Breathe…a breath

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A breath ~

 

Done without thinking.

 

Yet…

 

An app on my watch tells me it’s time to Breathe, as if I’ve gone through the day without breath.

 

Take a breath.

 

We have developed into a world without breath.

 

Moments of terror Take Our Breath Away from us now, instead of beauty.

 

We are Out of Breath, screaming from the back row to the Powers That Be, about the injustices and atrocities we suffer ~ only to exhaust ourselves, left Gasping for Breath, learning that we might as well Save Our Breath.

 

In The Same Breath, we tell our children to stand tall ~ fight the good fight.

 

All the while, Under Our Breath, we mutter our disbelief at what this world has come to while on our watch.

 

Take a Breath.

 

We stand up to fight on, Catch Our Breath, taking pause or rest before continuing our battle.

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Take a Breath.

 

Children ripped from loving parents’ arms

Children left in abusive parents’ hands

Children placed in underfunded, over-crowded, collapsing schools

Children plopped in front of devices to keep them quiet instead of engaging them

Children ignored and allowed to do whatever they desire…

 

Yet we wonder why things are going to pot??

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Resume regular breathing.

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore – June 2018

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Mindset

/mīn(d)set/
noun
1. an attitude, disposition, or mood.
2. an intention or inclination.
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Mindset holds a crucial key to success.
Everyone has heard it.
We’re all a bit tired of hearing it…probably.
Heading out for a 7 mile run on Sunday, not exactly looking forward to it, everything seemed to go south.
My last attempt at 7 miles failed miserably two weekends prior so I knew a difficult few hours awaited me.
Plus record-breaking heat had moved in…I do not enjoy record-breaking heat.
Plus my brand new cordless (and very expensive) headphones wouldn’t connect.
7 miserable miles in record-breaking heat with no music.
Oh, joy.
My husband had already left on his bike after he altered his plans to drive me out to Sanibel so I had no choice.
I took off running. I figured if nothing else, I’d run until I had “cooled down” (figurative, certainly not literal) a bit.
Sanibel’s population is approximately 7,000.  In February, on a Sunday, approximately 13,000 people come over…for the day.
Yup…that’s according to the statistics, and having seen it with my own eyes, I am inclined to believe it.
So, I ran with the 13,000 people coming over to the island for the day.
Needless to say, my mindset (remember that we were talking about mindset?) wasn’t really that great.
It took about a mile for the “cooling off” to take hold. Runners know this adrenaline high. We kind of love it.
Suddenly:
the lack of music didn’t matter. I heard the osprey calls, the constant “on your left” from the tourist cyclists, the “good morning!” from everyone, and the very frequent, “I LOVE YOUR SOCKS!!” from just about everyone. (A necessity, certainly not a fashion choice, but I seemed to entertain everyone.)
I wouldn’t have heard any of that with my music on.
Thankfully:
the crowds offered me protection. The hidden areas where I worry when I run in the summer – because what woman runner doesn’t worry throughout her ENTIRE run?? – instead flooded me with the company of those 13,000 visitors. People surrounded me like running with a team of friends.
Surprisingly:
the 7 miles turned into 8!!! No songs to assist and soldier me on, the sounds of nature, my feet rhythmically hitting the pavement, the variety of music I got to hear from every car stuck in traffic along Periwinkle Way, offered endless entertainment to get me to my goal and beyond.
Mindset affects everything.
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“People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.”
Travis Bradberry

#metoo

https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23metoo

A reckoning. By definition, “a settling of accounts.”

Is that what best describes the #metoo movement? The sad truth: every woman and many girls have had such an experience and can post #metoo.

Sad.

My #metoo moment didn’t happen as an adult, but as a teen, and like so many others, it played a significant role in the course of my life, and shaped the woman I became.

August right before school started, a friend and I rode our bikes out to the high school. Anxious about starting our freshman year, we wanted to check things out and settle our nerves. A man came out of the gym and invited us in to try out for the volleyball team. A life-long baseball and softball lover, I had never considered volleyball. I made the team, and continued playing all the way through college. Volleyball remains a part of my life today as I coach and my daughter plays. I remain forever grateful for that invite into the gym and sport.

However, I am not grateful for the four years of unwelcome, demeaning and inappropriate advances from that same coach. The distance of almost 40 years has not diminished the sting of the things he said, and if allowed, would have done.

