Recreating the past ..... cool apps at the Library .... a two-timing cat

This Week in Lincolnville: A Sister Lost

How does fate figure in?
Posted:  Monday, September 11, 2017 - 12:30pm

Ruth, the sister I never knew, daughter of the mother I never knew, lived the last days of her life in an abandoned building. She went to sleep there and didn’t wake up one day last fall. Yet, as her sons, her estranged sons, discovered afterwards, she’d carried with her some small things that make a home: a quilt, perhaps a coffee mug, some pictures, even curtains. As news of her death spread throughout the other homeless souls of that city, people gathered at the police station to learn if it was true. She’d been a support to many of them, cared for them; some even called her Mother Ruth.

I’ve learned that she was an imaginative little girl, getting our older sister to play “library” with her, dressing up in mother’s shoes and hat and purse. She was the one who created the plays she and her siblings performed with their parents the audience, watching from the balcony overlooking their “stage,” the backyard. As a seven-year-old Ruth befriended an old woman who lived across the alley and climbed the back fence every day to visit with her “little old lady.”


MONDAY, Sept. 11

Selectmen meet, 6 p.m., Town Office

TUESDAY, Sept. 12

LSD (Sewer District) Trustees meet, 6 p.m., LIA Building, 33 Beach Road

Yoga, 6:30 p.m., Bandstand, Breezemere Park


Jared Leadbetter on Apps, 7 p.m., Library

Planning Board, 7 p.m., Town Office

THURSDAY, Sept. 14

Soup Café, noon-1p.m., Community Building

SATURDAY, Sept. 16

Indoor Flea Market, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Community Building

Public Supper, 5 p.m., Tranquility Grange


 Harborside Harmony, 4 p.m., United Christian Church


AA meetings, Tuesdays & Fridays at 12:15 p.m., Wednesdays & Sundays at 6 p.m., United Christian Church

Lincolnville Community Library, open Tuesdays, 4-7, Wednesdays, 2-7, Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. For information call 763-4343.

Soup Café, every Thursday, noon—1p.m., Community Building, Sponsored by United Christian Church. Free, though donations to the Community Building are appreciated

Schoolhouse Museum is open M-W-F, 1-4 p.m., second floor of old Beach School, 33 Beach Road

Bayshore Baptist Church, Sunday School for all ages, 9:30 a.m., Worship Service at 11 a.m., Atlantic Highway

Crossroads Community Church, 10 a.m. Sunday School, 11 a.m. Worship, meets at Lincolnville Central School

United Christian Church, Worship Service 9:30 a.m., Children’s Church during service, 18 Searsmont Road

Though she’d lost so much on the ragged path she’d traveled for much of her life, those two faces of her personality – carrying home with her and caring for others – tell me all I want to remember about this never-to-be-met sister. Her path and mine had diverged somewhere along the way from child to woman, and I have no way to understand why. Perhaps it has something to do with my own strong need for home, for roots, for belonging. Perhaps from the very fact that I was wrenched away from one future, as the daughter of the woman who bore me, to another, equally uncertain future. It could have gone either way.

Fantasy plays a big part in the childhood of the adopted. I was apparently intended to be sent to California to become the child of a famous movie actress; perhaps you’ve heard of “Mommy Dearest”? But my malformed feet made me unsuitable, so instead Ruth and Bud Roesing, who’d only recently applied to adopt, got an unexpected call from the adoption agency that there was a baby they could have as soon as the casts came off those wonky feet. Instead of Hollywood, I moved to my new home in an apartment at 82nd and Cottage Grove on the southside of Chicago.

I was a child who dreamed up a future that included an intricate house with an indoor garden, birds singing in cages, a room lined with books, a fireplace. There are detailed little pencil drawings of that world tucked away in a trunk right now, along with family letters, notes and silly cartoons from school day friends, the archive of my childhood. The book-lined room I drew when I was 10 has a wooden floor, complete with knots and grain. Candles burn on the mantle and a clock, the kind with a tiny painting on its glass door, stands between them.

I sit here before dawn in my rambling old farmhouse, surrounded by garden and forest; above a bright moon and stars shine on this clear night, all and more than I’d ever imagined. Yes, book-lined rooms and old wooden floors, a fire purring away in the stove, my birds hunkered down on their perches, heads under wings in the early morning hours as I write.

More than that, there are grandchildren sleeping even now, right here in the town where I live, sons and their spouses who share their lives with me, and the rich memories of a long and happy marriage working their bittersweet way through my heart.

