May 17, 2021, Saugus- Thomas Wolfe famously said, “You can’t go home again”. He was making the point that both the home and the dweller change over time, and thus the fit is never quite what it was, when the two were intertwined, in the processes of childhood and adolescence.
This could be said, in my case, as much as it could be said about anyone. There is, however, the corollary that aspects of home go with us, wherever we may go in the world. I may have, long ago, lost my eastern New England accent, and the relatively watchful guardedness around strangers has faded, somewhat, but I have taken with me the basic lessons imparted by my parents, and the other significant adults of my youth: Aunts and uncles, grandmothers, concerned neighbours, the best of my teachers and advisers.
The genetic memory of my grandfathers also has impacted the values I have taken into my being. Both men worked harder than they might have, but both were providing for large families. Grampy Boivin was with General Electric, and had his own small backyard farm-with poultry, rabbits and a full garden. Papa Kusch, who I never met in the flesh, worked as a shoemaker, then came home to tend his sizable garden. The children who they sired were, to a one, imbued with the finest of work ethics-which they, in turn, imparted to each of us cousins-some 80, in all.
I also learned, growing up in Saugus, the importance of neighbourliness and community consciousness. Looking out for the welfare of the whole, underscored by my being the oldest of five children, is hard-wired in me. What is also a part of that is the concept of teamwork. Being an individual rescuer, or playing the victim and expecting to be rescued by one or two people, has also not been something that has made much sense to me. Thus, my life has been one effort at team building after another.
My brother, his brother-in-law and I were a team for much of today. While I focused on clearing items from the upstairs rooms of our childhood home, the other two men were concerned with the larger first floor. Sixty-six years of full living were reduced to more bags of trash, donated apparel and curated family keepsakes, books and necessaries than I have seen since my own house-vacating, in 2011.
No, I did not go home again today, but I paid homage to a great house, which served seven people to the full.
Certainly a big project. I wish I had more personal items from my great grandmother and grandmothers… what was important then is no longer but what was tossed then now holds more attraction!
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I have been able to weigh the value of things large and small, during these few days. There is a small bag of items which will go back with me.