Though it is now 1970, and though the Stevens family has already suffered the loss of both Frank and his son Kelly, Frank’s mother, Agnes Tully Stevens, is still in Chicago, thriving despite all odds. While she hasn’t saved any more insurance broker’s licenses—and thus I can presume that Agnes, now nearing the age of eighty two, no longer operates her insurance business—she still is saving all sorts of records of family life.
Agnes was evidently a regular donor and “member” of the Saint Anthony’s Guild of the Franciscan Fathers of Paterson, New Jersey, for which she received letters of thanks, marked with their traditional stamp insignia, "S. A. G.," and prayer for "safe passage." Perhaps at this age, Agnes is not as precise about her records as in past decades—understandable, considering all that she’s been through by this point—for she marks on the envelope of one earlier receipt simply,
$15 for Masses
Though John Kelly Stevens was not her oldest grandchild, he was the first that she lived to lose.
A woman of fortitude, perhaps it was her life’s example that encouraged her widowed daughter-in-law after her son Frank’s death. Although Agnes never remarried, some family letters allude to the possibility that she had a “beau”—or at least a good friend and companion for those many years she lived after losing her own husband.
While I don’t know the identity of that particular friend, I did find, in Agnes’ papers, a post card that has had me puzzled. Dated in the 1950s and sent from New York, a handwritten noted scrawled the brief message:
Hello Agnes –
Made trip safely. 530 miles in one day. No trouble, cool all day and night.
See you Tue or Wed
When I first saw the note, I wasn’t sure who could have written it. Agnes’ husband, William, went by the nickname, “Will.” Their son, also a William, would not have addressed his mother by her first name. Even the possibility of Agnes’ daughter’s future husband Bill would not have been feasible, as the two weren’t married until well after that date. Who else could it be?
Whoever it was mailing Agnes that post card, the flip side gave his bona fides as someone with just the right—albeit irreverent—touch of perspective about "safe passages" to bring some sparkle back into life.