My grandmother, May “Maisie” Berthelson, was Brooklyn-born, Brooklyn-bred and Brooklyn-married, but she moved to
Vermont with my parents
right after World War II. The Thomas E. Dewey Thruway had claimed the land upon
which her cherished home in Ardsley, New York was built. One of Maisie’s
favorite possessions was her mother’s rose bush that always came alive in June
with little blossoms that were either pink or white. Her mother, Ellen Parsons,
had bought the rose bush back in the 1870’s with her first paycheck as a parlor
Rather than leave that beloved planting behind when her parent’s brownstone was sold, Maisie dug it up and moved it with her to the home her husband built for her on
Nepperhan Avenue in Ardsley,
New York up in .
Then in the 1940’s Maisie gave the rose
bush one final move to her daughter’s home in Westchester County
. Her tolerant and kindly son-in-law gave her permission to plant her beloved
roses in the place of honor next to the garage. He even built a small wooden
fence around it and wrapped the stem in burlap late each autumn to survive the
cold Arlington, Vermont Vermont
winters. Within one season, the rose bush was in full bloom.
And then there was Max. Our nearest neighbors inMy parents sold their farm in 1980 just after Maisie passed away and I didn’t bring myself to drive down our old dirt road for years after that, but wouldn’t you know it, I drove by my old house last summer and there was Maisie’s rose bush, blooming away, just where she planted it nearly seventy years ago. The owners weren’t home so I helped myself to a few blooms just for memory’s sake. Why? I recalled that Max had died at the very old age of 15 and was buried with the Rudd’s other pets in back of their farmhouse. I stopped by to say hello to the Rudd’s grandson, now the owner of their farm, and left that bouquet of Maisie’s roses in the spot where Max was buried. Seemed a good thing to do.
Arlington were the Rudds who were the kindest
and best people to have living next to us on our old dirt road. Mr. Rudd plowed
us out when the snows fell deeply and Mrs. Rudd always remembered us at the
holidays with special gifts that we loved. Whenever they stopped at our house
for a visit, their beautiful brown boxer, Max, sat politely between them. Max
had perfect manners, listened carefully to Mr. Rudd’s commands, but he had a
thing for Maisie’s rose bush. When people were engaged in conversation, Max
would slip over to the rose bush and carefully lift his leg for a quick “pee”.
Mr. Rudd would correct him and Max would look sad and repentant, but the next
time the Rudds came for a visit, Max would hurry over to Maisie’s treasured
plant and quick take a “pee” before anyone noticed.
was raised in