Memorial Day is coming up, so I offer my annual note about Harlan MIller. Mr. Miller, as most everyone called him, died in abject poverty, an old man having no immediate family, and only one shirttail cousin. He was used to it. He’d been born into poverty and knew very little else his entire life. Just the same, he was as self educated as a man could get from books of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It left him stuck in an intellectual time capsule, but with the ability to write his daily journal in Latin.
He got drafted early in WWII. A little training, and then to the invasion of North Africa. It didn’t take long. He was blown up and littered with shrapnel. He got out of the hospital about the time the war ended. Back home he wasn’t much use to anyone. Too many wounds, too few skills; it was easier to become a hermit. And hermit he was till the day he died. Yet he found his way to the church, seldom missed a bible study, offered curt one sentence advice to women on how to act like proper nineteenth century ladies, gave irises for the garden, and sometimes a small bag of tea to those he knew had a fondness for it. A few pennies in the plate was an honest tithe, one of the few.
The rector of the parish was the executor of his ancient will. I was the rector. When all was done and his tiny shack sold for the land it was on, two congregations, one in Canada, each received about $10,000, the fortune of a lifetime. It was, perhaps, the most generous gift either congregation will every receive.
Maybe I’ll put an Iris on his grave this year. Mr. MIller. How many Mr. MIllers were there, and are there still?