Sunday, November 29, 2009

How My Family Came to Own Chez Sven

November 29th, three years ago, my mom passed away, so I'm honoring Bea's memory today by writing about her influence on Chez Sven. The idea of starting a bed & breakfast in this marvelous old Cape Codder was mine alone, but once the decision had been taken, she never faltered in her support. At the end of her life, my ninety-six-year old mother became bedridden but was not ill. Bea was very social and some of that hospitality must have rubbed off on me. (Here she enjoys a visit with Wellfleet artist Anne Rosen, who used to live in our cottage.) It would have made Bea extremely happy had I brought every new guest into her bedroom for introductions after check-in, but my mother had the sense to realize that was not an option. Still Bea would get vicarious pleasure out of laughter on the stairs. The idea that her house was filled with happy people always made her smile.

Our dirt road will remain unpaved forever thanks to my mother’s foresight. She lobbied the town so it would become a “scenic road.” When my parents bought the house in 1970, she knew to look for real estate with historic value, close enough to the village to be able to walk into town. In fall and winter, she and my dad would watch the sunset from the Mayo Beach parking lot. Mother chose Wellfleet for retirement because Vassar roommate and best friend Nancy Macdonald owned a summer home on Slough Pond. They were friends in the thirties, when this painting was made. (Bea called it “The Broken-hearted Look of the Twentieth Century.”) In 1970, at 61, she could still walk up Old King’s Highway to Slough Pond. The hike took over an hour, but what beautiful scenery along the way! For those of you who are following my quest to publish my memoir about the last seven months of her life, the effort is ongoing....