Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stories from Mom: Part 8, Walking and strawberries

By Virginia Williams Kelly

I always loved to walk not for my health but just because I enjoy it so much. Walking is a good time to contemplate on life, mine, yours, ours or someone else’s. It is also a time to plan and dream.

I'm 95 years old now and don't walk as much I did. I always loved to walk thru the Catholic Cemetery and I have one particular grave that I visited often and that is Father Montgomery, our late pastor of St. Michael’s Church and a dear friend. I always stopped to say “hello, and how are you?” telling him what a wonderful day it is and to "take care". That’s all. I don’t know whether that message ever gets to him but it certainly makes me feel better. I continued down to McDonald’s where I met a friend and have coffee with her and then leave to walk home, all together about 3 miles every day and I really enjoyed that time.

Many memories came back to me as I walk. I remember being 7 years old and "skinny" as the relatives all said. It was an extremely beautiful summer day, not a cloud in the sky and the birds and flowers abounded. I decided to take a walk thru the fields in back of my grandfather’s house to the stream, but I didn’t get very far. The field called to me and I plopped right down in the middle of it and lay on my back for what seemed a long time. I can even today feel that sun warming my bones and what a delicious feeling that was. A few clouds finally wended their way across the sky and once in a while a bird flew overhead but I heard not a sound from anywhere else. It was as if I were suspended in time in some nether land. Often now when I get chilled I put myself back to another time and place when that little girl was at peace with the world and ‘oh so warm and happy.’ I can then become as that little girl and once again be ‘oh so warm and happy’.

Small things like seeing the first ripe strawberry in the market in late spring can set off a nice memory. We lived near the old Braddock Trail in Western Maryland, now long gone, but at the end of my Grandfather’s property someone had erected a stone commemorating Braddock’s March. At the time I first found it, the wildflowers and meadow grass were abundant.

One day as I was inspecting it I found the most delicious strawberries at the base of that stone. To my young eyes they were every bit as large as the ones we see in the market today. Of course I know that I like to savor that dream of yesteryear. 

For many years after, I looked forward to a fine feast of strawberries every spring. But as time has a habit of doing, things change, the house my grandfather built and lived in for many years is now occupied by Pullen School at Frostburg State University, and Braddock’s Stone occupies a prominent place at the Frostburg Museum. But I know that no one else has such a good memory of that stone and the land surrounding it.

St. Michael's Cemetery in Frostburg Maryland.
This is my husband's great grandfather's stone.
John Patrick Kelly was born in 1829 in Shannonbridge Ireland and died in 1891 in Eckhart, Maryland.

The photos below are of the old Braddock Stone, now residing at the Frostburg Museum.

You can read previous post of Mom's stories here:

Part 6: Growing up
Part 7: Friends and neighbors, life and death on Center Street

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