Jillian – Recollecting Terry
I learned recently our friend Terry died. It wasn’t a surprise. He’s been shuffling around with an oxygen bottle for a while, struggling to catch his breath. It’s been a handful of tough winters for he and his wife Dottie.
As Terry’s health diminished, friends and community helped with his firewood. I remember a conversation, years back, at one of our Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) suppers. We all were seated, eating at the big round table. Terry said he needed help carrying firewood into the house. Adam and Mark went over that weekend to move firewood. They did so for two winters.
Others took turns. Zach, Maeve and her son, Jaden, carried wood for a while. Neighbors looking out for neighbors. In summer, the Mission’s Housing Rehab workers moved and stacked big piles of firewood into Terry and Dottie’s wood shed.
Dottie and Terry have been together fifty years. Strong folk, back to the landers. They’ve lived many, many years off the grid, good and simple. Before coming to Maine they lived in a retrofitted bus in New Mexico. They first got electricity only three or four years ago when Terry needed it to power his oxygen supply. Scott Shaw, working through our Housing Rehabilitation program, had power strung down their long driveway, into their home.
Last fall, the Mission’s Megan Smith and Scott Shaw worked with Downeast Community Partners, to have two propane heaters installed in Dottie’s and Terry’s house. When Dottie called the Mission to tell us of Terry’s passing, she said Terry was proud of his new propane heaters. It’s reassuring knowing Dottie, without relying solely on wood, will be warm this winter.
Heart mending needs warmth.
I didn’t really know Terry before we were regulars at our DETOP community suppers. I knew he was old friends with Mooney. Like me, raking blueberries initially brought Terry and Dottie to Maine. I also heard Terry wasn’t afraid to have fun at Joan’s parties way back in the day.
The Terry I got to know over the last ten years was a gentleman. He held doors, asked about your loved ones, and about how so-and-so was doing. He was always charming and, with depth and attention, happy to engage in conversations. Terry had a soothing laugh. He told good stories and asked to hear yours. The mention of his wife Dottie always made him smile big.
Sometimes at our community suppers Maeve and I would box up something for Terry to bring to Dottie who prefers to stay home. She is feisty, tiny thing, with a smart strong spirit. Maeve and I wondered, making up a care package, what Dottie would like to eat. Cake or kale?
Early in the pandemic, when I stopped by to drop off a Family Food Center box, Dottie’s cute dog came running out to greet me. Bark, bark! This little dog is a bit chubby. Ha! I suspected then and there that maybe the dog shared some of Dottie’s Table of Plenty goodies.
Terry loved Table of Plenty, and Terry was loved at Table of Plenty. Pastor Priscilla had an instant soft spot for him. Young men loved having long conversations at the supper table about life with him. And Bonnie? Well, you can see their friendship in the picture here. Bonnie said Terry mistook her for a nun in the early days of our community supper.
Talking recently with Joan I asked her for few Terry stories from back when they all were young homesteaders. She said Terry bought their modest place with money inherited from his mother. Before putting down roots in Maine though, he and Dottie used a portion of the inheritance to travel in Europe.
Joan said she first met Terry some thirty-odd years ago when he delivered a truck bed full of wood scraps to a Rainbow family gathering she was hosting at her “Happy Hollow” farm. Terry knew the bunch of hippies camping in Joan’s yard would enjoy that firewood at the nightly campfire.
And with that — a story, a cycle of warmth, love and life — I will end my little homemade eulogy for our friend.
Recollecting Terry has been a gift.