Last week, I spent time with my mother, helping her sort clothes, pictures and other items in her home of almost 60 years, the home where she raised her children and hosted her grandchildren, and now the home she is leaving. It is time for another young family to dream in the bedrooms and on the sleeping porch, play hide-and-seek in the house on rainy days (I recommend the depths of the study’s cedar closet), and watch the sun go down from the dining room windows. To climb the maple trees, run in the woods and across the lawns and fields, catch frogs, water bugs and minnows in the stream, listen to the birds and katydids by day and peepers at night, taste the natural spring water and, in winter’s snows and ice, skate on the pool and slide down the hill with dogs racing after children. As one family exits, another enters. This my mother knows well.
Mother grew up in a small farming community in northern Maine and made her home in rural Connecticut. New England marks her soul. “Plenty of sorrow will come to all; you don’t have to look for it,” she often told us. “But joy is different. Most of the joy you get in life you will have to make for yourself.” And it was joy that I remembered as I walked the old stomping grounds last week.
The waterfall and swimming pool are in disrepair, and the barns of Round Hill Farm, including our first home, the apartment above the office, are gone except in pictures and our minds’ eyes. Yes, my sisters and I were brought up in a barn, a running family joke, until a house on the property became available. As Mother and I sorted through old photographs, we saw the original WWII-era house where my parents moved in the mid-50’s, and all the people who used to live in the neighborhood, for it was a real neighborhood. Birthday parties, family, neighborhood and school choir picnics in our front yard and down at the pool – my mother organized them all and made them joyful.
Happy Mothers Day!