Three teen cousins were in the woods measuring boards over sawhorses then cutting swiftly with strong and subtle muscles. They were putting together a little cabin that would be a retreat from their younger sibs as well as their parents. Time passed quickly as they were focused on a goal. Learning the finer skills required to make a shelf with knobs and bookends would come later but woodworking skills were born here.
It was a thirty acre family farm and retreat in Copley we called The Acres. Before an outdoor lunch of hamburgers cooked over a brick grill and fresh picked corn from the adjoining field, Roger stooped over a tomato plant to pick the ripest specimen. He rushed it to table a few feet away. Those burgers and hot dogs were topped with sugary and spicy homemade “cats up” stirred for hours by Roger and others with a long handled implement. The fields of corn, green beans and fruit trees are gone but his love of gardening was born here.
Although the pond was small and had a slimy bottom, a rod and reel was hopefully slung into the deeper water as sunset settled over the August day. Even tiny blue gills gave a tug but were caught and released. There were no big fish to be caught here but a fisherman was born and he was always on the lookout for “the big one” over the next horizon.
Being in the woods, unsupervised, and left to his own devices, Roger learned lessons through trial and error, curiosity, and practice. Stewardship of the earth, the inter connectedness of all life, and the careful nurturing of plants, fish and animals was cautiously started, watched, nurtured and embedded for a lifetime here.
A brother and sister were puzzled and dismayed about the mysterious illness of their father followed by his untimely death. As a 19 year old Roger took on the unspoken responsibility of being “the man of the house” for his mother, of being the father figure for his 13 year old sister, and the husband and father to Martha and Chris. He modeled his assertive and firm certainty from our father. His constant and unwavering loyalty and duty to our mother and me lasted for years. These characteristics we all knew began here.
I am celebrating the Roger I knew as a child, teen and young adult when we spent a lot of time near each other and Roger in a happier, healthier and productive time, who threw a baseball, ran his dog in Mud Run, planted a garden with my son, and hung his first door. My mind will hold the younger man who was open to compassion, diversity, and vulnerability. This was that Roger who could cry in empathy and laugh at his own mistakes.
Roger, wherever you are, I hold you in the Light and I hope you are picking the perfect dahlia, casting a line, and finally catching “the big one.”