Thursday, June 03, 2010

Memorial Weekend

Sigh. I have always enjoyed Memorial Weekend as a Maine holiday with lots of meaning: the small town parades (in which I used to ride my tissue paper decorated bike as a kid, or sometimes march as a girlscout), the picnics, the Spring flowers, and even the annual upkeep of the family graves. This is an emotionally loaded task for me but one I value. I don't have much of a relationship with my living relatives (except for my parents), but I do have an ongoing connection to many who have passed. And going to Mom's hometown of Camden (as well as the neighboring villages which also have meaning to us like Lincolnville and Rockport) with Mom is a hailstorm of family information. No matter how many times we do it I always learn something new.

This year we did one thing which is usually too emotionally difficult for both Mom and myself. We went by the site of our old house. Mom has lived in several parts of Camden and Lincolnville but in this case I mean the last house we owned as a family; the one my grandmother owned until her death. This was a raggedy little cottage on Limerock Street. My mom had planted a pine tree at the edge of the small lawn when they bought the property and I would hide in it's eventually-copious branches as a kid (somehow always believing my grandmother couldn't find me as she patiently stood underneath me an called my name until I got tired of the joke). My grandmother's name was Hester, by the way. I always called her Dubby because apparently that is what I called her when I first learned to talk and it took. My mom always referred to her as Dubby in my presence also, so I still think of it as her name even today.

There was a little brook behind the house which my grandmother and I used to walk on when it was frozen; winding a path through the woods to the corner grocery (named "Bilbo Baggins" Grocery by the Tolkien-crazed proprieter) for a pizza, pretzles, and a TV guide. I remember playing my Mom's old piano in this little house, scribbling with crayons in all my books, riding my hobby horse in front of the TV or dancing to Dubby's fave program (Lawrence Welk!).

Dubby died of a fairly rapid progression of cancer when I was eight years old. I was monumentously devastated. It still has ripple effects through my senses even today. For instance, any time I even drive by a funeral parlor or a hearse I smell that smell that I remember as I touched her embalmed hand in that casket. I was terrified to touch her and terrified because she could never wake up. I put a little, bejeweled cat pin in the casket with her. Dubby had 16 cats at one point and always had more than a few. Mom and I definitely inherited that quality from her.

Anyhow, we went back to the house lot this year. There is a new road from the corner of our old house lot and up to a series of modular homes. The new road is mysteriously dubbed "Linden Lane." We were braced to see a parking lot or house or some awful thing where ours used to stand but thank the goddess it was a vacant lot filled with lupin. The brook was still there, though dry right now (it had recently flowed so probably only dries seasonally). The pine tree and some remnants of our stone wall are still facing Limerock Street. I picked my way through the growth and had a moment under the tree. It was pretty intense for both Mom and me but I'm very glad we went.

So...that was the experience, and I also have a bunch of pictures. Happy Memorial Day!

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