Last week was an emotional week. As I am continuing to edit the book, I am also working on occasional articles for publication in various newspapers and magazines. I was asked by the editor for Blue Ridge Country magazine to write an article on Bob McGraw, a Civil War historian and reenactor from Tazewell, VA.
Writing the article was easy because all of the research had been done earlier for his inclusion in the book.
I met Bob perhaps a year ago. At the time he seemed healthy enough. He is in his mid-50s. I saw him again at the reenactment he organizes near the Crab Orchard Museum in Tazewell each spring.
The last time I saw him, I joined him for lunch at his favorite café in Tazewell just a few months ago. He had a bandage around his ear lobe. He told me that he had had a brush with melanoma and had a cancerous growth removed from his ear. I wished him well and didn't give it much more thought.
After completing this short article, I called him to arrange to send it to him for his blessing. The voice on the other end of the line was barely recognizable. Bob told me that he was in a hospital and would soon be returning home for placement into hospice care. His cancer had returned with a vengeance.
I was unable to discuss the article with him and uncertain as to whether to run it. My gut told me that he would want it printed, as it has been a passion in his life to educate people about the Civil War.
I had met his wife Anita once, and only briefly. I left a message for her on her home phone which she returned in a few days later. She told me that Bob, acting quite in character, had likened his situation to General Lee at Appomattox. Lee's battle against Grant was honorable but ultimately futile. Surrender was the only reasonable option. Bob's battle against cancer was similarly futile. It was time to surrender.
I spoke with my editor again and we decided to move forward with the article. As of today, I am awaiting a couple of sentences from Bob's wife with her thoughts about him that we can include with the article. If you'd like to get to know this caring and interesting man, please visit the website Anita has established for him at:
In my blog next week, I will give a progress report on the book. Until then, best wishes and thanks for reading.