Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Chet, I Hope You Liked The Book Jennie Gave You

This is an "unknown girl gradute, 1947." So, I've decided to call her Jennie. I bought an old book of quotations the other day–apparently unread.  Most books that have been read even once have a slightly relaxed spine. Those that have been read many times show wear on page edges and the spine is very relaxed. This one looked new in every way, except for slight browning of the page edges on one side–indicating it had not been exposed for long to the sun or artificial light.  Inscribed on the inside cover of The Book of Noble Thoughts are these words:

To Chet, on his Graduation Day. Always remember I love you very much. I pray in years to come, no matter where you are, you will keep a place for me among your “noble thoughts.” With all my love, Chet. 
Forever, Jennie. June 11, 1947

That fascinated me!  It sounds as though Jennie loved Chet but realized he didn’t love her. Probably this was a college graduation, so I wondered what he did with his life–and what happened to Jennie.  I doubt they got together or the book would have been read. Did he keep the book even though he didn’t read it–and it was sold to a used book store after his death? Was he embarassed by Jennie’s words and left the book behind in the dorm, where it was stored and unread for decades? Did he resent Jennie writing about her love for him when the love affair was over, so he tossed the book in the stuff he brought home from college and it sat in his parent’s basement and later his own basement, before finally being taken to a thrift store?

Jennie’s Notes

On page 37 of the book was a thought by George Borrow, an author from the early 1900s who wrote about his life as a traveler.

Follow resolutely the straight path before you. It is that of your good angel.
Let neither obstacles nor temptation induce you to leave it. 
Bound along it if you can; if not, on hands and knees follow in it; perish in it if needful.
But you need not fear that–no one ever yet died in the true path of his calling before he had attained the pinnacle.

Jennie had written on that page: “This one is for you, Chet.”

On page 52, Jennie wrote: “This reminds me so much of you, Darling!”  She was referring to a thought from Victor Hugo:

He who every morning, plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth  of the most busy life. But, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidents, chaos will soon reign. Order prevents a darting mind with its distractions and diversions, and gives in its place a sureness of purpose and thought that brings calmness and confidence.

On page 60, she underlined one part of a quote from Robert Donlevy:

Do not be discouraged if you must climb a mountain to reach your heart’s desire. The view will enchant you to atone for your labors.

A Pleasant Fiction

Maybe Chet valued the book so much he treated it gently and never broke the binding or thumbed the pages, so it stayed pristine.  Maybe he couldn’t bring himself to give it away but was afraid it would be seen by others, so he kept it in a locker in the attic.  Maybe, after a long and happy life with someone else, he sold everything and moved to a lovely retirement community–and found Jennie living there too. Maybe they hold hands while they walk in the park, and they talk about how glad they are to have found each other again.  I hope so–and that’s what I’m choosing to believe.

June 21st, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work | 9 comments