I hoped this day would come. That I would know where you and Henry rested, where I could go and pay my respects, maybe introduce myself and let you know that you are remembered. I found you yesterday, buried in a little cemetery in Duxbury, Vermont.
There’s only one left who actually met you. My dad, your grandson, Henry. He was just a kid when you died, but he still remembers his Grammy Blaine. And so, I’ll paint a picture of that day and let the words flow…
October 16, 1944
It would be Mary’s time of grief, of letting go and so Henry would see to the burial. Rosa, his wife of over fifty years, had finally lost to the silent disease that had racked her body, left her bed-ridden and in pain.
He opened his arms and Mary crawled inside. So tiny, just as his Rosa, he thought and felt her trying to hold back her sorrow so she could continue on with the day ahead. She had five sons still fighting in the Great War. All would need her care and comfort when they returned home. She would have to be strong for them.
“Where?” She sniffed into his sleeve.
“She’ll rest with Freddie.”
It was Rosa’s final request and one Henry agreed to without hesitation. A mother should be with her child and so he’d purchased a plot in the little cemetery where they’d buried their son, Freddie, over thirty years ago.
“I’ll be there one day, too, Mary,” he pulled back to search her face. “You’ll see to that?”
She nodded. “As you should, Papa.”
“I’m sorry that she won’t be here with you, in Northfield.”
“She needs to be with Freddie. He shouldn’t be alone.”
Mary wiped her eyes and pulled away. He knew the day she faced, the grief she’d have to hide in order to cook and prepare for family that continued to arrive with the word of Rosa’s death. The Boivans, the Blains, there were too many to count and more would only come throughout the week to pay their final respects.
And the daughter-in-laws, the ones with babies – her grandbabies- they would need her strength to get through the calamity of war. They would need to see her face death with compassion and grace.
There’s just too much weight for those tiny shoulders…
Henry watched Mary leave the room and fought back a flood of grief. Not yet, not till this is over and I can be alone. This pain was for him and no one else to see. Soon, he knew, and not too far in the future, he would take his place beside his wife and son and they would be a family once again.
In death, he could give little Freddie what he could not do in life: he could give him forever.
Henry and Rosa Blaine are buried in a tiny cemetery next to their beloved child, Freddie Blaine.