...a gift of Togetherness
When my mother died in 1950, her seven adult children followed her orders to the letter. She had written in a special little spiral-ring notebook who was to "get" which of her possessions, and stressed that she didn't want any fighting over her decisions. We were all obedient offsprings.
She left her sewing machine to her talented seamstress daughter and a sentimental brooch to her sister. Her two Victorian vases (a wedding gift in 1906) went to her first born and the upright piano, my favorite in-house hobby, was left to me.
She was very practical and fair with what little monetary assets she had accumulated since her complete loss of everything in the Great Depression. A goodly number of government war bonds were left to her single daughter, and she gave a token amount of the same to each married daughter, of which I was the last-born and barely out of my teens.
Our inheritance burned a hole in my young husband's and my marital pocket. Sure, we could open a savings account, but at that age we felt it would take an eternity to accumulate into a worthwhile amount. In the meantime, we had our weekly income from our jobs to live on. Wasn't this "found" money?
Mother had died in the summer and by the next spring we were happily spending our inheritance on two expensive fishing poles and a supply of accessory equipment.
The first holiday after our exciting purchase was Patriots' Day, celebrated in only Concord-Lexington's Middlesex County at the time. My young husband's place of employment was included, so he went off fishing with his new pole to a friend's cottage on the Shawsheen River in Andover. I, working in Boston's Suffolk County, went reluctantly to my job, but thought constantly about where I'd rather be. By morning coffeebreak, I approached the boss and pleaded incapacitation-due-to-illness, and was excused to go home.
Once there, I changed my clothing to fishing attire, but found myself to be short of funds! I gathered all the empty milk and soda bottles into bags, took them to the corner store for a large cash-in, and, carrying my own new pole, headed for the depot on the other side of town, and the half-hour train ride to Ballardvale.
The railroad track trail through the outer-suburbia woodlands was filled with beginning-to-blossom branches of the birch, ash and oak trees. The pines provided dramatic background curtains for the grey and silver hills of great boulders, brought there by glaciers millions of years before. The brilliant sun lit up the wooded cathedral. The silent shadows stretched across the long, uneven carpet. Metal on metal, the wheels of the train clicked out their high-speed rhythm on the tracks.
As the train slowed down on the trestle which crossed a river inlet, I saw my husband and his fishing partner, sitting in a small rowboat, midstream, fishing lines trolling in the calm water, framed by the sprouting green-life of the surrounding woods.
Once in the station and off the train, the mystery of how to find my goal had been solved. To reach those fishermen, I just had to follow the tracks in reverse and on foot!
I can only imagine what they must have thought when they looked up from their dory and saw that familiar young city-girl calling to them from the trestle and waving her fishing pole. I have never been made to feel more welcome.
That was close to fifty years ago and I can't remember what happened afterwards....did I CATCH any fish?....but both men have admiringly referred to the adventure often in the ensuing years. Somehow I feel that my mother's bequest was much more than the price of the fishing rods.
December 3, 1999