Last week my sister-in-law delivered a box from my mom and in it there was a fiftieth anniversary scrap book, my grandparents, Safford and Hester Gilfillan.
Opening the cover, I noticed the date of their marriage, May 16, 1915. Over one hundred years ago they began their life adventure as a married couple. My granddad of Scottish descent and my grandmother, French Canadian.
All those years ago life wasn’t easy for farmers in rural Vermont. Together they built a farm house and barns, had a dozen children, a few who didn’t survive those early childhood years, and my mother, the baby of the family. I don’t remember their special day. I was a little tyke of three, but my brothers and I were there along with a slew of other grandkids ranging in age from me as the youngest to the oldest of twenty.
Flipping through the pages there are notations of the gifts they received, a special plate or cup right down to money, a dollar next to this name, two dollars listed next to another. My dad’s parents signed the guest book along with names I’ve heard, but have no memory of meeting the people. In the last few pages there were two pictures, one of the happy couple with Grandma holding a small tiered cake, the other with their children gathered around Granddad’s chair.
If family records are correct it was the last time my mother, her siblings and parents were all together to share a joyous event. Two short years later my granddad passed away. Several years ago, I told my mom the only memory I had of Granddad was sitting in a wooden chair. My aunt had the chair and gladly passed it down to me. When I sit in the chair, I close my eyes and I can almost remember what it felt like to sit with Granddad, smoke curling from his pipe as he held it with one hand and me with the other.
The pages of the memory book contain something I’ve seen only once before, my grandmother’s handwriting. Reading her notes about the day, I feel more connected to the past and to her. Hester Gilfillan was a force to be reckoned with, and I believe I inherited her strength and fortitude. If she were here today I hope she’d be proud of the woman I’ve become and see a little of herself in me.
Until next time,
I wish you happiness.