Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Letter to my Father

In Loving Memory of
Ramsey Wood Pettengill
December 15, 1928 ~ April 6, 2006 
Dear Dad,
Five years have passed. A day does not go by without you present in some manner, whether a fleeting moment, vision, dream, or a wise word or two echoing within the walls of my being. Sometimes I believe that you are present now more than before.

I apologize for still needing you, and actually asking for your help. It is an unexpected relief to know that you will deliver; thank you. I admit, I rejoiced and even displayed a hint of poor sportsmanship when I actually won at bowling. Me - the gutter queen. I remember all of those times you stood behind me and provided instruction on every aspect of exceptional bowling technique. I failed miserably. I could never concentrate, at least not on things like bowling or golf, yet you never quit rooting for me.

I did not listen closely to your words back then because I got lost in the timbre of your voice. I stood in time wearing white knee socks with a red argyle design, high water blue jeans and the blue flowered shirt as I wailed the ball down the lane with the utmost inconsistency. Even when I became an adult, no one wanted me on their team. Thankfully for us all, I promptly quit the league and stuck with orchestra.

That is why recently it was a great victory when I stood in the middle of crashing pins, barreling, neon balls and general bowling alley chaos and became Maryjane wearing the white knee socks. You stood behind me and coached my every move. I blocked out the surrounding clutter and applied your technique. Finally.

Hearing your voice again made me giddy. I got it. I concentrated on you, my success, and held off on the true excitement in case that brought about distraction. My heart soared with each passing strike. Bowling means nothing, hearing your wise words means everything. The high lasted a while; I still tap into it from time to time.  I may or may not ever bowl again.

I honor your presence in my dreams and understand why you remain silent. In addition to my dream journal, I have imprinted the symbols and suggestions put forth by you; they evolve with each passing day.

I'm back in Sandwich, well North Sandwich. Returning to my childhood home is both good and bad. The good is that it ‘smells’ like home. I never knew that this would be a factor, but it is. When I say this, I am referring to the sweet smell of the earth. It is a combination of balsam, wintergreen, grasses and pepper – Sandwich. It is vital to be where the earth remembers me. Walking through the woods is like bathing, I am refreshed and energized.

What an odd feeling I get when I drive through the village. Dad, everything has remained almost untouched. The buildings, fences, store, the grill and gas station, our house, certain trees, the horse pastures, churches…it’s all still there.

A “For Rent” sign hangs in the vacant store window, the grill needs painting and the Inn waits patiently for Denley's return. Of course, as anyone would expect, the people are gone…but I do not mean that “we” are gone, but it is virtually devoid of life. I realize that time is in constant motion and everything changes, however, I have rarely if ever seen people out and about. When we lived there, the entire village was thriving and pulsing with activity; children were at the playground, on the streets, at each other’s homes.

Sandwich Village is silent now – a ghost town. The laughter of children and life in general seems to have vanished. I find myself avoiding going into town, it’s as if it has become the scenery and backdrop of my childhood; I yearn for the characters. I put us all there. At least if there were other characters meandering about, I would learn to accept the new version of the village, but that is not the case. This means that I must make an effort to go to town often and come to terms with my own sense of abandonment.

I got a library card. I felt a pang of guilt when I thought of how long I kept “Peter Rabbit.” Anne P is the librarian! Such delight and contentment filled us both when we were able to rekindle warmhearted memories. Sometimes the deepest part of me fusses when I comprehend that with the passing of time and of family and friends, that keeping you alive becomes more of a challenge. Inwardly this is not an issue; however, by speaking of you, I awaken your existence.

Sharing recollections has become sacred in many ways. A few months ago Eddie McCormack came into the office. I spoke with his wife on the telephone and she told him that I would be there so he came in to see me. His visit had nothing to do with business; it had everything to do with going back there.

Remember when we were sitting on the back of your big old car watching fireworks at the ball field? I plugged my ears. When you came back with a hot dog (before I knew how disgusting they were) I was stumped because I couldn’t hold it and plug my ears. You and Eddie laughed so hard when he suggested that I put the hot dog in my ear. I wasn’t amused at that thought, but your laughter remains a bright spot inside of me.

My children are thriving in unimaginable ways as they navigate through the turbulent, yet awe-inspiring waters of this life. Your light shines in them.

Although Mom is not the same since you left, in honor of you she carries on with your steadfastness and determined spirit. You were right when you told me that she was tough and came from good stock. She has those times of course when she misses you the most and with a heavy heart she retreats to her room, but you know that she is surrounded by a circle of love.

Your daughters, my sisters, remain loyal and strong-minded as you well know. It is between you and them what comes to pass. I still believe that we are responsible for our connections with each other.

The world is in what seems to be infinite peril, however I maintain hope. My hope does not lie in governments, politics or religion. I completely trust God and Sophia (the feminine face of God), so that I may live a purposeful life.

All things that do not have integrity are disintegrating and life as we know it will never be the same, but this is necessary to attain universal enlightenment. I move ahead without fear and with the intention to think beyond what is consciously possible. As your daughter, I continue to stand firm in the creative vision of my future.

I love you.

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