's voice was that much like her mother's.  I stammered around, puzzling her, I'm sure, until she queried, "Is this Margie?" (one of the variations of Margaret with which I've been called over the years). To which I gasped, "Is this Eleanor?"  To my great joy and relief, she assured me it was.

            Then came the crazy part of having to explain why I had called.  In the midst of this, with her inimitable sense of humor, she said, "Wait a minute."  Shortly, she came back saying, "I just pinched myself, and I'm still alive!"  She also assured me she has provided a list of the people to be notified in case of such an event, for the convenience of her survivors.  I think that's a good idea for all of us oldsters.

            As you see, this tale did have a happy ending, but I do feel there might be another moral imbedded in it.  That would be to spend as much time as possible with dear friends. After all, I'm sure you'll agree that  chances of happy endings, such as the above, are really pretty rare.