The last of my mother's siblings passed away quietly a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those endings that became a true blessing due to dementia, which my mom also suffered. Aunt Polly was born in Quechee and grew up in Andover, N.H. She lived and raised her family in Andover, and was the librarian at the library in East Andover. She was undoubtedly one of my favorite aunts, and she was a well loved and treasured member of the community. At her funeral service in New London, N.H., friends and family spoke about their experiences with Polly. It was always clear that family was her most important priority, and she attracted kids like a magnet in an iron filing factory. Having all of her family around was one of her favorite things in life. She really cared about her sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces.
Polly and my mom's oldest sister lived in Andover as well. Any trip to Andover usually included visits to both aunts and their families. For a time, we had lost touch with our Aaunts, uncles, and cousins due to distance and our own busy lives. Social media has brought us back into each other's spheres of interest, and we've been able to keep up with what is going on in their lives. When we gathered at the East Andover Grange Hall after Polly's funeral services, it seemed as though we picked up exactly where we left off from conversations and knowledge of posts on Facebook. My cousin Ann looked fabulous after essentially changing the food she eats. I finally got a chance to meet Andy Hatt, who was the principal at Chester's Green Mountain Union High School for many years. Andy is an Andover native and was my cousin Frank's best friend growing up. They still do wilderness trips by canoe when they get the chance. I caught up with my cousin, John, who now has his own Lawn Mower repair service in nearby Potter Place. I remember the shop his dad had in Andover when I was a kid. John's sister Marji is the Andover Town Administrator, and she brought us up to speed on her grandchildren's activities, and that's when things really got interesting.
Evidently, Marj's grandson, Trevor, is fascinated by heavy machinery. He has built quite a world for himself in the sandbox with his Tonka trucks and equipment. The whole operation appears to be run by the bulldozer he named Pancake. One day Trevor's mom had to do some shopping in town and told Trevor that he needed to come with her. "I can't, mom, Pancake has a bunch of jobs lined up for me and I have to be here." Well, that didn't work, so a disappointed Trevor reluctantly accompanied his mom to the store. When they returned Trevor was right out in the sandbox. After a short time passed Trevor went back into the house where his mom was in the kitchen. "Well I hope you're happy," he said. "Pancake just fired me. Now all that work is going to Waffle." We were in stitches as Marj told the story.
A week later I happened to be in that area and stopped to see my cousin, John, and his wife, Donna, in Potter Place. As we talked I brought up the exploits of Trevor and Pancake. John had his own story about his nephew. John did some drainage work on his front lawn that required the use of an excavator and some drainage pipe that ran into the drainage on the street. Trevor was by for a visit and asked John what he was going to do with that "essavator." John told him and then had Trevor ride along as he dug the drainage and put in the pipe. Now every time it rains Trevor asks his Mom if she can drive him by Uncle John's place so he can check up on "the job" to make sure the drainage is still working as designed. It is. That kid has a future for certain.
I carpooled with my sister over to Aunt Polly's funeral, so the Vermont side of the family was well represented. It was great to see the cousins I grew up with, and Polly's funeral brought the family together in a way that she would have truly enjoyed. After arriving home from the event, I noted that my oldest daughter had posted that it was hot at the Grange Hall reception and they found a nearby lake where she and her husband and my two grandsons could take a dip and cool off. I messaged her back saying that I had spent many a summer afternoon at Highland lake as a child in the company of my cousins. I mentioned to her that the name of the Grange Hall was the Highland Lake Grange. What was a new discovery for my daughter and her family was a wonderful set of memories for me, and so it comes full circle. Rest in peace, Aunt Polly, and I promise we'll get together with family again.
Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.