~ “Wendy, come sign this paperwork,” as he held a clipboard. As I took the pen, he pulled the clipboard against his stomach and said something like, “Anything to get you to come closer to me.” I dropped the pen with disgust and went back to practice without signing anything.

~ Heading into a gym for another game, that team’s coach had one of his players up against the bleachers as he leaned over her looking very much like her boyfriend. My coach said to me, “See! She lets him get close.” That coach, also a teacher, years later lost his license to teach and coach for sexual abuse with students and players.

~ Sitting on the bench doing the team stats, watching a female coach of an opposing team smack her players on the butt as she subbed them in and out. He turned to me and said, “Maybe if you let me hit you on the butt like her, I’d play you.”

Another guttural groan and eye roll…my only defense.

The constant attempts to touch me, get me to touch him, disgusted me. He held play time as the carrot, knowing how much I wanted to get on the court. I bristled and threw my nose up in the air; I retorted with rude and disrespectful comments that went completely against the grain of who I was. I had no other recourse. I never wavered. He was a bully and I hated bullies. I have no idea where that resolve came from. How I had the tenacity to stand up to him so boldly, I’ll never know. I did not have a strong fatherly figure in my life. My mother, not exactly a beacon of feminism, hadn’t drilled independence into me. But I stood against him at every point of my four years with him. Many of us did. His inappropriate, smarmy behavior was no secret. We all hated even more the rare occasion his wife and kids would show up at the gym and how he’d change. A complete 180 including his posture. His entire demeanor altered to Father/Husband/Coach of the Year. As she walked out, he’d turn with a disgusting grin and return to his usual, oily manner.

I’ve had many coaches in my life as an athlete. My favorite was my high school softball coach. A small, loud bearded man who limped, chewed tobacco, swore, screamed, and threw bats when we made too many errors. His mantra, “Play as tough as boys, act like ladies.” And he meant it. Far tougher than the boys’ baseball coach, he drilled us…hard. Repeated errors from the infielders brought on a spree of swearing along with bat throwing against the backstop, as well as screaming at me in the outfield to “TAKE A LAP!” As if the swearing, screaming, tobacco chewing, and throwing wasn’t enough, making her daughter run laps for errors she didn’t make put my mother over the edge. She would beg me to quit. She would compare this outrageous man to the fine, upstanding volleyball coach. She didn’t hear me. She couldn’t believe me. Perhaps I didn’t say it loud enough or serious enough.

How could that lovely man be worse than that bearded, foul-mouthed one?

The things she couldn’t see about my softball coach:

  • He never altered his behavior for any audience. His wife and kids attended practice often.
  • He protected me from an abusive and manipulative boyfriend, not letting him near the field.
  • He found out a doctor had told me to stop all sports due to two heart murmurs. I ignored the recommendation. During the three-whistle drill, he would always yell at me to stop sprinting. (So his making me do extra laps for other players didn’t bother me.)
  • He would tutor any of us before or after school if we needed it, making us always put our school work first.
  • He wouldn’t tolerate any drama or bad-mouthing of each other. We were to remain a team or we’d sit.

He prepared me for meeting with my college coaches. I had all my stats ready to report. I knew my RBIs, batting average, my Gold Glove award, my aces, kills, etc. While at the university, meeting with my new coaches, my mother and new volleyball coach left the room for some reason. I was left with the softball coach. He looked me up and down, said, “So what are your numbers?” I pulled out my stats, but this new coach cut me off and said, “No, not those.” He pointed at my body, moved his finger up and down, “Those,” he finished.

Again.

Not again.

18-years-old and I was tired.

Exhausted.

I never played for him. I walked away from softball…my first love. I cannot explain the heartbreak. An awkward jock (before it was “cool” to be a tomboy), I rarely fit in. A team of other girls helped me find my place in the world. I walked away from a sport and a connection that I adored, all because of yet another disgusting predator.

This college softball coach was also the head trainer for the university. He decided whose injury had cleared up and which players could return to the game. I played volleyball for a lovely, quirky (female) coach, resulting in a lower back injury. I chose each day for the 19-year-old college boys to work on my back, close to my butt, rather than that 50-year-old predator.

