A blogger's anniversary and unexpected gifts
This month I am beginning the fifth year of publishing this blog. When I began in 2005, I had no idea who if anyone would ever read the stuff that I write. I also wondered whether there was anything of social value to justify my efforts.
In the past two days, I have been delighted to receive unexpected evidence of the merits of blogging. I regard the evidence as anniversary gifts for the blog.
On April 14, 2005, only two months after I started Octogenarian, I posted a story entitled "Reflections on a 64-year Old Photo." Accompanying the text was a picture taken in the spring of 1944 at a U.S. Army base in India showing nine GIs posing in front of a volley ball net outside their barracks. I was one of the soldiers.
In the text I identified each man and revealed as much personal background of each one that I could still remember. Considering the declining state of my memory as a 84-year old, I am still astonished at what I was able to recall about most of the GIs in the photo.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a woman named Elizabeth Elfring, who identified herself as the daughter of Marlan J. Miller, one of the men pictured. He was one of my closest buddies in our outfit, the 903rd Signal Co., about whom I was able to recall considerable detail. Perhaps that was because we had had a reunion about 30 years ago at his home in Arizona, when my wife and I were on a tour of the Grand Canyon.
"What a great thing to find something about his his life, remembered in such a fond way," Ms. Elfring wrote, commenting on my blog posting. She revealed sadly that her father had died in July, a month shy of turning 85. "He had a rich life, full of music, art and friends," she said.
Then she really made my day, closing her e-mail message: "Thank you for opening a door into the life of my father."
Today, by an odd coincidence, I received an e-mail from Ronni Bennett, who publishes "Time Goes By," a valuable web site devoted to aging. Her site contains a regular feature entitled "Elder Storytelling Place." I had submitted my blog posting about the 64-year old Army photo to her, and she published it last August.
Ronni forwarded a comment that she had just received from a man identified only as John E. He identified himself as a younger brother of Marlan Miller. He said he "had been born the year the photo was taken!" [The photo can be seen on Ronni's web site; it has mysteriously vanished from my own blog archives.]
"Marlan was very reluctant to discuss his Army experiences with his family," John wrote. "So this photo and your brief mention of him is a delight! Thanks for posting it."
I regard the kind comments of Marlan Miller's daughter and brother as gifts to celebrate Octogenarian's fourth anniversary. They demonstrate how worthwhile the blogosphere has become as a social institution.