The house I grew up in

Up from the first floor The second floor This is the house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which I grew up. My parents found the third floor apartment in 1954, and they have been living there ever since. They've had the same landlord since 1977, the couple who lives in the first floor apartment. Sally and Peter have been wonderfully generous with my parents, and just one example was the way in which they made their apartment available for my father's 90th birthday party that my mother organized with Sally's help (below).
Not surprisingly, there's a lot of personal and family history in this house, both seen and unseen. These are the stairs to my parents' apartment, that they climb one or more times every day. When I was a teenager it was a challenge, coming home late at night, to get up the last flight of stairs without waking my parents who slept in the room just to the right of the door to the apartment. The knocker on that door is a jumping-jack that good friends of ours gave us years ago. Up the stairs The door (and knocker)
The 90th birthday party. The photographs below are only six of the many that were taken, and they show just a few of the people who joined us for the party.
John and Lenore Peter
This is my father, John, at his 90th birthday party in August 2008. He's sitting with my mother, Lenore. On the right is Peter, one of my parents' landlords. His wife, Sally, shows up nowhere in any of the pictures that I took, I'm sure because she was so busy making sure everyone had what they wanted. To the left of Peter, behind the counter, is the caterer's helper. Further to the left is my mother's friend, Becky, and at the far left of the picture is our friend, Phebe.
John and Steven more friends
This is my father with Steven, one of our oldest friends. He and I were playmates, and at one point he was the one who was going to be the scientist. Now he's a farmer and a community organizer. This is Steven with two more friends of ours, Jack and Cindy, and Meher.
Dick John Simon
Dick is another old friend of my parents. He played the piano for my father.

JS also played for his grandfather.
On this visit we kept things much simpler, and have made only a few visits with friends and family. This is quite a change for me, since when I lived with my parents we had no family at all in the Boston area. Now this has changed, as my second cousin, Joe, and his family live acoss the river from Cambridge. Joe came to the party by himself, and is another one of the people not shown in these six pictures. Even now that we visited with him and his family on Boxing Day, I have only one picture to show from that visit and that one (below) is of the brand new baby that Joe's wife, Grace, had just a little over a week ago.
Skylar with Meher The Scrabble game Lenore
(Left) Meher is feeding Joe and Grace's newborn daughter, Skylar. It was a reat for both of us to hold her, in my case at least once I got over the feeling of, "Oh, she's so tiny; I'm going to fling her at the ceiling when I pick her up!" (Above and center) One of the things we do when we visit our parents is to play Scrabble. Here, my mother, Meher and the boys are playing a four-way game.
Adam Meher John Simon
While Meher and sometimes the boys play an online Scrabble-like game called Lexulous, most (except maybe Meher) still love playing the original game with "the real board and tiles". My aunt Elizabeth used to play with Meher and Lenore and regularly creamed them. We can only imagine what she would have done with the online game. Alas, these might be the last few days of the real Scrabble game! Now, Meher prefers Lexulous. Meher has been playing Lexulous on-line for a couple of years, and has played regularly with her baby sister (Hyderabad, India) for over a year. Sometimes, her sister, her baby brother (Bangalore, India), and Adam (Scarborough) join in and they have a four-way game on-line. They can also chat on the side while playing. The possibilities are endless. Check it out!
watching cartoons together bouquet for Sally and Peter

By the time of the birthday party in 2008 it was becoming obvious that John had lost a lot of memory, and since then John has been diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer's Disease. Now it's pretty clear that moving into an assisted living facility in Cambridge has to happen in 2010. Lenore will be 91, and has been running the whole household virtually singlehandedly. Friends and family have helped where they can, but that's not enough.

Fifty-six years in one venue is a pretty good run. Making the move will be an awesome undertaking, but pretty certainly going to be worth it.

One of the days we were in Cambridge, the boys and John watched a children's show together, reminiscing about other shows from the by-gone days, and laughing a lot. This is the bouquet that Meher made for Sally and Peter to thank them for letting us use their apartment while they were away.  


text and images on this site copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010 M. Shaik, T. A. Dickinson, A. K. Dickinson, and (or) J. S. Dickinson
posted by tim dot dickinson at utoronto dot ca on 1-Jan-2010