Connellsville woman copes with grief through writing
Annetta Parfitt has published a book of her poems, “Silent Decembers.”
The poems became a part of her life after the death of her youngest son, Randy, a former Scottdale police officer. He died on Dec. 18, 1993. The poetry has been her way of dealing with the grief.
“At first, I just wrote down my anger, how heavy my heart was, how dark everything seemed,” Parfitt said. “My faith in God never wavered. I never blamed God. I prayed a lot.
“Four years after his death, I had a dream that is hard to describe. My other sons were in it and said they had just seen Randy. Then Randy came to me, very vividly, and we spoke, and I woke up shaken by how real it seemed. My reaction from a sound sleep shocked my husband,” she said.
The 48-page book has many beautiful poems.
“I started writing the poems after Randy's death to try to deal with the deep hurt and sadness I felt. They are all written from the heart,” said Parfitt.
Possibly her favorite poem in the book is “Are You Listening To Me Mom?” because it is as if Randy is talking to her.
“Many of the poems are about things that have happened to me since Randy's death. ‘A Penny from Heaven' describes a difficult day I was having. I prayed to my Lord for guidance and his love. I looked on the ground, and there was a penny that I picked up and tucked into my pocket. Later that day when I took it out and looked at it, the year was 1993, the year that Randy was taken from me. I often see signs from above that give me strength,” said Parfitt.
Christmas 1993 was difficult. Randy had died just a week before.
“Our priest at Immaculate Conception at the time, Father Mike (Sciberras), was very good to us. I especially remember Rev. Ty Sabella coming to check on my family on Christmas Eve. He got me involved with his church's grief group, which was such a help for me.
“I also went to Compassionate Friends, which is a very good group. That's where I met others who have lost a child. They knew the same pain I had and understood. Rev. Herb Dubler was here then and also helped me,” said Parfitt.
The book has reached many people from all over, with requests for it from West Virginia and Texas, among other states. Parfitt has written poems for people who have lost children. One is included in her book with the mother's permission, “A Broken Hearted Mother.”
Others she has written and given to the grieving mothers.
“If I can help anyone deal with the pain and loss, I will. I wrote these poems through heartache. I was never a writer. When you lose a child, the pain is always there. The holidays, Mother's Day, his birthday and especially Christmas are very difficult. Randy was my youngest of four boys. He called me every day, even though he worked different shifts,” said Parfitt.
The Parfitt family has set up The Randy S. Parfitt Memorial Scholarship, awarded each year to a Southmoreland graduate who will be going to college majoring in police work, criminology or law enforcement.
“He loved the people of Scottdale, and that's why we set it up there, to keep his memory alive,” said Parfitt.
She became a member of the Scottdale Writers Group. The group was set up selling members' books during the Scottdale Coal and Coke Festival. The group meets at the Scottdale Library and always welcomes new members. Those in attendance talk with each other on how to improve their writing skills and give and receive feedback. It meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month.
Parfitt's book of poetry is for sale at ArtWorks Connellsville.
Her employer, Aaron Zolbrod, the owner of The Insurance Store at 121 N. Pittsburgh St. in Connellsville, has encouraged her to sell it there, too. She is there from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The book was printed by Stefano's Printing of Dunbar.
“I never once had anyone turn away from me since this loss, trying to avoid me. People have come to me to offer comfort. I worked on the West Side at McCandless Insurance for 32 years and had folks acknowledge me when I was out walking and offer condolences on the street, even some I didn't know.
“It is such a long dark road, suffering the loss of a child. I try to smile. People have been wonderful to me, and people who knew Randy have sent notes. One lit a candle in Italy in his memory. Those gestures give me some comfort,” said Parfitt.
Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.