Not everyone had that luxury. The softball team made the final four. Our school hosted the tournament. One of my friends showed up at my apartment late one night in tears. A senior with a back injury, her desperation to play in the final four matched my heartache that I had opted out of this once in a lifetime opportunity. She needed clearance from her coach/head trainer to play. He wouldn’t give it … unless. Unless she performed oral sex on him.

She did.

And she sat in my arms sobbing.

She played. They won.

Did she?

Eventually, all the swearing, yelling, and throwing got my high school coach forced out. Parents complained, and while I admit you cannot behave like that, he remains my favorite coach. Never anything fake…what you saw was what you got, and he gave me his best.

My high school volleyball coach retired from coaching and teaching last year to a fanfare of celebrations. Facebook pages, parties, and tributes. I was invited. I respectfully declined.

BUT WHY???

Why do the women who suffer at the hands of these predators feel they have to show respectful and demure behavior? I admit that I worry that perhaps his wife or children may somehow find this and read it. Certainly some will say that they can’t possibly believe such things. Look at all the tributes!

Again, why am I the one who should worry?

Why not him?

#metooScreen Shot 2017-12-17 at 8.28.13 PM

Legacy?

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The innocence blotted out with the constant barrage of murder.

 

Religion against religion —

Race against race —

Color against color —

 

Why is it always this way, all in the “name” of something — all claiming a righteous cause?

 

Does each deity really demand all this destruction and death? If so, why worship it?

 

Nothing moves forward, each act of terrorism a step backwards. Where is the sanity and reason? Instead it all perpetuates savagery and madness.

 

Perhaps the world needs a book study:

Lord of the Rings…?

Lord of the Flies…?

…just the Lord???

 

We all live on this globe. We destroy it without care along with all the people upon it.

 

This is our legacy    …      …      …         ?

 

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore – September 2017

 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

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2016 – a particularly pernicious year

It took so many beloved talents.

It made our hearts hurt,

It made our heads spin…

 

David Bowie and John Glenn, our Starmen waiting in the sky;

Prince, never just our weekend lover;

George Michael, you did belong to us;

Leonard Cohen, our baffled king composing Hallelujah;

Gene Wilder, gave us our pure imagination;

Garry Marshall, oh happy days;

Harper Lee, our mockingbird;

Glenn Frey, flying like an eagle;

Carrie Fisher, our star-born princess;

Debbie Reynolds, good morning, sun beams will soon smile through;

Alan Rickman…always.  How we always wanted you to be 80-years-old, sitting in your rocking chair, reading Harry Potter.

ALWAYS.

 

A cruel year, to take our beloved away so extensively.

Then, I realized…

We grew up in “their” time.

We discovered them as they blossomed and became the world’s.

We waited by the radio listening to Casey Kasem announce their rising number on the top 40 charts –

We went as children to the movies, jabbering in the halls between classes how awesome the latest movie was –

WE knew them, and they were OURS…before they became who our children loved and the generations to follow –

They were ours, and they will be…

ALWAYS.

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore

January 2017

 

 

“Against”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Against –

  1. in opposition to, opposed to, in opposition to, hostile to, averse to, antagonistic toward, inimical to, unsympathetic to, resistant to, at odds with, in disagreement with, dead set against;

OR

  1. in physical contact with (something), typically so as to be supported by or collide with it, , in contact with, up against, adjacent to

 

This world has always embraced “against” as opposition. Only option #1 exists.

 

From the beginning of time someone is “against” someone else:

invasions

battles

conquests

uprisings

revolts

rebellions

crusades…

wars.

 

Periods of lulls intermingled with these oppositions usually after the discovery of some huge new landmass. Large groups escaped (or were forced) to the new lands. However, what happened to the natives as the “important” peoples implanted themselves?

 

invasions

battles

conquests

uprisings

revolts

rebellions

crusades…

wars.

 

When will the world realize there is another…

a #2?

When will the world welcome the physical contact with everyone?

When will the world embrace the ability to be supported by others, or touching?

 

We do not have to always battle.

We do not have to cave to “Us vs. Them”

 

I will continue to love and support and touch and stay in contact with the world, everyone, individuals.

 

I will not battle. I will only love.

 

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” 

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Wendy Giglio Fiore – June 15, 2016

Split

An entire year. Not one blog post ~

Apparently my blog and I have split.

