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Marilyn A. Pellini
January is the month that I send a small contribution to all my favorite organizations, and the month I vow to give more of my time, energy, and effort to those groups I am most dedicated to. This goal seems to be working better in my older years than it did when I was much younger. Back then, I concentrated more on things that affected me personally. Each year, there were so many New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, be more patient with the children, cook healthy but delicious meals, and up my organizational skills both at home and work. Now, as the years slip by, I think more about the legacy I wish to leave — just what it is about me that I hope people will remember most. I’m truly praying it is my giving spirit.
I belong to three women’s clubs and try to do my part and share where each group is concerned. One of my clubs operates their own thrift shop, which earns a great deal of money each year, all of which is given to worthy and needy local groups and for scholarships to local students. Since 1991, I have done the calling to fill in the thrift shop workers’ schedule. After such a long stint, I do think about retiring from this job, but there is simply no one waiting in the wings to take over, so I’m more determined than ever to keep this most necessary position. Women’s clubs are finding it difficult to get new members because so many women work today. It would be such a shame if they went out of existence, since they do so much good for their communities. The club I have been a member of the longest, and was president of a few years ago, has started an evening program in the hopes of attracting younger working women. These gals organized their first ever fundraiser, which netted enough to replace the old windows in the historic house we own.
Living in the same town for close to fifty years, I have seen many changes, some for the common good and some I wish could be reversed. Staying involved through communication with town officials and submitting my thoughts through the Letters To The Editor column in our local paper have allowed me to point out a number of projects that would be in the best interest of many. One such project I’ve supported is the building of a safe, warm place where citizens can go in times of area-wide emergency — something like that is sorely needed. I know I must continue to advocate for installing generators at our local elementary schools and stocking the facilities with food, cots, blankets and medical supplies. For the very young and the very old, this could mean the difference between life and death. I’m determined to continue advocating for projects like this until it becomes a reality.
I’m convinced that clean-up and beautification in towns leads to happier citizens who are more content and giving. The entrance to my neighborhood is at a junction where a most beautiful reservoir is located, yet it looks like a blighted area devoid of grass and lacking a sign announcing the name of our bucolic hamlet. Over the years at open town meetings, I have mentioned that this area invites littering and allows cars to be parked too close to a water supply. On that same road are signs announcing a speed limit of 30 miles an hour. Since police cannot patrol every moment, there are many driving at 55 and over. Children line the sidewalks each morning awaiting their school bus; there’s certainly the potential for a serious accident along this roadway. I served on a committee that explored the use of more stop signs and speed tables. These are presently in a trial phase, and cars do seem to be traveling at a more sensible and acceptable speed. There are some who are finding these bumps a nuisance, but from my window I have a view of one of the intersections and know that there is an improvement. I, for one, will rally to keep these speed deterrents.
Over the years, my life has changed and evolved. This happens to many parents when their children leave home for college, jobs, or marriage. It often happens again when you lose your mate. Unfortunately, seven years ago this became my new reality. I was sad and immobile for a long time. Only last year did I sense there may still be a purpose and reason why I continue to live on. I had started to write letters to my deceased husband, first as an outlet for my anger at losing him and later so I could gripe, at least on paper, about the trials and obstacles I encountered as a widow. Never did I believe this would turn into a book. The more I wrote, the more I became aware of the plight of the widows and widowers in our society. It is rather unacceptable to grieve over a long period of time, yet this process can take years. It is time to change our perspective on grief. Personally, I am eager to move forward, yet savor the joys of my past too. My book gives advice to others in this same circumstance about how they can reconnect with themselves, their loved ones, and their community. These folks are wise and experienced, often still very energetic, and very willing to become involved and to help. My new goal is to go out to speak to groups about the grieving process, not from a psychological or professional perspective, but from personal experience. Nursing homes, grief groups, and certainly women’s groups (since women usually live longer) will be my focus. I must help to lighten the burden of those left behind and show them there is always a door to walk through to the future if only they can open their heart, eyes, and mind to the endless possibilities awaiting, even if their world must be totally recreated.
Marilyn A. Pellini recently published a grief book titled: Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances, which has enjoyed some success. 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. In May of 2018, she took the first place prize in the N.Y. State Federation of Women’s Clubs writing contest.