Today the bungalow and family farm in my story are buried beneath a strip mall and grocery store the homes adjacent are underneath tenement housing, the evidence of their lives there has been erased. After moving back to Western Massachuestts in 1958, I actually lived in one of the houses on Brittan St. for about three years before we moved to Holyoke when I was five years old.
I listened to the stories my mother, Helene, told me, she was a good story teller and lived her life in a time that saw many advances in technology, medicine and entertainment.
The family sat in front of the radio and listened as Pearl Harbor was bombed, she watched the footage of the first men on the moon. She watched as vaccines eliminated most of the diseases from her childhood, and witness the chance of dying in childbirth diminish.
After nurses training Helene joined the Visiting Nurses Association in Chicopee and after a fifteen year break she rejoined the VNA in Holyoke and went on to head the Home Health Aide Services. She told me she preferred the routine of the home visits as opposed to the rigorous schedule and shifts at the hospital. She liked people and had a great bedside manner, she was also gentle and considerate of the patient’s comfort.
These later observations are mine, she didn’t talk much about her current life, only the past. The past blended with the present and I have to think about when her stories actually ended and mine kicked in.
In my research, writing several books I learned about the bylinas, oral stories, told in song and passed down for generations. That is how I feel about sharing these stories my mother told me. When will I be done putting them down in words? I listened to them all my life … before she passed, she told me I would miss her stories. At the time I knew I would miss her, but highly doubted I would miss her stories, they are embedded in my mind. I was a listener before I was a writer … how true.
I don’t miss her stories, they are part of me, but I do miss her.