dragonfly tidings

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
dragonfly magic ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

On our mother’s birthday, October 17th, my sister Beverly and I went early to the cemetery in Harwich for some time alone with our parents and our memories, bringing along Papa’s ashes in a nature-inspired wooden casket. After we placed some flowers around the gravestones of our parents and grandparents, a small red dragonfly landed on our parents’ stone. Its presence was a special gift…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
more dragonfly magic ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

A little later, as we were remembering our grandparents, the dragonfly flew over to perch on their gravestone, too, just above the “E” in White.  And there was another special moment after the rest of the family started arriving. A small red dragonfly landed on my brother-in-law’s shoulder and stayed there for a long while. John was the one who was Papa’s primary caregiver for all these years, and it was good to have him appreciated and acknowledged in this meaningful way. I like to think it was the same dragonfly, but can’t know for sure…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

When we had all gathered around in a circle, Tim read my little essay about my father – I knew I couldn’t read it without sobbing – and then my cousin Matthew read messages from his father (my uncle) and his sister (my cousin). And then everyone began sharing their own memories. After that, Beverly lowered the casket full of Papa’s ashes deep into the ground, and then most of us took turns shoveling the earth back over him. It was a beautiful autumn day and our little ceremony felt so natural and intimate.

10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts
returned to the earth ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich Center, Massachusetts

Our parents are together now. The next thing I knew, everyone – there were 14 of us – wanted to go to another cemetery in Dennis, to see where our great-grandparents and two generations before them lie buried. (Swan Lake Cemetery) It was quite something to show my granddaughter the graves of her 5th-great-grandparents, who were immigrants from Norway and Ireland, and tell her how they met here in America and raised their family on Cape Cod, and how he was a sea-captain…

10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts
favorite things, Papa was very fond of this baby lynx picture in his last years, we kept it hanging on the wall in his bedroom ~ 10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

After that little expedition we all made our way over to Yarmouth to eat at the Hearth ‘n’ Kettle, a favorite restaurant of the family. We toasted those who came before us with Cape Codders (vodka, cranberry juice, lime wedge) and enjoyed a delicious leisurely dinner. And then we returned to our rented house and had my parents’ favorite birthday cakes as we gathered around the spacious dining room table – lemon jello cake in honor of my mother and chocolate butter-cream in honor of my father.

10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts
10.17.13 ~ Harwich, Massachusetts

In the evening we piled into the living room and watched a football game while shelling and munching on peanuts, and drinking Papa’s favorite beer. It was my kids’ idea – they have fond memories of shelling peanuts with their Grandpa while he was watching football on TV. It was good to be with family – sharing memories together – some of us had not seen each other in a very long time.

Whenever we were at a funeral, for people or pets, ever since I was a little girl, my father always advised us to remember the good times. And so we did.

Farewell, Aunt Betty

11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts
11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts

On Friday November 9, Tim & I drove up to Cape Cod for the day, to attend a memorial service for my Aunt Betty in Harwich. The last time we were on the Cape was in the spring of 2009, far too long to be away, but so much has been going on in our lives the past few years.

It was so wonderful to see and hug my uncle (my mother’s brother) again, and two of my cousins. Two of my mother’s cousins were also there with their wives. We had some great conversations with them all about fond memories and genealogical discoveries. And my grandparents’ elderly neighbors from across the street were there, too.

11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts
11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts

As I mentioned before, my Aunt Betty was a woman of very strong faith, and a lovely, gracious, generous lady. I think she would have been pleased with the simple memorial her son arranged for her. On a table in front of the altar there was a picture of her, a single rose in a vase, a pencil, and her Bible, complete with her notes in the margins and many underlined scriptures. My uncle recalled how much she loved roses and how he made sure she received one for every birthday and every wedding anniversary. And he felt the pencil was a fitting token of her love of writing.

11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts
11.9.12 ~ West Dennis, Massachusetts

After the reception Tim & I went to the cemetery at the First Congregational Church in Harwich, where a number of my ancestors, my grandparents and my mother lie buried. I left them each a white rose from the bouquet we were given to take home after the service. Of course there were tears, there had been tears off and on all day, but also a deep feeling of peace and connection.

We couldn’t leave the Cape without visiting the sea, and so decided to go to the West Dennis Beach, and there felt anew the truth of Isak Dinesen’s words, The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.” The first picture is looking southwest over Nantucket Sound, the second is a bit of the wrack line, and the third is seagull footprints in the sand.