Monday, May 14, 2007

Where have all the flowers gone?

Darkness descended on our contented neighborhood. Ann, affectionately known as Annie, John Gedmin’s wife of 57 years, and somewhat lesser years in other roles: Mark’s mother for 52, Amherst Farmers Supply bookkeeper for 44 and my neighbor for 16, is gone.

No longer will she perch on that seasonally enclosed front porch in her rocking chair and watch the world go by, or shout her unmistakably warm greeting to me as I cycle past returning home after another tour of our Happy Valley.

And at age 81, having lived her entire life in that house, she witnessed so many changes…some good some not so good.

Originally our house in back was the storage barn for the 19’th century Trolley that connected Amherst to Sunderland, Northampton and Holyoke. Currently the brick building is occupied by Amherst’s Department of Public Works. Just after the War (WW11)Ann’s brother converted the barn to a residence. We are only the third family to call it home.

John Gedmin spent his working career as an Amherst Police officer. Between the wake and funeral almost the entire Amherst police department turned out to pay their respects. Former Chief Don Maia and current Chief Charlie Scherpa acted as pallbearers, and as the motorcade crossed the intersection on the Hadley border officers directing traffic stood at attention and snapped off a salute.

Yes, Amherst has grown and changed dramatically since Annie commenced and concluded her life nurtured within those comfortable, safe surroundings--now left so hollow by her departure.

But the lilacs she so loved were in bloom, as their radiant lifecycle continues…