My father, Horace, told me, “It was one of those drizzling foggy mornings when Grandfather started on his exploratory trip. It was very late August, 1810. The entire family remembers that day. They all wondered if they would ever see Grandfather again”.
Aunt Hester interrupted my father’s description to add her own thoughts.
“Grandmother Abashaby stood stoically in the path leading from the small cabin. Drops of rain gathered on her face. Her outward manner did not betray the empty feeling that gripped her chest and made her want to cry out in anguish. Even with her face frozen to hide the pain she was pretty. Her long curly blond hair fell just below her shoulders. Her beauty had held all those years and it would continue to hold until her sixtieth birthday.”
Aunt Hester continued.
“I stood beside Mother Abashaby while on the other side Aunt Deborah, Aunt Rachel and Aunt Abashaby all hung on to each other; and to Mother’s leg; all in one bundle of humanity. Aunt Fanny, was the second eldest daughter. She stood slightly behind and to the left of Mother Abashaby with the remaining two aunts, Eliza and Polly, holding her hand. Uncle Henry held on to the bridle of Grandfather’s horse while Grandfather adjusted himself and his packs astride. Uncle Horace whose stamina and demeanor were never strong, stood off to the side in wonderment.”
My father, Horace, never could grasp the concept of foresight. He thought that Grandfather’s trip was simply a lark. However, even Uncle Henry remembered that day. “Your grandfather”, Uncle Henry often told me in later years, “sat astride that horse with the confidence of a soldier going into battle. His huge frame was topped with muscular shoulders. Of course all you could see was his face and huge gnarled hands sticking out from under his ‘waxed’ outer cloak Mother Abashaby had made it for him. The cloak was woven from beaten, curried and hand spun flax stems; and then a thin coat of bee’s wax was rubbed into it for water proofing.”
“It was very quiet around the cabin after your grandfather had departed” continued Uncle Henry with his side of the story. “Your grandmother moved things around her kitchen without really doing anything productive. Her mind was numb and she purposefully avoided any thoughts about your grandfather. She understood the predicament with the unproductive farm and all those children to feed. Aunt Hester, likewise, was committing unnecessary work around the other parts of the cabin. The remaining aunts stood under the small roof of the manger to avoid the rain. They all stared furtively in the direction that your grandfather had departed. They half expected him to ride back into the corral and shout in that booming voice ‘Back into the house with you young ladies’ but he was not to be seen. I was the last person to see him on this departure. I had climbed way up, into the giant white pine tree, and peered out, westward, between the branches.”