|July 4th, circa 1900, probably near Westmoreland, NY. My grandmother is the young girl seated in a chair near the center of the front row.|
|My grandmother, Millie Stebbins, born Westmoreland, NY, 1888|
|Some of the great-grandchildren of Millie Holmes on the Kinsley side.|
|Ida Mae Specker|
|L-R: Randy Longley, elder son of our late sister, Ruth Ann Coombs Longley, with Rebecca, Jeanine, and Mary Coombs Cafarelli.|
My cousin Tad has owned Jake's Restaurant and Tavern in Londonderry, Vermont, since he was 22 years old.
Londonderry is a small town, and as in many communities in America, lots of folks come out for the annual Fourth of July parade.
Tad usually hosts a post-parade bash at his restaurant and invites extended family to join the fun, this year once again with the live music of Ida Mae Specker.
On this parade day, all five surviving cousins were there, the grandchildren of Millie Stebbins Holmes. Our mothers, Henrietta Holmes Coombs and Jane Holmes Kinsley, were sisters, close in age and strong of will. All three of these women - grandmother, mother, aunt - had a great influence on us all. We did a lot of remembering this weekend.
By the time one reaches the ages we cousins are now, we have all endured some worries and bumps and blips and sadness. But these are the folks that you don't have to explain all that to. They know all about it and they love you and you love them right back. (My cousin Tad gives a world-class hug, by the way. He should bottle it and sell it.)
The tumult of the world right now, the sense of uneasiness that seems to hang over us all, makes a small town patriotic celebration all the more poignant.
I think our mothers and grandmother would be ever so pleased to know that we cousins and siblings still feel the strength and comfort of the shelter of each other.
Happy Fourth of July, my dears. May our extended, blended families continue to celebrate together in small towns across America for another 117 years.