You’ll recall that I’m writing about our time in New England. I had just gotten us to Linda’s house on Revere Beach, in what is technically known as the Point Of Pines.
She greeted us at the door, which was at the top of a set of stairs at the front of a small, wooden house. She rents the bottom section of the home from the landlord, a lady who lives on the second floor.
Linda’s been there for several years now. When I first knew her, she and her remarkable husband Ken had a house not far from Tufts. Then, they downsized extensively and moved to a much smaller condo in a converted factory--very chic and very trendy, and very expensive. After a bit, they decided to rent instead of own, and Ken found this place. They moved in and Linda’s been there ever since.
Unfortunately, Ken died soon after that. This was not, alas, a surprise. He had congenital heart disease--a family characteristic--and he knew it was only a matter of time. But, he fought the good fight and was known far and wide for his intelligence, his charm, and for his morality. He coached lots of little league sports, and worked with young people everywhere. When he passed on, his funeral was attended by scores and scores of individuals whom he had mentored or advised over the years. “We had absolutely no idea,” Linda told us later, “how many of them there were.” How many people, that is, owed so much to Ken.
It struck me, when she said that, what an astonishing legacy the man had. Dozens, maybe hundreds of young men and women profited from his wisdom. And, probably, many, many more other people...children, adolescents, adults...who were in turn counseled by those he had mentored, also benefitted. There may be thousands of folks out there in the world whose lives were made better because of Ken.
I can honestly say, I envy him.
About the photos: Two today, and both actually have something to do with the story. These are both photos I snapped with we were on the beach at Point of Pines, one just after we arrived and another at sunset. You can see why Linda likes this area a great deal.
Anyway, getting back to Linda. She and Martha go back a long time. Both taught at the Department of Education at Tufts until Martha’s retirement. I know that Linda flirts with the idea of retiring now and and then. But, inevitably, she changes her mind. Just one more year. And then another after that.
Which, for all of us, and for the teaching profession in particular, is a good thing. She is, like Martha, a genius at that particular art. Her students go out to become great teachers, and they impact the world in amazing ways.
Still, I wonder. As I said before, teachers have never been particularly valued in our society. And Departments of Education are increasingly less respected. That has to be hard on her. Meanwhile, she also has two sons, each of whom have crafted remarkable careers and have remarkable families. Linda has, in other words, beautiful grandchildren. She frequently cares for them when their parents are at work.
My guess is that she feels a certain temptation to just let teaching go. And, well, it would be hard to blame her if she did.
Anyway, she met us, and I dragged the bags up the steps into the house. There were several little squeaks, pings, and clanking noises as my back informed me it still wasn’t all that pleased with that stunt of getting my wife up and standing after that fall in Rhode Island. Still, it was kindly. It didn’t pop out like a clutch on a semi on a bad hill in a no engine break zone. It just almost did. Say, not entirely. Just three quarters. Much Grass for small favs.
We got settled. It was still light, so Linda invited us to go for a walk along the beach. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance and off we went. She led us down her street, then up a wooden stair that linked the neighborhood to the beach, and we were there.
We walked down the sands, going south. The waves came in and broke on the shore, giving everything a lovely white noise soundtrack. A few families were still about, playing or splashing or whatever. I looked out over the water, through a gentle haze and the imminent dusk, and saw some large piece of land in the distance. I asked what it was. “Oh, that’s Nahant,” Linda said. I was startled. So it was. We had just been there. But I had no idea where the island...I mean, peninsula...was in relation to everything else.
We continued. Martha and Linda went ahead, talking rapidly and about everything...in the way that two close friends will when they are reunited after a long absence. I let myself drift somewhat behind.
And as we walked, I realized that I’d been to Revere Beach before, but never here...never to Point of Pines...never to this exact spot.
Though I was a stranger.
I had missed it terribly.
More to come.
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