In Memory of My Father Peter Whitney Slayton

For Family and Friends of my dad, I am grateful I have the opportunity to use this web space to share some photos of my Dad throughout his life, and some of his poems. Please share your own memories by posting your thoughts at the end of this blog.
Peter Slayton doing what he loved best: playing music
Peter Slayton doing what he loved best: playing music

When dad passed away on September 16, 2011, I wrote this poem:

For Dad

Maybe you have gone, but you will never really leave
I will always be who I am because of your part in helping me grow
Learning to drive in Vermont winters.
Discovering science, helping you count transistors.
Your gift of a scientific mind lives on in me
I never stop questioning, exploring, analyzing all I see
Maybe we were not always there for each other
Both stubborn independence Vermonter to the core
Half of my life I have been three thousand miles away
No matter the distance, through the years, we talked often
Over the years I struggled to understand your mental illness
In my youth my pride would not let me see
Your honesty, you never hid your flaws like most of us do
They were just a part of you
Part of why your daughter is so proud of you
You always were, and always will be
In my heart.

Visiting my dad in the hospital, August 2011
Visiting my dad in the hospital, August 2011

Goodbye

Beginnings and endings,
The sweet kiss of love
That turns and bites the hand as if a viper.
The never-numbered salvations
That have turned into a damnation.

Then I see how eagerly
Green life springs from the folds of the earth,
And life fights the only truth that was ever, death.
I think that maybe sorrow won’t hurt us forever
Life will spring eternal,
Rebirth, the strongest force.

Another picture of Dad playing banjo- sometime in the 80's
Another picture of Dad playing banjo- sometime in the 80′s

Dad at the beach, with his 3rd wife Barbara
Dad at the beach, with his 3rd wife Barbara

Dad sporting his wild mountain man look
Dad sporting his wild mountain man look

Enjoying the Bread and Puppet Circus, the politcally satirical puppet theather event that rocked Glover Vermont's world in the 70's, 80's, and 90's
Enjoying the Bread and Puppet Circus, the politcally satirical puppet theather event that rocked Glover Vermont’s world in the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s

Dad loved camping, and truly loved the beautiful forests, lakes, and mountains of Vermont
Dad loved camping, and truly loved the beautiful forests, lakes, and mountains of Vermont

Down at the farm in Duxbury VT, late winter or early spring. I lived with dad here in a trailer under the shoulder of Camel's Hump mountain.
Down at the farm in Duxbury VT, late winter or early spring. I lived with dad here in a trailer under the shoulder of Camel’s Hump mountain.

The Good 'Ole Slayton Boys: My Great Uncle Charlie, Dad, and Grandpa Ron
The Good ‘Ole Slayton Boys: My Great Uncle Charlie, Dad, and Grandpa Ron

Considering how many months of snow Vermont has every year (especially in the 80's) I am amazed I can only find one picture of dad in full coverage snow. Well, here it is!
Considering how many months of snow Vermont has every year (especially in the 80′s) I am amazed I can only find one picture of dad in full coverage snow. Well, here it is!

My father, Peter Slayton: all 6' 3
My father, Peter Slayton: all 6′ 3″ of him, before his back injury!

Dad showing off the organic veggies stand sign. Even back then, organic veggies were not just for hippies!
Dad showing off the organic veggies stand sign. Even back then, organic veggies were not just for hippies!

Dad and Great uncle Charlie.. true blue Vermonters foa shoa!
Dad and Great uncle Charlie.. true blue Vermonters foa shoa!

Dad at his wedding with Barbara. Thats me in the shades peeking from behind, back in the late 80's or early 90's
Dad at his wedding with Barbara. Thats me in the shades peeking from behind, back in the late 80′s or early 90′s

Chopping wood with his brother in-law way back when.. late 70's? Early 80's?
Chopping wood with his brother in-law way back when.. late 70′s? Early 80′s?

Dad and Grandpa, must have been in the early 70's
Dad and Grandpa, must have been in the early 70′s

Peter Slayton- His high school graduation picture!
Peter Slayton- His high school graduation picture!

The last time I saw dad, in August 2011. Visited with my Mom, a rare chance to be with both parents. Mom and Dad split up when I was two. Thankfully, I don't remember the details! I am grateful that Mom and Dad remained friends, and Mom sang beautifully at Dad's memorial service.
The last time I saw dad, in August 2011. Visited with my Mom, a rare chance to be with both parents. Mom and Dad split up when I was two. Thankfully, I don’t remember the details! I am grateful that Mom and Dad remained friends, and Mom sang beautifully at Dad’s memorial service.

The Circle of Life

Today is my youngest sister’s wedding day. It is also my father’s birthday. He would be 68 today, if he had not passed away last Friday. It will forever make September 24 a bittersweet day, a good thing, mostly: a day to remember people I dearly love.

My sister Jessie marries Peter

My youngest sister Jessie is 13 years younger than I. When she was still very little I left to live with my Dad and his second wife. And I was off being a young adult in Boston by the time she was turning into a young lady. Even though I do not know her as well as I know my other 3 sisters, I love her dearly. I am thrilled for her and Pete, whom she has been with since her first year of college and all through medical school.. 12 or 13 years. They have been engaged for about 6 years.

I feel a lot of kinship with my youngest sister, even though we are almost a generation apart. Jessie is very bright, hardworking and ambitious. You could even call her stubborn. But it took those qualities to get through medical school and to achieve that huge dream of becoming a homeowner. Stubborn and ambitious: two characteristics I am blessed (or cursed!) with as well. I have tenaciously applied those attributes to many projects, the most significant one (so far!) being the founding of the organic brew supply co-op.

Peter is one of the most outgoing, warm hearted people I know. He shares these qualities with my late father, in addition to sharing a first name. Pete’s grin is infectious, and he has a knack for immediately putting you at ease.. Actually he seems to turn a dull or somber occasion into a fun time, seemingly effortlessly. His character is the perfect balance for my very serious, forthright, and caring sister Jess. I am so happy and proud of my youngest sister and my new brother in law!

Jessie and Pete bought their house in the spring of 2010, around the same time Patrick and I purchased our own house. They love to ski and mountain bike. Patrick works for a bike shock company, and biking is something we love to do together. Although we rarely get to see Jessie and Pete since we live on opposite sides of the country, we always have a great time when we do get together.

It is a bittersweet day as I try to come to grips with the empty space I now have in my life since my Dad’s passing. Somehow I never even realized what a presence he was until he was gone. Life is a circle of birth, love, and death, so I know it is somehow fitting that a new chapter in my sister’s life opens while a chapter in mine has closed. The time spent in Vermont through the wedding and memorial service has brought me closer to family and long lost family friends than I have been in many long years. For this I am blessed, and grateful.

The circle of life turns once again.

Hello, Mr. & Mrs. Janowski/Wadsworth

Goodbye Peter Whitney Slayton, Beloved Father

At the Memorial Service, my aunt Gayle sang a favorite song of my Dads. It was the last song I heard him sing, while visiting him in the hospital in August.

Aunt Gayle sings

Life’s Railway to Heaven Lyrics

Life is like a mountain railroad
With an engineer so brave
We must make this run successful
From the cradle to the grave
Watch the curves, the fills and tunnels
Never falter, never fail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail

Oh, blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us
Til we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In God’s grace forever more

As you roll across the trestle
Spanning Jordan’s swelling tide
You behold the union depot
Into which your train will glide
There you’ll meet the superintendent
God the Father, God the Son
With a hearty, joyous greeting
Weary pilgrim, welcome home

* Refrain *