It seems as if the trip went by in the blink of an eye.
Fran felt really sick / tired on Saturday. She and I met for breakfast at the Early Bird Cafe/Diner next to St. Patrick’s. I had blueberry pancakes, full of RI blueberries, tart and sweet. Fran and I had a great talk, as usual, and then I walked her home so she could rest on the couch.
A 90-year-old couple had called to ask if someone could bring them lunch. Fran was planning to go, but Helen and I overrode her. Helen was a delight; she kept up a running narrative of who was where doing what.
After we delivered the dinner, I left to go visit Cousin Sophie and Ann Marie. I had lentil soup and coffee and dessert. I really enjoyed the visit, and Sophie invited Jen and me to stay there Sunday.
When I left her house I went down Branch Ave. and took pictures of Hugo’s Barber Shop and Branch Ave. School. Then I realized I couldn’t go by Chatham St. without stopping in.
I recognized the house right away. It had new yellow vinyl siding since I had last seen it and nice new screen doors on the front. I decided not to go to the back because I didn’t want to scare anyone. So I rand both front doorbells. (It was funny — I didn’t remember the stone steps from the street being about 18″ wide. Later, Auntie Olga told me the neighbors had done it!)
After a few minutes without a response, I was getting ready to leave when Auntie Olga came around the corner and asked who I was looking for. I said, “Auntie Olga …” and she got all excited, just like they always do.
So I visited with her and Auntie Gilda (who cried a lot and who looks just like Daddy). Auntie Olga even gave me a picture of Mom and Dad that I had never seen before.
Then I went back to Fran’s, and Helen and I went to Tommy’s Pizzeria on Charleston Avenue to get Grinders (meatball). After we ate, we talked for a little while and looked at pictures from the day before and then I went back to the rectory and got to bed early.
I felt great! Loved and peaceful and very much at home.
I barely recognized the streets at first, and everything was smaller than I remembered, streets, buildings, even the Capitol. But I knew the names and, even though a lot of buildings and businesses had changed, I kept spotting things I recognized and that felt great. I actually made my way around pretty well.
I still can’t believe I got to see Fran and have Jen and David there!
It was great to see Carol Mary again, too. She is really a terrific lady and unbearably beautiful at 66! I also met Rayleen Gianatti and loved her at once. She’s a perfect fit for the House of Faith. I hope I helped her to see how beautiful she is.
Sunday I went to church at St. Pat’s. I don’t really like the design they used in the old school hall, but it still felt great to be there. I only saw a few people I knew. Charlie & Pat Andrade, Ray McMahon, Patty.
Later, I had time to myself so I went to visit with Mary Pires. It was great! I just walked up to the front door and she recognized me right away. Joe was upstairs sleeping, but Mary and I talked as if it hadn’t been twenty years.
Then I went and drove around Warwick. I visited Wyman Elementary and the funeral parlor and Lakeside Avenue. Auntie Vi has moved away and our old house looks awful!
And, again, everything looks smaller. I can’t believe I sat on those broken steps and looked out over that tiny lawn and contemplated life and the universe. The mailbox Daddy nailed near the front door was still there, but so little else remained …
That night I drove to Portsmouth to pick up Jen, and I got to see David again! It was weird being in Bill and Debbie’s house on their wedding night. And my heart broke [redacted] (but that’s for another time).
It was so great just to be with David again.
And my beautiful, wonderful Jen and I went back to the rectory to spend the night.
Monday was a dream day with Jen. We had breakfast at the Early Bird and then headed for Warwick. I took her to the four schools I attended there, to Lakeside Avenue, and even inside Trainor’s Funeral Parlor. We just walked up the front stairs, and I asked if I could show the house to my daughter because I had lived there. We even were allowed upstairs — there were coffins in my bedroom!
At Pilgrim High, when I asked if we could look around, one of the women working there asked if Jen was going to be a student next year. We had a lot of laughs about that one! Even as a transferring senior, she would be 10 years too old.
We even went down Tidewater Drive to Grove Ave. and saw the two houses I had lived in. We drove by Greene elementary and then went to Conimicut Point and sat on the beach eating frozen lemonade. Talk about a long walk down memory lane!
After that, we went back up West Shore Road to Hoxie Four Corners. There’s still a Dunkin’ Donuts there in the same building! We went looking for antiques at the Gateway Plaza, and I had been there for quite a while before I realized what it was. My doctor when I was a teenager had his office on the second floor there.
Speaking of which, Dr. Silverman’s building is still there and Newport Creamery and the brown and tan house on the corner of Warwick Avenue and Narragansett Parkway.
We had lunch at the Atwood Grill near the airport (which I totally didn’t recognize — except the old buildings on Airport Road). Then we went to their house for dessert and after that to Keith’s. All was great fun! It was a great day.
We spent that night at Cousin Sophie’s and left from there Tuesday morning. I got really dizzy at our first stop, but Jen let me sleep a while and, by the time we got to New York City, I was much better.
We stopped to see Tara and got to see the World Trade Center at ground level. More about that later.
The rest of the trip home was great. We only hit rain when we were almost home.
What a gift Jen gave me! What a delight to be with her! And how nice to remember the person I used to be …
Kathleen A. Gagne