A FATEFUL DECISION
It is one of life’s most curious ironies that the more you attempt to forget some unfortunate choice, the more clearly you remember it.
Such was the case with Slim in his 27th year; the day before he was to write the bar exam. For reasons he would never fully understand, he sent a letter to Mary Abell explaining it would be best to discontinue their relationship. His rationale was that he was penniless and convinced his future was to be, at best, a traveling lawyer with little to offer her. Deep down, he had hoped she would reject the idea, but she never even replied. His modesty had backfired. For the rest of his life there was not a day he wasn’t sorry he had taken up his pen that night. Although he was to marry another Mary several years later, he told close friends he would always regret that ill-timed decision.
His name was not Slim, of course. Nor was it Tree or Crow which his confreres called him behind his back when he began his practice. Those monikers were conferred upon him due to his appearance which was, to be truthful, ungraceful. He was tall and thin, walked as if he would fall over and was not at all handsome. His large ears and sunken cheeks reminded one of the scarecrows the local farmers used in their corn fields, hence the second of the nicknames.
Despite this ungainliness and humility, he rose very rapidly to become one of the best known and wisest lawyers in his state. Perhaps these were the very reasons he was so successful. He seemed able to see beyond the facade of a case, into its depths where stood the common man. It was not long before his admirers began to hint politics could be his true calling. He ultimately succumbed to their pressure every moment wishing he had the original Mary at his side.
You will have no doubt guessed he was to become the 16th President of the United States whom the media christened a more affable ‘Honest Abe’.
There are still rumors to this day that, on his deathbed, his last words of ‘Mary, Mary’ were not directed to the mother of his children. I cannot deny that these rumors may have some truth.
Richard Torpey October 8, 2009
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