It all started with my Grandfather’s rock collection… OK, well maybe more than that, but that seems as good a place to start as any. You see, my Grandfather loved the land. My 5 foot nothing American born gardening loving Italian Grandfather always dreamed of selling off his few acres on a now busy corner in Scarborough, Maine and buying a rural piece of land complete with stream, on which he would move his wife, two adult sons who lived with them and their caretaker, my mother and her three youngest daughters. He loved being outside in his garden, touching the earth, working it. He loved taking his left handed golf clubs and going out to “practice” on the front lawn. He loved being active and outside. This is where the rocks come in…remember the rocks? I have many memories of spending time outside with him while we both looked over his collection of pretty rocks. I like to think that it was during these times that he saw in me a similar love of all things nature because he later gifted me these rocks, I believe as a way to keep my focus on the dream.
He instilled this love of land in my Mother as well. She talked of opening a shop called J and J’s (Jerry and JoAnne’s) where she would sell various different things they would make themselves (on the land once they got it). As important as the land itself was to them, the main goal was to have a place for any relatives that felt called to be there. Have you ever been to a family gathering of an Italian family? We aren’t talking about just a couple of people here! For example, my Grandparents had 10 children…. just themselves. That’s not to mention the clans that sprung up from Grandpa’s three siblings! The offspring and their offspring from the two American born and two Italy born siblings numbered easily into the hundreds. So when Grandpa talked about having space for relatives to visit or stay for however long, he meant he needed LOTS of space. I have fond memories of get-togethers where the grown-ups stayed up into the wee hours playing poker for pennies while us kids had a slumber party. Falling asleep dreaming about the day we would be old enough to join in the games. I used to love to tell stories and jokes to the older generations at these parties. Their boisterous belly laughs and happy smiles was the outcome I was looking for for my silliness.
Back to the rocks… Years after I had inherited the collection of Grandpa’s favorite rocks, but before they could make any real steps toward finding ‘Grandpa’s land”, he took sick and passed away. I grew up and moved about twenty minutes away and started a family of my own on beautiful land belonging to my husband’s family. Grandpa’s rocks went with me. My Mother and one of her brother’s sold Grandpa’s land and moved to a house in town Westbrook. While this was far from the land in Grandpa’s dream, it was a home for several of the family members for the next almost twenty years.
By then my Uncle had passed away and my mother was looking to make the dream come true. She wanted a house and land where her daughters (and others) could spend time and where Grandpa’s spirit would feel at home. Sadly, our first attempt at this ended after only a few years. She had sold the house in Westbrook and invested in a larger house with 6 acres in Casco. Even with the sizable down-payment she gave, the mortgage turned out to be more that we could all handle and the place was foreclosed on. We all scattered to other locations after that. I apologized to my Mother and Grandpa for failing, but also promised that I would make it happen in the future. I was now more determined than ever to find a piece of land and build a home that Grandpa would be proud of. (Many of the rocks were still with me. A few being left at each place I lived while other new ones were added.)
Fast forward to now. I live on a beautiful piece of land that I am renting to own in Central Maine in a town called East Madison. We have 11 acres (lots of water nearby, though no stream on the property) and a mobile we are fixing up. By summer’s end it is my plan to break ground on a rustic, natural home that would make Grandpa proud. As he wanted, we will build cabins to that there will always be a place there for any relatives (biological or not) who want to come. To this end, we call this place Seeker’s Haven to represent its open doors. Grandpa’s spirit can rest well here (as can the rocks, lots of them now bordering garden patches).