Valentine’s Day is All About Love

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During the past decade, I have written about love, telling a variety of tales appropriate for Valentine’s Day and it’s that time again. No matter the time of year, I continue to be touched and fascinated about the love connection. My relationship with my Toshiba has often been rocky to say the least. However, when the mood strikes it, I am just a click away and can now share some tidbits from the past decade.

Helen Keller could neither see nor hear, but she could feel. It’s amazing that she hit the nail on the head. “The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be touched or seen, they must be felt with the heart.”

In February 2011, Julia Jaffess and I chatted, and I also spoke with Shirley Modelson. Julia told me about five special ladies, her three daughters and two granddaughters. She described time spent with them as a love fest.

Many people love pets unconditionally, and Shirley Modelson often spoke about Archibald LeGrand, a Bouvier des Flandres. He was grand, meaning magnificent, and also very large. He had pedigree papers and peripheral vision only. He was given to Shirley, because of his poor eyesight. “He walked into walls and occasionally knocked someone over,” said Shirley. She and her late husband Milton adored him.

In 2013 Linda Linder told me all about a special child, Sarah, and her great-grandmother whose company she really enjoyed. “They are my Valentines, and knowing them gives me so much joy. Being with them is an interesting intergenerational experience,” said Linda.

Jo and Joe Novak met when Jo was seven and Joe was nine years old. The couple married when Jo was 17 and Joe was 19. They will be married 59 years this May, and Joe still refers to Jo as his “teen queen!”

On Sept. 27, 2019 a Dance Workshop was held in Sarah Cooke Hall. Heritage Village facilitators Judy and Neil Cowan encouraged those present to dance in groups of four, six and eight, and had couples mirror their partner’s movements. They encouraged participants to dance with different people. Ladies asked if they could borrow my photographer, and I found myself dancing with other people as well. After being married for 61 years at the time, this doesn’t happen too often. We spent part of the evening talking to Pat and Bob Burling who were high school sweethearts and the four of us spoke about the evening’s experience. I explained that I was a writer for the Heritage Villager, and usually would write a piece about Valentine’s Day each year. “May I call you?” I asked, and I did. When I met them I learned that they were New Villagers. This article will serve a dual purpose. Happy Valentine’s Day to Pat and Bob, a delightful couple, and welcome to Heritage Village.

Bob and Pat Burling were recently photographed by the fireplace in in the Lodge.

Post war expansion brought the Platt family and the Burling family to Long Island, N.Y. where multitudes of small split levels and ranch style houses popped up in developments similar to Levittown. They were built on sandy fields where piles of potatoes once grew. Pat lived close to my neighborhood but left Brooklyn with her family in 1956. The Burling family arrived in 1952.

Their romance began in the spring of 1958 on the school bus on the way to Plainedge High School in Massapequa, N.Y. As we talked many of the dates discussed had meaning to Lionel and me and the Burlings. I married my photographer on June 22, 1958. For the four of us 1958 was a special year!

“I met Pat when I tripped over her foot. We found out that we lived around the corner from each other. Shortly after that my friend Winnie had a girlfriend named Shelly who was Pat’s friend. When the foursome got together, I knew that she was the girl on the bus,” he said. The couple dated for seven years through high school and college, and married after graduating from college.

I commented that they were both very articulate. Pat claimed that her grandmother told her that she was injected with a phonograph needle. Bob was supposedly shy as a teenager. However, it was very interesting listening to them now. According to my family, I was also injected with a phonograph needle. It was a common saying at that time, which I hadn’t heard in years.

“Our story was similar to Romeo and Juliet. I considered Pat royalty. She was definitely college bound, and her parents were going to send her to Oneonta State University. My parents told me that they couldn’t afford to send me to college.” said Bob. He did go to college, and attended the prestigious Pratt Institute located in Brooklyn. He joined the ROTC which gave him $27 a month. This helped pay some of his collage expenses. The couple married in August 1965, the year and month my son was born, and after graduation he owed the Army two years of service. Lt. Burling accepted a commission in the U.S. Army and Pat went with him to Germany. Brooke, their first child, was born there. After serving, Bob. Pat and Brooke returned to New York. Bob was an architect and Pat was a fiber artist. “Pat chose child rearing,” said Bob. Son Ari was born in 1971 and Alexis was born in 1976.

“In 1977 I decided that my job was boring and wanted to move on,” said Bob. The family moved to North Carolina. The Burlings stepped into serendipity. Pat met a stranger, Linda, who changed her life. Linda was a weaver and she was sure that Pat could do this. Pat had her doubts, but evidently Linda persisted. “I purchased my first loom. Linda assured me that it would take quite a while to come, as we really couldn’t afford it, but it was delivered quickly,” said Pat.

Bob was on a business trip, and Pat made the “executive” decision to sell some of their furniture, Bob’s suits made in Germany and his country music collection helped pay for the loom. I believe that her decision was the beginning of a creative family dynasty.

Son Brooke, now 51, is the director of the Performing Arts School in Hartford, which is part of the Learning Corridor Magnet School Complex. Son Ari, age 49, is an architectural photographer and is married to Erika. Their son Sasha is eight years old. Daughter Alexis, 44, is a writer and is married to Mark. Bob has already written 85,000 words of his family memoir. He has been spinning his story and is concerned that he can continue to make it relevant as social media today is presented in a very different manner.

Brooke has three children. Sloane, 19, is a sophomore at Vassar College, and is a dancer. Maren, 22, graduated from Bucknell University and this is her gap year before she begins working toward her master’s degree in International Studies. Cullen, 25, graduated from Emerson College and Duke University and teaches dramatic arts in North Carolina.

The Burlings agreed that when planning for retirement they needed to look for a community. Bob was familiar with the area because of his life experience as an architect. He watched the Village being built. Pat felt making a move at this time would hopefully give them lots of good years to spend in a very special place. They described themselves as newbies, living here for 10 months. After looking at several units, they chose one that had a great deal of wall space where they could display a large collection of beautiful art work.

Pat and Bob enjoy the Current Events group. There is a lot to learn, and recently there was a pizza party. That’s fun, too! They’ve attended many events in Sarah Cooke Hall as well as those at the Southbury Library, and are involved in the learning experience entitled Great Decisions. Heritage Village offers so much. Good luck to Pat and Bob as they continue their adventure in their new home.