Life-Altering Changes

During the years of his relationship with Hapgood, there were major alterations in Babbitt’s life. The nightmares and flashbacks of Babbitt’s war experiences began to weigh upon his relationship with Emily. Babbitt said he sometimes became temporarily violent during his nocturnal spells and he was worried he might someday badly injure his wife. “Emily was always wonderful. She was a very gentle and romantic person and she was a great mother but we both agreed that we should separate. She eventually went to live with another man,” Babbitt said. Emily Babbitt died from cancer some years later.

The breakup with Emily caused an estrangement between Babbitt and their three children. He was never able to heal the break and he was always uncomfortable talking about it. Elwood Babbitt entered another marriage with Margaret (Margie) Hack and they had a daughter, Anya. “I met Margie in Boston where I was doing a lecture. There was this instant attraction. She was a model,” Babbitt said.  He was in the birthing room with Margie when Anya was born and he called that the “greatest experience of his life.” Margie and Anya lived with him on the farm in Northfield. Babbitt said the nightmares and flashbacks continued and that they were a major issue again. “I left Margie with mutual agreement. I just walked away,” he said.

There was a divorce and Margie and Anya continued to live on the farm and Babbitt went to stay temporarily with friends. Babbitt felt deep emotions as he left the farm in Northfield because it involved memories of how his parents had helped him to buy it and it was the place where he raised his children. In later years, he deeply missed them and he savored the few times he saw Anya, the youngest of his offspring. More sadness and disruption lay ahead of Babbitt.

On a December day in 1982, Hapgood phoned Babbitt to say he wanted to travel to his place for a meeting. Babbitt said years later he still didn’t know why but he had immediate premonitions that Hapgood should not come that day and he told him he was worried about the weather. “As I remember, I told him that I felt a snowstorm might be brewing but Charles could not be dissuaded. He said he was on his way,” Babbitt said. A short time later, Babbitt received another phone call from Hapgood who said he was confused about the directions to where Babbitt was and he had stopped at a convenience store to make the call. “I was surprised that he had lost his way because Charles had traveled through the area before,” said Babbitt. Hapgood never reached his destination. When he walked out of the convenience store, he was struck by an automobile in the parking lot and he was killed. Hapgood was 78.

After all the turmoil that he had endured in recent years, the loss of his closest friend and associate was a cruel blow to Babbitt and he needed to call upon all of his spiritual powers to sustain the load. In the ensuing decade, Babbitt continued his spiritual activities and his rapport with close friends such as the late Beth Hapgood of Greenfield, Massachusetts, who has written at length about groups such as the Brotherhood of the Spirit for which Babbitt was spiritual counselor. Beth Hapgood was a cousin to Charles Hapgood. Daria Weklind who had known Elwood Babbitt since 1970, joined the Brotherhood in 1982. She was part of the community of young people who had clustered around Babbitt. She met Gary Nielson who was not a Brotherhood member but participated in some of its activities. “I knew Elwood way back then and I lived at his house with him, Emily and the kids for several years. I loved Emily. She and Elwood were so good to me. Everybody thought Emily was a saint. I was a little bit in awe of her. I was 17 or 18 years of age then,” Daria said. In 1975, Gary and Daria were married and they moved to a mobile home in Wendell, Massachusetts.  Daria gave birth to a son whom they named Dharma Erik. Daria and Gary were eventually divorced. She continued her spiritual activities in groups involving Babbitt and she frequently sought his advice.

In August of 1990, Alma Babbitt died at the age of 89. Elwood Babbitt was particularly saddened that he was not with her when she died while alone in her home at 43 Mechanics Street in Orange. “To me, my mom was a miracle. I cannot imagine anyone having a more wonderful mother than she was to me. She would never sell that house on Mechanics Street although one real estate broker tried to convince her to do so. She said she was self-sufficient and she had so many memories there. She said someone could sell it after she died, Babbitt said. Eventually, Babbitt took up residence in the family home and he was there one day in 1991 when Daria Weklind came to see him. “I was living in Wendell Depot, a town neighboring Orange, and I was having difficulties. I came to see if he could help me, ” she said. Weklind relied on Babbitt’s advice and she saw him frequently. Their longtime friendship led to marriage in November 1991. They continued their spiritual activities and circulated among their many friends.

Elwood Babbitt had always felt some type of spiritual connection to the geography and culture of the state of Maine. He eventually sold the family home in Orange and they briefly lived in Maine before moving to Vershire, Vermont in 1996 because he was attracted by the activities of a particular spiritual group located near that community. Later, they took up residence in a small home on a beautiful hillside in Cabot, Vermont, where they were visited by a number of longtime friends, including Beth Hapgood, who traveled there. They also made some new friends, some of whom came for readings.

Babbitt’s enthusiasm for socializing with other people never faltered. He loved to make new friendships but he always cherished old ones. It was clear that his health was failing due to the longtime effects of his military service in the Pacific, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary lung disease resulting from the attack at Pearl Harbor. Babbitt said his lungs were seared by the billows of oil-filled smoke that enveloped him during the bombing attack. He received medical care for this condition over the years and prior to his death he received care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River, Junction, Vermont.  After a brief stay at a convalescent home in Barre, Vermont, and a return to the Veterans Administration Hospital, he died there on April 25, 2001. The death certificate cited pneumonia as the immediate cause of death due to, or as a consequence of metastatic squamous cell lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  According to his own wishes, he was cremated and Daria sprinkled his ashes at a location of his choosing. She shared his attraction to the state of Maine and she is now living in that state.

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