Editor’s note: This guest commentary comes to us from North Adams resident Susan Rose in honor of Peter Mitchell, who was struck and killed by a train in Williamstown on Saturday, June 9 (See Thursday’s Transcript).
By Susan Rose
My friend and the love of my life, Peter Mitchell, was hit by a train near Moody Bridge in Williamstown and lost his life.
He was camped out in the woods near the tracks, but he wasn’t a homeless man; he preferred living outdoors. He used to say the sky is my wallpaper.
He lived this eccentric life for 26 years until he met me 10 years ago. This was a beginning of a wonderful friendship with a gentle, kind and compassionate human being.
Life won’t be the same without him. He would say in a safe warm way to everyone he met, "give me a hug."
It was hard for him to make a transition from the road into the confines of a house, but he did this because he loved me. He used to call me bella donna -- "beautiful woman" in Italian. We spent many hours making frames and canvas and also painting colorful abstracts.
In 2003, he had his paintings displayed at Papyribooks when it was on Main Street in North Adams. He sold one of his paintings called "The Huggers" for $75. There was also a front-page article on his way of life and our friendship in the North Adams Transcript.
At first, he would sleep on my front porch and set up a tent in my
I helped him get disability and Mass Health so he didn’t have to pick up cans for a living. Unfortunately, he had a dilemma with the bottle and the new income gave him the ability to buy more alcohol. He said, "Susan, this will become a wedge between us." He was right.
This extra money also helped him to visit with his children in Texas, and he lived with his eldest son and took the role of grandpa. Peter’s mother is 105, and over the years, I was fortunate enough to meet her. We had many wonderful conversations; she lived on a farm and used to ride the cows. She also had 10 children, nine boys and a girl. She is still very lucid and walks with a cane. The tragedy of a mother living so long is heart-breaking, especially when you have to bury so many of your children.
The people that came in contact with Peter only had good things to say about him. He was charismatic; it was his nature. There are many people in the Berkshires that will miss Pete’s warm smile.
Rest in peace, my love.