I love my dad in so many ways.
I long to have the good old days . . .
For 17 years, poetry formed a special link between Susan Pimental and her father.
It kept them together after her parents divorced, and he left their house in Taunton, Mass. It kept them together when her father moved to Hudson.
He sent her quirky poems about life and love. She wrote of growing up and, later, her marriage.
"We wrote to keep in touch," she said. "A lot of his poems were about everyday life. He was wishing (for us) to be together, missing us and how he wanted us to be together."
A few weeks ago, Pimental, 29, wrote her last poem to her father.
Her father was John Bowers. On Jan. 26, he and his 75-year-old mother, Madeline Weisser, were murdered.
"I can't touch my Dad anymore," she said. "I can't touch my grandmother. I'll never see them again. I try not to blame (the youths accused of the murders), but it's hard not to. I have a lot of anger."
"He would take me everywhere," Pimental said recently. "Just being together with him was so important. They took that from me."
It took awhile for the words to come out. The telling was hard; for her each word was a reminder of the loss.
She remembered their favorite fishing spot at the Old Stone Bridge in Fall River, Mass. She would never clean the fish and for a while couldn't touch the worms. Her father took care of that.
Bowers and Pimental's mother, Theresa Bowers, divorced when Pimental was 9 years old. While the mother retained custody of her and her two brothers, Mark, now 34, and John Jr., now 31, the children remained close to the father. Every weekend, while he lived in Massachusetts, he would pick up the children and take them out, Pimental said.
When he moved away 13 years ago to Florida to be with his mother, he sent weekly letters and poems to let his children know how he was doing. They wrote back.
The memories I have of Dad and I
are special ones that will never die
_ from Susan Pimental's last poem to her father.
Bowers sent Susan her first poem when she was 12, three years after his divorce. In letters and poems, he reminded his children how much he loved them and how special they were to him.
He sent letters of congratulation when the children graduated from high school. He drew funny faces on letters to Pimental's first child, Crystal.
Pimental kept most of her father's letters. When she went through his effects at the home in which he was killed, she hoped to find her own letters. But the killers set a fire to cover their tracks, and it destroyed many of the letters.
"It was hard going into the house," Pimental said. "It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Not only to see where it happened but the smell from the fire, it was horrible.
"It was hard to go through Dad's things. They were all filled with soot. A lot of his pictures, a lot of his poems were gone," she said.
Memories of Grandma and I were rare
But the memories were made of love and care
She was sweet and gentle and kind to me
All the things a Grandma was meant to be . . .
_ from a poem Susan Pimental wrote for her grandmother after her death.
Madeline Weisser lived with her son in their home in Hudson for about 13 years. She spent her time taking care of her son and her second love, gardening, Pimental said.
"She was so peaceful," Pimental said. "She loved her yard and would take time to do her roses."
During the spring, the house was resplendent with red, pink, white and yellow roses, said Cindy Ventura, Mark Bowers' fiancee who came down to Florida with Pimental to lend support.
Weisser was particular about her things. Every knick-knack had its place. That was helpful when Pimental and Ventura went into the home Feb. 1 to look through Weisser's effects.
Except for items moved by firefighters, "everything was right where it should be," Ventura said. "Everything was right where it belonged."
Pimental's memory of her grandmother is tainted by an awful detail: Her father was shot while her grandmother watched him beg for his life.
"She had to see my Dad suffer," Pimental said. "I'd like it to be a better memory, but she loved her son so much."
I miss my dad so very much
I long to feel his gentle touch
I long for our hugs that meant so much
But I'll never again feel his touch . . .
_ from Pimental's poem for her father.
The murders touched many lives.
Four youths are being held in the killings: Robert Dale Garner, 17; Timothy John Kane, 14; and Alvin Leroy Morton, 19, are charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The fourth, Christopher Marvin Walker, 16, is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and being an accessory to murder after the fact.
Newspaper accounts made much of the fact that youths are from broken homes. But Pimental found that detail of little significance.
"I'm from a broken home and I would never do that to a person," she said.
Back in Massachusetts, Pimental's brothers and their families must also deal with the tragedy.
John Jr. had to begin counseling. He had just seen his father a few weeks before the murder.
For Mark, the oldest of the children and a carpenter by trade, the idea of the assailants' being so young is hard to deal with.
"How could such young children who haven't experienced anything have murder on their minds?" he asked.
Pimental's daughter, Crystal, now 10, wonders why anyone would take her grandfather and great-grandmother away when she was just getting to know them.
Susan Pimental wonders how she will go on.
Her last two poems are part of the process, her way of saying goodbye.
"I feel like I'm not going to be able to go on," Pimental said. "Part of me is gone. They took part of my heart. They took a piece of me."