The words stunned her, seemingly jumping from the page she held, hitting her in the face:
Our real family name is Thomas, not Poole.
Feeling confused and angry, Kim read it again. Getting mad at my dead father should be difficult, she thought. Especially when he doted on me most of my life. But here’s a letter from him, essentially from the grave, that he must have known would horribly upset me. Thomas, not Poole? How can that be? Why did he wait to tell me this way?
Kimberly Poole was sitting at the kitchen table in the early morning. She was alone in her house, her daughter, Abigail, having left for school early. The night before, Kim had started to go through a box of notes and documents that her father had left for her. This morning, she was continuing to go through them before she had to leave to open her store. Her father’s death from cancer was more than four months ago and it had taken her this long to finally start attacking the leftover pieces of his life.
She had just found an envelope in the box with her name inscribed on it in large red letters ‘Kimberly Jacob Poole.’ She opened it to find a letter from her father and a very old handwritten note.
Now, stunned, she sat there holding the letter in disbelief. It was short and simple, very much to the point, like her father always had been. She read it again, trying to make some sense of what her father was telling her.
If you are reading this it can only mean one thing: I have left you. I apologize for what I must now tell you and I only hope you will understand my reasons for what I did.
Our real family name is Thomas, not Poole. It is a secret that I have carried with me since my father’s death and he since his father’s death. It began with your great, great grandfather Jacob. He too told his son our true family name on his deathbed. He also warned him to do nothing with that information because it was too dangerous. He was serious about that. He handed his son, your great grandfather Abraham, this very note that I have enclosed. This note has been handed down from generation to generation. It says to take action when the Enloes come forth. Read it carefully.
I have long thought, certainly by now, that enough time had passed. I never told anyone though, and so now I leave this information in your hands. Please be careful. Jacob must have had very good reasons for his actions and his caution.
It pained me to watch you passionately pursuing our family history, knowing that, as far as the Pooles went you were very much off course. But I could never bring myself to tell you or do something with our family secret.
Please know that having and raising you always has been my proudest achievement. I rest knowing our secret is in the best hands it could be.
A very yellowed, creased piece of paper, the edges of it thin and tattered from being stored and handled over the generations, was sitting on the table next to Kim’s shaking and clammy hands.
It read: Wait until the Enloes come forth and then tell our secret of President Lincoln and the War. Look then, and only then, at my words and discover their other meaning. You will know then what to do. Be careful.
The handwriting in the note was broad and flourishing, much grander than the kind of handwriting Kim was used to reading.
It was clearly the note penned by her great, great grandfather Jacob. But the message confused her.
What secret? she thought. And what words?