Around Hometown: Day 1

2

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.

Family

6

December 25, 2019-

There is no group of people in all the world,

who matter more, than those called family.

As far back as I can remember,

there were four of us,

my sister always being in my memory bank.

One grandfather existed only in my subconscious,

as a spirit guide, who never left me,

even though I was willful,

and selective about hearing

what he was telling me.

My paternal grandfather was

all too fleeting a presence,

but his lesson was

to enjoy life to the fullest,

even as he had to leave

too soon.

Nana and Gramma though,

were solid presences,

both farm women,

who had to settle

for a more citified life,

in their later years.

My birth family

peaked at seven.

David’s first steps

on his own,

greeted me one day,

when I came home from school.

I’ve been proud of him

ever since.

Glenn has led a masterful,

ever forward-looking life.

He will always be

the sailor, the golfer,

the Man of the Year.

Cheryl has survived

so much of life’s challenges,

raised the strongest of families,

and is the most beloved of Nanas.

Brian taught us, me most of all,

to have patience and to see

the world through eternally

innocent eyes.

He left us, too soon,

but much the better

for having lived in his midst.

Dad also left, way too soon.

I like to think,

that in the end,

I have made him proud.

Through all life’s struggles,

I have always followed

his admonition:

“Land on your feet!

That’s why the Good Lord

gave them to you.”

Mom is still here,

the beloved matriarch,

having proven.

time and again,

that there is nothing

a man can do,

that a determined woman

cannot equal.

Time  passed,

and each of us raised

families of our own.

Penny was by my side,

teaching me that there were,

and will ever be,

people who love me

for myself.

She also passed beyond

a lifetime of suffering,

and is foremost in the firmament

of those who urge me forward.

Now, it’s my turn,

to be something of  a mentor,

as my son and his beloved

begin their life,

in the private sector.

I would enjoy being

a grandfather, but

that’s not my decision to make.

I love those whom God has

brought into my life,

always on their own merits.

I can hear the voice of my youngest brother,

telling me: “Leave them alone,

and it’ll be alright.”

Finally, there is the family of choice:

My indomitable sisters-in-law,

whose parents gave from the very core of their being;

The many friends and extended family,

many of whom are still in this world,

and whose sometimes daily messages

and acts of kindness,

remind me that God never has,

and never will, leave Man alone.

On this 2019th commemoration

of the Birth of Christ,

no more powerful message can be shared.