What a year of distractions (work, Facebook, work, tasks, work, TV, work)

And I allowed them to control me, I have to admit.

 

I actually avoided even opening my blog.

My heart, which reading through my past posts,

Always had so much to say,

But now it has somehow fallen silent ~ a quiet ghost.

 

Is my heart no longer moved?

Is it a numb, unfeeling imbecile?

Certainly the murderous rage from the anesthetized continues.

Have I become apathetic, the attacks that are now so predictable?

 

Perhaps it’s a little bit of guilt

For a life overflowing with blessings,

A year filled with love, family health, and happiness.

To write of it a blow ~ a slap in the face to a world marred by weapons.

 

Whatever the cause,

Whatever the major inducement,

I must no longer allow my heart and mind to be muted.

A resolution made for my own well-being and improvement.

 

Happy New Year ~ 2016

Wendy Giglio Fiore – January 3, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasing the Father

The piece I wrote the night before my father’s funeral. Interesting to see my frame mind. It’s so hard to believe it has been 8 years.

It is impossible to please all the world…and one’s father.”

                                                                                                                        Jean de La Fontaine

 

Many children can agree with La Fontaine. Pleasing their father seems like an impossible task. I would not be one of those children. I am not sure what came first — the fact that I knew I pleased my father or that I aimed to please him.

My earliest recollection of this Tony/Wendy dynamic was Dad having his friends over, perhaps the tennis team from MxCC, and they all took turns whipping a baseball at me.

“Just throw it!” he yelled. “She’ll catch anything.”

Now, in my six-year-old brain (or whatever young age I was at the time), it seemed as though those men whipped those balls at me. My father would tell the story that, yes, they were real baseballs. However, the possibility remains that they only tossed them at me, perhaps tennis balls, and that Dad exaggerated his pleasure at my “talent.” One of the many unanswered questions I’m left with, albeit a bit unimportant.

Tony Giglio…a difficult man. He had no patience whatsoever. As a child and even a young adult, I found this very intimidating. He would snap and bark and growl. Tough as nails and unsatisfied with everything, except me so it seemed. But even this admiration could only go so far and had many limits. If I interrupted at the wrong time, if I asked for a ride to a friend’s house when he didn’t want to drive, if I complained that he made me miss my piano lessons because he was at the Elk’s, if I came in to cuddle with my mother after a nightmare…anything could set him off. I learned to avoid sending him off his teetering edge whenever necessary.

Even with this behavior, we grew close. I chose to help him in the yard whenever he needed it. I loved driving the tractor, using the chainsaw or ax, shoveling, hauling, painting, or whatever task the season demanded. I remember doing these chores from a very young age. I don’t remember how we worked. Did we chat? Perhaps we sang songs or did I prattle on while he just, “Um-hmmed” me, or maybe he initiated conversations as well. I wish for a crystal ball to eavesdrop on those times.

I know that I chose to spend time doing these jobs not only because they interested me much more than any inside chore, but also because he accepted me. I was a strange child for the times. Tomboys were not quite as popular as they are now. From a preschool age I wanted to be a boy. No…I believed I would turn into a boy (at the magic age of twelve no less!) Clearly this would cause my mother a great deal of stress. Not my dad. He would let me help him, act like a boy, work along side him with my shirt off, not saying a word.

And when my mother would come screaming out of the house that I was in fact NOT a boy, scrambling to get my shirt on me, he would calm her saying, “It’s no big deal, Audrey.”

Another way my father proved to be a total anomaly. Fits of rage over the tiniest thing, yet completely calm over something else that should have caused a parent a great deal of concern in 1970.

As I grew older, our relationship changed and I realized how much he looked up to me, and the patience that I had; the control I took over my life and happiness. His admiration grew. I made choices in my life that would make it better. I played high school and college sports traveling all over, while he followed all over the state and country, at times the only fan in the stands as we played in faraway places. I went for degree after degree, certification after certification. I did these things for myself…or so I thought.

I kept my perfect “Al-Anon” boundaries in place, separating myself from him as much as I deemed safe. I had made a conscious choice to disconnect myself from such a powerful influence. As much as I loved this man, I could never have a man like him for a husband. Having dated only three boys in my young adult life, I realized they all could have changed their names to “Tony Giglio” with so many similarities in their addictive (and not always kind) qualities. I had no choice but to set boundaries and maintain a safe distance, managing that “loving detachment” in order to maintain a relationship with my father.

