By Leila Philip
One woman's trip to discover her family's historical past and comprehend the binds that bind us to a specific place..
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Additional info for A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Excelsior Editions)
Under the table my ﬁngers clench and I tell him that I had better get myself ready to leave. All I want right then is just to get in my car and drive away. ] 30 “Dad, I’m really glad you’re coming down. There’s a whole emphysema institute now doing research, new ideas about treatment—” “Well, I hope so. ” “You will. ” “Okay, I’ll be here, just call when you’re free . . ” We will never meet. A half hour after he puts down the phone, while my mother is helping him get ready to leave, my father will lean down to reach for his boots and his heart will constrict, once, maybe twice, and then stop.
Where the family gathered again in the Oak Hill Cemetery to place them in the Van Ness family mausoleum there. For most of the way, I had sat in the backseat next to the little brass box with my father’s ashes inside. It was unbelievably odd to be sitting there amid tree wire and loose tree tags, things that only recently my father had tossed into the back. If I reached my hand out, I could touch the blue velvet bag that held the brass box engraved with my father’s initials, JVNP. When we stopped for coffee in Maryland, I was worried because the doors to the car didn’t lock properly and I thought someone might try to steal the box, thinking it was gold.
Mom just didn’t have time,” I say quickly, hoping to head off my parents’ age-old ﬁght over two different styles of bookkeeping. “That’s no excuse,” he says. In a way he is right, but as usual he is also forgetting about all the demands on my mother, most notably the fact that he is now disabled. I knew that she had hurried off to get groceries while I was there because she does not want to leave my father alone. We resume sorting. When the table is covered with faded green faces—Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln, Jefferson— we begin the count.