Saturday, December 30, 2017

Twice in One Year: Sherburne, New York and Pat Lemery

Pat Lemery, Looking Great at '96
On Thursday, my family received sad news that Grace Runyan, a neighbor to my Grandmother Vera, passed away. My parents didn't want to make the trip, but I told them I would stay another day and drive them if they wanted to go to the calling hours. I knew it was important to them and, to be honest, it's also important to me.

Grace was a kind soul, a wonderful neighbor to my grandparents in Sherburne, and super friendly. My mom still says that she was the saving "Grace" for those days when my grandmother's health started to fail. To this day, every time some one calls for "Grace" at holiday dinners, we chime at the same time,"Grace Runyan."

 It's our way.

Arriving to Sherburne two hours before the calling hours began, we stopped off at what used to be Ozzy's, but is now some diner across the street from where my grandparents used to live. While eating lunch, my father found a phone book so he could call Pat Lemery (yes, I learned, they still make phone books), and Betty Ann, her daughter answered when he called.

Pat Lemery lives two doors from the diner where we ate. Betty Ann, her daughter, lives with her  on weekends to help take care of her. At 96, she's had a few health scares, but Pat is still on her own, feisty, capable and full of humor.

Betty Ann had a cup of coffee with us, then we went over to say hello to Pat, who looked great, despite the fact that she was mad at my parents for not calling her more often (she told us, "But don't you mind my anger. I tell my own kids the same thing, too"). She shared with us her reading machine she gets from the library so she can still listen to books on tape! Her cat also took a liking to me.

It seems like yesterday when we would visit Grandma Vera and Pat, with her 'damn green coat,' my grandfather's words, would stop in to say hello. On these trips, too, Grace would come by to say "hi." In this sense, I can understand my father's apprehension about returning to his family's home town - it's hard to see the depreciation, the aging, the fluidity of time, especially when things go by so quickly, and the fact that yesterday's hellos quickly become today's goodbyes.

I'm glad I stayed another day so I could be the Uber driver for my parents. It's a trip down memory lane to visit where they grew up and to meet the people that were influential to their upbringing. There's few who are left in Sherburne that they know, and I'm sure that it's got to be heavy on the mind and heart.

There will be a day, soon, where such connections to the town will be no more.

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