My gram never talked about her parents, never mentioned Rosa or Henry Blair or their parents. She was a tight-lipped, practical Vermonter who didn’t need to indulge in the past. They were all gone, weren’t they? What mattered to her was the present and the taking care of the living. I suppose that came from losing her brother, Freddie, when she was but seven and burying her last baby, Wilfred Ferry. I’m not sure that my dad even knew he had a younger brother, one that didn’t live past a day.
Another Freddie that wasn’t to be in my family.
The Blairs came down through Canada and spoke French. Even now, with all those years gone and my dad a tried-and-true Vermonter, he still slips into French with ease. Tudes, one brother calls me. “la tudesante” my dad says with a wink.
I plied my Aunt Lilah about Rosa before the Alzheimer’s took her memory. What was she like? I asked, knowing I was treading in unfamiliar water.
Lilah waited a breath before responding. Tiny. A hundred pounds soaking wet and she smoked nine-inch white owl cigars.
More, I begged, as if that wasn’t enough of a visual to sum Rosa up in one sentence.
She lived next door to Mother, Lilah continued, and died before her time. Barely in her sixties I believe.
That’s all I got from Lilah before she changed the subject. Don’t know why they didn’t want to talk of the family or why it would seem so taboo. Guess it was more about the poverty and how hard their lives were, living in rural Vermont. I’m determined to collect and share all I have so that on the off-chance my children are curious to know of their Vermont heritage, I can tell them…
Rosa Blair smoked 9″ White Owl Cigars and lived next to your great-grandmother…
I’d like to invite you to explore another blog where I reflect on my family’s life in rural Vermont in the form of a letter to my Great-Gran, Rosa Blair. You can find it at: http://letterstorosa.wordpress.com