I’m not being dramatic. I actually believe that a lady by the name of Vera H. Edwards is speaking to me from beyond the grave. I am not kidding, not even a little bit. I know that I have a big imagination and I may be pushing my luck in the credibility department that I hope to have established with you; but I feel like I owe it to you, my friends and my readers, to tell you what has consumed my thoughts as of this past week, because, this is just too big not to. This is the story, and if you scare easily, you may not want to read it.
About three years ago I was browsing the local thrift shops and came upon an antique doctor’s bag behind a glass case. The thought of where this bag had been, combined with that it had been marked down from its original price, beckoned me. This old leather medical bag that had obviously a history of some sort at one time, had been bypassed enough times to have the price lowered. My first thought, I’m not going to lie, was that it could be worth something. I am forever looking for buried treasures....whether I'm scouring thrift shops or pick axing the roots of the weeds in my back yard, thinking I could stumble upon an artifact....like an arrowhead from American Indian times, or perhaps a skeleton of a hand or something, that would change the course of history forever. Like, it would be my back yard discovery, and me alone, that would bring to light that our species did not actually migrate from Africa, but from Kittery Avenue in San Ramon, California. Which takes me back to the bag....my second thought was how sorry I felt for it, knowing that this medical bag that had probably been used for bringing people to health and possibly saving lives at one time, had been devalued to the point of almost no value. I, being “the rescuer” wanted to rescue it. I spend my life rescuing dogs and people, defending the powerless, and as a little girl stuck a used crayon up my nose as a way of bonding and letting it know that I didn't care that it wasn’t as pretty as the new crayons. My parents, in having to pull it out with tweezers, didn't see the obvious and questioned my reason for doing someting so ridiculous. I, not having the words to explain it couldn't and was perplexed that they didn't realize in all their wisdom that the crayon needed to be rescued. Character really doesn’t change much as we grow older, but now instead of bonding with old crayons, I take in old medical bags. Someone has to nurture the weary; might as well be me. And so, I bought the bag.
After doing some research, my daughter’s friend exclaimed that the bag “creeped” her out, so I stuck it in the garage to save it from the verbal harassment of teenagers, and forgot about it. Fast forward three years, and suddenly, something called to me to find its history. The first hurdle was in finding the bag, which I did after tearing apart and thrashing my garage in the process (sorry, Richard). What I have found so far if my research is correct, is that Vera H. Edwards, (who is by the way deceased), owned the bag which I believe to be from World War II. That in and of itself, makes it a very special bag.
If I do in fact have the correct "Vera," she and I were born on the same day, October 8th, her husband’s first name was Wilbur, my last name is legally Wilber, and the last four digits of the number to the funeral home that I believe she was taken to before being buried are “0100." The last four digits of my home telephone number are “0100." So, as the coincidences unfold, I am becoming increasingly intrigued, almost in a sick, creepy sort of way.
These are the facts I have to work with: This bag had a few rips on the inside of the very soft leather, but the rips were sewn in a stitch I have never seen before, very carefully and with perfection. There is a box of gauze, an arm band, and a Red Cross book. The book, which is a training manual of sorts, has Vera’s notes meticulously written throughout, is signed on the first page and on the back “Vera H. Edwards,” and contains an Oakland address. I have already Googled the address and have virtually seen Vera’s house and walked around her block. Did I mention that I’m obsessed? The arm band has the insignia of the Civil Defense Corps. Medical Personnel from WWII. Here is what I’m most interested in….the date in the book. The book was dated by Vera on January 26, 1942. I researched this date only to find that on this day in history, America stepped foot for the first time in Europe (precisely Northern Ireland) during World War II. Does this mean that Vera was one of the first to be deployed to Europe during WWII? This, in addition to her story, is what I desperately want to know.
To date, this is the gist of what I’ve found. There is in fact a Vera H. Edwards buried at the Tahoma National Cemetery in King County Washington, a Veteran’s cemetery. She is buried with her husband, a sergeant, Wilbur G. Edwards. After researching Vera and Wilbur in the Oakland area, I found that a Vera H. Edwards from Oakland, donated $465 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on March 3, 1992. Perhaps she still lived in the same house in Oakland in 1992? Additionally, a Wilbur G. Edwards was a member of the San Francisco Bowling Association in 1949. Perhaps he joined a bowling league after the war ended? My greatest link to believing that these are the same Vera and Wilbur that are buried in Seattle, is that after hours (and hours and hours and hours) of research, I found that the Wilbur G. Edwards who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, Serial Number 39132114, has the same year of birth as the Wilbur G. Edwards buried in Seattle…which would make Vera H. who is buried next to him the woman I am seeking. Coincidence? Possibly, but I'm following this lead.
And so, as the saga continues and I continue to pursue many different avenues, this I know to be true....Wilbur died first. Vera, when buried, did not have a “next of kin” listed, only someone to represent her to sign the necessary documents for the cemetery. They would not release this person's name, but told me to contact the funeral home. I have called the funeral home twice, and will call three, four, five, or six times if necessary to find out what information they may have. They have no idea how relentless I can be. I will drive them nuts until they are convinced that the only way they are going to rid themselves of me is in fact, to turn over the information. That's just how I roll. I start out with the smoothness of Columbo and finish off with the persistence of Lucille Ball. Oh, I'll get the information alright.
But back to Vera....I really truly believe in my heart, that Vera wants her story uncovered. Maybe she died lonely, maybe nobody cared, maybe she is somewhere in limbo right now because she doesn't feel the closure she needs to move on. Whatever it be, she is speaking to me, and who better to tell Vera's story than....me....because, as my cousin Becky always says in an 80% truthful, 20% mocking sort of way - "I am the chosen one.”
The GOOD NEWS IS, I may be a little nutty, but Vera, I hear you, I am listening. I will get to the bottom of this, whatever it may be, and I will tell your story.
“To Be Continued…..”
Sweet Dreams and Always GOOD Dreams,