Letter: On Howie Swaim and friendship

I am our dearest Howie’s mother in law . . . he will always be “our son.” When Lisa’s call came (our daughter, his beloved) I remember my horrific screaming, and hers as well. They had been divorced eight years, but she never stopped loving him. After 21 years of  being by his side, she could no longer take care of him.

On our drive back to Pennsylvania from Florida a couple days later, we went into Warrenton to find the Times-Democrat newspaper office in hopes of finding the Rappahannock News. When I walked in, saw the rack in front of me and the RN sitting there I grabbed it up, turned it over and gasped.  My sweet “son.” So, so painful.

Many days passed, and I reread it so many times, over and over, being so grateful for the article and especially the lovely, smiling photo. How I remembered that smile.

The other day I was going to throw out the paper after cutting out said article and photo and thought the better, thinking I would read the whole paper that he loved so. Thus, I then came upon Jan Clatterbuck’s Washington column in the back. It was so beautiful. And I was so thrilled to have found it and not thrown it out. Your telling me about seeing him in his yard or getting into his car to go somewhere and you two would share your friendship and chat, gave me insight to him which is so important now. I am grasping at anything and everything. The poem you shared is so beautiful and heartrending . . . so perfect.

I just felt the need, Jan, to reach out to you and say thank you for your heartfelt message to all of us in your column. And I am so grateful to all his dear friends.


Liz Zande
Lake Ariel, Pa.

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