I’m Michael’s Aunt Carole, alias “little old lady.” You’re allowed to call me that name—I EARNED IT!
Out of some 50 nieces and nephews, I got to know Michael better through visits to his farm.
One of these early visits to Michael and Nancy’s farm, was with my 5 older sisters. We so enjoyed our stay. We were ushered to our bedrooms, where we found a bed laden with bib overalls, straw hats, and a red kerchief. We were raised on a farm in Pennsylvania, so we immediately stripped and put on our farm attire. Once downstairs, Michael already had a chart up on the wall, which had the chores we were to do—before dinner. The sisters were all amicable, except me. I had an aversion to work---mainly because none of the sisters or the 4 older brothers believed “Baby Carole” worked on the farm. I forgave Michael for the chores, due to the scrumptious dinner Nancy had prepared for us.
Sometime after the sisters’ visit, Michael’s father died. His mother, Dorothy (my sister), wanted a travel partner to visit Michael and family for a weekend each year. I was thrilled to be invited.
On the first visit to NH, Dorothy and I decided little Gracie should have grandmas, who knew how to entertain children. So, every time we arrived in various costumes, such as FBI agents, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Criminals, and more. I think Michael and Nancy enjoyed us too.
One of the things I enjoyed doing on the farm I was raised on, was to roam the grounds—the creek, play house in a grove of trees, and just enjoy the scenery. At Michael’s place, I also roamed. When Michael saw me, he’d call me to come over. He’d usually explain to me whatever he was working on, or else we’d just chat. I always felt I loved nature on my walks, but Michael helped me understand nature and how grateful we should be to the Earth for all it does for us. I was grateful for his perspective.
One of the things Michael and I have in common is that we both love to write. His writings are on the intellectual side, while mine are about family and farm life, and laughter. We both realized our passion for writing early on in our lives.
On two of these trips to Michael I recall two contests he set up for Dorothy and I, and his family.
One was a pumpkin contest. Michael had a pumpkin for each of us on the picnic table outside. Next to us, were knives, and black pencil markers. I hadn’t carved a pumpkin since I raised my youngsters, but I was willing to try. After several tries to make teeth, they all fell out. Finally, I asked if we could just use magic markers and draw eyes, ears, etc. “No, he said that’s not work!” This man loves work! I don’t remember who won the contest, but I know it wasn’t me.
The other contest Michael said, “Since you churned butter as a kid on the farm, we’re going to see who can make butter. I have a jar filled with cream for all of us. We’ll shake our own jar and see who gets butter first.” I knew I’d win this one. I don’t know how long we actually shook these jars, but at some point, Michael yells, “I think I have butter!” By darn, there was a nice smooth slab of butter in his jar. The more us girls looked at it, we decided he must have taken a slab of butter from the frig earlier, and when we weren’t looking, he put it in his jar. The twerp!
Other times when we visited, Dorothy and I felt Michael wasn’t giving Sassy, the cow, the attention a pregnant cow should have. So, on the next visit, we arrived pregnant and sat with Sassy in the barn until the family came home. Finally, after we were done with our cocktails, the family arrived. On another visit, after Sassy had her baby calf, we came in our best farm dress and aprons, with sunbonnets. I told Michael, we are here to show you how to milk a calf , which I’m good at. We then walked into the pasture and I sat next to the baby calf, ready to milk when Michael said, “Aunt Carole, a calf doesn’t have milk .” I said, “I knew that, I just wanted to see if you knew that.” Hmpf!
All kidding aside, after Dorothy died, Michael still remembered his Aunt Carole. When he had a book-signing down PA way, he’d stop by my place for a visit. Soon after Christmas this year, he wrote a long letter to me. I liked that , even though he had a busy life on the farm, he still had time to think of me and visit me when he could.
Indeed, like my Pop, Michael loved the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. To him, they were the God-given things. To me, Michael was my God-given nephew.
Love and Light to Michael in the heavens, and Love and Light to Nancy and Grace on earth.
And for those reading this, where 3 or more are gathered, say “With pure intention, I envision a land without toxic spraying of the environment, pesticides, etc. and a return to a worldwide human scale of organic gardening. And I envision a return to farming practices in harmony with the land. Thank you God, for Michael being one of your faithful caretakers, while here on Earth. So Be It!