With ample reason I have been labeled by family, friends, and congregants a “stick-in-the-mud” for want of a wanderlust. I come by it genetically. My mother said goodbye to her parents in Northern Ireland at the tender age of 9, never saw them again, and thenceforth wept at every parting with her son no matter the shortness of time or distance until the next meeting. My father’s grandfather (so we surmise) left his family at the dock in Cork, Ireland, at age 11 to escape the Potato Famine and begin life anew in Greenwich CT as a farmhand. His children and their children lived out their lives within a few miles of the Connecticut panhandle. Wars and finances prohibited a return to the Emerald Isle. Bobby was born in Stamford and continues to nourish his roots in that far edge of New England Yankeedom.
On the other hand, Barbara’s family sailed the world early and often. Her father’s father and his father were clipper ship captains flourishing in commerce with and to South America. Barbara’s mother began life in Pasadena CA but found her true love in New York City. Travel has been a reflexive need for Bobby’s bride, which may explain the river boat trips and Caribbean cruise they have taken not from his eagerness but Barbara’s.
Our grandchildren are making up for Bobby’s lost time. Above you will see a graphic account of how far and wide they have traveled. Robert Carnes, a junior at Williams College, one of Betsy’s twins, recently returned from Cape Town, South Africa, where he spent a semester at the university, and another week of vacation time working in Thailand on research for an economics professor connected with the program. Jack Mahoney, a junior at the University of Richmond (VA), recently returned from a semester of study in Sydney, Australia, visited the “wild west” Outback, and traveled throughout New Zealand. This past summer Ben Mahoney, Gwen’s youngest son, went with a contingent from St. Paul’s School in Baltimore to Tokyo, Japan, where he burnished his Japanese language skills. He hopes to return for a second visit this June. Meanwhile, Jessica Mahoney, Gwen’s oldest child, returned to the States from a year on a teaching Fulbright from Taiwan to a job at the University of Texas, Austin, in administration in the Political Science Department. She lives with her friend, whom we hope will someday be our grandson-in-law, Isaac Middleman, an English teacher at Regent Prep in Austin. They will spend Christmas with Isaac’s family in Switzerland.
We do have a few stay-at-homes, if not by choice then by reason of career choice or age. Craig, Gwen’s oldest son, who was graduated last May from Connecticut College, is taking some prerequisite courses at a community college to enter a physical therapy certification program in the future. He is also juggling an assortment of part-time jobs: assisting as a tech in a local physical therapy center, working for a caterer now and then, and playing back-up guitar in a rock band. And Henry Carnes, a junior at UCONN, Betsy’s older twin (by a few seconds), applies himself intensely in preparation for the MCAT this summer. He already has his doctor’s stethoscope and argyle sweater.
A little further north, in Shrewsbury MA, are Alanna Curtis, middle school student, and sister Sohani, second grader, Kathy Curtis’s girls. They would travel and surely will travel as they grow older. Now such travel is limited to occasional trips to West Hartford, to Gramma’s house.
That Gramma and Poppy/Pa, now in their eleventh year of retirement, marvel at their good fortune, tracking their peripatetic progeny, attending 60 concerts from September through May, socializing at the exercise center thrice weekly, visiting the “camp” in Vermont in the summer, tutoring an elementary student in Hartford (Barbara), presiding at weddings and funerals (Bob), watching over an electronic congregation (Bob’s website), and enjoying home ownership after fifty years of parsonage living.
And, of course, maintaining a home base for our wandering grandchildren.
The merriest of Christmases to you and yours.