Yesterday's Magazette

2 – Comments

Remembering Family Vacations

Just about every year when I was a child, our family took a one-week vacation at the shore in Maine. My father loved to go deep-sea fishing and he spent most days on a boat enjoying this pastime. My mother, on the other hand, bore the brunt of the family outing.  She had to settle us in the cottage and unpack all the dishes, silverware, pots and pans, bedding, towels, a crib for my brother, plus all the clothes and food necessary to sustain the five of us.

While my sister and I frolicked on the beach enjoying the sand and surf, my mother hid behind a novel and attempted to keep my baby brother from getting sunburned in a portable playpen. Although she wore a swimsuit, she never went in the very cold water. After dragging us home every afternoon, she had to contend with baths, washing out the bathing suits, and preparing a full dinner. Sometimes this meant cleaning and cooking the fish my father caught.     

As a child I took all of this for granted. However, looking back I realize how this vacation was anything but a holiday for my mother. Her pleasure did come on the day that my dad took us to the nearby amusement park. Although my mother hated the rides, she got a break from cooking.           

Dinner came from the food stalls along the runway. The smell of pepper steaks drew us to this crowded booth. My father bought one for each of us along with frothy root beer to wash it down. My mother gave my brother a piece of the roll to teethe on. I recall rows of yellow corn that were hawked for sale. The proprietor took the money and then dipped the ears into a large vat of butter. People stood around chawing on these, oblivious of the butter dripping off their chins.          

My sister and I loved the merry-go-round. As the oldest, I was allowed to ride on the horses that went up and down. My sister had to make do with a stationary horse. As soon as my parents stepped off the ride after settling us firmly on the wooden stallions, Dorothy furtively undid the belt. As the carousel speeded up, she fell off. The machinery came to a speedy halt so that my father could rescue her. She whined so much about not finishing the ill-fated ride that my mother stood by the side of her horse as we went round and round to the sounds of the calliope.           

My mother seemed happy as she laughed with us and pushed my brother around in the stroller. I wonder what she really thought about these yearly vacations.

– Ann Favreau

**********Rolling Home

“Rolling home, rolling home across the sea. It is time to say adieu.”

Growing up near the waterkant, a sailor’s term for the seafarers’ region in Northern Germany, I often listened to Rolling Home, an old English maritime song, but never paid much attention to its lyrics. The catchy melody made it a popular song, played on the radio or in pubs where the beer flowed freely and sailors’ voices grew loud.

Forty years later, and an ocean apart from there, I heeded an urgent call to come; come now. The jet engine, eastbound, seemed too slow, but I made it in time for a few precious hours spent with my brother at the hospital.

A couple days later, I endured losing this loved one, and listened once again to the melody of Rolling Home. Only this time, I let the words sink into my consciousness. The song evoked raw emotions that took hold of me and enveloped my soul. A silent cry rose within me. I tried to blink away the endless stream of hot tears. With trembling hands I fumbled for another Kleenex in my purse.

The acoustics in the chapel lent the rendition of Rolling Home a haunting effect. Sounds of seagulls and a stormy sea seemed too realistic. The elements of the wind and the sea are an old salts’ home, but were too much to bear as family and friends bid farewell. The coffin, draped with red roses, the flower of love, was just a few feet away from me. My brother rests in eternal sleep. For a moment I traveled through shared memories; fleeting images from our childhood.

Although one year in age difference, as children, we were like twins; one protecting the other. He took my hand and pulled me along on the long trek as refugees in 1945. We learned to swim on our own, counting the strokes until we swam like fish. I marveled at his entrepreneurial skills as a successful sea captain, freight chartering to ports in the Baltic and the North Sea.

The refrain of Rolling Home jolted me out of my melancholic state. Rolling home, dear brother, you are homebound, your final journey. I wish you ahoy and smooth sailing ahead. A different port awaits you. Don’t be afraid of these uncharted waters; our mother and father are there to embrace you.

Adieu, my dear brother, keep rolling along, you are almost home.

– Ingeborg Haese Knight

Vol. 38 No. 3 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall- 2011


1 Comment »

  1. “Rolling Home” is a heartfelt, beautifully written, sorrowful audieu from sister to brother, tenderly woven with recollection, loving refrain and red roses.

    Comment by Colette Sasina — December 5, 2011 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

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