A Joyful Weekend

6.21.14 ~ Colchester, Connecticut

…Janet’s goldfinches…

I’m using these photos from the summer solstice at Janet’s to illustrate this post because I didn’t take many usable pictures of the two joyful indoor events we attended this past weekend. It was a welcome change of pace to enjoy the associations and conversations without incessantly taking pictures. (And my indoor pictures never come out very well…)

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…a happy couple…

Larisa & Dima flew up from North Carolina to attend a baby shower I threw for her on Saturday in the clubhouse here at our condo complex. (With a lot of assistance from a few of her very creative friends!) So many of the important women in her life were able to attend, including some who traveled a great distance to get here! Larisa was glowing!

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…my favorite shot…

And then on Sunday we drove up to New Hampshire to attend the wedding of Tim’s cousin, Allegra, and her new husband Dan. It was supposed to be outside, but there was a backup plan in case of rain, and it was needed, as thunderstorm after thunderstorm came rumbling through the mountains. We are so happy for the new families being created, and I was thrilled to feel a kick from my new granddaughter as I rested my hand on Larisa’s tummy…

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photos by Barbara Rodgers

Remembering the Fawns

Five years ago we woke up to this breathtaking scene on our first full day of a family reunion at Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The day was full of pleasant surprises as I encountered fawns every time I turned around, and a few lovely does, and took many pictures. Following are a few of my favorites, which I dug out of my photo archives, because the memories of that wonderful day keep coming to mind at this time of year.

Little Thunder realized that the mother deer must not be too far off, because only rarely would a mother deer leave her young – and then only to get a drink of water or find a new place to hide her fawn.
~ Ted Ressler
(Whispers in the Forest: A Treasury of American Indian Tales)

Birthday #99

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…Aunt Lil and her great-granddaughter, Ashleigh…

Thursday Tim & I briefly came out of our seclusion to attend my aunt’s 99th birthday party at the nursing home she moved into last August, a few weeks before my father died. It was heartwarming that so many of those who love her were able to take off of work or school to attend an afternoon party on a Thursday, so she wouldn’t be too tired to enjoy one later in the day.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…the collage Ashleigh made for the occasion…

Auntie’s doctor approved the celebration and gave her permission to have as much champagne, cheesecake and black raspberry ice cream as she desired.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…good job blowing out the candles on the birthday cheesecake…

I had not visited Auntie at the nursing home since August because of the illnesses and deaths of my father and Tim’s brother. She looks better than I thought she might have and I was pleased and relieved to see that she is being well cared for. Hopefully we can visit more often now that the dust is beginning to settle around here.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Aunt Em and Aunt Lil entertained us with stories from their “hen party” days. When I was a child, my four aunts, Mary, Jean, Lil and Em, their cousin, Aunt Julia and her friend Stella, and my mother would gather at Aunt Em’s house when she lived in New Jersey. In January because most of their birthdays fell in that month. They would go into “the city” (New York) for the day and evening and leave us children with the fathers and uncles.

The fathers and uncles let us get away with all kinds of mischief. They’d be watching football on TV and drinking beer. One time one of the cousins tried to do a somersault over a chin-up bar and whacked his head on the ceiling in the process. Uncle Andy exclaimed, “Now that’s what I call using your head!” We laughed about that bit of irony for hours…

My Aunt Jean was the first of the gang to die, in 1986. She was my favorite aunt – we shared a birthday, a love of cats and children, the color purple (when I grew up blue became my favorite color), a lot of personality traits, and the A, RH-negative blood type. And now I’ve learned that she also shared my sensitivity to alcohol. It didn’t take much to get her tipsy and very sleepy. Aunt Em and Aunt Lil remembered one time when she fell asleep with her head on the table at a luncheon. And another time when she got home she climbed into the crib with her son and they eventually found her sleeping there.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…Aunt Em and Aunt Lil…

Aunt Em took the train up here from Maryland – she usually drives, but not in the winter. If I live to be 86 I hope I will be as vivacious as she is! Aunt Em and Aunt Lil are the last surviving siblings of the eight children their parents had.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…Chelsea and Aunt Lil…

Chelsea is the wonderful caregiver who worked full time for us for a year, until my father died, making it possible for Aunt Lil and my father to live at home. We all became very attached to her, especially Auntie.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

…a quiet moment with my sister, Beverly…

When it was time to go I got a big long hug from my Auntie and we both started crying and told each other, “I love you.” Beverly had explained to her about Toby’s untimely death and she seemed to understand what a rough time we’ve been having. She held hands with Tim for a moment.

What an emotional roller-coaster we’ve been on this past year…  Like my sister, I wish I had the resources to care for our aunt at home but I’m relieved to know she’s safe and well cared for. And I hope she will treasure happy memories of her 99th birthday party.

