Days 5 and 6: Grand Falls, my mom’s hometown
We arrived early afternoon slipping off the TransCanada Highway at the Lincoln Road exit. I could not for the life of me remember the street number of my grandparents last home together, but I was able to recognize landmarks and before we knew it I was hollering at Jake to “turn here!” The home my mom grew up in burned down many years ago and my grandparents built a small ranch in its place which looked the same though perhaps a bit worn down. Have you ever noticed that once you root yourself in a place you left so long ago that suddenly you know you are ”home?” I still needed a map, however, to find my way round as the Grand Falls of my childhood, or even the one I last saw 13 years ago had changed too much. Nearby was a hotel and I knew the owners knew my Read the rest of this page »
mom’s family. As is typical of Newfoundlanders, the owners were only too happy to provide us with a map of the town and clear directions to the homes of several aunts and uncles as well as to both the Genealogical Society and the Legion Hall where I would be sure to find some family history, pictures and artifacts. Next we found our way to the place we would call home for the next two nights, the Carriage Inn Bed and Breakfast, located only 2 km from the home of my mother’s brother, Bill, where the rest of my siblings would gather either later that evening or in the morning before the service for mom.
Read the rest of this page »
Azalea Inn and Gardens reporting INN from the road
Where do Innkeepers vacation? In Savannah Georgia, most of the innkeepers I know typically visit family and friends and we have been no different, alternating between San Diego where our sons and their families live or Massachusetts where I grew up. This summer we are leaving Azalea Inn and Gardens behind, and combining an obligation of love with a respite from the pace of our daily lives and reconnecting with “lost” family. We have come to the Canadian Island of Newfoundland to bring my mother’s ashes to rest with her parents, to reconnect with a multitude of cousins, and to share with Jake the simplistic, stunning beauty of my mother’s homeland. Mom would not be happy to hear me call her home a Canadian island – she left “The Rock” as a young bride of an American GI before the Republic of Newfoundland joined the provinces of Canada.
We landed in Deer Lake along the Western Shores of Newfoundland, spending two days with my cousin, Derek, and his wife, Deb. Derek and I hadn’t seen each other in nearly 40 years though our mothers, Sheila and Colleen, (who are sisters) saw each other as often as time and circumstances allowed. Their home is in the sweet little town of Steady Brook, and while Jake and Derek golfed at the nearby Humber Valley Resort, Deb and I learned about each other, and then because it was an unusually hot day in Newfoundland, we slipped down to the brook for a swim. Deb slipped easily into the icy waters, but I was barely brave enough to get wet to my knees, but it was enough to recall summers spent with my Newfie cousins and ice-cold mountain water to swim in and the imperviousness of the young to heat or cold! They were idyllic summers, each of us farmed out to mom’s many brothers and sisters as no one of them had room enough for all 10 of us and their own large families as well. It was magical to be an honored guest at my Aunt Mad’s house and run about town with my cousin (actually my second cousin)Peggy, dining
on Toutans (fried bread dough with butter and maple syrup) or a strange way to eat French fries – with either vinegar or gravy. No younger siblings to tend to, I was free of my usual duties. I want to slip into that time just a bit. Deb and Derek took care of us just like the old days.
Deb and I met Derek and Jake at the club for lunch and gazed out across the mountain and river below. Jake pulled the camera out of his pocket to
share with me pictures of the greens, the views, and a very friendly fox. Apparently Jake overshot the 4th
green as did Derek. They couldn’t seem to find Jake’s ball where they believed it landed, but did notice a fox having a grand time “frolicking” on the green. About 40 feet away they were surprised to find Jake’s ball and Derek shared that this fox had been known to mess with golfers by moving the ball around a bit! It had been a grand day for golf, and Jake felt it was by far the best course he had ever played on!
Last evening we took time to visit Derek’s mom, my Aunt Sheila on an Alzheimer’s unit. Aunt Sheila didn’t recognize me, but chatted nicely enough with me. She looked so much like my mom that it was difficult not to cry, but just as joyful to pretend for a moment that mom was sitting there, and I could hold her frail hand, and kiss her soft fragrant cheeks. I told her she was beautiful, and she turned to Deb and commented, “She must be a bit soft in the head, eh?” We all laughed and Aunt Sheila was as sweet as I had everseen her. When time came to leave, we each gave her a kiss, but knowing I would probably never see her again, I turned back for one more. Her face lit up and after she said, “Anyone else?” Jake stepped up for a big kiss as well. She was smiling back at me with my mother’s soft eyes and a smile that said “I love you.” as we waved goodbye.
Tomorrow we drive to Gros Morne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for two days of trails and hiking, sightseeing and relaxation, and a chance to sit on the other side of the table, so to speak, as guests as the Anchor Down B&B in Rocky Harbour.