Carol Unger, 1931 - 2003


In 1988 Carol cared for Al through his death from cancer. There marrage was not good. In fact, they had divorced a couple years previously. But when Al's cancer was discovered Carol took him back and cared for him.

I was living in Ann Arbor and Kate was going to school in Ann Arbor. We knew Al had cancer for over a year and would die soon. Looking back I can see how I was not really able to be present with that experience in the same way that was with my Mother's death. We all show up for as much as we can in life. The growth that comes with age is subtle, and shows up most clearly to me when I compare my responce to the death of my parents.

After Al's death Carol lived alone in Birmingham. Kate moved down to New Orleans after college. In 1990 I moved to the west coast. Here are some letters and drawings Carol sent to Kate about this time.

Asparagus letter.

Daffodils letter.

Envelope from the Asparagus letter.


Letter to Kate: 2 Nov ’89

I absolutely am empathetic to your feelings of void and doldrums—your feeling for want of friends. I too feel the aching distress. It weighs heavily at moments. The dancing, I imagine, helps, for in movement you can express and vent your feeling. Just the sheer exhilaration of motion vibrates the soul.

I so wish I could really play the piano to utter release and completeness. I would really feel good. It’s within reach—lessons and practice AND MOST OF ALL DISCIPLINE!

I am going to support groups to meet others. There are 2 Manic-Depressive and 1 widows group. I’ve just started—so yet to see if they help.

Tons—oodles—oceans—notes and notes (a symphony)—infiniteness—light years—soaring leaps—of my love


P.S. Right now I feel very close to you. That’s the abidingness of love.

Letter to Kate: 20 Apr 1992

Hi Kate—

Enjoyed talking with you.

Wow do I smile when I look at this pict. [picture of young Tom and me at campsite] I feel real good inside. Very infectious! Now what’s one of the first things you notice. KATE HAS NO HAIR. If anyone says anything, tell them you were a late bloomer and you now have beautiful trailing tresses.

What is Kate playing with——pickup sticks—not so. She’s eating pretzels.

What’s Tom smiling about? Well, “Bunny,” of course, Tom’s bestest friend.

Note the tent. A modest but nurturing beginnings of your romance with nature.

Take care,





In 1992 she cared for her father through his death. This left her uniqly free from personal commitments. On a phone conversation she talked about moving to Maine because she wanted to live on the ocean, expect that she was concerned about the cold winters there. I mentioned that we had another ocean out on the west coast and that winters were very much milder.

With in a month she was out visiting. I helped her buy a car with the idea she would either use it out here or could later drive back cross country.

I took her hiking. We went up to hike to Monte Cristo, an old town site about 5 miles in, all on old dirt road. On impulse we also stopped and hiked up to the ice caves below Big Four. This made for over 12 miles walking that day. The last half of the hike out my mom was limping abit and complained about a sore hip. I was very impressed at how far she walked. I was also glad to share a part of what I have been doing for the past years of my life.

We camped in a small site by the river. I remember that at one point she suggested that we didn't have to stay, we could go home. Our conversation may have been lagging, each of us finding it difficult to think of things to talk about with the other. Possibly she really just wanted to not sleep in the back of her car, but I really think that she felt awkward around people, including me, though people didn't enjoy her company, and wanted to leave an uncomfortable situation. We stayed, of course.

Later she drove herself around, looking at smaller towns she may want to move to. I had specifically suggested Port Townsend, but on her return she said she didn't see much there and thought Port Angeles more interesting. I thought that was because it had a franchise strip like she was used to back in Michigan.

But she decided that she wanted to move out here. She left her car with me and flew back to Michigan to pack and sell her house.

I was impressed by how quickly the move happened. Later I learned that Elane Addler had a big roll in getting Carol packed up.

She landed back in Seattle with only a few possessions, the rest being trucked cross country.



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Page last modified:  Feb 22 16:09 2010  by  Tom Unger