December 6, 2014

Gone Off My Christmas Card List—But Not Forgotten



Note: This article is a cheat, as it combines two 2014 WordPress challenges:

listing, and gone but not forgotten.

‘Tis the season for suspense-building lists, the December 2 daily challenge began. Everybody loves (or at least loves to hate) a list…I invite you to breathe new life into the established genre of the end-of-year countdown list.

Then on December 5, before I tackled the above challenge, the WordPress weekly photo challenge asked writers to show us what “gone, but not forgotten” means to you.

Hmmm, I thought. I’m just about to tackle my Christmas card list. Over the years many persons have been “gone” off this list—persons who have died, but are not forgotten. I decided to make a list of these persons, with some photographs, and to write one sentence about them. The first ones will include photographs: gone but not forgotten.


Albert and May Isabelle Briskay, my grandparents, who cared for my older sister and I until we were about 7 and 9 years old; I recall his sitting in a chair smoking cigars and her making me stand on a stool while she pinned the hem of a dress she was making me.


Albert Adam Briskay (Borinsky)

Albert Adam Briskay (Borinsky)

Nancy Lipsius, my mother, died too early, since she was just beginning to share her life stories with me—it had been a slow journey getting her to talk about her life.

My mother, Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

My mother, Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

Robert Cornell, Chief Photographer in the Navy, my father—whom I only met twice and not until I passed age 30—is remembered for his tremendous photography.

Chief Navy Photographer Robert William Cornell

Chief Navy Photographer Robert William Cornell

Photo by Chief Navy Photographer Robert W. Cornell

Photo by Chief Navy Photographer Robert W. Cornell

Todd Jay, my Godson, who, although over 6-feet tall, covered with tattoos and wearing leather and chains, had the heart of a teddy bear.

Jamestown (PA) Fair 1995

Jamestown (PA) Fair 1995

Eugene & Doris des Isles: Eugene carried the name of my 7th generation ancestor, Louis des Isles, 1791 French immigrant to Trenton (now East Lamoine) Maine; I’m basing the personality of Louis (in my novel) on that of Eugene. Doris was always greatly hospitable and welcoming when we visited her in Bangor, Maine. Photo taken at Lamoine Beach, Maine and includes Gene and Doris’s son David des Isles and his two daughters. Picture below is Louis des Isles, early 1800s.

The des Isles family---Doris, far left; Carolyn far right; Eugene left of Carolyn

The des Isles family—Doris, far left; Carolyn far right; Eugene left of Carolyn

 Louis des Isles edE

Charles (Chuck) Martin, a Beanery Writers Group member whose ancestor and my ancestor, Michael Rugh, were on the same committee of five men who chose the location for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, courthouse—something we didn’t know until after our ten-year relationship in the writing field.


Robert Mendler, a Holocaust victim from Nowy-Tag, Poland, who lived in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and permitted me to interview him for stories.

Russ Roy, an albino, and I had a unique relationship in which he taught me how to deal with a blind person and I widened his world view, even though he often rejected the ideas after accepting them.


Pat Roy (along with Bonnie Fleischer and Lois Davenport), considered the four of us as a sister group; she served on Jamestown’s Family Support Program (a Children’s Trust Fund program I headed); she opened her home to me and my nephew Todd, a tall blonde covered with tattoos and wearing chains, when I returned to Jamestown during fair time—Todd was working at the carnival.



Ardis Bigelow,

John (Jack) Briskay, my uncle, who allowed me to climb on the back of his chair and comb his thick hair.

Renee Cunkle, wife of a Slippery Rock State College (now University) Pennsylvania, math professor knit a sweater for our daughter and taught her and our son to count steps in French—she was a World War II war bride.

Jim Egli: a Slippery Rock State College (now University) Pennsylvania professor whose Christmas card always featured one of his favored photographs.

Bonnie Fleischer: in Jamestown, Pennsylvania—upon returning to the community after living elsewhere, she couldn’t believe her first image of the pastor’s wife she saw standing on the local café bench taking a grandmother/grandchild photo; along with Pat Roy and Lois Davenport, considered the four of us as a sister group; she died young of cancer.

