Category Archives: letters

Philip Tryon.


We may never know, Jim said.

I’m sure Philip wouldn’t have known, either, when he was four. Back then, in 1981, he was busy at the computer writing a story and, since the machine had managed to erase the whole thing, he had to stay right there until he could rewrite every word.

Then again, when he was six, at the piano, picking out every song he’d heard, so many tunes, the ones that seemed simple and the ones that sounded complicated, all of them.  Hunched intently over the piano keys, he’d not have had even a moment to know anything else, for sure.

Nor would any other considerations have crossed his mind as he stood in the middle of the bass section, on the Warner stage, sending forth with his choirmates the Brahms Requiem accompanied by the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. In the midst of singing a mass for the dead, Philip was way too alive to know anything at all about what could never be known by anybody else.

In fact, Philip was extremely alive. Word was he had been born with a raw intelligence far superior to any other in his realm. His mind being his most interesting companion, he was easily engrossed for hours, days, weeks, and months, never once being distracted by any notion of time passing. By the time he was seven, he likely knew that time did not pass, that both space and time were on a continuum and that light was both a particle and a wave.

In truth, that which could never be known had long escaped his concern. All Philip knew was that whatever could be known reached his understanding with effortless ease, only to be quickly sorted, catalogued, and compartmentalized ad infinitum, all to be cross referenced later when integrated thought was required to feed theoretical proposition.

It was in just such pursuit that Philip apprehended the Bible. Having read every other book in his household, likely twice within any twenty four hour period, this one kept him fascinated longer than the entire Baroque and Classical repertoire combined. Having been taught to take this holy book with very great and sober respect, his allegiance to its prophets, psalms, proverbs and letters of admonishment was total; he’d memorized essentially the entire King James canon before even the most earnest had finished the study of one gospel.

Most could hardly grasp what Philip could know, about anything. One thing is certain: nobody knew Philip. Not like Philip did.

All anybody did know was that the man called by his name showed up for family get togethers, eager and smiling, bringing homemade cookies and board games, and then to work the next day, still smiling, ready to greet his loyal customers at the grocery check out with pointed acknowledgement of their families by each of their names and often in the language of their birth, regardless from which remote country they had come. Those who might have been inclined to observe would have seen a tall, slender, fair skinned gentleman, applying to tasks at hand his devoted energy until the last chicken had been bleached and packaged and the store had closed for the day. Still others might have seen him enter his solitary room at home, perhaps with more than one book under his arm, only to disappear into the vast depths of the comprehensive universe of his own company for the remainder of the evening.

Philosophers have been known to declare that one can never truly know anything but oneself, to which one should then be true.

Jim was likely right about one thing. We would never know what Philip finally knew.

Never know why. Why Philip jumped. Why he jumped to his death, from the bridge at Wintergreen Gorge, sometime between Saturday night and Sunday when they found him.

But, Philip did.





” Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.”  — I Cor. 13:12


© 1/30/18     Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Respect the living, and the dead.  Thank you.







The Date.

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*Originally written June 28, 2013.


About twice a year, this girl deep cleans.

It’s about being a grand-daughter of the Great Depression.

Mum, the daughter, saved everything. Only she was a sorter. There were jars in the cellar, each filled with whole items according to size and shape. A jar for nuts. A jar for bolts. (She worked a semi-automatic machine during the war.) A jar for screws. A jar for nails. A jar for brads. A jar for rubber bands…..

Me? I’m a chaotic. It’s all there, just…… a sea-salad of the casually-tossed, collecting for a majority of months, sometimes, in a single calendar year……until the dining room table slowly sinks out of sight.

This week, the tablecloth finally emerging, the last nine items stacked neatly by my purse so as to be addressed tomorrow, there remained one smaller pile – of greeting cards. Half were blank, awaiting use; the other half, those too precious to throw out.

Carrying these to the secretary for precise placement, I spied another which had been set aside on the cedar chest. Reaching for it, I was startled to see the handwriting inside; it was from Dad.

A note from Dad was always a keeper. His having reached the 5th grade at the Walter E. Fernald School for the Feebleminded back in 1925 without a mother or father to help him with his homework, Dad’s penmanship was a curious, halting conglomeration of large, stylized caps and illegible lower case, as he expertly compressed his rare uncertainty about the spelling of words between inflated left-handed lower loops. Yet, ever the entertainer, the rhythm of his elaborate speech was woven into the writing, and I sat down to read once more what would be his final note to his only daughter.

But, most amazing was the date at the top.

This was a blank card, in fact a Thank You note that he’d selected from a miscellaneous box. Floral on the front, a simple “thank you” inside – and, his message on the facing frame.

And, this message was for my birthday. He’d wanted to give me money, so he said, a gesture more formal than anything because he knew I never asked for a penny from my Dad. And, sharp as a tack until well past 90, he wanted me also to know that he knew the gift was coming early this year because he could remember my birthdate without prompting. I was, after all, the first baby he’d ever held as a father.

