A lovely story from the end of my Christmas vacation.
My cousin Jim and I were standing in his living room, looking out the window of his glass-enclosed porch at the beach, which is only about fifteen feet away. Where the raft was when we were kids – and where it still bobs in the summer months – would be about fifty yards.
This was a big old summer house when we were kids, but now Jim and his wife Cindy have winterized it and made it beautiful, and it’s perpetually filled with kids, grandchildren and fun. Someone in our family has lived here in Bay View for nearly a century, but now Jim is both the newest member of the family to settle here and the only one left. I ask him about the new jetty getting buffeted out the window, and he proudly tells me he headed up the committee for its recent reconstruction.
“I wish we knew more about Grandma Kavanaugh,” he said ruefully as we reminisced; it was our grandparents who initially bought a summer home here. But she died before any of us were around, so none of us kids knew her, or much about her. Jim had recently seen some Bay View Association minutes from the 1940s that said, merely, “Today we lost our leader.” They meant Grandma Agnes, and it saddened him that this was the only mention. No emotion, no history.
It was a visiting day for me: I left Jim and Cindy’s and drove over to see my friends Hope and Ruth at the assisted living place they now call home. You may remember them: the Atkinson girls of Cranberry Surprise Pie fame here on the One Good Deed blog. They have grown older and frailer and had to leave their little house in the woods, but I try to visit them each time I’m in town. (“When you come, you’ll come,” said Hopie, with typical Atkinson logic.) Bay Viewers from way back themselves, I told them where Jim had moved to, and showed them photos.
“See that jetty?” Hope asked as I scrolled through the pictures. “My mother and your grandmother Agnes and some of the other Bay View ladies got that built after the 1938 hurricane. They had to all go to Boston to get permits and licenses and everything else. It was quite a lark.”
“Quite a lark.” And just like that, I’ve learned a bit of history about Grandma Agnes. It was almost creepy: was Jim and my wish about Agnes answered almost immediately because I did something nice by making sure I checked in on the girls? Seems that way, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just the way life should work. I’m going to take it one step further, though – next time I go to visit the Atkinsons, I’m going to bring cousin Jim along, and bask in the joy of their history-trading. “You always want to know more,” I said to Hope at our visit. Getting it just takes some doing.
Find your history.