New Hampshire Wedding

By Tiana Leonard

“I do!”

The groom-to-be’s emphatic response cut Larry off in mid sentence as he was reciting the vows. Gathered friends and family laughed in understanding. Stiff and Amy had waited 48 years to share those words and they were eager. Not counting her withholding college boyfriend, this was Amy’s first serious relationship. Amazingly, her 49-year-old consort was also unmarried. Maybe they had been searching for each other.  When a mutual friend had introduced them in Gainesville, Florida, three years before, they had both thought the other attractive but uninterested. A year of increasingly personal online flirting followed during which they discovered that they had 60 Facebook friends in common.

In June, when Amy was back in Gainesville on summer break, she told me she was asking a man named Stiff Packard out to lunch. When I asked her later how it had gone, she said it had been fun. She told me he was studying to be a nurse and was the DJ of an internet radio jazz program. Since Amy lives in Washington DC, I didn’t give it much thought. So a few months later I was shocked to learn that Amy and Stiff were having daily two-hour phone conversations. This was momentous. Amy has been phone phobic since leaving puberty. As far as we knew she had never talked on the phone for more than a half hour with anyone.  Her brother Andrew was clearly shaken. He and Amy have been close ever since my divorce from their father started them on a life of airplane travel together.  During football season, they would watch the Gators play on their bicoastal TVs, texting continually on exciting plays. Andrew is divorced and his youngest child will soon be leaving for college. The prospect of losing his special relationship to Amy was wrenching.  I felt the same way. Because of her academic schedule, Amy has spent every Christmas as well as spring and summer vacations with me. Now that I was a widow, I was looking forward to European trips together. Continue reading

“Margarete”

By Ellie Levin

Morningside Gardens                                                                           February 2015

Dear Jud,

It’s snowing today.  I remember in 1982 when you came here from New Jersey through the snow.  After dinner you insisted on going to Lincoln Center to see an Italian film, “The Night of the Shooting Stars.” It is such a beautiful, hopeful film about friendship between Americans and Italians in a small town during World War II.

Yesterday I went to see some old film footage made by two sisters, probably twins; it was called “Margarete” as that was the first name on some envelopes in the box where the films were found.  Janek Turkowski on a hike a few years ago, stepped over the Polish border into East Germany and just for fun bought the films at a flea market. After he began to look at them he wanted to know who made them and why. It became the center of his work in theatre in Poland. He couldn’t find out how the films got to the flea market dealer. He did find Margarete with the help of a friend fluent in German. He went to see her. She was 99 years old, and in a nursing home. She could see just enough of the films to authenticate them. Continue reading

Deacon’s Ministry

“particularly as a servant of those in need” BCP p 856

by Hardison Geer

Sharon met Anthony when they were fellow servers (acolytes) at St. Mary’s. Sharon became a good friend of his, as she did with so many others. He left St.Mary’s to attend a church on Long Island whose rector was a former curate at St. Mary’s, but continued coming into Manhattan to his job as a lawyer for the V. A. Almost a year ago when he was ordained deacon she went to his ordination. In June, when her breast cancer put her in the hospital, she called him in for a conference with her oncologist. I met him in the hallway and took him to where they were. When they emerged they had decided that she should go straight from the hospital to the hospice.

In the hospice Fr. Anthony visited almost daily as did so many others. Who? Fellow servers, friends from all over, relatives close, relatives alienated, half sisters unmet, high school friends from twenty years back and so on. Soon the guards stopped giving her guests visitor’s passes…they ran out of them. The maximum of five visitors at a time meant nothing…rarely, in the evening, did she have so few. Twelve or thirteen was more common. One nice thing about the hospice is that they will supply a bed in the room for visitors who wish to stay the night. Sharon had at least five different people stay the night, some of them more than once. In fact she did something which should not have been possible…she was more visited than all the rest of the patients in the two hundred bed hospice put together. When she could still walk she did something to reduce that disparity by visiting and befriending her fellow patients. At least two of her new friends predeceased her. I was told that the staff were flabbergasted when she ran errands for other patients getting them water or ice. This was not her greatest task while in hospice, she used the leverage her being in hospice gave her to heal alienation in her family. In fact an informal gathering the day after her funeral was attended by a combination of people inconceivable a year ago. Continue reading