653. Three pebbles

© Bruce Goodman 25 July 2015


(This is written for the Cherished Blogfest. It is the second of the three days of the “fest” and I have a story a day. I depart for this “fest” from my daily fiction stance to the non-fiction. Click here to find fellow bloggers blogging for the Cherished Blogfest!)

Bruce’s mother had a brother. It was the 16th of December 1944. It was early morning. There was a knock at the door.

This was the visit all dreaded. Bruce’s mother answered. Yes, no, no, yes, no. Her brother was dead; killed in the war. He was buried miles and miles away, in a foreign country; way way across waves and waves of seas. Killed? Yes. Her only brother. In Italy. Or was it France? Or Greece? Or was it North Africa?

A few years went by and Bruce was born. As an adult, he visited his uncle’s grave. He brought three pebbles home from the grave to give to his mother. She placed the pebbles on a simple piece of driftwood next to a photograph. It was like a little shrine.

Bruce’s mother is dead now. At her funeral, Bruce took the pebbles and dropped them in his mother’s grave. Three cherished pebbles from Italy. Or was it France? Or Greece? Or was it North Africa?

39 thoughts on “653. Three pebbles

  1. Cynthia Jobin

    Fascinating how the perfect symbolic gestures occur to us in that mental parenthesis of loss of a loved one.
    Memory is carried in the stones….from the grave , to the shrine, to the grave….and so it goes.

  2. redosue

    I find the questioning of the place of your dead uncle’s death interesting. Do you repeat this because it doesn’t really matter where he died, the end result is the same? My mind lingers on this.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yep – good question. I was thinking similar things would apply to every war-killed soldiers’ families. So it was a vague attempt to become universal in one go!!

  3. Damyanti

    Bruce, so moving, and so profound, this.

    The objects we cherish come from a finite place, and have a finite life. The journey of those stones from one grave to another is so beautifully told.

    I hope your gesture brought a measure of peace to both brother and sister.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks, Damyanti. I always think it’s a privilege when you comment. And thanks too for instigating the Cherished Blogfest. It seems to be keeping me out of mischief for the day!

  4. arlingwoman

    It’s a very sad story with different versions all over the world. Thanks for telling us your specific one. I like the stones and that your mother was able to have them because you picked them up and carried them back.

  5. chrisnelson61

    I like redosue’s comment here – the fact that death occurs distant to loved ones is, perhaps, the telling and saddest point here. Strange, too, how we cling to the material as a ‘memory’. Well told, Bruce.

      1. Almost Iowa

        I liked the repetition, the cadence and the timing. Sure, one could say it is story, not a poem but it works the same way a poem works – and very well, I might add.

  6. Oscar Alejandro Plascencia

    Ah Bruce, you graver of words! This yarn you unravel is lodged in my throat. A grave tale poetically penned, wringing tears from my eyes as the image of three stones fall into your mother’s final resting bed. Cathartic writing at it’s best!


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