As we lined up to leave the Fenner house this morning, Susan said, “Wagons, Ho!” And I thought to myself, “How appropriate a saying for a man who was always on the move.” He kept moving forward whether it was in his car, or more recently in a wheelchair or a scooter. For many months he rode his scooter to Sunday morning mass.
Dad kept going despite many obstacles. In 1938, as a teenager he was asked to guard Northridge’s Furniture Co. during a hurricane. He watched as the wind tossed beer bottles off the next-door roof at Coney Island. Then he saw the roofs and the porches of the houses across the street fly by the store windows. During WWII he faced many life-threatening battles in Leyte, Saipan and Tinian; hoping to get back to his new wife, Claire, whom he had married against the advice of their relatives. Everyone had been worried that if they married, she would become a war widow with a new baby. But God had better plans… Read more
One of my memories of Aunt Lill involves wallpaper. She and I were crammed into a tiny laundry closet, with a slanted ceiling on Shattuck St. There wasn’t even enough room for the two of us to stand side by side. But that was no problem as far as Lill was concerned. I just crawled up onto the washing machine, as directed and we got the job done.
Lill was always about creating a prefect home; whether it involved changing wallpaper, moving furniture around or switching one bedroom into another room altogether. She was even known to change apartments if things weren’t exactly right. But she didn’t do all of this redecorating just for herself and her children. Lill’s home was available to her whole family. Anyone could come over and sit on the porch and talk, or enjoy a weekend-long, Yahtze tournament (like her sister Charlotte did)…. Read more
“Mom, wake up! The cat is having kittens on my bed!” Mom’s answer was, “That’s because she knows how kind you are, Robert. She knows that she is safe with you.” That same kindness was easy to see over the next fifty years of his life. I remember a time when dad was in the hospital and his meds were way off. Dad greeted Robert and I with, “Hello Father, glad to see that you brought a sister with you.” I panicked and was ready to go get a nurse. But Robert was ready to play along. He turned to me and said, “It’s OK. Leave him be…” read more
One Thanksgiving, Terry and I (John) went to visit my brother Louie Boucher in a hospital for Alzheimer’s patients near Springfield, MA. The nurses told us that he had good days and bad days, so he might not recognize us. On his good days, he would greet everyone and shake hands. Then he would go to the nurse’s station and start straightening things up. One nurse told us, “We figure either he thinks he’s running for public office, or he owns the place!”
I started our visit with remembering family stories: I reminisced about working on the milk truck with him when I was only seven years old. I told him I didn’t appreciate the fact that he sent me to the top floor of 4 and 5 story houses. And Louie responded, “Ah-ha-ha!” I mentioned the family chicken farm in Auburn, MA and that fateful day when his son Louie Robert, daughter Michelle, and I started a fire in barn while our older brother Gerry was our babysitter. “Do you remember that Gerry’s solution was to nailed us by our jeans to the front porch?” I asked. And Louie replied, “Ah-ha-ha!” Read more
Andy was a traveling man whose Navy career brought him to Scotland, the Arctic Circle, the Philippines and the Panama Canal, to name just a few places. When he got State-side he also worked and lived in lots of cities –Houston, San Diego, Springfield, MA and finally Worcester. That is when Andy began a twenty year career transporting people in his cab to doctor’s appointments, cemeteries, homes, airports and even Atlantic City.
After Andy retired he met my sister, Susan, his partner for eleven years. She noticed his love of travel right away. He was like a human GPS for anybody who got lost. And he still loved to drive. So they enjoyed many adventures in a rental car. Some were just for fun, like the trips to Springfield and Webster. Some were to join loved ones for family occasions in Maine, Connecticut and New Jersey.
We met eight years ago, then I got to know him well four years ago when we moved back home to Worcester. And it didn’t take long to realize that this gentle man, with an easy smile, wasn’t just about travel and transportation. Andy was about carrying Susan though the ups and downs of life. And towards the end, he let us carry him –on shopping trips, to birthday parties, restaurants or to the hospital. So for the four of us who brought Andy’s remains to the Veteran’s Cemetery in Winchendon, we did not just bring him for burial in our car. We carried him in our hearts, wishing him “Godspeed” on his final journey, holding him in our hearts always.