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Continued from Changing perspectives

Yry couldn’t go home to her parents in her condition. She soldiered on. Was she in denial? If so, it would not be the last time she walled off impending disaster.

Early in August she wrote about her first trip to Yellowstone. Despite gas rationing (and four months into pregnancy), Yry traveled through the park with Willard, Elaine, Jody, and a professor from the university. She was thrilled to see a moose and reported great success fishing.

moose

Moose sighting in Yellowstone

Mother was always proud of the fact that she “held her pregnancies well.” I remember her bragging that she never showed with her first pregnancy till she was nearly six months along and that when she carried me, her weight never topped 132 pounds. Lucky for her. She looks quite svelte with a string of fish held in front of her stomach. Fishing

Interestingly, Yry had begun corresponding with the US Department of Justice; Immigration & Naturalization Service. She had filed an application for a certificate of derivative citizenship which precipitated a lengthy paper chase between New York and Wyoming. The certificate was sent to Basin, Wyoming, county seat for Big Horn County—the county shared by Sheridan and the CX Ranch. At some point before she left Wyoming in October, she must have returned to the CX. But she missed this important document and asked that it be sent back to New York City. “I’m planning to be in New York City in April or May 44, but am not sure where I’ll be between now and then.” She informs the Immigration Service.

From August 1943 till December the record of Yry’s whereabouts, thoughts and feelings dries up. Even photographs lack dates or explanatory text on the back. An unexpected note dated December 11, 1943, slipped out of one of her journals which reveals her state of mind:

To my parents,

You will not read this unless I am dead and this concerns my last wishes regarding such an event.

I do not want to be buried in a graveyard. Is that clear? I want to be buried all alone out west under the sagebrush and where no other graves are. Failing that I wish to be buried away from other graves in the woods or else thrown in the ocean.

I do not want any church ritual of any kind said over my rotting bones. Don’t put me in a funeral parlor or keep me lying around the house. Get it over with. Don’t ever burn me. Let the mice eat me, they want to live too, and when my soul passes into another incarnation I won’t need this body any longer.

No crosses over my grave please, they give me the creeps.

No weeping. This is not a sad affair, merely the passing of a soul from one body to another.

Now as to my property. There isn’t much. If I have no children, distributes my things among my friends. There will be a list of them enclosed with this letter. What is left and what there is of money give it to some needy child or some orphan home, or to Matilde Walter if she is still alive.

All I ask for the benefit of my soul and my immortality is that my friends remember me kindly.

My mother stayed remarkable true to these wishes. After her death, we found similar notes scattered throughout the house. She was determined that her children would have no excuse to fail her in her last wishes. By then, however, she had come to accept cremation as the preferred disposal method and she commanded that her friends gather and make merry by drinking all the remaining liquor in the house. Nothing should go to waste.

Continued