Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cape Cod - Harwich



Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.                -- Robert Frost

My dad was the second of nine children, and my family on that side lives on Cape Cod, in Harwich.  As you can imagine, I have a ton of cousins.  Aunt Lulu, my dad's sister, figured out that between my mom's side of the family (she was seven of ten) and my dad's family, I have nearly 100 first cousins.  And i can probably name them all, if you give me time.

Lulu moved to the Cape with her new husband, Ed, in the late fifties, and raised her family there.  My cousins are respected members of the community, as their parents are.

Ed Blute passed away at the beginning of June, following a long illness. Lulu and Mary, his daughter, were with him when he died, and his sons had all seen him or talked to him before he died.

My uncle Ed was one of the nicest men i have ever known.  He brought light into every situation, a very useful skill since he was a funeral director.  Ed loved everyone.  Everyone.  When confronted by someone who was unlovable to most people, Ed would say kindly, "Aw, he needs prayers."

Ed was a really good sport his entire life.  When Ed came to his future in-laws' house for his first Thanksgiving dinner, Lulu's brothers and brothers-in-law introduced him to a Balint family turkey day tradition, hot goose grease and whiskey.  I gag when i think of it, but Ed was intrepid.  The brothers kept plying him with the concoction and he kept drinking it.  Everyone got smashed and probably felt like dirt the next morning, but Ed had been initiated into the family.

Think about what kind of job it is to bury people's dead.  Many people would become very dour doing this day after day.  Not Ed.  Ed was exactly the kind of man you wanted sitting next to you as you described your father or husband or son. He was, as his son John said, "a gentle giant."  He wasn't afraid of tears or emotion. On many occasions during my life i have had to really into him and sob, and i felt as secure as if i were crying into a massive redwood, except i felt much more loved.  He knew how to take care of people, including his family, and that is one of the many legacies he passed to his progeny.

Not to take anything away from my dad, but in many ways, he and Ed were exact opposites. Ed was careful and conservative, especially when it came to money and real estate.  My dad was impulsive and reckless.  In the end, my dad lived the way he wanted to, in luxury, but alone.

Driving around the Harwich this past week was a revelation for me.  Ed's children, and even some nieces and nephews, are financially secure because of Ed's cautious fiscal approach.  When one of Ed's nephews was having difficulty finding a place for his wedding reception, Ed quietly joined a local yacht club so the party could be held there.  When the kids were young, the family took road trips far away from Cape Cod, and even after retirement, he and Lulu took amazing road trips, even one to Alaska, in their RV.

One of the nice things about this past week in Harwich was spending time with Ed's sons and grandchildren, who all share his sweet nature.  Tommy, his third son, and John, his fourth, are both in the funeral business, and have Ed's caring disposition.  They're married to terrific women, both named Jodie, and my heart was warmed watching their children.  Ed's children are all incredibly hard workers who learned by example that good luck takes diligence.

Zachary is Tommy's oldest son and is, himself, a gentle, genial giant like his grandfather.  When he laughs, it's as though his grandfather is sitting there.  We all laughed a lot this past week, thinking about Ed, because that is the kind of guy he was.  John told a funny story about how Ed would call on the morning of a golf tournament to find out what he was wearing.  "I'm wearing my navy blue shirt, such and such a belt, and cranberry shorts," John said.

"Ok ok," Ed responded. "I'm going to wear my navy blue shirt, such and such a belt, and cranberry shorts."

He loved a crisp uniform and that's why there are so many photos of the Blute men dressed alike.

Ed had so much integrity and grace that we came up with a life guiding question this past week. WWUED? What would Uncle Ed do? Do what he did the way that he did and life is beautiful.

It was a great week with my family.  They nourished me and took care of me.  I was not allowed to pick up a check.  Since i missed the reunion that was held in November, due to depression and malaise, it felt so good to reconnect with everyone.

My cousin John, and his wife, Jodie, took me out on their boat with their daughters, Maura and Charlotte, who are both intelligent, strong, and beautiful. My cousin Ed came down from Plymouth twice.  Tommy's youngest son, Nick, made us delicious lemonade made with his own simple syrup, and served it to us by the pool.

I got to see my cousin Billy's daughter, Catie, sing with her band in Dennis on Sunday night.  Bill's wife, Leslie, and I went to a yoga class taught by Tommy's daughter, Jessica, on Tuesday. I stopped in Norwell and got to see my cousin, Tom Flynn, and his wife, Joyce.   Lulu had my aunts over to her new condo on Monday night for dinner.  Aunt Marge asked if I was going to blog about it, and i said, "Of course. This dinner is its own post."

Lulu wanted to make sure there was no cursing on my blog, so there won't be.  I was thrilled to see that all of my aunts have I-Phones and I-Pads.  They text.  Mind blown.

No one really takes Robert Frost's words seriously anymore, but my relatives did, and so I left Harwich feeling loved and grounded, thanks to my Cape Cod family.

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