It’s no surprise to readers of this blog that I am a Father’s Daughter and usually you have to wait a minute or two before I post on Father’s day. My Father has been gone for a decade, hard to believe, but I still feel the need to catch him up on all that is important to me on the four hour drive to the Cape. The man loved to go for a ride. I won’t have the opportunity to do that this year, my Cape weeks are all askew but thankfully they will eventually happen. Instead I’d like you to enjoy someone else’s Father, I know I did.
Earlier this year I received an email from a friend and colleague looking to share a story on Ordinary Legacy. I encourage all of you to do so but he took me up on it. The email was simple, “My Father wrote something back in 1952 when I was only one year old. He passed away in 2002.” With permission to post, he said, I believe you will enjoy it.
My Walk Alone
By Walter William Stoeckel
The dark dimmed fields and woods of the countryside gathered me up in a silent welcome as I walked alone in the cool stillness of the summer night. The air was filled with the silver dust of moonlight sifting down silently and settling all around me as though caressing everything it touched. Far away – somewhere between my listening ear and the dark silhouette of the horizon – a night bird softly called and the distant muffled bark of a dog seemed to answer its melancholy call.
The road ahead mutely beckoned as it vanished dimly round the bend dragging the staggering fence posts in its wake while their strands of barbed wire struggled vainly to preserve some semblance of order in the lurching line. Only the sentinel like telephone poles stood alertly erect silently relaying their messages on threads of wire etched sharply against the powdery blue of the moonlit sky. A night sky so bright only a few scattered twinkling stars peeked through.
A peaceful serenity caught me in its spell as I continued on alone entranced by the aura of tranquility in which I seemed to be completely immersed. The gentle touch of the dying evening breeze seemed subtly soothing to my cheek and brow. With a sigh I drank in this utopia. Then suddenly, I thought of the reality the morning would bring shattering this peaceful silence with screaming black headlines, blaring radios, and it’ cacophony of voices all vying for my attention. Repeating over and over again the stories of hate, violence, bigotry, deceit and death while trying vainly to justify man’s sins and weaknesses by linking them to noble sounding causes, rationalizing them in the name of logic and blindly believing it to be somehow synonymous with reason. Why must man forever covert and rarely cherish? How much bounty must there be to slake the thirst of greed? Why is his lust for power greater than his need?
My mind wandered, as did I, alone in the night. I peered through the bright darkness of the countryside around me and listened intently to its silence. I spoke to myself aloud, and not unfervently – “If only all this could be mine. If only some great benevolent landowner would say to me: (‘This is yours, all of it, as far as you can see or hear. Yours to do with as you wish for as long as you want it’) how everlastingly grateful I would I be.” To be able to relax in peace and quiet; to be able to build a little world of my own, free from a world of tarnish and greed., free from men living too much on the misfortunes and sufferings of each other. Ahh! This would be a dream come true.
I suddenly stopped and stood still in the road as the truth struck me with a stunning force and I must confess a degree of condemnation. In a moment I became aware that a great land owner really had given me this to do with as saw fit as long as I wished. Slowly I began to walk again but now the night, the countryside and I had changed and I knew what I should have known before.
I had been walking in the night but I had not been walking alone.
Imagine my joy in reading this treasure. I couldn’t help thinking that for the next fifty years of his life Bill’s father lived this revelation. I wanted very much to know if that was true. I wanted to know if this was written for something or merely to cement his thoughts and be used as a reminder when life intruded as it did on his walk. I was curious to know more about this wonderful story that made him think of Ordinary Legacy. My friend did not disappoint.
I never knew my father had written “My Walk Alone” while he was alive. He passed away in 2002. I found this and several other ponderings while going through his files helping my Mom with his affairs. I transcribed what he wrote so I could save it, and share it with my family. I forgot about it till last weekend, I was going through my files looking for things to send my son. He asked me to send what I call Billisms.
My Dad went by his middle name Bill (William). He was an interesting guy who had a great worldly curiosity. He wasn’t the kind of Dad that played ball with the kids, or went to sporting events. He would take us to plays, or symphony concerts, or the circus. He was a very good photographer. He loved taking pictures of flowers, and landscapes and people. He took all his pictures in slide format, and we would sit around the house while dad had a slide show of his collections. We didn’t really appreciate it enough when we were kids.
He was not interested in cars or mechanics. He was an artist who did fantastic pencil drawings, and did enameling work for a while. When he was young, he worked as an artist for the Scranton Lace Company designing Lace patterns.
He was an avid gardener with a huge vegetable garden, and numerous sculpted flower beds. He was an amateur actor, and director and played many roles. He was a Deacon in the Church, yet he loved science. He was great at giving sermons. He was an accomplished golfer, and President of his golf club. He was an accomplished gymnast, and I remember he could go up and down the stairs of our house walking on his hands.
He had a great laugh, and was a handsome man with twinkling, radiant blue eyes.
What fond memories of an interesting man, I can see why Bill loves some of the things he does. I can also see where he takes after his father, living his life the way he wants his story told. This is no ordinary legacy, three generations sharing the gifts of each other carrying on and adding original links that reach back and forward. I am deeply grateful to have been able to share this with our little community.
Ordinary Legacy loves Billism #34:
Reading history is informative.
- Remember history is helpful.
- Making history is living life to its fullest.
To all of you who have your fathers close, enjoy them, even the slide shows, they are too quickly gone but as you can clearly see, never forgotten. Thank you, Thank you Bill for the gift of this story for us all.