In June of 1972, my girlfriend Penny told me that she wanted to break off our relationship. I was devastated. I was 18 years old at the time. Penny had been my girlfriend from early in my senior year of high school and on through my freshman year of college. Of all the gifts that she gave me, the most precious gift was the encouragement that she gave me to be a writer. Penny insisted that I join the college newspaper staff, when I started college in September of 1971. She encouraged me to work hard as a reporter on the paper. Her encouragement helped me to get the confidence to go on to become the Feature Editor of my college newspaper. I loved her dearly.
It’s a long story, but in so many ways, I think that Penny’s friendship was a gift of Divine Spirit. When I was in high school, I was painfully shy. Penny helped me to become more outgoing, she taught me to fight my shyness and to become more outgoing. She had a heart of gold and a spirit that overflowed with kindness.
Penny was an avid reader. When I first met Penny, I was lost in Thomas Wolfe’s classic novel, Look Homeward, Angel. I thought that Thomas Wolfe was one of the greatest writers of all time. I still do. It was my dear friend, Penny, who taught me that I could find my truth and my own unique style of creative writing. I remember the first time that I ever showed Penny one of my stories. She was an incredibly intelligent girl and she critiqued my story better than any English teacher could possibly do.
I remember the summer of 1971, after graduating from high school. I began writing short stories and sending them out like a madman to scores of magazines. I was obsessed with providing detailed description of the settings in my stories. To me, I read Thomas Wolfe’s style of providing long, detailed descriptions and I thought that was the way to go. Penny was incredibly patient with me, in teaching me to go another route. I still provided detailed descriptions of my settings, but Penny taught me to focus also on the personalities of my characters, and to open up my heart to my reader.
As well as a boy can love a girl at 17 and 18, I loved Penny. We keep in touch from time to time. In the 1990’s I was blessed to host a local television talk show in New Jersey. I co-hosted the television show with a fine gentleman, whom I am proud to say is today a minister. I remember that Penny wrote me a letter, not an e-mail, but an old fashioned letter that she sent through the post office. She told me that she liked the television show and that she was proud of me. That letter meant the earth to me.
People come into our lives. They leave. Still, a part of their essence remains alive in our hearts. It’s just the way love works.
Peace and harmony, Richard