Dot Goldman: Salem, New Hampshire genealogist who discovered my grandmother, May Isabelle Walker, had a brother who died at birth.

Ken Gould was a tenant in our basement apartment who would, on occasion, cook me a steak and potato dinner at 10:00 p. m.

Alan Griffith, of Gouverneur, New York, my husband Monte’s best childhood friend who served as best man at our wedding, who died young due to cancer.

Dorothy Griffith, mother of Alan Griffith, who always welcomed us to her home.

Rev. Alfred Gross was the pastor of University United Methodist Church in Buffalo, New York, the first church Monte and I attended after our marriage; the painting of a sailboat at sunset that he gave us for a wedding gift still hangs in our home.

Jeanne & Eddie Herald included me as a passenger on their boat in a July 4th boat parade on Pymatuning Lake.

Alton Holland

Edwin & Gertrude Holland

Lynn Holland, my brother-in-law, made the coffee table which has the name “HOLLAND” on it, because my father-in-law could no longer do the woodwork.

Ronnie Holland

Elwin Holland

Shirl & Wayne Murray became my children’s Aunt and Uncle while we lived in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; at the beginning of our three years in Stone Mountain we lived with them—they became closer than our blood family, and were the only maternal side family our children came to know.

Joyce O’dell, my sister-in-law, lived in Corning, New York, near the Corning (glass) company where we purchased a coffee pot I still use.

Fern & Ashton O’Brien lived on a farm with cows that would get loose—one time I watched Monte (my husband, Fern’s brother) and Fern out in the fields chasing cows which escaped from their fenced in area. Ashton had a big dog which he had to contain before we could enter his house.

Charlotte Pearce, mother of Kathleen (our other daughter) and I developed a sister relationship after we adopted our girls, a week apart in age, at the same time from the same agency.

Marge Quick served me coffee and encouraged me when I went to New Jersey to meet my father, her ex-husband; when I was in 7th grade she wrote me a letter telling me she and my father had five children—the letter was lost when my purse was stolen.

Bob Sanzi, the first loss in the Beanery Writers Group, challenged its members; his examination of member critiques of his work demonstrated equality in comments regardless of the critiquer’s writing experience; he loved cars, motorcycles, and flying model airplanes.

Elinor Saylor was a feisty cat-loving older neighbor and I was the only pastor’s wife she got along with over the years, perhaps because I “gave it right back” to her—in fact, we sassed each other so much one woman stopped us while we were out walking and told me I “shouldn’t talk to my mother that way.”

Fred & June Schwartz, very simple farm people, took us into their fold with warmth and generosity; we value a woodpecker door-knocker he made for us.

Marion & Gene, my step-aunt and uncle, were gentle, kind, and honest with me about how my mother and step-father mistreated not only my older sister and I, but their younger children as well

Helen Wojciechowski, who had a house full of exotic birds, miscellaneous small animals, and foster children, was one of the foster parents who came to understand and support some of the parents of the foster children in a parent support group at the former Emmanuel United Methodist Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Judy aka Julia Potter’s children attended my Family Child Care Home in Slippery Rock; when she moved from one apartment to another we availed her of some of the children to help move items from one refrigerator to another, and once, when she brought her children to my home because they were too ill to go to school, she warned them not to bother me because I didn’t do good care for ill people.

Laura Wilcox lived with my husband Monte and I for several months when we first moved to Jamestown, Pennsylvania; she once told me she didn’t have the money I had, so she couldn’t build up a supply of craft materials—I asked her how much she spent each week on her cigarettes ($20) and then told her if she spent that much on craft supplies she too could become crafty.

All these people have I’ve listed have shared my journey in life, and are gone but not forgotten. I’m certain you have shortened your Christmas card list, as I have, because of the loss of significant persons through death. I invite you to share, in the comment box below, something about someone you have had to remove from your Christmas card list.


  1. Carolyn, thanks for urging me to get busy on my Christmas card list…there will be names missing or to deleted.
    must not let that stop me…I’m just slow moving since I fell and broke my hip.
    Hope Monte’s hand is healing well.
    Blessings! 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — December 6, 2014 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  2. Happy Birthday Day wishes, Carolyn!! 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — December 10, 2014 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

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