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  • Andrea Pisacano

Happenstance

Updated: Jun 11


I am a dreamer. I vaguely remember the nuns telling my parents I was always daydreaming and not really paying attention in school. Of course, it probably had something to do with the ocean being a block away and I could see and smell it from the school windows. As long as I can remember I could be drawn back into learning through stories and books. My mother said I was reading words at two and a half years of age. I thought she made that up just to get me in pre-school so she had some time with my new baby sister. Nonetheless, my passion for reading books started very early. Before I was seven I had a 12-volume set of My BookHouse bound in leather as my prize collection. The eldest of five girls, my sisters also shared in this desire for reading.


It’s a challenge to hold on to things for 65 years- The BookHouse series went to cousins and back to me again when I went to teach school in Kauai. My own collection of stories kept growing until I scaled it down to live in smaller spaces. Fortunately, I began writing my own stories and they did not take up too much room. Occasionally I would find an old book and try to bring it back to life by sharing it and caring for it.


One day last summer I was with my youngest sister visiting her new office at the Wainscott School. “This is our library. We have to reorganize many books that are needing to be sorted, updated, and cataloged. Perhaps there is something here you can have for your summer program?”


I smiled at some of my favorite children's books. Then I saw a book I used to have when I first became a teacher over 30 years ago. It was a Native American Environmental story and activity textbook- Keepers of The Earth. “ This one, can I take this please?” So it went home with me. I glanced at the first page and brought it home.


The book found a good place on a shelf, and sat there unopened for six months until yesterday. I am a visual storyteller, I create Puppets and use homemade props for different stories. The day before I had a vivid dream about creating a colorful Thunderbird puppet out of a large brown grocery bag. In the dream I was working with children, many children. It felt like Project MOST afterschool art and storytelling. In the dream, I told them about carving Thunderbirds into my cabinets in New Mexico. The children were very excited to see me cut out these magical creatures from paper bags. When I awoke I knew whatever else I had to do there would be time set aside for creating some puppets. That afternoon I made two samples of the dream puppet that I was really happy with. Somewhere in my books, I knew there was a Thunderbird tale. Then I remembered the Keepers of the Earth book.


I pulled the book off the shelf, sat down and turned to the back of the book to look up the story. As I opened the back cover I saw a few sheets of folded paper. Of course I was curious to see what they were.


My first shock was seeing my ex-husband's handwriting on the letter with my son's name and my address in Kauai on it. By now my heart started pounding. “Wait, what is this?” I began talking to myself “ The letter was addressed to The Wainscot School, and dated February 3, 1994. My absolute mind-blowing amazement was to see my son's name written on a copy of an envelope addressed to the Wainscott School. My return address from Kauai was written in my former husband's handwriting across the top. On the second sheet, I stared at the letter before me. It was dated Feb 4, 1992-exactly 30 years and one day from my finding it! The letter was obviously typed by my former husband with my son dictating to him.


I felt shaky, excited and sat down to read it.

Nicholas was 8 years old at this time.

The letter was fantastic.


He documented his life in Kauai and had so many interesting things to say about it. I was trembling by now, not crying but literally shaking. How can this be? How did I find the one book in that room that held this treasure for me?


I reflected on two things, I was receiving a message, I was being asked to let go of my preconceived emotions about moving my kids to Kauai.


Here is where the backstory comes in. My three sons were injured emotionally from the divorce and the ripping up of their home and roots in East Hampton. I believed Kauai was a healing place where my former husband and children could experience a different way of living. That was my belief and justification for the move. Over the years my faith in that decision had been shaken by some of the events that followed. My adult sons viewed the effects of my decisions made in their education as disastrous. A pill I had a hard time swallowing.


My glasses have always been rose-colored, and I tended to see only the good side of things. My youngest son was 5 yrs old at the time I got divorced. My three sons were given over to their dad to be the primary caregiver for reasons that would be examined for years.

In reading this letter I felt an enormous veil of guilt breaking apart, I could see for a moment the joy in my son's life from 30 years ago.


Again powerful emotions swept through me. Another thunderstorm. After a few moments, I was calm enough to know I had to tell my sister who gave me the choice to choose a book. When we talked she screamed! We laughed and shared the story with her husband who was amazed. I knew I had to call my son......


Over the years the easy exchange of conversation between my youngest son was cordial yet often abrupt and not very deep, until....

last night when I called to read him the letter.


Nick lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree in California where whiskey is a way to pass the time at night. He listened with perked-up ears and when I came to one part of the letter he stopped me.

“Mom you are not going to believe this but, just yesterday, I was talking to myself about my friend Janoah! I was remembering where we used to ride our bikes and the adventures we had in Kilauea!"


I finished reading the letter to him, and for the first time in over 30 years Nick opened up to me. “I loved our time in Hawaii, I have so many great memories and I never regretted moving there!” Again I was shaking.


I felt a wave of regret leave my body, I felt restored and happy for the first time talking with my son. I didn't need to hold on to any more guilt. A karmic cleansing……


And so, it did begin with a dream. I was making a ceremonial large puppet out of recycled paper bags, I awoke and made the puppets, I looked for the story couldn't find it went instead to The Keepers Of The Earth, found the hidden letter from 30 years ago to the day. The book held a treasure of emotions for me. Communication long overdue began to heal a big hole in my heart. All because of a dream....


Ps That week I made Thunderbird puppets with seven children and my colleague. I remembered where the story was in “The Medicine Wheel”. I am humbled by the workings of dreams.


February 5,2022

Interlaken NY


To learn more about Andi's work, visit: https://www.andreapisacano.com/

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