We live in a special place.
No, it is not because we can look out the window at glorious hills, majestic woods, and the rocky coast. Here, people seem to care about their friends and neighbors despite being bombarded by the venom that drivels from the TV talking heads and those snarky posts that appear in the magical online universe.
Just for the record, it has been a tough week for the old scribbler who lives in the little grey house on the hill. After 54 years of being banned from the kitchen stove, it is my turn to… Well, you know.
May I thank the friends, relatives, and even strangers who sent their condolences via Facebook, messenger and snail-mail. I couldn't have made it through the last weeks without the strong support from our two sons, Sean, Timothy (and his bride, Laura), and daughter Roo. My mother-in-law, the Lady Sam, was a treasure, too. I owe them all, big time.
My bride’s sisters, Tavie, Georgie and Cricket flew in from Sebago, Boston and Wisconsin to deliver hugs. The Marvelous Mindy stood by to prop me up when I got shaky.
Nephew Capt. Dan Stevens, his pal, Bunny, and Dan’s sister, Theresa, brought over buckets of food, including some crackerjack ginger cookies. Alan (Scrimpy) Lewis and his friend Bena brought over a charge of American chop suey that hit the spot. Paula and Jeff Endicott brought over meals that saved the day when it was my turn to cook for the crowd.
Our neighbors, Dawn and Henry Simmons, chipped in with hugs and tears and support.
The book club ladies, Doreen Dun, Nancy Adams, Betsy Wing, Cilla Alden and Linda Clapp, took time to visit and say goodbye. Volunteers from the St. Andrews Thrift Shop were great, too.
A special thanks to a trio of old dogs, Alan Lewis, Bill Haney and Jack Fulmer. For the last 10 years, we have gathered for an early morning walk through the woods. They earned special kudos for their wisdom, compassion and bad jokes.
Many folks stopped me at the post office or grocery store to tell me how much they loved and missed her. The social media apps brought us other tributes, too. Let me stop for a minute to admit I made a couple of mistakes in her obit. The sharp-eyed editor Kevin Burnham caught and fixed one, where I called my beloved stepmother, my stepmother-in-law. Thanks, Kevin. Grandpa also forgot to include the names of two granddaughters, Grace Davis Harling and Phoebe Nicole Harling. Sorry, ladies. Brain fog and old age are no excuse for stupid. Mea culpa.
Last week, I got a nice note from David Nyberg of Bath and West Boothbay Harbor. He gave me a kind English lesson.
“While reading your most recent column with interest and pleasure, as I usually do, I came across an anomaly you might want to know about.
You mentioned "an ariel ballet as finches . . ." when I believe you meant to say: "an aerial ballet." The former, ariel, is either a gazelle found in North Africa or the protagonist in Disney's ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Aerial, on the other hand, means happening in the air. Of course, I could be wrong about this. You might well have been describing how enthralled you were with a vision of gazelles and mermaids dancing and frolicking in your garden."
Thanks for your note, David. Another mea culpa. Unlike many in my former profession, I acknowledge that I make mistakes. I try, at least most of the time, to own up to them.
Back to the point of this column, let me offer thanks to all, not only those whose names I mentioned but all who have lost loved ones, especially those who have cancer. Their struggle may go on for decades as strong men and women, old and young, shrivel into shadows while gritting their teeth as smiling nurses pump poison into their veins. They offer smiles when their internal plumbing system refuses to cooperate and apologize when their favorite foods taste like dung.
They endure it all with grace, patience, and love.
They and their caregivers are heroes.
Best to all.