As a kid growing up in Fisherman's Cove in East Falmouth, I would dutifully say my prayers every night. I would always end with the phrase, "please help me to be better every day, and thank you for the life I have." As the years passed, that phrase became a more of a rote recitation than a genuine expression of gratitude. Years later, I met a friend who suggested I write a gratitude list, a simple list of things for which I was grateful. He suggested I keep the list in my pocket, and pull it out during a rough day to remind myself of the good things in my life. I did and it works.
As a community, we can have a gratitude list as well, and can use it as a way to remind us of some of the wonderful things in Falmouth for which we are grateful. Here are a few of mine:
I am grateful to have had the gift of knowing Marilyn Crowell. The longtime Falmouth music teacher passed away last week, after having touched and taught thousands of Falmouth kids. She showed us how to make a dulcimer, taught us the beautiful melodies of African music, and, a generation before it became the highlighted social issue it is today, taught me a thing or two about bullying. I can remember like it was yesterday, having to sing a solo in the 8th grade musical at Lawrence School, and feeling pretty awkward because my voice hadn't changed yet. When I took the stage and started my soprano bit from Lil' Abner, I was promptly booed and heckled. I ran off the stage crying. Mrs. Crowell (she will always be Mrs. to me) offered a stern admonishment to the hecklers, then sat me down and offered comfort and encouragement that helped shape a scared and self-doubting kid into someone who, to this day, loves to sing in public. My story of kindness from this remarkable woman is just one of many. Thank you, Marilyn Crowell, for teaching us music and showing us benevolence. Your melodies will play in my heart forever.
I am grateful that I was watching history made this week as a rising star from East Falmouth once again helped his team climb to the top of college athletics. John Muse, the talented but humble goalie for the now national champion Boston College Eagles, was a steady and reliable force for his teammates as the Eagles melted their opponents in the "Frozen Four" on the way to their second national championship in three years. What was more impressive than the stellar play of this native Falmouthite, though, were his comments after the game, where he heaped praise on his teammates and credited them with the victory, even though he only allowed one goal in the final two championship games. This kid is blasting off into stratosphere, but has his feet firmly on the ground. Thank you, John Muse, for making us proud to call you a Falmouthite.
I am grateful that volunteers and civic minded folks like Johnny Netto and Eddie Marks still have something to give. Between the two, they boast more than a century of public service, but keep on searching for ways to make Falmouth a better place. Eddie, in particular, is a civic phenomenon. He isn't enjoying the best of health these days, and struggles with more than simple aches and pains, but nonetheless takes time to roll up his sleeves and honor our past to teach us all lessons about the importance of remembering those that helped build this community. Eddie and Johnny's latest collaboration, just a stone's throw from a previous accomplishment, the former Hall School cupola on Katherine Lee Bates Road, was the restoration of the fountain on Main Street erected decades ago as a memorial to long time Town Counsel John Sylvia. The worn-down fountain, on the southeast corner of the library lawn, sat neglected for some time. I can remember when Eddie and I would be commiserating after a Selectmen's meeting, Eddie telling me stories about the contributions Mr. Sylvia made to this town and how a young whippersnapper like me would do well to remember the type of civic commitment and dedication that was represented in that fountain. Years later, it is the storyteller becoming the story. Thanks, Eddie and Johnny, for teaching us that our obligation to give back never ends.
These are just a few of the items on my Falmouth gratitude list. I am also grateful that there are many more. What are yours?
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.