Love Floweth, From Heaven to Earth

Published on

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In June of 1970, I completed my junior year at Boonton High School. My family belonged to the Trailmates Chapter of the National Camping and Hikers Association. There were about 12 families that belonged to this group of family campers. The Landers family was one of the families who would go camping with all of us.

Penny Landers had just completed her sophomore year of high school. She was very smart, kindhearted and very pretty. During our time of family campouts, Penny and I would play chess together, on a picnic table at a vacant campsite, that we were always able to find, no matter what state park our families were camping at that particular weekend. Penny was an incredibly great chess player.

Inevitably, our conversations during our chess games would focus on books that we had recently read. At the time, I was totally absorbed into Thomas Wolfe’s novels. I was in the midst of reading, Look Homeward, Angel. To my surprise, Penny had already read the book. I think that was a turning point for me. Looking back, the moment that Penny had told me that she had read Look Homeward, Angel, was the very moment that I fell off the Grand Canyon, in love with Penny.

I was a very shy boy. I didn’t have much self-confidence. I had a damaged Mitral Valve, so I couldn’t play sports. And in 1970, sports were everything at Boonton High School. I lost myself in poetry, novels and in playing the snare drum in the school marching band. I wanted all so much to ask Penny for a date, but I felt so strongly that I was way out of her league. I would think to myself, “What would a smart, pretty girl like Penny Lancaster, ever see in me?”

Although I never mentioned it to my father, Dad knew that I liked Penny a lot. It was during our annual week-long hike of the Appalachian Trail that Dad talked to me about Penny. It was now July of 1970, we pitched camp somewhere in the forest of Eastern Pennsylvania. Dad and I were alone together, outside of our makeshift tents, cooking stew. And Dad told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to stop putting myself down. That I had to dig deep within myself and get the courage to ask Penny for a date.

Well, at the next campout of the Trailmates Chapter, I found myself playing chess with Penny. Somehow and someway, I managed to get the courage to ask Penny for a date. My palms were filled with sweat. My heart was beating like a big, old bass drum. I inwardly trembled, after the words came out of my mouth. There was that two second pause from Penny. Then, her response came, quietly, almost shyly, “yea, that’d be nice.”

I was 16, Penny was 15, when we had our first date. Mom drove me to Penny’s house in Paterson. Penny’s father was a bit strict with her. And, rightfully so. It was a Saturday afternoon. We watched a movie in Penny’s living room, sitting together on the couch, while Mr. Lancaster sat in his easy chair.

Then we went out to Penny’s backyard. Penny had this game setup in her yard, it was like horseshoes, they called it Ring Toss. Instead of playing with horseshoes, you would toss this circular rope at the stakes, to try to get the ring onto them. It was a fun time.

Then we ate supper. Mrs. Landers was very kind to me. I can’t say that Mr. Landers made me feel all that welcome. His eldest daughter was coming of age and having a boy over for an official date. I don’t think that settled too well with him.

Penny and I dated for two years, through my senior year at Boonton High and my freshman year at County College of Morris. In September of 1972, Penny left for Rutgers University. We had promised to stay faithful to each other. Sometimes the most earnest of promises get broken. Sadly, we drifted apart.

We stayed friends till Penny’s passing in November of 2012. Sadly, Penny lost her battle with lung cancer. Although all traces of romance had evaporated, a kind of kinship still lived in our hearts for each other. We became adopted cousins to each other.

I would write email letters of encouragement to Penny, during her time of her fight with cancer. She would write me back that she dearly appreciated my kindness.

I know that this may not coincide with the religious beliefs of many people. But since I was diagnosed with Severe Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, I have had many, many visitations from Penny. I’ll be working on a story, and I’ll feel Penny’s presence powerfully strong beside my desk. Almost every night, Penny visits me in dreams, so real and vivid that it seems like it’s all so real and not just a dream. Penny assures me that there is a God and a place we call Heaven.

Can God be limited? Can God be put into a box, of our liking? Is it possible that a dear and cherished friend, residing in Heaven, can become a guiding angel? I know what I experience is powerfully real. Spiritual love, not a romantic love, but a true spiritual love between two people cannot be limited, be boxed in.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It is the foundation of miracles. It knows no limitations. Love is the most endearing force known to mankind. Truly, it is the foundation of miracles.Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at .