I can close my eyes and see the most private man I have ever known. I know the tales I have heard of him. Those stories are etched in my brain as though they were about my own or those of my family. They were stories that were told from second hand knowledge at best as he didn’t like to talk about himself. He was no blood relation to me or my family, but he was my family.
When I was a little girl, he would come and visit my family. He and my father had been college room mates. Though the words were never spoken, I know he was coming to see the one he had loved from afar. The visits were infrequent, but he was always a welcome guest in our house. My parents would get a call and shortly there after, Fritz would arrive. He was usually on his way somewhere or another.
I know he was in Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and some other places that I can’t even remember anymore. He was well traveled. He and my dad took a trip together to Machu Picchu not long before he died. He spoke several languages – French, German, Vietnamese, and English among them.
When I was in my early teens, he gave me a ring. This ring was one that he had acquired while he was in Saudi Arabia. I recognize the emblem on the ring as not long after he gave it to me, my advanced learning class did a segment on the Middle East. The providence of the ring has I am sure been romanticized, but the odd trait that seemed to follow it is no fairy tale.
Since I received that ring there has been an odd occurrence that has happened. When I had contact with my Godfather, the ring would disappear. I wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere. When I lost contact with him, the ring would inexplicably reappear – usually in some place I had searched at least a hundred times before for it. I tell you this as it makes my last tale of my Godfather all the more eerie.
I had not seen the ring in months, not since before my parents last visit just after my birthday. They had brought Uncle Fritz with them. He didn’t look well, the impish gleam I had always seen in his eyes was not there. He shuffled as he walked. I was worried. I asked my parents what was going on. They wouldn’t tell me. He expressed concern about my situation – did he see something I didn’t at the time? It didn’t matter as my situation would not change for another 4 years.
One morning, about a half a year later, I was looking for something on my desk. I found the ring instead. Little did I know what the significance of it reappearing that day was. I don’t think it had been a half an hour later – though it might have been – my father called me. He said that I needed to sit down. I was already seated and told him so. He told me that Uncle Fritz died last night. I stared at the ring I had found just a short while before. My Dad repeated himself as he thought I had not heard him from my calm demeanor. I started to ask details that he didn’t know, so he passed me to my mother.
The details had answered most questions that loomed in my mind, but they didn’t ease the hurt. I went to the back of the house because I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, but they didn’t fall. Words rushed through my mind so I grabbed a scrap of paper and began to write them down. The poem “My Heart Lies Tattered” came from those words on that paper. That poem was written on February 07, 2003.
When I first read the poem to my father, his eyes welled up with tears. He told me that he didn’t know that I knew Fritz that well.
Some years later, I did try to find out the worth of the ring once when I was in pretty severe financial straits as it is 22 Karat gold. It is a man’s ring so it is not particularly small. The amount the vendor quoted me was not even enough to get a gallon of gas with at the time. As a result of the pittance offered, I took the ring back and walked away.
I have moved since then. My daughter made sure that the ring was sent to me when she found it. I know he is still with me, as we are all a part of those whose lives we have touched. As many in the community I grew up in say… “May his Memory be Eternal.”