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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Remembering Dr. Hubert R. Pellman, 1918-2017

1991 EMU photo
We had the privilege of attending Saturday's memorial service at Park View Mennonite for Hubert Pellman, a pastor for many years at the Mt. Vernon Mennonite Church near Grottoes and for many years a professor of English at Eastern Mennonite College (now EMU).

Hubert was widely admired as one of the finest and kindest men one could imagine. He was a second cousin of Alma Jean's, and both grew up along Shade Mountain in rural Juniata County, Pennsylvania.

I came to college with only a GED and a tenth grade education, so I was blessed to have an understanding person like Hubert as my freshman English Composition teacher. He patiently helped me hone my writing skills and to produce  my first ever research paper.

My cousin Paul Nisly, former head of the Messiah College English Department and a colleague and friend of Pellman's, brought an inspiring message at Saturday's service, and I was likewise moved by the following poem written and read by his daughter Carol at Saturday's service.

Wild Carrot

At the end my father passed the time remembering 
the family farm in Graybill Valley-- that’s where he wanted to go, 
for one last visit-- back to Shade Mountain, 

wild forest smell of damp earth, the rocky soil of shale, 
sandstone, limestone, watching for copperheads, hands reaching 
high for handles of the plow.  I remember-- I remember--

he paused, gazing off into the past-- Oh, I forget, he sighed, 
but I was dreaming of our farm, a waking dream, the kind I have now.  
The dreams, they don’t make sense.  They don’t have to, I replied.  

"Oh nothing comes of nothing," he recited after his stroke, 
remembering the classroom and mad King Lear.  
I remember walking with my father in the shadow 

of Shade Mountain, his warning of snakes in the grass.  
“Be careful where you walk”-- then pausing, pulling up a plant, 
the botanist, ready with a lesson.  "Here, smell the root.  

That’s why it's sometimes called Wild Carrot."  Years later 
I look up Daucus Carota, Latin I never learned, that my grandmother knew. 
"Also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, the red flower in the center 

the droplet of blood where she pricked her finger making lace." 
I remember my father’s mother, crocheting lace tablecloths, 
passing the night, her insomnia traveling from her daughters

to me, to my daughters.  When I sat with my father in that thin place 
where this world intersects with the next, in the shadowland 
between wake and sleep, I asked him to let me know the names 

of the flowers, the rivers, the mountains he found, as he traveled
on, asked him to meet me when I'm old and dream of my first home
in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where I learned the litany of wildflowers--

--Anemone, Jack-in- the Pulpit, Solomon's Seal, (True and False)
and the elusive Lady's Slipper, the one we found-- or do I only dream 
this?-- one spring day in the woods of Shade Mountain.

Carol Pellman Mishler
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