I had never regretted that willful decision…until now. While I still don’t want his abusive and addictive traits in my husband, I want more time with him as a father. In separating, I focused on his negative points and I have missed the good ones: His sense of humor, his approval, his devotion to my sports, his love for my children, his love of reading and writing. I had forgotten the tender times: The money he gave me after my dog died unexpectedly so I could buy another one, the notes he would leave for me at airport terminals if he left one of my tournaments earlier than I did. How my teammates would love looking for the notes, wishing their fathers had even called to find out how the games had gone, let alone flown out to see them and then leave little love notes at the airport. The constant invites to ski, every winter weekend filled with an excursion. I feel lost as the skiing season approaches and I have to head down a slope without him, something I cannot remember doing.

I hate hindsight. It’s always late. We can see things that should have been obvious from the start. I see that my degrees were done in part for him…because of him. He directed me in my route to my masters, finding a school and program for me. I can see how doing well in school, while never really talked about in our house was simply expected. Even with his absence in that household as I grew up, I understood that I would do well in school.

So here I am with my perfect hindsight vision, longing to tell him things, to ask him questions, but it’s too late. I will continue to strive for the best in my life and my children’s lives, but I have learned that above all else, I am my father’s daughter, a fact that I never like admitting even when people would ask,

“Are you Tony Giglio’s daughter?”

I will embrace that now and the heritage that he has left me. I will always love white lilies and will make sure my children do as well, understanding their significance in our lives. I will always make sure that they know about the Island de Giglio. They will ALWAYS love the Red Sox. And I will work to accept them for who they are and what they want out of life, pushing them to strive for excellence …always.

Goodbye, Dad. I love you.

Your Pumpkin

W. Fiore 2007

Mercy & Christmas

mercy

The innocence of the season

Once again gets blotted out

with the constant barrage of murder,

en masse and one by one.

Religion again religion

Race against race,

Group against group

All in name of something or someone.

All claiming a cause,

Nothing moving forward —

Each slaying a step backwards

Carried out without pause.

Where is the sanity and reason?

How can acting like savage animals

Ever help us rise above any evil?

America is left with open lesions.

“When we remember that we are all mad,

the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

Mark Twain, 1898

100 years ago just as much madness —

Brutal, heartless lunacy?

Has it changed at all,

Or only grown stronger in its practice?

This is more than folly and absurdity,

A difference of opinions.

It’s savage and barbaric,

Pure unrestrained anarchy.

We are all but global citizens

Upon this sphere for our short time.

Is this how we want to make our mark?

Burning, destroying every living thing?

“Christmas is not a time nor a season,

but a state of mind.

To cherish peace and goodwill,

To be plenteous in mercy,

Is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

Calvin Coolidge

 christmas-is-not-a-time-nor-a-season-but-a-state-of-mind-to-cherish-peace-and-goodwill-to-be-plenteous-in-mercy-is-to-have-the-real-spirit-of-christmas

W. Fiore 2014

Longing

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I saw a couple on the bike path, clearly enjoying their vacation on Sanibel. Picking up one of the free Sanibel papers that outlines everything from events to real-estate, all while talking to some loved one on the phone. No need to wait to fill them in on every fun fact of their vacation. Their beloved practically right there with them, sharing in the vacation.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

I think about the letters written during the Civil War, the longing that radiated through the writing. With no way to see their dear ones, impossible to hear a sweet voice or speak to those far away, soldiers and families alike relied on maybe one faded photograph and memories. Parents sent children away during times of war, never knowing if they would see them again, all in the hopes they could save the lives of their precious babies.

Today we are so fortunate. We have FaceTime, Skype, and countless other means of immediate “connectedness,” even if someone’s in outer space. We are so blessed.

But lately, part of me wishes for the need of those letters, for that longing to come through in some way.

It’s what I’m feeling lately for all of my friends, family, and all my connections in New England. I’m longing to see them, to hear them, to visit with them and tell them every little fun fact, and hear each and every one of theirs…to be part of their lives once again.

Sullivan Ballou’s letter home to his beloved wife, Sarah

July the 14th, 1861

Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death — and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar — that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night — amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours – always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

W. Fiore 2014

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