On March 6, 1944, an uncle I've never met died in WWII on an island in the South Pacific. Per the newspaper article below, he was a member of the famed First Marine Division and fought in many places during the war including Guadalcanal.
One of the many stories I've heard over the years is that Raymond's parents - my maternal grandparents - refused to accept the insurance money detailed in the two letters below.
Many years later, a decade after my grandparents wrote to the VA and asked them to stop sending the checks, it was discovered that someone in the US Postal Service was intercepting the monthly payments and cashing the checks.
Above/Below: Ray on the South Street Bridge in Wilkes-Barre PA in July 1941
Raymond M. Raykovitz was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on March 3, 1949.
Above: My Mom/Raymond's sister - pics taken 57 years apart
To the best of my Mom's recollection, and that of her siblings, the "Seven Sisters" rose bush in the pictures below was planted approximately ~65 years ago in the yard of their parents' home on Kent Lane in the Mayflower section of Wilkes-Barre, PA. Although the stories do vary a little, based upon other photos I have, it does appear to have been a Mother's Day gift from Mary's son Stanley and his wife Jean.
As I was cleaning out the Kent Lane property between 2012 and its eventual sale in October 2014, I pondered the fate of that bush. It had seen better days, but it still bloomed every year and - in addition to the hostas along the sidewalk - was one of the few plants surviving on the property from when John and Mary Raykovitz were alive.
About a month prior to selling the property, my sister and I decided to dig up some of the hostas ( they survived ) along with the rose bush. Based upon the 60+ year-old root system I was able to hack out of the ground, I truly doubted the bush would survive. When I got it home, I kept it well watered, prepped the spot I decided to plant it in, and mulched it liberally to protect the roots for what turned out to be a very harsh 2014-2015 winter.
Little by little, the transported rose bush began throwing out new shoots. This past summer, several roses bloomed that we were able to share with my Mom and her sister Helen.
As the new owner transformed the Kent Lane property into his home, one of the first things he did was to remove the front hedges and all of the trees and shrubs in the side yard to allow for off-street parking that is hard to come by on that narrow lane. The pink-flowering dogwood tree in the 4th picture below - now gone - was a Mother's Day gift I gave to my Mom in 1980. Seeing that ripped out did not disturb me as much as it would have if the rose bush was a casualty of his changes...but thankfully it was not.
As the bush appears to have established itself at its new location, I'll be doing some heavy pruning this spring to - hopefully - encourage new shoots to emerge.
In the end, I view that simple rose bush as a living touchstone to the past.
Above: Mary Barbara (Geffert) Raykovitz (circa 1960)
Below: Mary's three daughters - Rita, Helen & Mary (circa 1980)
Above/Below: Rose bush @ Kent Lane circa June 2014