Column: One life ends, but another begins anew

03/30/2013 12:00 PM |

TROY GUSTAVSON PHOTO | 8-month-old George Hazard Boardman.

This is one of those columns that’s pretty much going to write itself, I think. Sometimes I struggle to find a worthy subject (and sometimes I don’t find one), but this week there’s just one thing on my mind: the continuum of life.

That subject is unavoidable due to the confluence of two events: a long-awaited family vacation combined with the death of a family member who was our family’s last representative of the pre-Depression generation.

My wife, the former Joan Giger Walker, lost her 86-year-old stepmother on Sunday. Ann “Rusty” Walker lived a long and fruitful life. She was orphaned early in life, raised by a loving aunt and uncle and instantly became the mother of five when she married Joan’s father, a widowed doctor, at age 37.

As you might imagine, that was no easy assignment.

Rusty dropped in from outer space, so to speak, and it’s safe to say there was a period of adjustment for all concerned. But that adjustment period was a distant memory by the time of her passing, when her stepchildren opted to remove the word “step” from the obituary submitted to her former local newspaper.

Joan and I visited Rusty in her home recently, and her mind was as sharp as ever. It was her body that was failing her, and she had come to accept the reality of her condition. She knew her time was near.

And now that it’s come, we can celebrate her life with comparatively little regret. What’s more, her passing is softened by the close proximity this week, during the aforementioned family vacation, of the youngest member of our family, 8-month-old George Hazard Boardman.

Can the passing of Ann Walker really overwhelm our spirits when we look into the pure blue eyes of baby George? Speaking personally, the answer is no. George and his brother and sister and cousins, also on vacation with us this week, bring undiluted joy and hope into every day of our lives.

Yes, one generation passed from the scene this week. But it is generation next that makes us so hopeful about the future.

This week also marks the passing at age 77 of Orient resident and S.T. Preston & Son owner George Rowsom. We’ve known George since we first moved to Orient 35 years ago, and I’ll always remember him as one of the first Greenport business owners to truly accept us as the new owners of The Suffolk Times. In fact, he was a key member of an informal management group that helped advise us through those first shaky months (or was it years?) running the paper.

I’ll always remember him as a soft-spoken gentleman who was nevertheless firm in his convictions, and Joan and I extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Andrea, and the entire Rowsom and Preston’s families.

tgustavson@timesreview.com