A Weekend Trip to Sandy’s Grandparents in Marion, Massachusetts


It’s 4/15, the date the ospreys are forecasted to return to their nests in Marion, Massachusetts. I’m looking up at said osprey, through the back car seat window of Sandy’s grandparents’ blue Prius.

“Healthy looking,” muses Grandpa Brainard, as Sandy, Grandma Brainard, and myself, crane our necks to peer out the car window into the osprey’s nest set atop a flagpole perch in a neighbor’s frontyard.

We are on a driving tour of the small town (population 4500) of Marion, Massachusetts where Sandy’s grandparents have resided since 1960. Although Marion fills in the summer with families eager to spend the season boating, golfing (a good chunk of the town is laid out with a golf course), and swimming by the lake, the town maintains a feeling of emptiness that generates relief among its older residents. When Sandy’s grandparents moved here the land was filled with half as many homes, and the two homes next door were filled with close family members.

It’s quite fun to listen and watch as Sandy’s grandmother’s faces pulls vertically, as her mouth forms an “O” and looks as though it has tasted something sour – when she continues to see new properties being built in town. She does not like that she has seen at least 10 homes under construction, despite confirming earlier in the year with the town office that only 10 permits were issued for building. “I suppose that number does not include “rebuilds,” she mutters, shaking her head.

I understand her dismay. The homes built here are all unique, each with their own architectural plan. I don’t tire of looking at each one as we drive slowly past them, minding the many speed bumps that run throughout town. However, the ones being built are ostentatious and prominent. They stick out from the land on which they are being built, rather than enhancing it. A big, lofty home. All that space to enclose its humans. If it is large because it is meant to host – multiple families could fit in each one – then I suppose there is some sense inherent within the design. More likely they are large to provide more space between residents, as there are 2,439 housing units, despite there only be 4500 people living in Marion.

Sandy’s grandparents’ home is not small. The furniture is necessary, but thoughtful, and the items throughout the home are useful. Featured asking these are practical ornaments.
A golden, antique barometer measures the air pressure.

Two prisms, kept on separate windowsills, display rainbow reflections that sometimes cross as time makes them move across the room.

A seismometer in the basement measures activity within the Earth, including recording long wave rustlings that occurred during the earthquake in Thailand.

A small compound, their home is comprised of 3 pieces – the house, the two car garage, and the shed, which Sandy’s grandparents like to joke is where Sandy would live.

They are a peachy keen, entertaining couple, which amuses me, as Sandy and his mother had painted grandpa as a hardlined patriarch who seemed rather grim. While I’ve been here Sandy’s grandpa’s face had oscillated between two expressions, that of rapt attention as he listens to another speak, and absolute delight, as he tells a story or demonstrates how one of the scientific tools in his home works.

It’s funny how what we remember of someone, especially family, changes over time. I remember saying something similar about my grandpa to Sandy before he met him.

“My grandpa used to be strict. He is a large man, and when I was a kid and lived with him over the summer, I was scared of him and did not like him very much. Once when I did not want to eat there tomato on my sandwich, he refused to let me eat dessert or leave the dinner table until I did so. I never did, so I sat there through bedtime.”

I’d write more, but I’d rather spend what hours are left with them as we only have about 24 hours in their company. Hopefully we will stay longer the next.