Forty years ago this month, my mom set out for an appointment in the family Ford Maverick. She was running late, and put on the gas to make up time.
It didn’t work out.
Just the way it happens in driver’s-ed movies, my mom’s haste got her into a nasty accident. The car was totaled, and she got banged up pretty badly — broken ribs, bruises, that kind of thing.
Nothing life-threatening, but bad enough that she couldn’t hold her adorable almost-three-month-old son for a little while, which I’m sure seemed like a fate worse than death.
With time, my mom got over her injuries. And ever since, she’s been careful not to try to make up time on the road — a lesson she’s also tried to pass along to her kids. (One of ’em listened, more or less, usually.)
As you might imagine, my mom’s injuries immediately drew my grandparents into action. My dad had to go to work, after all. And even if he’d taken time off, he’d have been challenged to care for a two-year-old and an infant, not to mention his injured wife.
(It is an accepted part of family lore that my dad never changed a diaper, and apparently he wiggled through my mom’s downtime without breaking that streak. Well played, Seventies Dad.)
The arrival of the family cavalry made for some unusual and even touching entries on my grandpa’s calendars.
Corine (it was family habit to spell it “Koreen”) was my paternal grandma — the wife of the guy who kept the calendars — while Tom was my maternal grandfather.
They weren’t common travel partners, at least not without their significant others in tow.
But Corine couldn’t drive. Someone had to take her to Penfield, and I think my other grandma was already there.
So, Koreen and Tom set out on what must have been an interesting (and long) car trip.
(If you look at the entry for Sept. 29 close up, you can see the word “PENFIELD?” erased. I guess the Stamfordians must have been making their mutual assistance plans from day to day.)
Two days later, we find a poignant calendar entry:
My grandparents were close throughout their married life, and I cannot imagine there were too many times over their nearly 60 years of marriage when they went to bed in different states.
I wonder what that phone call was like, and whether my grandfather let any tenderness show, or whether he kept a stiff upper lip.
They remained separated for a full week (including another phone call), until my grandpa and great-grandma made their way to Penfield to supplement the war effort.
I didn’t take a pic of the rest of the calendar, so I don’t know how long everyone stayed. I see weather on the calendar the following week, which suggests my grandpa was back in Stamford by then.
Eventually, life got back to normal for the Blumenau family — thanks to the sacrifices of some branches.