Today I will drive to Windrock, the beloved family homestead by the sea. Sixty years ago my grandparents acquired the house and property - including 400 ft of frontage on Buzzard's Bay and a mile-long driveway through coastal woods - for about $11,000. I have posted about this extraordinary place and what it means to our extended family here, and I still get shivers of excitement every time we pack the car and head out for southeastern Massachusetts and the big red house on the bay.
This photograph was taken in February 1948, when my grandparents had owned the place for just over a year. Much has changed since then. The water tower and clump of trees in front vanished soon after this photograph was taken, the rest of the trees have become mature forest instead of coastal scrub, picture windows replaced the rank of smaller ones facing the bay, and more recently, the little house next to the big one was completely rebuilt and expanded around a few original walls and floorboards as a seasonal rental. Still, the profile of those peaks and gables is imprinted in my mind's eye and resonates for me more strongly of place and belonging than even the glorious Berkshire and Litchfield Hills of home.
My grandmother moved out of the old house last fall and lives with a caregiver in town. She will be 96 years old tomorrow. The long years have sapped her independence and confused her mind. Though still the sweet, bright spirit of old who lights up with company, she does not follow conversations for long and is largely unable to articulate her thoughts and feelings. My children adore her and love being with their Great Gran. For them, Windrock is Great Gran's, and she will join us for the day in her old house to celebrate her birthday.
Each visit here with her is a gift. She and my great Aunt Lib are all that remain of their generation in our family. We cherish the place she and my grandfather provided the family and are working to create a sustainable future for it so that our children and grandchildren will enjoy that same gift, but Gran is the true rock of the family. While she and Windrock are moving in new directions, each of us adjusts our boundaries and redefines our relationships to this place and each other. The spirits of both, however, remain undiminished.