Grant Keltner



I can remember the night my mother’s cousin Meredith (nicknamed Cricket) died of cancer.  It’s a night that I’ll always look back on with sadness.  She died when she was nineteen, close to four years after being diagnosed with having the life-threatening disease.  It was 1966.  I was around eight years old when Meredith died.  She sounded like a cricket when she talked, that’s how she received the name Cricket.  My mother’s family took her passing very, very hard.  She was loved by the entire family and she’s still missed to this day.

At the age of fifteen, Meredith was diagnosed with cancer.  The outlook wasn’t very good; the doctors didn’t give her much of a chance to live.  She fought the disease with grace and dignity.  My mother was very close to her and enjoyed the time spent with her.  They shared recipes, talked about sewing.  As a child, Meredith was always kind to me.  She was genuine and caring; I loved her very much.

She was active growing up and popular, a very pretty girl.  She had blonde hair and she was close to her family.  She enjoyed sewing, baking and belonged to the local 4-H.  Her future was bright.

My grandmother was very close to all of her relatives.  Georgia was one of my grandmother’s cousin’s, she was very dear friends with my grandmother.  When Georgia was around thirty years old, she was diagnosed with having schizophrenia.  Back in the 1940’s and the 1950’s many doctors prescribed performing a lobotomy to cure the disease.  It had to have been a terrible experience for her when doctors performed the lobotomy on Georgia.  Meredith (Georgia’s daughter) was three years old at the time.  Georgia’s mother, Whitney watched over Meredith while Georgia was in the Washington state mental institution.

Georgia was such a happy woman at times.  She always liked me; I think I was one of her favorites.  She was different in a way, kind of distant and numb to certain things.  She talked to herself once in a while and the effects of the lobotomy could be noticed.  It was sad.  In the middle of conversations she would drift off thinking or wondering.  She was always in the care of her family.

I traveled with my mother and grandmother to visit Meredith, Georgia, and Whitney.  They lived in Vancouver off of Lincoln Street in a small home, close to my grandmother’s house.  I often saw them while attending family reunions.  She was always kind to me, waved my way, and wanted me to try her cakes and pies.

When Meredith was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors performed tests and prescribed medication for her.  It went in and out of remission.  In June when she was nineteen, a year after her high school graduation, she was back in the hospital.  Relatives flocked to be by her side.  My mother

rushed to meet my grandmother and other relatives at Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland.  I can remember when my mother went to visit her that night.  I went to bed thinking of her and hoping that she would be okay.  My mother got home late that night and went to bed and drifted off to sleep.

Around 3:25 a.m. Mom woke up.  She was cold; her body was colder than she could ever remember.  She was shivering and felt like she was freezing.  She got out of her bed and went into the living room to get warm.  She sat on the couch for about twenty minutes.  It was dark that night, darker than most.  You could hear the sounds of the boats cruising along the Willamette, crickets in a nearby field played a symphony of music.  She went back to bed and fell asleep.

The next morning mom went to work.  Around 7:30 a.m. my mother got a call from my grandmother.  “Shirley, Meredith died!” replied my grandmother.  My mother started to cry.

“Oh mama!”  My mother wept.  Meredith quickly passed early that morning.  I can remember watching her cry later that night.

My mother thought to herself.  “What time did Meredith die mama?” asked my mother.

“She died at 3:25 a.m.”  That was the same time my mother woke in the middle of the night.  All of the relatives were so sad over her death.  I think its eerie how she woke up out of her sleep that night, at the exact time that Meredith died.  Was Meredith telling my mother goodbye that night?

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