Arts & Entertainment

Writing Through Grief: Katonah Writer Pens Letters to Her Late Husband

96bf51e918728a5b12dd_00c55b6cae2d5004ab71_60471.jpg
Marilyn Pellini
a2ece4ea4de48d1280a1_60470.jpg
96bf51e918728a5b12dd_00c55b6cae2d5004ab71_60471.jpg

KATONAH, N.Y. – In a book of letters to her beloved husband, Al, Marilyn Pellini, a 49-year resident of Katonah, wrote her way through the grief that followed his shocking death in 2011.

“I started to write the day after he died because I was so angry and I just had to find some kind of outlet,” she said. “You can’t even look into a grief counselor, you can’t move—I felt paralyzed, so I began to write and I just kept writing and writing and writing.”

A former teacher, Pellini was a president of the Katonah Village Improvement Society, the local PTA and the Women’s Civic Club and has always been proud to call Katonah home.

Sign Up for E-News

She and husband saw their two children succeed as a doctor and a lawyer and were enjoying their four grandchildren. The golden years for the couple were underway when tragedy struck.

Al Pellini went out fishing alone, as he had done for decades, carrying his bag and wearing his wetsuit, in hopes of catching another big one. He had, in fact, been recognized as a standout fisherman when in 1984, he caught the second-largest striped bass in the world, caught from shore and weighing in at more than 64 pounds.

“At first the part that was so difficult was that in some way, I kind of blamed myself,” Marilyn said. “If I had stood up to him and said you’re not leaving unless you take a friend—I told him something can happen out there.”

It was on Cuttyhunk Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, where he swam out that fateful day and was assumed to have drowned. He was 71 years old.

Marilyn, a vibrant and active community member, tried everything she could to deal with the loss of her husband of 48 years. She attended grief groups, went to a grief counselor, a psychiatrist, even put together “dine-out” groups to help lift the darkness that hung over her.

“You can even understand having a baby if you haven’t had one,” she said. “But this, I don’t think anybody could explain it until you have to go through it.”

She continued her handwritten, heartfelt letters to her husband for many years and eventually compiled them into a self-published collection titled, “Dear Al, A Widow’s Struggles and Remembrances.”

A native of Providence, R.I., and graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Pellini hopes that anyone who is going through a similar experience will find comfort in reading these letters and will relate to various stages of grief: anger, sadness and loss that follows the sudden death of a loved one. Daily tasks like taking in the mail, cooking for one and coping with the holidays, she explained, can be difficult and painful. She offers hope and emphasizes the importance of finding the company of others.

“Don’t sit home—you’ve got to be with people who will let you talk, those who will be empathetic, sympathetic and offer a helping hand,” Pellini said. “Many people are not willing or are not attuned to someone else’s problems because either they’ve got enough of their own or they just don’t get it.”

Finding humor in the face of grief has helped this reluctant widow navigate her awkward new reality, which included the world of dating. She joked that after trying out dating services, she discovered a few things about the available men her age.

“Either they are dead or they have just returned from Machu Picchu and are on their way to Mount Everest to climb for the first time—I have nothing in common with them,” Pellini said.

Despite these obstacles and some health issues, this tenacious author is now inspiring others by sharing her story at meetings, church groups and other gatherings. Pellini said she really wants other widows and widowers to know that they are not alone.

“I’m really doing this because I have read all the grief books in Katonah, I have read all the grief books in the Westchester County libraries and I have read almost all that I could get my hands on in Barnes & Noble,” she explained.

“I had one woman who bought my book and called me to say thank you and that she doesn’t feel half so crazy anymore,” she said. “If that’s the only thing it does, I’ll take it.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Katonah/Lewisboro

Thanks for Your Support, but We’re Not There Yet

June 20, 2018

Thank you so much to the Katonah-Lewisboro community for your amazing support of our requester campaign (download here).

We learned that a significant percentage of this community supports what we are trying to accomplish—quality hyper-local journalism.

Early last month, we placed a form inside the newspaper and asked readers to support this new publication, both monetarily and ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 22, 6:30 PM

John Jay High School, Cross River

Katonah-Lewisboro Relay For Life

Giving Back

Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

John Jay Homestead, Katonah

Family Outdoor Movie Night

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Giving Back

Wed, July 4, 11:00 AM

John Jay Homestead, Katonah

Independence Day Fair

Community Calendar

Wed, July 4, 11:00 AM

John Jay Homestead, Katonah

John Jay Homestead & Bedford-Armonk Rotary ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, July 28, 6:30 PM

Weil Preserve, North Salem

Jazz in the Meadow with Bill Evans

Arts & Entertainment Other

Walking and Talking

Walking is my favorite mode of transportation. It is also my preferred form of exercise, meditation, stress reduction and idea generation.

In middle school and high school, I walked and talked with my friends, Irene, Alexandra and Charles. We covered miles and miles around our neighborhood and beyond during those free-range chats. After school, we might walk to the park or to the small ...

What Kind of Sports Parent Are You?

Social media recently showered a lot of likes and love on a high school pitcher in Minnesota whose team was playing in a regional final that would send the winning team to the state championship game.

After the last batter of the game struck out, the pitcher did something unheard of. Rather than spontaneously join his teammates in an on-field celebration, as is customary, the pitcher ...

Putnam County highlights

Putnam County: ”Where the country begins” pretty much sums up my view every day as I traverse this beautiful area. At every turn there is a reservoir, farm, trail or the stunning vista of the Hudson Highlands. Less development and fewer traffic lights showcase nature’s bounty uniquely during each season and I never tire of taking it all in. I often stop and take pictures on my ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Hitting the road, Part II

Welcome back to our little trip across these great United States. We left off somewhere on Route 90, heading out of Cleveland.

So glad to have you following along, and frankly, if you’re following I’m just glad you’re not the cops. On the way to Chicago I found myself driving 70 miles an hour, which made the police quite angry, since the speed limit was 75. 

When ...