Thursday morning, I left for Massachusetts. I’ve done that drive solo a number of times. It takes about 10 hours, and when the weather is nice, it’s a pleasant drive. I like listening to books on tape, so I finished up listening to Stephen King’s Bag of Bones. It’s a fairly pedestrian “small town has a secret and they’re all in on it” sort of horror story, but there’s a pair of love stories involving the protagonist that are really very sweet.
Friday, my parents and I drove up to Vermont to attend my uncle’s funeral. Uncle Winslow had lived in Montpelier most of his adult life, having spent his career working for the state. As Montpelier is the smallest state capital, and the church was all of about five blocks from the state office buildings, the church was completely full of old friends and co-workers.
I want to give kudos to my cousins Anne and Mardie, who gave a very moving talk about their father, and to the minister who had the intelligence to admit that he didn’t know Uncle Winslow, but gave a great eulogy anyway (the minister had just come to the church a few months before, my uncle had been in Texas part of the time, then moved in with Anne a few months before he died).
I really love the recent funeral tradition of displaying photos at the reception. I saw a family photo I’d loved as a child and hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years:
Trask Family, Rochester, VT, Circa 1930: (more or less clockwise) John Crawford (Sr.), John Crawford (Jr.), George, Bill, Nellie, Winslow and Caroline Trask
Between my brother’s wedding last fall and my uncle’s funeral, I remet many cousins I hadn’t seen in years. I hadn’t seen Mardie, Alan or Pam since my wedding, almost 27 years ago. It was one of those odd timing things – a bunch of my cousins got married when I was living in Pennsylvania or Ohio and had no money to travel. Some of the aunts and uncles (Alan’s parents, Anne and Mardie’s mother) died at times when work was quite insane and I just couldn’t get away. So it was good to reconnect with them, even if the situation wasn’t ideal.
After the funeral, I went up to Burlington and visited Anne and Mardie. Spending a night in Burlington was a little odd – I spent a few nights there in February, 1957 as I was born in Burlington but I don’t think I spent a night there since then.
Anne Forcier, Mardie Sorensen, Laurie Mann, April 30, 2004
We spent a long time up on the widow’s walk, watching the sun set over Lake Champlain. I enjoyed meeting Anne’s in-laws, the Forciers.
The next morning, I took my mother’s cousin Alice Bassett, out to breakfast. She’s probably the relative I’m most like – she’s very politically and musically active. She’s at least 78 and still sings in no fewer than three groups. She was a state legislator for a few years, and used to commute to Montpelier with Howard Dean in his pick-up truck!
The drive back to Pittsburgh was a little trickier. I’d had a migraine overnight, so I was very tired. It was cloudy and windy taking the Charlotte ferry across Lake Champlain. There wasn’t much traffic or many cops on 87 going south through New York, but I did have to stop briefly when a border patrol road block (some two hours south of the Canadian border) was checking cars for illegal aliens. I have mixed feelings about that sort of operation, honestly, but I got through quickly and continued on my way home.
While I made a few brief stops, I drove for over 12 solid hours. While Burlington, Vermont is a little further west than West Boylston, Massachusetts, it’s somewhat further north. So that was the longest solo drive I’d ever done.