My daughter Samantha has been asking me to write a piece on my blog for some time now.  My hesitancy has been because of thoughts of Roy and not wanting to overburden my readers with our loss.  

I realized this week, however, that perhaps this is what he would have wanted; being remembered through continued reminders of stories from the farm, his life, our life, etc….

I was reminded once again of his purpose and perhaps mine as well.   

This weekend marks the second year that the Eastern Nordic Opener, at Quarry Road in Waterville, will be hosting Nordic skiers from across Maine and New England in Roy’s honor. This event allows athletes to come together and race while hearing over the loudspeakers all weekend long, the name of Roy Varney. Many of the skiers now participating never knew Roy, but a mere google of his name will quickly show them who they are racing in honor of and hopefully leave them with a big smile on their faces that mirrors the one in all of his photos.

As of lately, on my days off, I was reminded of how I sign my book “The Painted Turtle”. Whenever one is purchased I write, “Create a Memory and leave your shells behind”  

Based on stories shared from friends and family, I know for a fact that Roy definitely had more than one shell. I picture him as the mother turtle (Roy) with 12 baby turtles (12 of his friends and fellow skiers) stacked on his back. Getting “his gains” (what he called weight lifting results). In this scenario, I envision this “Roy” mother turtle on skis descending a hill on the way out of the woods trail at the North Farm that his father just completed; full speed ahead. All 12 babies/friends laughing joyously in the adventure; can they stay together to the finish line?

I don’t know what the next year has in store for us. I know that everyone faces unexpected hardships in their lives, and somehow hope that from these experiences we all become stronger, more mindful, and grateful for what we have and not resentful for what we don’t have or can’t control. 

A dream or memory of Roy

Roy varney with hammer
Young Roy Varney, exploring his father’s shop and “borrowing” his tools.

I end with a dream/memory that came to me a month ago. I had not dreamed of Roy since his passing a few years ago and was so happy to have spent time with him in this dream.

First, a little back story of Roy as a child. As soon as he was old enough to hold a hammer on his own, maybe 3, he would spend hours (this is no exaggeration) hammering away on anything he could flatten.

Most of the time it was a piece of copper pipe that he found in his fathers’ workshop. He would pound away at this pipe until it was as flat as a sword. He would then find something for a handle, use up an entire roll of electrical or duct tape, whichever was available, and tape something on the end; a sword maker.  

In my dream, I was walking up one of the ski trails to a point on the ledges that overlook the North Farm and the new building that will be home to a lodge that will host skiers and visitors. I walked towards a young teenage Roy, who was hammering away at a rock.  As I near him, I mention to him that we are going to need some light at the North Farm.  Without stopping what he is doing, he says “I know”. I asked him how he was going to do that.  “You’ll see”,  he then put down his hammer, and with his two arms picked up the dust he created on the ground in front of him, and in one large swoop threw the dust forward into the wind, down to the farm. Millions of little stars came to light up the farm in front of us. I told him “That is Beautiful” and we stood quietly looking at the view from above.

Then he left.   

Hope and positivity for the new year

In closing, may the new year bring us all great memories and stories to continue to share with one another. In doing so, may we all leave behind shells that no longer serve us, and find bigger, stronger ones to grow into.