57 years and 18 days.
Such was the summation of Fayette’s life when he died on May 31, 1898. Shortly after his death, an impressive and heartfelt tribute was printed in the local newspaper, the “Earlville Leader.” Fayette had lived a full life.
If I were to describe the Fayette I have come to know through my many years of research and discovery, the adjectives that best express my present perception of the man would be:
patriot, entrepreneur, charismatic, courageous, fun-loving, adventurous, opportunist, clever, hard-working, humble, helpful, kind, humorous and loving.
I can easily produce documentation from either a letter or another historical source which will support each of the characteristics I have listed above.
Recent research has caused me to analyze the family hierarchy post Civil War years with a bit more scrutiny. Sarah’s mother lived with the family on their farm in Illinois for a time and was a “Freethinker.” Sarah had “A Freethinker” inscribed on the memorial stone for her mother which stands in the Paine family plot at Precinct Cemetery. Sarah, herself, had leanings toward the movement and in her later years nearly willed her entire estate to support the Liberal University in Silverton, Oregon.
I have no doubt that Fayette was well-acquainted with the philosophical perspective of the Freethinkers — Sarah has proven to be a rather strong and influential woman. Fayette’s great grandfather was the respected Reverend William Paine of the Freewill Baptist Church. Included in Fayette’s military documents was a form wherein Fayette described his Religious Affiliation as Freewill Baptist. He mentioned his attendance at “meetings,” aka church services, in a few of his letters. I would describe Fayette then as a believer and follower of Christ.
His obituary stipulates that at the time of his death, Fayette was not affiliated with any Religious institution. Had there been a shift in Fayette’s spiritual journey? I would like to believe Fayette chose not to abandon his Christian beliefs for his wife’s and mother-in-law’s more-intellectual pursuit of truth.
Fayette was the glue that held his little family together, and I have a lot more to say about that at a later time. He was a peacemaker, and I would presume he was at times the voice of reason.
Pension records describe in detail Fayette’s death. The Civil War hero died a slow and painful death from a complication that could have been easily remedied with surgery, especially in the day and age we presently live. Sarah described his demeanor at the time as not so favorable — he was a grouch. Quite understandable … I’d be grouchy too if I were the recipient of what now would be considered barbaric in terms of medical treatment.
Why have I chosen the subject of Fayette’s death as my topic of discussion and reflection on this twenty-sixth day of December in 2013?
Today, I am 57 years and 18 days. It’s very sobering when you stop to take an accounting of your life. And as much as I was reluctant to compare my thus-far legacy to that of Fayette’s, I am glad I did.
I may not have been a soldier with a remarkable military career, but my son served honorably in the Marine Corps. And my son-in-law presently serves as a respected combat medic in the Army. I was a Girl Scout leader for 13 years and modeled patriotism as best I could. I am also a Patriot.
I am adventurous and, at times, hard-working. I can be helpful and kind. I try to be humble, and on occasion I’ve been known to be quite clever. I need to be better at loving, unconditionally. I think we all could benefit from a little improvement when it comes to loving one-another.
I am not descended from a well-known, respected “man of the cloth,” but my family spoke openly of a Heavenly Father who loves me and desires a relationship with me — the very same message Fayette likely heard from his own grandparents.
Fayette died before Lura May married, before the birth of her two daughters. He never experienced the joy to be had when one holds, for the first time, their new grand-baby in their arms. I have, and I am grateful for the gift of time, of days, and possibly years-to-come. I yearn to build a relationship with that little person. It truly is one of the richest opportunities we can embrace.
Our days are indeed numbered. We arrive and depart at appointed times. What happens between those events, to a certain degree, is what we make of it. At 57 years and 18 days, I am much more mindful of that.