I’m learning how to manage those memories. It doesn’t work to force them, to compulsively sift through them, pulling up this or that day or argument or tender moment, to re-live “last year at this time we were ….” At least for me, it doesn’t work. I do better when I’m caught by surprise, as yesterday when a photo from last Christmas Eve surfaced. There we were, sitting on the couch, surrounded by grandchildren, his arms around me on one side and a child on the other. His hands, strong hands, holding us both.

That’s a memory that plunges me into the abyss of emptiness that I’ve become too familiar with these past months. But as tears well up, now I feel the welcome warmth of our love as well. Bittersweet.

There’s one other thing about my lost sister Ruth that I learned recently; incidentally, it’s also my middle name, my mother’s name, though not by birth, my true mother. My sister had carried with her on her rocky travels through life a satchel that belonged to her father. It contained all his papers, the information that would allow his children, my half-siblings, to reconstruct his path. Generally, it’s in later life that we feel the urge to know these things about our parents, and for them it was all in this satchel.

But it wasn’t among her belongings found that morning in the cold, empty building where she died. Somewhere along the way she’d lost it, had left it behind, maybe it had been stolen. Perhaps it’s the historian in me that sees this as such a loss. I spend a great deal of time reading other people’s letters and diaries, people long dead and unknown to me. The written word, whether in an official document such as discharge papers from the service or in a personal letter, reveals more about a person than can a photo or a memory.

Ruth apparently carried with her just those few spare remnants of a home she once had, along with an ingrained need to love others, even as she’d lost the ones who truly needed her.

How can we not believe in fate? Some element pulling us through life that we have no control over?

Library News

Needlework Tuesday will be tomorrow, September 13, 4-6 p.m. at the Lincolnville Community Library. Bring a project to work on and join the conversation around the table. It’s always lively!

A free program on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. will bring Jared Leadbetter of the Maine State Library to our Library to talk about the latest apps available for mobile devices. He’ll explain apps that can turn a smartphone into a GPS navigator, serve as a translator for travelers, help a person manage a fitness plan, and much more. He’ll also talk about how to use virtual reality apps with goggles mounted on a smartphone or other device. According to Librarian Sheila Polson, Jared is a wonderful presenter and a real expert on this subject. He offered a similar program at the library last year that was very popular.

Lincolnville Center Indoor Flea Market

This month’s Flea Market will be Saturday, September 16, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Community Building, 18 Searsmont Road. Come for the vendors with a wide variety of merchandise, for the homemade goodies including breakfast treats, and for the fun of chatting with friends and neighbors. Contact Mary Schulien, 785-3521 to rent a table. The Flea Market is sponsored by United Christian Church.

Sunday Afternoon Concert

Harborside Harmony, the Midcoast’s women’s barbershop chorus, will be performing at United Christian Church Sunday, September 17 at 4 p.m. The chorus, directed by Kate Howell, has a repertoire that spans 100 years of music. All welcome, reception to follow. The concert is free, though a free will donation is appreciated.

Neighborhood Drama of the Two-timing Cat

So a chance encounter between three neighbors revealed the antics of a certain nearly-tail-less little, feral cat I’d been feeding all winter. Jody Peloquin stopped for a visit the other day when the cat happened to stroll by the window; I told her about the three kittens she’d had in our barn this spring, and how two of them had recently been whisked away by Mama, leaving one behind.

 The next day Jody ran into Kim Murphy who lives across the brook, and Kim told her about the two feral kittens she’d taken in. Soon it was obvious to both that she and I had been feeding the same little rascal all along, though it was me she chose to pay back with her three kittens. When they all showed up at her house a few days ago (minus kitten number three) she managed to trap the first two, and was already busily taming them to domestic life.

 Sadly, a couple of days later, I found the third kitten, the one left behind in my barn loft, dead on the road, apparently hit during the night. Kim hopes to trap Mama and have her fixed so she can have a happy feral life without populating the neighborhood with more kittens.

By the way, she’s named the two kittens Vanessa and Usnavi, two lead characters in CHRHS’ fall musical, “In the Heights”.

Author Marge Olson at Belfast Breeze Inn

Thursday, September 19 at 6 p.m. Lincolnville’s Marge Tapley-Olson, author of Kindred Journeys, will talk about her book and sign copies. Dessert and coffee/tea will follow.

Bob Sewall’s Organic Orchard

Check out the Downeast Magazine article on Sewall Orchard and how Bob grew it from a hayfield: a great story about a Lincolnville institution. It’s almost time for cider-pressing. I just took one of my last bottles out of the freezer, so will be stocking up in a few weeks.