Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Visit


I have been too busy to write. The arrival of my aunt Jeanne-Marie and cousin Michelle took me out of my regular life as thoroughly as if I had gone to Antarctica. We met in Bangor for lunch, and from the moment we hugged hello it was as if the thirty years since our last meeting had never taken place. If they were not my relatives, I still would have loved them, but the sense of family I have so rarely felt made me giddy with happiness. I could barely believe that these terrific people belonged to me somehow.

In Bangor we drove to all the houses Jeanne-Marie had lived in as a child, as well as other landmarks she remembered. I showed them where I brought up my family on Parkview Ave. We took pictures everywhere. Then we drove to Eastport through Machias, so we could look for evidence of our oldest known relatives. Miraculously we found what we thought was their house, and their grave. It was almost spooky the way we were able to feret out the stone without having any idea where it was, or even if we were in the right cemetery. Michelle took out her violin and played by the grave, sitting on the ground in front of the headstone. I fell in love with her all the more, transfixed by both her desire to do it and her lack of self-consciousness. I was in awe of her comfort with herself and her feelings. It was as if for a moment we were all living in a beautiful novel. We made a rubbing of the stone on a paper bag from the car, then continued on to Eastport.

From there it was a whirlwind of activity, talking, sightseeing, driving to Canada, visiting my new house and the gallery. We ate out on the way back from New Brunswick at the Redcliffe Restaurant, where we had the waitress take a picture of us. Every moment of the trip was documented with my new camera, resulting in 180 photos. I could write about every detail, but it is hard to reduce the experience to a description of events. Even my emotions are hard to describe, but I know that part of my exhilaration had to do with the realization that I had relatives who seemed to care about me and for whom I could feel prideful love. Anyone would want them to be part of their family, but they were mine. Jeanne-Marie was just as wonderful as I remembered her from my childhood, and Michelle was the most delightful and talented creature I could hope to know.

3 comments:

A said...

What a lovely post!

michelle said...

You're makin' me cry cousin.
The blog makes me feel rich inside to remember our experiences and even richer to realize that we DO belong to each other. How sweet.
love,
your cuz

jlv said...

From another cousin, I'm glad you had a wonderful visit. Too bad I had to stay in RI and work.

jlv