By Marilyn Pellini
To everything turn, turn, turn.
There is a reason turn, turn, turn.
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
So wrote Pete Seeger with words he took from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
We are hopefully born into a good, well-functioning, and loving family. We then start the stages of life. As a toddler, every minute is a new experience, and babies learn constantly and continuously. Babyhood leads quickly into school days with reading, writing, and the dreaded arithmetic. We get through it, if lucky, without much of a struggle. Friends make an appearance in our lives, and by high-school age they almost replace our parents and siblings in our focus and love. The inevitable boyfriend/girlfriend flames begin to ignite. There will always be a place in our hearts for our first love. Some are even fortunate enough that the first love becomes their permanent, forever love.
It’s time for college and meeting people from far-off places, maybe even of different cultures. Our world begins to open up and so do our expectations for the future. It’s time to think of how we will support ourselves. In other words, what do we want to be when we grow up? The choices are limitless, and if we should decide incorrectly or change our mind, we can veer, turn, and regroup. No one will judge us, just think we are wise to try a different tact until we find our “workplace happiness.”
Often marriage sneaks in there when we least expect it. The person we want to spend the rest of our lives with grabs our heart. Sometimes it is a chance meeting with a new and total stranger, other times with someone we have known forever, just not in that light.
The cycle is ever progressing, and children are born to the couple, making them parents and their parents into grandparents. Inevitably each life span will come to an end at some point. It’s so sad to lose anyone we know and love — mate, sibling, friend, etc. This, however, is a season of life. It revolves and turns gradually into the next generation.
Animals too have lifespans that follow a certain path or pattern. Offspring are usually born when the weather starts to turn warmer, just when the chance of survival is definitely on their side. Older animals conserve their energy during the harsh weather, so they too can emerge to meet a new more energetic lifestyle when better weather arrives.
Flowers and plants go through a similar cycle. The seeds that are blown here, there, and everywhere secure themselves to the earth for a time when the warm sun will spring them forth in their green, green glory and brilliant color palette. Many will become food to sustain us through our life on this earth.
The seasons turn. Winter with its snow and ice, a period of dormancy, has even humans hunkered down to stay warm. We engage in our favorite winter sports. But, it is to our comfortable homes that we must return to, for our survival depends on keeping warm, getting the necessary rest, and the proper amount of food to eat. Our bodies naturally turn toward filling comfort foods at this time of year. We need that little extra layer of fat to keep us warm.
Days grow longer; the sunlight sends more warmth. We feel more robust as the world turns to our area’s spring. We leave our armchairs and head towards the baseball field to either play or observe, to the tennis courts for a game, and perhaps out for a round of golf. We must renew our planting rituals, dead grass needs seeding, flowers and vegetables need planting. All growing things are that sweet, pale yellow-green, most noticeably the trees. They turn in their light green dresses for a rusty amber color as they bud. Then comes the bloom of summer, all a lush deep green and growing so quickly. That includes the weeds that must be pulled so no plants will strangle; then all will receive the sunlight and nutrients they need. All must be tended constantly and carefully watered when rain is in short supply. There is no turning our backs if we want beauty and food. It’s summer, and the warmth of the sun warms the earth and our hearts. We are outdoors as much as possible. Off to the beach, boating or fishing. There are picnics and family reunions. Kids are out of school and outside playing all day. We eat fruits and vegetables only grown in our area during summer. We watch fireworks, eat ice-cream, and love all things summer. So the seasons have turned one into another, and continue to evolve.
Suddenly there is a fading as we are headed for fall in our part of the universe. The leaves turn many beautiful colors and traipse toward the ground. We gather the last of the harvest, and turn our attention to the approaching cold weather and winter once again. We exchange our thin jackets for downy ones, and sandals for thick-soled shoes. We jump ahead to another school year and stay indoors more except for the most necessary trips that just have to be made. It’s time for football and soccer. The earth turns over and over so slowly on its axis. It turns the seasons one after another into each other. Our lives turn along with the earth and seasons, and we experience all of life’s joys and sorrows as it twists and turns.
Often, however, we personally must turn away from the complacent, the usual, the expected because our life takes a turn. We lose our mate or divorce. A job change, a move to another town has us moving in a different direction. Sometimes we look forward to this change. Other times it is unexpected and disastrous. My change and turn came because my husband died.
I lost my husband seven years ago (although it feels more like seven minutes) in a bizarre fishing accident. He drowned. We were happily enjoying his retirement and doing so many more things together. Yet the lure of catching the largest striped bass ever caught in the world had him going to remote places to fish. He did this alone. He stayed in bare-bones accommodations, so I did not really want to accompany him, and he fished morning, noon, and night. No one can account for how the accident actually happened.
My life turned completely around and upside-down. I attended four grief groups, but each eventually came to an end. I joined more women’s clubs, but there was no male energy in my life, and I missed that terribly. I missed my husband of many years — our fun together, our history together. It was devastating to see how this loss affected my children and grandchildren.
Basically, I knew I had to go on. There was no choice, so I began taking writing classes and submitting pieces to wonderful magazines like Brick. I wrote a book, too, which talks about the plight of widows and widowers in our society. We are expected to “get over it” and are not encouraged to talk about the deceased either. Those of us lost and lonely need to help one another find a new path if possible, actually turn in the old life for a new one. We don’t want that of course, but there are definitely ways to make life really fulfilling once again. My writing, my four women’s clubs, time on the town Tree Board have all given me a new impetus, a new focus. I intend to take my new direction in life to its maximum. I intend to go out of this life swinging, in any which way I can.
Marilyn Pellini has recently published a grief book entitled Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances. It has been selling quite well. Her other credits as a writer include a recent article in Brick Magazine entitled “Memories in My Button Jar,” pieces in Westchester Parent Magazine, Bay State Parent Magazine, On The Water, Balanced Rock, and others which she would be happy to provide copies of upon request. In May of 2018, she took the first place prize in the N.Y. State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.