Last Letter to Jerry
The most poignant letter was probably from a doctor Jerry saw in early May, 1987. It has some very direct quotes, like, "...more than one person who saw you in the clinic felt that they could smell alcohol in your presence. You continuing to drink is a sure way to commit suicide, and will buy you plenty of misery, I can guarantee you." He offers alcoholism counseling and wants to see Jerry again in two weeks to check liver and potassium levels. It's dated May 7, postmarked May 9th, and Jerry died May 11.
The Crowder Letters to Jerry's Mother
Now I know that in the eighties you could send a letter to "The Lockett Family, Crowder, Oklahoma" and as long as it had a stamp on it it would be delivered. Several people did that after Jerry died.
One letter was from the warden of the prison Jerry broke into in pursuit of his Pulitzer. It said, essentially, "I respect this man as a journalist, but I am not surprised he's dead." There was a politician that said the same to the newspaper for the full-length obit. Evidently Jerry was a professional, very direct, and he got the story very fast. (No doubt because work was interfering with his drinking. The alcoholism amazes me. He never drank when he was with Mom. Then again, a lot of mental illness strikes in the early thirties; I suppose alcoholism could too.)
A counter to the damning letter from the doctor came in the form of construction-paper cards made by a grade-school class. The teacher’s note said that after the Challenger disaster, Jerry used his NASA connections to find where this class could send condolence cards. And now, here they were sending condolence cards to his mother after his death. Kind of a morbid cast to this teacher's lesson plans.
There's a letter applauding Jerry for his participation in the "Coalition of of Concerned Citizens." Uh-oh, I thought, that can't be good. Gotta find out who these people hate. Not to worry, Big Dot, it isn't the New Zealand group, unless they had a branch in a tiny Oklahoma town. But based on every CCC I've Googled, they hated someone.
And of course, there are a lot of sympathy cards to my grandmother, and interestingly many of them just say,"We love you." I would never think of putting that on a condolence card, but I suppose when a mother loses a child that's the best thing to say.