Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Synchronicity: Meadville, Pennsylvania is everywhere

[Bridge on the Allegheny College campus]

The second volume of my Dementia Blog, "She's Welcome to Her Disease," (Singing Horse Press) is off to the printer today, after several computer pratfalls.  First, this book about Alzheimer's disappeared from the publisher's computer and had to be re-designed.  Then, the version that I proofed seemed not to be corrected, although there was a corrected version on his computer. The book itself seemed to have acquired the disease.

My mother was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania; she lived in Canton, Ohio as a child, but returned to Meadville to attend and then graduate from Allegheny College (class of '39). When I google the town, I find that there are just over 13,500 residents. I hardly ever thought about Meadville until recently, even though my mother gave faithfully to her college every year during my childhood and received their alumni magazine.  I have early childhood memories of visiting Meadville and seeing the bridge on the college campus (above). The father of a college friend of mine, it turned out, had gone to Allegheny with my mother.  But still, not much about Meadville, even if I did drive through the town in graduate school with a boyfriend on the way to visiting Garrettsville, Ohio, where Hart Crane grew up, and was promptly forgotten. That changed shortly after my mother died. The lawyer who helped me with Tinfish's non-profit status, which dragged on for a while in the mid-2000s, introduced me to a new friend of hers, someone who had moved to Honolulu recently, someone whose daughter knew her son. We met at Starbucks. Vera Lee, as she turned out to be, is a poet and novelist. After our mutual friend, Melissa, left the cafe, I asked Vera where she grew up.  She told me I wouldn't have heard of the small town in Pennsylvania, that there was a small college there.  Meadville!  (Vera's first book of poems is just out this week from Tinfish, by the way.)

Since then, Vera and I have found out that one of my colleagues, also someone she knows by way of her son's basketball league, had a mentor in Meadville.  Then Vera met someone from Meadville who is renting a house in Mānoa Valley. And today, when a former colleague of mine wrote to ask if J. Vera Lee might be a former student of his, by name of Julia, I responded that no, she was not, but there was a story in there about how I met Vera.

His response? To my "further astonishment," he wrote, he had lived for four years in Meadville, and attended Meadville High School in the early 1950s.

My mother's brother and mother lived in Wooster, Ohio until they died many decades ago.  In my mother's dementia, she once called to say she was in Afghanistan and needed a ride to Wooster to see "Joe and Mother." On another occasion, perhaps, I'll write about the ways in which Wooster has been entering my life lately . . .

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