Monday, November 21, 2011

Amelia Obuchowski 1926-2011

Back when CDs and CD players first came out, we got our first player and 3 CDs: the Beatles' Rubber Soul, Greatest Hits by the Who, and Wham! There was one other CD -- a collection of old-time big band numbers called Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

I only recall Herb being played once -- on a late summer afternoon at our camp in North Hero. I was outside on the deck when the music came on and I heard some sort of commotion in the living room. I moved towards the screen door to see what it was: my Uncle John and Aunt Amelia Obuchowski were dancing in the living room. Uncle John had his stern, but happy face on -- sort of like the straight man in a comedy act -- while Aunt Amelia kept looking towards me and grinning like she was having the time of her life.

And rightly so -- there she was on vacation on a beautiful summer day being twirled around by her husband of more than 50 years. We were all having the times of our lives. I will always treasure the memories of the weeks they spent at the Camp -- pretty much every summer. Uncle John came for the fishing; Aunt Amelia came to relax on the deck and to make shopping trips to Burlington. Even though they were on vacation, they never missed the Saturday Catholic mass, which they attended at St Rose of Lima in Keeler Bay.

Uncle John and Aunt Amelia were the kind of relatives everyone should have. In high school I would stay with them during the first weekend of deer season and hunt with Paul. My dad loved talking politics with Amelia until his polar opposite views from hers got her overly worked up -- and then he'd hand her a chocolate bar to help her pulse get back to normal. After her sister (my grandmother) lost her husband, Amelia made it a habit to visit every Sunday for 50 years (see photo of sister Adeline, Amelia second from left, and sisters Grammy Caroline and Jenny on one of these visits). She has three great kids and amazing grandkids, the youngest of whom celebrated their first birthday two weeks ago -- with Amelia in attendance. It was a fun party, and, as usual, she was all smiles.

Aunt Amelia's last three years were difficult. When Uncle John died in 2008, I know that she missed him. Who wouldn't? She lived alone in a big house for all of that time without her partner for life. Amelia wasn't tall but it took tremendous strength for her to get up each morning and face a day without him. Wherever she is now, I know she is with him, and I am proud of the courage she showed these last years.

My Aunt Amelia modeled how to treat others, to enjoy life, and to maintain a positive attitude when the chips are down. It's an example that we will all remember.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Farewell to a Good Friend

I have never been a cat person. But one of the very few cats I ever liked was Scout. Our friendship might have been spurred along in the early going by the fact that he belonged to the cute redhead I was dating. But my relationship with Scout eventually evolved from "having an understanding" to being friends.

We laid Scout McKain to rest this morning in the fields in front of our home. Scout, a white and orange barn cat and the most senior pet in our household, was an indoor cat until he moved to this house in Richmond. From then on, he passed hours in these fields chasing mice -- and entire days gazing across them from windowsills.

All of our pets visited Scouts in his final hours -- something Alison and I were unable to do; Scout passed while we were away on vacation. No doubt the one who will miss him the most is Ali. Ali and Scout were teammates and friends for the last 15 years. They lived together in at least 8 houses in a minimum of 5 towns and 3 states. She grew up with Scout -- another reason he and I became friends. He paved the way for three more pets in our household. He was a top-rate mouser even in his final days.

I have enjoyed hearing about all of Alison and Scout's adventures together, and I will always remember him as a good cat and a great friend.

Thanks for 15 great years, Scout. We will miss you.