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Although Aunt Doris traveled around the world, she never forgot her Maine home and family.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Four

Going to my grandmother’s house was special because my grandmother was so loving and my Aunt Flossie was so much fun. It was a happy place. I had another aunt, Doris, who lived in Oregon and came home each summer for two or three months. Ever since she married and went west, she vowed she would come east to help take care of her mother, and she did. She came by car, by train, and by plane over many years—really a long lifetime.  She lived to the age of 96.

Aunt Doris was the oldest of my father’s siblings; he was the youngest and he thought the world of her. Sometimes she and her husband (Uncle Fred) would drive across the country and he would visit for a few weeks before flying to see his family in England. Those times were great because both would take me on day trips when my parents were too busy and I would have them to myself.

Aunt Doris and Uncle Fred had met after college, married, and soon moved to Oregon. They owned a business and many of their associates were international. When they retired in the 1950’s, they took a year and went around the world to visit their many friends. As a young child of rural Maine, I thought this was pretty amazing. As often as possible we would sit on the porch in old rocking chairs, she telling her stories while I listened, as if on a magic carpet ride. She also liked to write and recite poetry.

My grandmother could cook, Aunt Flossie had all the animals to tend, and Aunt Doris would be the organizer. Each time I would come walking through the woods and hurry onto the porch there would be lots of activity. The dog would greet me; the folks all stopped their chores and greeted me. Sometimes rooms were getting a good cleaning, or a new car had been purchased. Sometimes all three were canning vegetables from the garden. They were always busy from dawn to dusk. They were cheerful and never an unkind word was spoken. They were happy, thoughtful people.

It was always sad to see Aunt Doris leave in the fall. During the winter our family would receive letters, a few phone calls, and a big package of holly to share at Christmas time. She always took care of her mother throughout the year. The support was very noticeable.

Aunt Doris loved her roots of Maine. After I graduated from college I went to visit them in Oregon. They had a lovely home and were a happy couple, but in her heart she never forgot how she cared about her family and childhood home back in Maine. These three women made a difference in my life. I was blessed to know them.

-August 5, 2014

This photo of Aunt Flossie with her great-niece and nephews was taken many years later.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Three

My Aunt Flossie, who lived with my grandmother, loved animals and kept an assortment of them at this small country farm. My grandmother tended her chickens, but Aunt Flossie always had a dog, several cows, sometimes a spring calf, and later a horse and a pony. She also had a spring lamb.

We had a larger farm property but we kept no animals. Therefore, going to my grandmother’s house was very exciting for me. As soon as I found out she had a new-born lamb, I would hurry through the woods to feed the lamb a bottle of milk. This would only last a little while before the lamb went out to pasture and didn’t need a bottle any more.

Aunt Flossie had a turkey for a few years. During this time I would be given a turkey egg on a rare occasion, as sharing with other relatives was only fair. My mother would fry up this egg and it filled a plate.

Occasionally my aunt made homemade ice cream as a treat, but it took a lot of cranking on the wooden tub before it was ready. Sometimes I would make butter with Aunt Flossie. Sometimes we would pick berries to can or make jam. She made wonderful pickles.

Aunt Flossie worked as a weaver in a woolen mill for many years. She had a car for transportation but often chose to walk to and from work, which was several miles. For all the hard physical work she did she was still a beautiful, graceful woman.

She wore her long hair up in a bun, had a fair complexion, and sparkling blue eyes. She usually wore jeans and a shirt made by my grandmother who was a great seamstress. It was a rare occasion that Aunt Flossie went shopping, but with my mother’s coaxing and assistance she would be the most stunning person at the fancy event such as a wedding.

Flossie was an early riser and was always doing something from morning to night. In early spring she tapped maple trees for sap and boiled the sap on the kitchen stove for maple syrup. She canned a number of quarts each year.

She was a good cook and I liked to eat over at her place. Aunt Flossie took care of me when my parents went away on business trips—it was always a treat to stay overnight or for a few days.  She was loving and kind and helped many people in the community.

She lived to be 96 and took ownership of the farm when my grandmother passed away. My adventures with Aunt Flossie were different than my life at home and so I treasured those special memories.

-July 29, 2014

As a little girl, Madelyn enjoyed visiting her grandmother.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Two

I loved being at my grandmother’s house. It was such a cheerful place. As soon as I opened the kitchen door, I felt that there was no other place I could want to be. Just a foot or two from the kitchen door was the white wood-burning stove, spotlessly clean and always hot–very hot–not to be touched by your bare hands. There was a rocking chair near the window facing onto the porch door. On the other side of the room was another rocking chair, and here I hoped to see my grandmother, sitting looking off towards the fields on the other side of the house.

If my grandmother was not in the kitchen I would go look for her. Sometimes she would be sewing on her Singer hand-pedaled sewing machine.  Other times she would be cleaning around the house or taking a nap in a small room off the kitchen. Whether she was working or napping, I would have to tap her on her shoulder to let her know I was there. You see she was deaf.  Almost instantly her eyes would light up and a smile would come across her face. I would give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I would have to be careful not to squeeze her, as her hearing aid was wired, and it would screech if there was interference. Then we would head for the kitchen, where I would go to the cupboard and find the large coffee can with homemade cookies: molasses, old-fashioned sugar, or date-filled. There would be milk in the refrigerator.

We would sit and talk awhile. I always faced her, talked slowly, and enunciated each word carefully. My grandmother was a smart lady who always seemed young and everyone loved her. She had a sense of humor and was as keen as a whip is fast. She was industrious and never complained; my grandmother lived to be 98 and was cooking and caring for her home until the last year of her life.

After I had my snack I would get ready to head home. My grandmother always had something to send along with me: a quart of milk, a few eggs, or a pound of butter. Going home wasn’t a problem except for the cattle gate, where I would set down my load of food and push it under the gate. Then I would climb up the wobbly poles, sit on the top, swing over, drop on to the other side, step down, and jump off before retrieving my load.

As I returned home, I would listen to the sounds of nature and sometimes sing along the way. Upon entering the shed, I would stamp my feet to remove the snow or mud. Then I would enter our kitchen, greet my mother, and tell her all that had happened on my trip to my grandmother’s house. I was never afraid and was delighted to occasionally see birds, rabbits, or a deer. Visiting my grandmother was always worth the trip.

-July 22, 2014