Massachusetts

This is most possibly one of the more difficult entries for me to write on my blog. I feel it exposes part of who I am, where I’ve come from and the wonderful people and magical places where my identity began. It’s so easy to write trite little comments about the people I see and places I go, but to expose a part of my past from the other side of the country has not been so easy for me.

So why write? Why blog?

Welllll. My friends encourage me to. It’s cathartic. I feel guilty for neglecting my blog. If someone really wants to know where I came from: here you go. And besides, I’ve been talking about going back “home” ever since my Grandmother passed away last year. Some friends are so sick of hearing me pine over my loss, that they want to see what the fuss was all about.

Have you ever walked through an antique shop with someone you didn’t know very well? You’ll hear comments, “My grandmother had one of those!” or “Uncle Joe had an orange rotary phone just like that!”. It can be equally thrilling and nausea inducing. I guess for the past year, my husband has been constantly stuck in the revolving antique shop of my memory. Anything and everything reminded me of my Grandparents, my home. And heaven forbid – anything that I was able to bring back from their home was ever touched! I think he’s heard me say five million times, “ Don’t touch that, it’s irreplaceable! That was my Grandpa’s!” His favorite is, “Don’t scratch that record.” Funny thing is, it’s already so scratched, you probably can’t even hear the music.

My whole trip was based around going back to my Grandfather’s home to photograph it. It was his castle. I wanted photos to remember it before the weather and vandals and wildlife deteriorated the house beyond recognition. He built that house with his bare hands. During my trip, my Uncle commented that the only actual thing in the entire house that he didn’t build was the fireplace. I learned so many things from my Grandfather. How to chop wood. That trim in your home should always be painted white. To never mix vodka and oreos. How to properly bury a beloved dog or feral cat. How to paint a fence. (white paint, every summer) How to find your way home in the woods. (just don’t get lost in the first place!) How to burn bacon. How to keep an apple tree from bleeding. (again, white paint.) And a myriad of other random quips.

All those memories are wrapped up in that house. If I could just see it one more time, maybe I could let go. Say goodbye. Or at least, ‘see you later’. (I just know they’re in Heaven!) It wasn’t until I arrived, that I realized they really are gone. I guess I suspected that my Grandparents would just be hanging out at their house; in essence (or spirit) at least. I thought I would feel the same sort of longing that I’d had for the past year.

I didn’t.

It was the most unexpected part of the trip. Instead of feeling sorrow, all wrapped up inside myself and my own little world of loss, all I felt was love. My two Aunts and my Uncle completely wrapped their arms around me with encouragement, excitement and a good dose of the here-and-now. I had no idea how much my extended family supported me, or how much I wanted to be a part of their lives, and in turn, support them. My trip turned out to be more about my family and re-connecting than it was about saying goodbye to my Grandparents.

So here’s to the here-and-now, with just a little nostalgia and quite possible the longest blog post ever.

 

I spent the first few days with my Aunt Gail, and then my Uncle Sean. My Southern Aunt Becky (pronounced a-u-n-t not ANT!), spent weeks encouraging me before my trip. Thanks, Bawk. (Don’t worry – I’ll have many photos of you too after my Georgia trip!!!!) It was so good to see my family!

 Here’s Aunt Gail. It’s a-h-n-t, people. Not Ant. She may be short, but she’s not an insect.

We met up at the John Williams Park in Rhode Island. Here’s her husband, Mark and my cousin Stephen.

Stripe-y cat at Gail’s house. I’m generally not a cat person, but this one loveeed me.

Thanks Gail!

I left Gail’s home in north eastern Massachusetts and took Rt2 West towards the Berkshires. I pulled over right by this sign because I almost hit a large bear. You heard me right. A BEAR! He ran across the road in front of my rental car in only two gallops. (Do bears gallop?) He was big! I wish I had a picture, but it happened so quickly, and I was probably going about 45mph. A potentially fatal bear accident.  I had no cell service for almost two days and I was dying to tell someone in Utah. Bear sightings aren’t such big news in the Berkshires, so no-one quite shared my same excitement…

This is the church next to my Grandparent’s resting place. No, they are not Baptist, and yes, they are buried in Florida. (Florida, Massachusetts)

See: Florida, Mass.

Queen Anns Lace. This is my mom’s favorite flower. Or at least that’s what I remember her telling me when I picked them for her as a kid…  They grow wild on the side of the road everywhere, and they make me sneeze.

This is the Fire Department in Florida. No, I’m not kidding. Isn’t it cute?

A view of the valley from the Wigwam Store. (Right above my Grandfather’s house on the Mohawk Trail.)

This is the view of Grandpa’s from the driveway. I just stopped for a second before driving into town to meet my Uncle Sean. I was too chicken to walk up the drive by myself. (Think BEARS and small animals.)

This is below my Grandpa’s house on the trail, right before the Hairpin Turn. Here’s an old school pic of the Hairpin. (click on the green link)

I spent the next day and a half with my Uncle Sean. He took me to “the top of the world” – this place by a radio tower where the hang gliders used to jump off over my Grandfather’s property. I have fond memories of Grandpa shooting warning shots with his shotgun in the general direction of the hang gliders… He never shot anyone, but it was sure fun to watch and see if any of the giant gliders would come streaming down like our plastic-parachute clad paratrooper toys.   Moral of the story: don’t hang glide over private property!

Sean and I had great fun eating frozen berries and Friendly’s Watermelon Sherbet until 2 in the morning!

 

This is outside the train museum at Heritage Park.  The exibit there talks about the building of the Hoosac Tunnel, built in the late 1800’s.

Then, I spent some time with my Aunt Carrie and my cousins Seany, Zac, Sara and Brady. This is Zac’s cat. I’ll add photos of the cousins in a week of so, when Sean get’s his photos in the mail…

Sean went up to Grandpa’s house with me. No bears. Just lots of overgrowth.

This is a stream bed behind the house. It’s all sparkly from the mica, and totally reminds me of all the glitter in the movie Labrynth. (David Bowie and Sarah Connelly in the 80’s)

Grandpa always had one of these radios in his shirt pocket when he went to cut trees in the woods.

We had blue Christmas lights on our tree every year.

Some matchbox cars.

Our tub fish.

Right before I left, I was able to see my brother, Jamin and have a quick snack at the pub with Sean.

Sean, thanks for going to Grandpa’s with me, and for putting me up (or is it putting up with? he). It was so good to see you, Jamin!

 

End of the longest blog post ever.  More Massachusetts coming soon.

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