Sunday, February 6, 2011

Too Painful and Lots of Memories

I tried to write about this on December 20th, and this is what I started with:

"Eight years ago tomorrow my father passed away. "

I couldn't write anymore and I couldn't publish that either. It just wasn't enough. I don't think the pain ever ends. It hasn't gotten less either. I will always miss him, the wisest man I ever knew. We had some great talks when we all went on walks on his property in Vermont. I think we connected better as two adults. I'm sure there were times in my youth that I let him down. I know there were. He never brought it up. He dealt with things and then went on with life. I don't recall him EVER bringing anything back up and flinging it in my face as so many people I have done. I pray I may become a better person, someone more like him. There are times it feels as though he is here with me. When I am in a strange location and slightly lost, I stop and think about him. Suddenly I realize what I need to do, how to go where I need to. He always did have a great sense of direction. Maybe he reaches out and shows me the way, or maybe I just inherited it from him. I don't think it matters.
With all the snow we've had recently I remembered the Blizzard of '78. I was at my friend's house on Ashmont Street in Dorchester. As the blizzard started winding up, I got on the MBTA (Mass Bay Transit Authority) and went into Boston to get the Boston/Providence bus that went by my front door in Walpole. I got there 20 minutes too late. Back into the T system on my alternate route home, the East Walpole bus. I figured that when I got there Dad would come and get me (he had a 4 wheel drive truck). When I got there it was REALLY snowing. I begged someone to let me use their phone and got through to him. He was really ticked off and told me to stay with the people whose phone I was using. I kept saying I didn't want to. I didn't know them. So eventually he relented and came to get me. He got stuck multiple times coming to get me and luckily we got behind a plow on the way back home. We still got stuck here and there. He got me home. I was a very lucky girl to have such a great dad.
I had a bug up my butt as a little girl to have my OWN rifle. I was a little Annie Oakley when I was little. Dad would set up targets and my brother and I were allowed to shoot guns with him. He was always responsible, always kept his guns locked up. We would NEVER even THINK about touching them without his permission. Anyway, I really, really wanted my own 22 rifle one year. I kept asking, nagging, get the idea. Always the answer was the same from my dad (and my brother joined in), "No, girls don't have their own guns." Christmas that year, all the presents were opened and I loved them all, but it was a real let down to know I wouldn't have a rifle. Like it took NOT getting it for Christmas to KNOW I wouldn't have my very own rifle. magic, Dad went to a closet and took out a looong box wrapped in Christmas paper. He was smiling as he handed it to me. I KNOW my eyes must have been huge by this time. I suspected what it was, and when I opened it...yep...I got my very own 22 rifle. I HAD to shoot it, so Dad set up a target and let me...I think that was the best Christmas EVER!
Of course I'll never forget the plant stand he made me. It was excellent. I think it was over 6ft tall, with three shelves (plus the top) and growlight bulbs on each level. The wiring was hidden cleverly in a channel covered by a thin wooden strip. Each shelf was wider, longer and deeper than the shelf above. The lights were hidden by wood around the edges. It was well made and lasted many years. I loved having it. My room had over 100 plants at one time and thanks to the plant stand they were very happy. I also had 4 windows in my room (a corner room).
And then there was my room. I was born in Norwood and we moved to a house my parents bought when I was 6 or 7. I forget when it happened, but my mother and Dad asked me how I wanted my room decorated. I was horse crazy so I said I wanted it to look like a barn and I wanted a green shag rug so it would look like grass. Dad made it perfect. Barnboard (some kind of sheet thingie) on the walls, green shag on the floor, and a huge, REAL wooden beam across the room. It had a huge beam as a support up the wall, the beam across the ceiling, and two cross supports from the upright to the ceiling beam. My Pier One hanging chair was hung from the beam as well as several huge plants. He also built in a closet on one side of my room. It had a bureau built in, above the bureau were some shelves. I had a section for hanging clothes and a built in hamper on the side of the bureau. I used to go in the side where my clothes were hung and sit on the rug and read. The closet was well lit and the rug was comfy. It was like being in my own little world.
Years later I had been helping to clean a stall for my mother's friend. I also used to help exercise her horse at the stable it was boarded at. The man who owned the stable used to buy and sell horses. When I was 13 he got a horse at auction. She had a hay belly and it kept getting bigger. In March I turned 14 and in May the hay belly became a foal. She was the sweetest little buckskin filly. I saw her just hours after she was born. I was going down just about everyday to take care of my mother's friends horse, and every time I was there I would visit with the filly. When she was a week and a half old the owner came in when mother I were visiting her. He said, "If I knew a little girl who would take good care of her, I'd give her to her." I just looked at mother with tears in my eyes and said, "Please?" She took one look at her and thought...she'll fit in a closet. All I had to do was take care of "Ma" and her filly for 6 months, wean her and then I could bring her home. Dad to the rescue again. He made our two car garage into a 1 car, 1 horse garage with a hayloft above. He put up fencing, and lined it with electric fencing. Her stall was so excellent. It was a half door with a ledge. She took great delight in intimidating people when they came to see her. My dad's friend, Lou Pollister, came in and leaned his arms on the ledge. She came right over and I told him not to, that he'd be sorry. He laughed the warning off. She came over and laid her mouth on his arm. He stayed there. I repeated the warning. He laughed. She opened her lips and laid her teeth on his arm. I repeated my warning. He laughed. She bit him. He stopped laughing and NEVER, EVER leaned on her ledge again.
When Dad left mother (I was an adult child living at home), I was kind of upset, after all who wants to have their parents split up. He moved to my brother's house where he reworked the tool trailer (he was a general contractor) he had built himself, to make it into a home. He eventually moved up to Nova Scotia as a landed immigrant. I think one of my aunts had some property on the North Mountain overlooking the Annapolis Valley. Eventually he bought a home in Petite Riviere in Nova Scotia. It is near Bridgewater, which is southwest of Halifax. When he bought his house the inside was soooo weird. Each of the rooms was a different color, deep purple, very orange, very kelly green, etc. He fixed it up a bit at a time. He had a very clever set up for filtering the water. Eventually he married Shirley Pollister. We went up for the wedding. Eventually they operated a very special home for the elderly. It was the first of it's kind. In Canada there were only 2 options at the time. Keep your elderly with you, or institutionalize them. So Happy Haven was a new concept. They were written up in the local paper. Dad grew and preserved a lot of the food they used for their residents. I LOVE the work he did in the kitchen. When my husband and I went up to NS for our honeymoon, Dad's kitchen was a mess. There were no cabinet doors, just cloth hung up in front of them. He reworked the kitchen, created an island, and made Shirley a nice china cabinet in the dining area. He had this really cool tv shelf setup that was on a shelf that pulled out from the wall and rotated so you could watch the tv from different places.
This is his obituary.
A sad note here. I had a message on my phone recently from one of Shirley's daughters. I called her back a few days after and left a message on her phone. I didn't get a call back, but I'll work harder to get in touch with her. I just found Shirley's obituary online. I wish I'd known, I would have loved to go and say goodbye to her. She meant so much to Dad. She gave him so much. I'm glad he found her and they had some happiness, I think they both deserved it.
enough for now...

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