Rose Gordy has played many roles in her lush “green” life: Daughter, teacher, coach, wife, mother, writer, poet, dream counselor, widow, grandmother, traveler, dancer and nun — just to name a few.
“I’ve had a unique life,” the East McKeesport, Pennsylvania, native said.
She began writing at age 7. Her first story was just one paragraph long but had the requisite beginning, middle, and end, plus two lines of dialogue.
“A little girl is in her playpen and the Blessed Mother appears to her, and then, they talk a little,” Gordy said. “Considering I entered the convent 10 years later, it’s kind of a significant story.”
Published in 2015, The Green That Never Died: A Convent Memoir of the 1950s and 1960s provides details about her life as a Sister of Mercy in Oakland, Pennsylvania.
In the prologue she states, “The green is for growth and life and rebirth and vitality and freshness. The green is for spring and new life.”
The 409-page autobiography includes letters, poems, and photographs from her veiled life.
During those years, Gordy obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education with a minor in French from Mount Mercy College (now Carlow College) and a master’s degree in English with a minor in French from the University of Notre Dame.
She also taught English, French, and religion and coached speech and debate at Catholic schools.
In 1970, after much inner struggle, Gordy left the convent to find her true self and rejoined the “world, the flesh, and the devil.”
She quickly landed a teaching job in the Montgomery County school system. Five years later, she met her future husband. A few years later she married and became the mother of three sons.
Gordy acknowledges there was little time for writing while raising three boys and teaching.
She published her first poem, which was about one of her former English students, in the 1980s.
“Writing, in some ways, is my calling,” Gordy said. “I’ve been writing for more than 70 years.”
To help explain why she writes, Gordy quoted a line from her science fiction book, Into the Green Unknown. “Every day we really live and love is a mysterious adventure into the green unknown.”
She has also written Dream Poetry in Flow: Windows Into Awareness, They Traveled West: A Series of Poems as a Tribute and Testament to Those Who Came Before, Adrift in Waking Dreams (a novel), Stairs to the Attic: A Collection of Poems, and The Ladies of Baltimore: Mothers and Daughters Alone and Together.
She will soon publish her ninth book, which examines the juxtaposition of one’s free will and God’s will.
“I freely made the decision to enter the convent and to leave the convent, and to marry and to have children,” Gordy said. “But somehow that’s inexplicably bound up with what God already knows, and that’s hard to accept. I couldn’t accept it when the priest talked about that back in the convent, and unless you have faith, it’s the only way — let it go. As we say in Pittsburgh, ‘That’s it, Fort Pitt.’”
Her 10th book is near completion, and the 11th one is “out there,” she said.
“That’s what keeps me going these days,” she said.
When she’s not writing, Gordy has a long list of other activities and interests to keep her busy: Traveling, book signing, boating, swimming, painting, coloring, plant tending, journaling in French and archeology.
“If I had been in a different situation instead of the convent and if my family had money,” she said, “I would have been an archaeologist because I’m really into Egyptology in a big way. Maybe in some other lifetime I was there at the pyramids.”
Gordy plans to resume her monthly workshops in the spring at Smoke 'N Mirrors Photography in Oakland, where she helps people understand their dreams and, perhaps, live a better life.
“I’m a dream workshop facilitator,” she noted. “Last July, my proposal on dreams was accepted at the International Association for the Study of Dreams’ annual conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.”
She was the association’s central office manager when it was located in northern Virginia.
“Now it’s in California,” Gordy said, noting she has been doing dream-related activities for a couple of decades.
Locally, she is a member of the Garrett County Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce, Commission for Women, and Oakland Civic Club.
Gordy noted she might also start a local dance group in the spring.
“I love to dance; I could dance all night,” she said. “Since all my grandparents came from Hungary, I have dancing in my bones. My maternal grandparents, my parents and I all met at dances. So that’s a big deal to me.”
Gordy is without her favorite dance partner. Her husband died about 10 years ago and never had a chance to thoroughly enjoy the house they purchased in McHenry.
The couple, who lived in Silver Spring, discovered Garrett County about 15 years ago on one of their many regional outings.
“We were driving down 219 and said, “This might be a neat place to come to one day,” Gordy said.
The author said she tries not to worry about personal, national or international problems. It’s not productive.
“There are plenty of things to cry all day about, and I could,” she said. “But I try not to do that. I try to hang loose, hang on and find things to smile or laugh about, keep on keepin’ on.”
Gordy will celebrate her 80th birthday in a few months.
“I don’t usually admit to that,” she said. “I’ll admit to being older but not old. Age is a state of mind.”
The author said her high school biology teacher, Sister Julia, put this prayer “in her head” more than six decades ago:
“Whatever you want, I will be. Give me the courage, the strength, the unselfishness and especially the superabundance of love.”
“I have been saying that since I was 15,” Gordy said. “That’s what has led me through all these different parts of my life.”
Her books are available at the The Gallery Shop and Book Mark’et in Oakland, Garrett College, and Rosewords.com