July Road Notes, Day 16: Family Never Fades

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July 20, 2021, Saugus- “It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.” This was an admonition that my mother gave to anyone whose cup was always half empty. Now that she is ensconced in an Assisted Living facility, in a comfortable apartment, with caring souls looking after her, 24 hours a day-but not overbearingly so, I came back here for a few days, to ascertain her well-being. She’s doing very well-just being herself and either staying in the apartment or going out, as she sees fit. My mother will never be anyone’s fool.

I spent a few hours, this afternoon, with a cousin and his wife, having not seen them in person, since March, 1994. I keep up with their lives, via Facebook, but it is hardly the same. Family never fades, though, even as some choose to differ in their view of society or of their concept of faith. The people with whom I spent the afternoon are of fine character, and have no insuperable animosity towards those of like character, who see the world differently.

Nonetheless, we chose to focus mainly on catching up with family stories and our memories of the generation who raised us. It is always instructive to hear different accounts about people whom you thought you knew well. In the end, it was also reassuring to hear that “the world is a better place, with you in it.” It had been a tough day or so, with regard to how some view my position, on how best to fight poverty, with disdain. Family, though, is bedrock, a foundation, which the criticism of relative strangers cannot shake.

I spent one last evening with Mom, before I head north, and then west, tomorrow- visiting briefly with a cousin who is family historian, paying respects to another, recently-departed cousin and possibly visiting an aunt. I gave Mom two bouquets of roses, and placed each bouquet in it sown vase, trimming the stems of the longer flowers. Keeping her company, while she enjoyed dinner, and covering her with a blanket, afterward, were payback for a lifetime of love. Family never fades.

Extended family, in Lynn, MA