A cousin Shirley Benn called and announced it is time to sell the New Limerick Maine home.
Two extra hours of family history included. The catch up like a reunion during the property listing process. The cousin a decade older. Shared quite a bit of missing family history pieces because I was too young to remember all the events. Just a little grasshopper. And both parents are gone now to do a shout out for answers. Then two days later, on the other side of the DNA tree, it is another family reunion of sorts. Despite being a funeral to cause it. Make the most of whatever the day presents. Live in the season. Enjoy the surroundings. Listen, watch and learn. Be grateful. See the sermon in whatever unfolds works for me living in a small Maine town.
The funeral is hard to feel sad for very long when you consider the guy who died was always smiling.
He had a work ethic sorting, stacking, displaying fruit and produce for years at the local Maine grocery. Everyone knew him, liked him and will miss him. And you can hear Bob saying “Hey hey hey. What’s with all the long faces, corners of the mouth turned down to the floor people? Lighten it up.” Then flashing a trademark grin. And we did lighten up. Thanks Bob. As the room lifted high one frosty Miller Lite for Bobby that was ice cold, ready, waiting to toast. To share stories. Then sit down to an amazing spread of food prepared by the Houlton Lodge of Elks for a departed brother.
Between the grocery customers in a small Maine town, the fact his wife has worked in a school system for a long time, there was a full funeral home. Her entire school where she and the daughter work let out early. So teachers, students could attend the funeral. The neighborhood around their Maine home is tight and it too showed up in force. The deceased was an active softball player, a bowler and past officer at the local Lodge of Elks.
Add up all those circles in a small Maine town and you have one powerful connection, network. And it pretty much sums up everyone who lives there because of his great passion, involvement in community affairs. Everyone knew Bob Fournier, not just his name, not just casually. How you knew him depended on where you came into the story. His life. He made a lasting impression no matter which on ramp you met up on to work together. To get to know him better. To enjoy the one of a kind 1000 watt smile.
He was an identical twin, his wife split from one egg too.
We left the sunset grave side service. Parked back in town. Were walking into the Lodge of Elks, when his wife’s twin, his look a like sister in law commented how tight this small Maine town is. Everyone turns out when you need support. All pitch in for a volunteer event. Weddings, funerals and the in between.
The individual PEOPLE are the small Maine town stars for sure.
Not just the places, addresses, buildings. The kids, cousins, aunts, uncles and other in-laws, outlaws were all there. To hear the stories. To add their own. To begin the process of recovery from a big loss. A community gaping hole. Someone that will be missed dearly. Because of that smile. He was a part of so many lives. And small towns in Maine are incredibly involved. The population lives so intertwined, overlapped. Less people for sure, but way way closer, intimate, woven.
His son shared that his Dad loved to go to the woods camp. But he was no hunter. Harder on maples, birches, ash and beech stands. Wasting ammo hitting trees. No marksman or deer slayer. There for the comradery, the card games, the stories and big feeds around a wood stove. Hunched over a cribbage board. Talking, laughing about the one that got away. An orphan after his twin brother died much too young. Absorbed, swallowed, taken in by a large surrogate family. Where the signal beamed strongly both ways. Like flesh and blood.
Camp life a ritual for a sacred week.
As everyone grows a year older. His daughter admitted what everyone already knew. She is a Daddy’s girl, could do no wrong growing up. Was spoiled and her brother agreed. In the follow up good bye summation. She was indeed the apple of Dad’s eye. Both son and daughter strong, clear voiced. Unwavering on their feet, smiling. As they had to quickly come up to speed for the out of the blue unexpected loss. That sucker punches. That none of us is truly prepared for when it happens right on schedule. With casual speed.
But with the love and support of the family, the neighbors, the employees of both parents, the teachers, neighbors in the community, they knew their role.
To assure everyone in the room that they are okay because they had the best Dad. And life would go on, and let’s rally around Mom to help get through the next few difficult months. Small Maine towns, where the village raises your kids. And there is nothing stronger for a community connection through the thick and thin. The good, bad and the ugly.