The summer after Mama died, my husband and I and my sister and her husband decided to use the money she left to us and visit Prince Edward Island, where she was born, and to spend some time in Maine, where she had grown up. We had visited our family in Maine before, but had never been to Prince Edward Island to see the homestead there or the family members still living there.
Mama was a descendant of one of the first French families to settle in P.E.I. Everywhere we drove on the beautiful island, with its soft rolling hills dotted with grazing sheep, we saw little markets, landmarks and streets labeled with Mama’s maiden name. Popping into one of those markets, we told the owner about our Mama being born on the island and asked about her possible relationship to the owner of the little store. Being a descendant of the family, we were immediately dubbed islanders and told that our part of the family was from the other end of the island. Sure enough, he was right.
We had come to the island, never having met any of the relatives that still lived there. Our older sister had visited there previously and had given us a name and phone number of a family member to contact. After we checked into the little hotel on “our end” of the island, we phoned her and she and her husband gladly escorted us around the island. We visited the little Acadian museum with all of the genealogical records of our family. We visited the homestead that our great grandfather had built on the island, and saw the very bedroom where our mama had been born. Mama’s cousins still live in the beautiful homestead with it’s view of the sea past the barn and fields.
The highlight of the trip for me was visiting Mama’s ninety something year old cousin and her husband. They lived in a wee little home that was neat as a pin. We were warmly welcomed inside and invited into the little kitchen where we gathered in a circle of chairs. Mama’s cousin was still as sharp as a tack, in spite of her age, and clearly remembered Mama. She excused herself for a moment, then came back and handed me an envelope. Inside was a letter Mama had written to her, with a photo of Mama as a young teen. On the back, in French, was written, “the one born on the island”. Mama was the only one of the “Maine cousins" that had actually been born there one summer when our grandparents were in P.E.I. helping on the family farm.
There in that little kitchen, we learned that Mama’s cousin was married to THE fiddler of P.E.I. He had quite a reputation and had even played for the Queen on one of her visits to the island. We were so pleased when he got out his fiddle, and began to play for us. Seated next to him, Mama’s cousin’s tiny feet "step danced" along to the tune he played.
Though not a word had been spoken about God or the Bible, I felt my eyes begin to tear up a bit, as I sensed the presence of God in that moment. There was something holy about the welcoming acceptance as a part of the family, about being readily welcomed into their home, about the genuineness of the love and acceptance offered to us outsiders. A beautiful joy filled that kitchen, and my heart, as the fiddle played on and ninety year old feet tapped along to the tune.
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