In early 2008 my stepfather died, and toward the end of that year my mother became gravely ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome. I, my mother’s only child, left my husband and toddler son and flew to Connecticut for two weeks to take care of mom’s affairs as she languished in the hospital in a state of delirium.
Although the visit was difficult, I felt so comforted by the my step-father’s family, with whom I stayed. Each morning I went to the hospital and then spent the day my mother’s house to dig through papers, manage her bills, and prepare her home for what was certain to be a lengthy absence. My days were very solitary and quiet as I went about my tasks. Driving from town to town handling business gave me a chance to reflect upon the scenery in a way that I had not in my typical visits home. At the end of two weeks I had no choice but to entrust my mother to the care of her doctors and return home to take care of my family and return to my job.
That was my last lengthy visit back to Connecticut, aside from the three days I spent six months later picking up my mother and packing her house for her move to Florida.
Florida has been my home for years, but today, I sorely miss Connecticut. I long for it. I wish to go to my home state and grieve amongst my people. But I know that there is nothing I can do, except to pray, and I must do that from here. But today, my heart is in Connecticut.
Below is a blog that I posted on a different forum four years ago, following my trip to Connecticut. I wanted to bring you a very different Connecticut than that which has been thrust into the national spotlight.
1. Grumpy people
2. Lousy roads
3. Asshole drivers
4. Slush in my shoes
These things I hate about Connecticut.
But in spite of these things I maintain a love and a longing in my heart for my home state, the place that shaped and molded me, and therefore understands me.
It has become the obvious cliche in the South to characterize Northerners in general, and New Englanders in particular, as rude. On the surface it would seem so, but below that crust you will find warmth and generosity. Is it a possibility that New Englanders are not rude but deeply private?
For what I miss the most about Connecticut would be its people, stalwart and practical, imperious and aristocratic. It is a character that is impossible to fully encapsulate in mere words, or to fully understand without personally enduring long, bleak winters, short days, and heart-stopping gas bills, only to watch those last dirty deposits of frozen slush and icicles thaw and melt in March, and violets spring up along the roadsides.
To grow up going to school in buildings that approach 100 years old will either make a child long for contemporary and stylish surroundings, or feel a flutter in her heart as she ponders the history of a structure.
Here’s a structure to ponder…
The hospital where my mother has been the past few months.
Here are a few more shots…
Note the stone urns on the ledge.
Here’s one of the little balconies that grace a few of the windows:
And here’s a final shot of the other end of the hospital…
Another thing I miss about Connecticut is the religious imagery that seems to be everywhere…
This Saint Francis is in the rock beside my mom’s church.
This is my mom’s church:
Want a better shot?
There’s another one down the street with a genuine Tiffany stained glass window.
One more, of the steeple:
I’d say that in Connecticut about 70% of the homes are 80 years old or more. You see lots of houses like this one:
You also get to see lots of old stone walls, and little buildings like this one – an old pump house, I think…
One last thing I miss about Connecticut…grinders at the neighborhood pizzeria.
We don’t have neighborhood pizzerias in the South. In the South we have Bubba’s Oyster Shack. Not that there’s anything wrong with Bubba’s Oyster Shack. It’s just that sometimes I want Salvatore’s Pizza & Grinders.
I live in Pensacola, Florida. It’s home, and I love it. But a piece of my heart will always be in Connecticut. My heart breaks for the day when it is no longer plausible or necessary for me to return there. It’s already happening.