So, though he cited my birthdate by number, the 26th, he was giving me my money gift this year with the admonition that I “spend it wisely.” This, after first telling me how much he loved me and just how proud he was that he could brag about his only daughter. These were always the first words coming from Dad ….the “I love you” part.

But, the date at the top. The date at the top jumped off the page this time. Though I’d remembered reading it back when he first presented the card to me, the date he’d written his note was never more poignant, more mysterious, more baffling, more heart-rending, nor more inspiring than at this moment: it said, (and, he’d underlined it, too): ” April the 9  Lord’s Day“.

“April the 9” was the day Dad died.




© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 6/13   All rights – in whole, part, and letter – those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.

My Child.

*This is a vicarious piece. Please read it with an open heart. Thank you.



It’s me.

I know you’re busy.

But, there is something I want you to know.

I’ve wanted to tell you, all my life, but the time was never “right.”

Maybe these tenuous times provoke me, today. I’m not sure what. I only know that, right now, I desperately believe that you deserve to know.

And, now, I am ready to tell you. When you are ready, you may listen.


When I appeared, coupled as one of your future parents, I was as naiive, gullible, clueless, innocent, and fragile as you have ever felt in your most fearful and anxious moments. I was also enraptured by belief, and hope, and imagination – just like you are, at your most radiant.

When I found out that you were about to enter my world, I experienced every emotion contained by a human.

You, however, were not responsible. If I felt excitement, you couldn’t know. If I felt fear, you were not its cause. If I was angry, you were not to blame.

When you were born, every tiny detail of your presence stopped my heart.  I saw the extension of my better self.

But, you.

Who were you?

Did I have any idea?

No. I did not.

Instead, you would come to embody my expectations, my hopes, my dreams, and my fears. And, I didn’t realize that you would feel all this. I really didn’t. And, you do not owe me your forgiveness.

As you grew, my image of you was formed in my individual mind. As your parent, I had a distinct perception of you.

I would also grow, with you, to experience expanding perceptions of you. And, as I observed you, and interpreted your behavior, I chose to define every aspect. You didn’t know this, did you. No; you did not. I hardly realized any of it, myself.

Eventually, as needs seemed to warrant, I would discuss my perception of you with your other parent. Sometimes, we came to agreement about you; in nearly equal measure, sometimes we did not.

What we did not fully grasp during our inevitable discussions was that you were distinct from our every perception. What we did not know was that we were imposing our interpretations of you, believing them to be accurate depictions of your every motivation and impulse to act. We were sure we knew your very thoughts. We were convinced. And, how so?

You were, after all, our very offspring; you lived, because we had also lived, and would not had we not. Yes; our egos fed our every belief.

How many years of your life, thus far, did we labor under this misconception? Can anybody know? Perhaps you could tell us. When was the moment that spoke to you? When did you say to yourself: “They don’t get me. Not at all.”

We aren’t sure how old you are, at this moment of your reading. Perhaps you have chosen to revisit this letter, years after it has been written; perhaps you have eagerly opened it, immediately upon receipt. Whichever the case, only you can determine how you will both react and respond to what is coming next.

Think about the last time you remember feeling a strong desire for yourself – a wish, an aspiration, a goal. Consider the emotions that came to bear upon that motivation. Were you energized with positive anticipation? Were you fearful of potential obstacles? Were you concerned about preventive forces?

Your experience of that desire is known to me, as well. Only, in my case, the desire was personal – to me, as an individual. Each of us has had them, distinct from the other – both myself, and your other parent. And, throughout your life thus far, every one of those desires has played out in your life.

You couldn’t have known. You were not responsible. And, you still are not.

Sometimes, those desires involved you directly. Perhaps we imagined that you would become, or accomplish, or reach some sort of life milestone, that would in some way either fulfill our own unfinished lives or mirror our own successes. And, maybe you can name a moment when you felt this happening to you. Maybe you made a major life choice, strongly influenced by a desire that was born in one of us.

Today, I am ready to acknowledge something. I speak to your soul, spirit, whatever moves you to be.

Today, I extract my ego from your world. This is a painful, yet liberating, act. I am embarrassed, humbled, and awestruck – by the realization, by myself, and by you.

I. acknowledge. you.

Thank you for breathing deeply of your right to inspire air. Thank you for exhaling all the poisons that try to press through. Thank you for being the soul that entered the body I was so graced to produce. I am honored to truly know you, even as I am known. May the illuminations that await us both be welcomed by our spirits, whole heartedly.





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

9/9/15   The thesis of this piece inspired by Kerry Alan Kruger. All rights those of the author, whose name appears next to the copyright symbol . All presumptions of alleged value aside, sharing permitted only by request, with author as source acknowledged. Thank you so much.