West Tisbury: The power of the pen


We attended this past weekend a celebration of the life of Tori Gadowski. I had forgotten about Tori Togs, her mother Jennie’s children’s clothing store, when Tori was little, but there was the sign prominently displayed at Saturday’s gathering at the West Tisbury Fire Station 2. It felt like most of West Tisbury came out to share stories and our affection for Jennie and John, and our sorrow for losing their daughter at such a young age, for her daughters losing their mom so soon. The firehouse was packed full.

Then I found out that Howie Attebery had died a couple of days before. In the short time Howie had lived in town, he made a huge impact. He fit in as though he had always been here. Fit in to Cynthia’s life, into the Riggs’ extended family, into West Tisbury. He never seemed a man in his 90s. He was brilliant, kind, capable, curious, all that one could hope for in a friend and a husband. He and Cynthia beamed when they were together. Cynthia held her Groundhog Day party as planned, calling it a celebration of Howie’s life instead. Cars filled the adjoining field and pulled their wheels up off both New Lane and Edgartown Road.

I forgot to wish Henry Bassett a happy 16th birthday at the proper time, so am doing it now. I heard it was a fine day. He played golf, his favorite thing, with his brother, Hugh. Then a birthday dinner with his parents and grandparents. Suzi and Bob Wasserman were in Boston for the festivities. Soon they will be planning their own celebration; both of their birthdays are on Feb. 18.

Another big birthday weekend was celebrated in the Haynes family. Hannah Haynes turned 5 on Jan. 31. Her big sister, Jessica, surprised her, coming home from college unannounced for the ice skating and family party that night. Feb. 1 is Betty and Janice Haynes’s shared birthday. They took each other out to lunch on the day, then the traditional surf and turf dinner was held on Saturday night for the whole family. Many happy returns to you all.

I enjoyed a good long chat with Alan and Debbie Coutinho when they were on the Island last weekend. They will be back this weekend, too, for their grandson Angus Vincent’s fifth birthday. Alan told me a story about his son, Jonathan, coming to visit with his two little boys from Houston, Texas. The children had never seen snow before. “They loved it,” said Alan, who could barely get them to come inside. It must be something to see snow for the first time. I still find it magical, even after 67 winters.

Joanne Scott received a gift in the mail, a book called “These Wonderful Lives,” written by Ruth Moulder. The book is charming, a series of short stories about famous women and their accomplishments, written to be read aloud. The author had been looking for a book like that to read to her young daughters. The librarian she asked said she didn’t know of any such book, and suggested that Ruth write it herself. She did, and she dedicated the book to the prescient librarian, Mrs. Trudy Scott, then librarian at the Hingham Public Library. Trudy was Joanne’s mother. Her copy is inscribed, “To daughter Joanne, thank you for your support in finishing this book. In memory of your wonderful mother.” May lots of mothers read these stories and inspire their children, girls and boys both.

The West Tisbury library staff wishes the Decker family a huge congratulations on the birth of Lilou Decker on Jan. 29 at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Lilou is the daughter of Katy and Sam, granddaughter of Nelia, our children’s librarian, and her husband Chris. She will surely be a lucky baby, read to and surrounded by books to pique her imagination, and much loved.

Events at the library this week include Saturday, Feb. 11, 2 to 4 pm, a Death Cafe with Cape Cod Death Cafe founder Heather Massey, part of the “Explorations in Healthy Living Series,” that provides a comfortable atmosphere in which to share a respectful, thought-provoking, and life-affirming conversation on topics of death, dying, and bereavement. A Second Sunday Jazz Concert with John Alaimo, Tauras Biskis, and Michael Tinus will take place Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm. Monday at 7 pm is Writers Read, a group for writers of short prose, fiction or nonfiction, to read in eight-minute segments. Sign up at 508-693-4307. Tuesday, Feb. 14, meet at the Howes House at 11:15 am for soup, bread, and conversation and a class making Zentangle patterned images with paper artist Sandy Bernat. Please preregister at 508-693-2896.

Tuesday is also Valentine’s Day. Flowers and special dinners with loved ones will be the order of the day. I remember one year when Mary Jo Joiner was still writing this column, and she mentioned that she would like Phil Smith to bring her a bouquet of, I think, lavender roses she thought were quite beautiful. That was her column the week before. The week after, she wrote about receiving them as requested. The power of the pen.