Provincetown Signs

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

On October 18th, the Rodgers branch of the family headed out to Provincetown, at the very end of the Cape Cod peninsula, where we spent many a vacation when our kids were growing up. We thought it would be deserted, since the summer season is well over, but it was Women’s Week, and the streets were crowded with visitors. Exhausted from the emotions and activities of the previous day, we had lunch and did some shopping, but didn’t stay too long. But before we left I kept taking pictures of signs – there were so many creative ones…

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

 …a couple enjoying Women’s Week festivities together…

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

An historic fishing port, Provincetown is situated at the tip of Cape Cod in an area of spectacular natural beauty, surrounded by miles of dunes and beaches. Provincetown has a diverse and singular history. The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown in 1620 and signed the Mayflower Compact, a declaration of self-determination and radical thought that characterizes the history and people of Provincetown, even today. Provincetown has been home to sailors, pirates, fishermen, painters, and authors for centuries. In the nineteenth century, Provincetown, with the largest and safest natural harbor on the New England coast, was one of the greatest and busiest seaports in the country. The rich texture of cultural and social influences has produced a sense of place that is uniquely Provincetown. For over a century, these special qualities have attracted artists, tourists, and bohemians who have then blended with the local population and produced a unique community character. Provincetown is truly like nowhere else.
~ Town of Provincetown website

10.18.13 ~ Provincetown, Massachusetts

…looking towards Pilgrim Monument from out on MacMillan Pier,
where fishing and whale-watching boats are moored in Provincetown Harbor…

10.19.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

…granddaughter Eliza found her own “sign” to bring home…

Dominic’s Dragonfly

Dragonfly by Dominic Delgado

On October 16th, Tim & I drove to Providence to pick up Nate, who was flying in from Georgia.  Then it was on to Cape Cod where we had rented a big house (six bedrooms, five bathrooms!) for several days, so the family could gather and bury my father’s ashes together.  When Nate unpacked, he gave me this beautiful gift he brought for me from his nephew, Dominic, age 5.  I kept it standing on my dresser while I was there, a cheerful image to behold each morning when I woke up.  Thank you so much, Dominic!!!

Little did I know there would be more dragonfly magic the next day…

Crossing the Bridge

2001 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

As many of you already know, my father died peacefully at home, in his sleep, on September 19. I’m still in a daze and it still seems like a dream. When I finally got to bed after he died, I started thinking it would be nice to have a memorial for him on my mother’s birthday, October 17, at the cemetery where his ashes will be buried next to hers. The next morning my sister called me and said she hoped I would like her idea, and her idea turned out to be the exact same idea that I had. So it was settled.

2001 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

When we were little we always went to visit our beloved grandparents on Cape Cod for our mother’s birthday. So we are both looking forward to one last trip up there with Papa, bringing his ashes in a beautiful biodegradable wooden box my sister found for him. The gravedigger will have the earth ready for him before we arrive and we will all stand in a circle and say whatever we want to say before we lay him to rest. I’ve never planned a funeral or memorial before, and I’ve never been an executrix before, either. For some reason the planning is comforting.

2001 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

We’re renting a large house nearby. Even though it was closed for the season the owner has kindly opened it up for this special occasion. When the owner sent an email to confirm the days, he wrote, “We should be ready for you to check in anytime after 1:00, but give us a call when you cross the bridge and we will meet you at the house.” When I read this it made me cry. All Cape Codders and all of us who love the Cape know what “when you cross the bridge” means. And the funny thing is there are two bridges crossing the Cape Cod Canal, and either one will do.

1953 ~ Montville, Connecticut

…1953, Bachelor of Arts in Bacteriology…

The first three pictures were taken by me in 2001. In 2000 my father fell and crushed several vertebrae. He was in the hospital for a while and needed to use his cane afterwards. Papa had made a trail meandering through the woods on his property and he maintained it while taking his daily walks. Walking through the woods with him countless times is a memory I will always treasure. He would use his cane as a pointer as he identified various nuts, leaves, wildflowers or the entrance to an animal’s den. Or he would point it up into the tree canopy when he heard a familiar bird call. The cane was carved and used by his father and now I have it for safekeeping.

1983 ~ ?

…Easter, 1983, my parents…

Sadly, in 2007 Papa fell again, this time breaking his femur and his pelvis. He never made a good recovery from that unfortunate accident. There were no more walks in the woods. He was mostly in a wheelchair after that and suffered from dementia. The last six years have been so difficult for all of us, but especially for him. When I found these pictures taken at an earlier, happier time, they helped me to overlay the recent memories with more pleasant ones.

September 1985 ~ ?

…Labor Day, 1985, my parents with three of my aunts…

Many thanks to our Aunt Em, who came up to visit us from Maryland last weekend, and to visit Aunt Lil, too, who seems to be doing as well as can be expected in the nursing home. Aunt Em brought and gave us some of her pictures – the last three are from her.

Papa

Under a full harvest moon, my father drew his last breaths. How fitting for a man who grew up on a farm and who loved his garden. The scientist died peacefully, in his sleep, in the house he and my mother built for themselves and my sister and me. It was how he wished to die, and we are thankful it happened that way. Farewell, dearest Papa. I love you.