All week Flat Stanley hung around the Senior Center. He had his picture taken with the Cribbage Club, eating in the cafeteria and in the writers' group. Flat Stanley gets around. That’s the point. Flat Stanley is a community project. A student whose class has undertaken the project will send Flat Stanley to someone far away. That person will take a picture with Flat Stanley and write down what the picture depicts. It’s fun and easy and we seniors enjoyed having our pictures taken with Flat Stanley.
But something terrible happened when a Grandma and Grandpa took Flat Stanley hiking. The group is called The Trail Hikers. On this particular ominous day, The Trail Hikers were just finished walking the Warner Trail, in Foxborough. We congratulated ourselves for completing 3.3 miles in less than two hours. The Trail Hikers laughed as we took our picture with Flat Stanley. We balanced him on a boulder and put a twig in his hand, to look like a hiking stick. The picture came out fine.
That’s Flat Stanley’s last picture.
As Grandma and Grandpa said goodbye through our car window we playfully shook Flat Stanley’s flat hand. Ooops! He fell. Grandma bent down to pick him up, but he wasn’t on the ground. She bent down to look under the car. Did he fall in the car? No, we looked. Where else?
Did the wind blow him somewhere?
Common sense said he fell under the car. But he wasn’t there! We decided to move the car in order to see the ground better.
As the car was backing up, Flat Stanley appeared on the rear tire—just as he turned around and down—face down on the bottom of the tire.
If he wasn’t flat before, he certainly is now. Grandpa tried to pull him out but ripped off a leg.
Well, that’s nothing a little tape couldn’t fix.
We moved the car back just a little—right into a pothole—a pothole full of water. We moved the car again. Unfortunately, however, Flat Stanley wasn’t on the tire, anymore. He must be in the water.
Ick! What to do?
Grandpa rolled up his sleeve, stuck his hand in the cold, dark, muck, and fished around. He pulled out a leaf. He pulled out a twig. The third time, he pulled out Flat Stanley’s head. Grandpa tried again—and again. There was nothing else. He scooped out the water. He splashed all the water out. No sign of the rest of Flat Stanley. He must have decomposed.
We all gathered around and looked down at the muck. What could we do? What were Grandma and Grandpa going to tell their grandchild? We didn’t know what to say. We were all complicit in the demise of Flat Stanley.
Maybe we could make a copy and the grandchild would never know.
Now we had a deep moral question. Is it better to lie and draw another, to protect the ugly truth from the grandchild? Or should we just tell the truth and say “Sorree?”
Do two wrongs make a right?
Oh for heaven sake, this is just a child’s project, not a philosophical dissertation!
Our solution: we didn’t lie. We sent this letter to the grandchild. It was an obituary.
Flat Stanley died suddenly while hiking the Warner Trail in Foxborough, Massachusetts on February 2, 2017. He was born in 1964 in a book by Jeff Brown. He was a proud friend to all and enjoyed being mailed all around the globe. He will be missed by everyone, especially, young readers in the first grade.
A funeral mass was held at St. Mary’s on Saturday, February 4 at 11 AM. His interment was private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Literacy Project.
The family business project will be continued by his sister, Pancake Patti.
And we included a paper cutout of Pancake Patti.
It was the least we could do.