I’m just back from a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard visiting Dunreith’s former roommate and dear friend Anne Murphy, her husband David Duehren and their three children, Hannah, Andrew and Sarah.
It was a glorious time for many reasons.
In addition to seeing Dunreith for the first time in a couple of weeks-by itself a cause for celebration-the weekend was drenched in exquisitely attentive hospitality from Anne and Dave.
In typically direct, directive and generous fashion, Anne, who hails from a working class Irish family in Springfield, Mass., told us, “You must do what you want.”
So we did.
Hit the beach, rest and body surf in the Atlantic Ocean? Check.
Go on a 15-mile bike ride through breathtaking scenery interspersed with informative conversation with Dave? Check.
Sit on porch and soak in the gorgeous sea view and perfectly cool breeze? Check.
Gorge on a feast of swordfish, lobster, roasted cabbage and purple beans that turned green? Check.
Incredibly stimulating, witty and engaging conversation about parenting, non-profiting, journalisming (I know this isn’t a word), and being, all lubricated by comfortable couches and multiple glasses of red wine? Check.
You get the idea.
In fact, there were many points during the weekend, when we could have easily paraphrased the section of the Passover Haggadah when the phrase, Dayenu, or “it would have been enough,” easily could have applied.
Beyond Anne and Dave’s enchanted home and sparkling hosting of us, the weekend also brought back memories from more than 30 years ago.
Their house is off of Chilmark’s Middle Road on Henry Hough Lane, named for the legendary Vineyard Gazette editor.
Mom and Dad bought a house in 1978 on Little Oak Lane, just one dirt road up on Middle Road.
Early Saturday evening, Dunreith, Aidan and I walked up the dirt on Fulling Mill Hill Road onto the partially paved Little Oak Lane and toward the property Mom and Dad had purchased.
Eventually, we got there, but the house was long gone, the casualty of a tear down and rebuild by the owners who bought it from Dad and Diane in 1998.
The look was so different that I had to check the neighbor’s sign to make sure I was at the right place.
Rather than an elevated house with large glass windows, a shed, a bunch of sand and no garden to speak of, there was a massive garage, a far bigger house with a spiral staircase, a green and immaculately groomed garden and a guest house.
Only the three rocks we had to be careful to avoid while driving, the obstructed view of the ocean and the small drop down wall in the front of the house reminded me of how it had been.
Sometimes updating the childhood memories can be jarring, even disturbing, but somehow, last night, walking there with my wife and son, it was just fine.
So was walking along South Road this morning to get to Beetlebung Corner, with a stop at the Chilmark Community Center along the way.
In contrast with our property, the center was as I remembered it, with tennis courts, a backboard, basketball hoops and softball field on the outside and a tattered wooden house where activities are held and where I saw storyteller Jay O’Callahan deliver one of his fabled tales after the summer of ninth grade.
Refreshed yet feeling the return trip had come much too soon, we shot over to Larsen’s to buy family t-shirts before making the ferry, shuttle bus, Helen’s car, plane, hover rail shuttle, our car trek home.
The air in our house was hot and sticky, and it felt peaceful to return and see Papi again.
Sometimes being in the middle of generations can be covered in the stress of trying to be there for your departing child and aging parent, not feeling particularly successful with either.
This weekend, though, thanks to Anne, Dave, and their clan, felt deep down good, and left all of us aware at the moment that we had shared something special that we will savor in the months and years to come.