A Need To Know
The Clandestine History of a CIA Family
H.L. Goodall, Jr.
MY FATHER DIED, EITHER IN VIRGINIA OR MARYLAND, at the age of fifty-three, on the night of March 12, 1976. My mother told me that he died at home in his bed in Hagerstown, Maryland, but the Social Security Death Index indicates that he was pronounced dead in Virginia, although it doesn’t say where in Virginia.
I had doubts, even then, that he died at home.
The reason for his death was a mystery.
My mother said that she requested an autopsy because three days before he died he had been told that he was run down due to a bad cold and just needed some bed rest. He was given “a shot of something” and sent home. A doctor he saw at the Veterans Administration hospital supposedly gave him this diagnosis and the shot, but my mother couldn’t recall the name of the doctor, and the hospital records do not show that he had any appointments in March.
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Nor did I ever see an autopsy report. One year later, close to the anniversary of his death, my mother told me that she had been informed—by "the government"—that he had died of multiple bleeding abscesses on both lungs. This was about the time of a news report that Legionnaires’ disease was responsible for the deaths of several men in Philadelphia, all veterans, all of whom had also died of multiple bleeding abscesses on their lungs. My mother claimed that "the government" now believed that my father, too, had died of Legionnaires’ disease.
That may or may not be true.
My mother never showed me the letter from “the government” that supposedly provided her with this information. She told me she had thrown it away. I have no doubt that she had done precisely that, if, in fact, there had ever been a letter in the first place. But by then, by March of 1977, I was so disillusioned with the idea of truth in relation to my father’s life, much less his death, that I didn’t pursue it.
He had led a secret life. And even in death, she kept his secrets.