Death has often changed my life. Looking back on my father’s mother, Grammie Abbott, I remember that she had several qualities of my own mother Ruth. She was dedicated to her husband; she had a pleasant personality; and she loved her children and grandchildren but was not able to express that love well. I remember that Grammie Abbott always hugged me for just a moment longer than Grandma Morse. She also offered me candy, as opposed to the homemade cookies on the Morse farm. I don’t know that I like one more than the other, but store bought candy was a treat.
Grammie Abbott had a difficult life. Her husband Chase Sharrow died at the age of 50, leaving her to raise her youngest children on her own. Darwin, my father, was a teen when his father Chase passed. Darwin and his younger brother Sceva still lived at home at that time. Darwin’s widowed mother dated a couple of Northern Vermont’s most eligible bachelors in search of a new husband. Mike Montgomery was a strong suitor who impressed my father. However, his mother chose to marry Royal Abbott, who Darwin did not approve of as a suitor. Darwin believed that Royal was physically abusive to his mother. Their marriage created a schism between my father and grandmother.
Mike Montgomery and Darwin continued a relationship long after his mother married Royal. As an aging bachelor, Mike visited our family when we moved to Massachusetts and several times again in Maine. It is with some trepidation that I continue to feel that Mike may have been a pedophile. Modern psychologists might suggest I feel this way since I had to move out of my room and give up my bed whenever Mike stayed with the family. I have no direct memory of either my sisters or me being abused. Regardless of whether or not sexual perversion was a motivation for Mike, in the 1970s it was odd for a single, older male to continue a relationship with the son of woman he once courted. Even if it was acceptable, as a young child I was uncomfortable in Mike’s presence.
Cappy was an American cocker spaniel who lived with Grammie and Grandpa Abbott in Northfield, Vermont. I remember that Cappy seemed poorly behaved. He would bark and race around the house whenever we arrived for a visit. Within the first few minutes of our visits, Cappy would be shut in a room away from people. Unfortunately, Darwin’s hatred of his stepfather led to very…