The Silence is Deafening—The Death of an Adult Son

Death of an Adult Son, Man on a dock in solitude
Note from Editor: Carolyn Rhodes was in the process of writing her “My Third Act” story for this issue when she lost her son unexpectantly. Her dear friend and Seattle writer, Suzanne Beyer sent me this story in her stead. We send Carolyn our deepest condolences.

“The silence is deafening,” wrote my longtime friend Carolyn Rhodes, as she faced her first day at home following the death of her adult son, Casey. The retirement she knew now became a line-drive fast ball piercing her heart.

Looking back, Carolyn discovered a fast-paced momentum during retirement after raising Casey as a single parent. Her husband died when their son was 11. Carolyn then moved the little family from New York City to Connecticut, eventually settling in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She never missed a beat in support of Casey and found Tuscaloosa a good place for both her employment and his schooling. The University of Alabama hired Carolyn in an administrative position and soon discovered her writing expertise would benefit the university. In retirement, the Culverhouse College of Business regularly rehired Carolyn to conduct interviews of successful graduates for the school’s alumni magazine.

Retirement not only provided time to pursue writing, but also to enjoy her love of dance and use her athletic ability. She joined a line dancing group and became an arthritis exercise class instructor through Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Alabama.

Carolyn’s computer knowledge, however, flourished through her son, who was a techie wiz, an entrepreneur who owned his own business. Casey taught his mom everything she needed to know, advising her which computer and other devices to purchase, always looking for the best deals. Casey’s influence led to Carolyn creating a technical website where she posted tips for her readers. Each year, Casey and Carolyn attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to keep apprised of the most recent advances in the world of tech. The venue provided a place for Carolyn to interview inventors and a place for Casey to pursue his photography. With Casey’s eye for a good photograph and Carolyn’s interviewing and writing skills, the two made a great pair for producing articles for their website and in magazines. Her nonfiction articles on many subjects, from map-making to museums, landed in several Alabama publications, and also earned her awards from her Christian writers’ group.

Carolyn credits her unusual upbringing to one of her biggest accomplishments. Her memoir, Library Girls of New Yorkwas published in 2019. With Casey’s assistance in all things mechanical, like a jammed printer or crashed computer, Carolyn proceeded with the creative writing part that today serves as a prime example of a writer’s mantra, “Show, don’t tell!”

Not to reveal too much of her book’s content, Carolyn and her two sisters were raised in two New York City public libraries. She gives thanks and credit to industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for a life amid shelves of books.

She wrote, “From 1910 to the 1970s, the New York Public Library offered free apartments inside the library, to include salary for its custodian families.”

Her dad was the custodian on call 24/7.

Besides books, Carolyn loved the library music room, especially after hours, where she fell in love with musical theater. A dancing passion emerged, her ultimate major in college. Along with her college dance troupe, she performed her own choreographed Renaissance and Medieval dance presentation at Lincoln Center.

I met Carolyn at Staten Island’s Curtis High School where we were both cheerleaders. After cheer practice we both walked to her apartment located inside the St. George Library close to school, said goodbye, and I continued a long commute home via city bus.

Carolyn and I have cheered each other on ever since, but how to comfort my dear friend now,  the day the music died, the creative writing stopped, her world with her cherished son vanished in a split second.

The silence is deafening without Casey, the guy who often said during his mom’s retirement, “Mom, you don’t have to work so hard.”

For Carolyn, it was never work but using and enjoying every second of retirement to pursue her many interests.

Casey left this physical world two days before Christmas 2021, with angels guiding him on a heavenly journey. God holds Carolyn’s hand and wraps her broken pieces in His arms until she’s able to stand tall, and to write and dance once again.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Carolyn Rhodes’ book, Library Girls of New York, you may email her at

Suzanne G. Beyer of Bothell writes nonfiction articles for national publications. Seattle’s Northwest Prime Time magazine has featured several of her pieces. She also co-authored a family saga in her book, The Inventors Fortune Up for Grabs.

Here are more articles on death and dying.


Leave A Reply (Your email address will not be published)