Staying Alive


A dragonfly caught my eye the other morning. It hovered and swooped and showed off near one of the waterfalls at my house. The shenanigans of this beautiful creature with the ugly name halted me in mid-step as I was going about the routine of opening the house for the day.

I immediately understood what was happening at that moment.

My late wife adored dragonflies because their neon flamboyance so closely matched her own style of dress. Their quick, graceful movements matched her love of tap, which she taught at her Connecticut dance studio for many years.

In gratitude and in memory, I was prompted that morning to offer for Jo Anne her favorite prayer, the “Hail, Mary.”

Moments like this aren’t planned, nor even noticed, unless you are alive to them.

My daughter, Julie, wrote on her Facebook page just this week about her Mom:

It's dragonfly season, and I always think of Mom when I see them.

But there are times when I see them when I really shouldn't, like when one flies alongside the car on my way to an appointment (following me turn after turn), or in a random, yet significant, place, where they ordinarily shouldn't show up, but do.

These are the times when I'm sure Mom is letting me know she's visiting me, knows what's going on, and is offering her love and support.

Shortly before she left, Mom and I sat at the koi pond and talked about dragonflies. Whether she's been sending them or not, I've been seeing a lot of them over these last few frustrating days. Which has been making me think of her and miss her very much, and at the same time feel very close to her.

My moment with the dragonfly came on the heels of my grandson’s visit a couple of weeks ago.

When I suggested a photo, Andrew chose to stand on the entry steps to the house Jo Anne and I built here ten years ago. For some reason, unprompted by me, he raised his arms, just as Jo Anne did in 2008.


What was that all about? Andrew has never seen the ten-year-old picture of his grandmother, which is at the top of this post. Who gave him the idea to do that?

I clicked the shutter to freeze Andrew’s pose for posterity, and Jo Anne came alive to me. Because, I believe, I was alive to that present moment.

Just as Jo Anne once stood on the grassy Vieques field we purchased years ago for our dream house, here was her legacy, Andrew, standing on its realization—both of them mimicking the posture of dragonflies, whose wings, even at rest, spread to the side.

I’ve come away this week more convinced than ever that being open to the present, sensitive to our surroundings, and alive to our loved ones—keeps them alive to us.

If you enjoyed reading this, you will like my new novel, Billy of the Tulips, a sensitive boy’s grim engagement with innocence and iniquity, in both print and Kindle from Amazon.

Showing 4 reactions

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  • Diana Colombo
    followed this page 2018-08-27 18:32:50 -0400
  • Carol Cricco Barna
    commented 2018-08-26 10:07:01 -0400
    Yes Peter, one has to be alive to moments like this….. JoAnne is missed by so very many….
  • Jo Lesniak
    commented 2018-08-25 23:20:20 -0400
    Peter, I remember that picture of Jo Anne standing on your property dreaming of your ‘dream’ house. Our loved ones come back often to remind us of their worldly presence. Jo Anne was a very special lady. 😍😇
  • Sue Leonard
    followed this page 2018-08-25 16:11:07 -0400