Tag: Aroostook County

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The Farmhouse

I continue to mourn loss of the Wilcox farm—the majority of which my father unexpectedly deeded to the pastors of his church during the last weeks of life. He died on April 16, 2024.

The deeding deed was kept secret from immediate family until after he had passed. I attempted to contact the main pastor—twice. He ignored me. Inaction has shaped, or reshaped, my perspective about the incident, which won’t be publicly shared here.

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Requiem for the Farm

Two months ago, or thereabouts, on March 27, 2024, my father signed over title to a large portion of the family farm to the two pastors of his local church. The transfer of ownership was quite unexpected and was not disclosed—to my sister—until after he died on April 16. We all understood that he intended to will the property to the couple, but his estate would pass through the typical legal process first.

Since my grandfather’s will hadn’t been probated, the older document might supersede the other—something I presumed a lawyer and judge would sort out. That process would be opportunity to also open a discussion with the pastors about final disposition of the approximately 100 acres. The unexpected transaction nullified everything—unless the older will is legally enforceable. I wouldn’t know.

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After the Pond

My father was a controlling, jealous, and quick-tempered man. The distance between Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies separated our personalities. He and I shared little in common, so much that if not for some physical resemblance my only conclusion must be illegitimacy. But Mom was faithful; he was the one who slept around, which precipitated her divorcing him.

Ah, the day she confided in me was joyous. I was relieved that he would be gone and me freed from his anger, curses, and putdowns. My sisters suffered loss at his departure. I thrived in his absence. Even during the lean teen years, when we had no Christmas presents and often were hungry, I wouldn’t want him around. Mom was a single mother with four children; he contributed nothing. She suffered for her brood; he looked after himself and his new family.

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Grampy and Grandsons

We aren’t finished with the family photos. The Featured Image is another, provided by my cousin Dan, who sits playing checkers with our mutual granddad. I am the kid with the dorky grin. The photo was taken sometime in 1970, making me either 10 or 11, depending on when.

My Uncle Glenn made the portrait; camera unknown. Where: The Wilcox Family Farm—the majority of which my father unexpectedly deeded to the co-pastors of his church. A long-time family friend sent me a copy of the Quickclaim Deed, dated March 27, 2024. He died almost exactly three weeks later.

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My Uncle and His Camera

Now a blast from the past: 54-years-ago this month, meaning May 1970. My Uncle Glenn holds his gorgeous Yashica Mat-124. The newer G model released that year; I don’t know how long he owned the medium-format twin-lens reflex camera.

Wow, what a beauty she is (oh, and my uncle is handsome, too). The Mat-124 packed two—count `em—lenses at one of my three favorite Prime focal lengths: 80mm (28mm and 135mm are the others).

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The Farm

Today would be my father’s eighty-third birthday, but he died on April 16, 2024. Rather than commemorate him, I celebrate what he took away. Secretly, sometime during his 40 dying days, he signed over title to a large portion of the family farm to the co-pastors of his church.

They say 75 percent. But other documentation indicates that he only had control over 7/12ths of the nearly 100 acres. Regardless, as I begin to grasp the extent of subterfuge and lies, presumably unprompted (but who knows) on his part, my feelings about him darken. My great-grandfather purchased the property in 1895.

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The Son and Father Fishing

Dad is at his home on the family farm, in a hospital bed, and cared for 24 hours a day—mainly by the pastors of the local church, supported by (I think) hospice caretakers. He is lucid, but declining, which is his wish based on other health considerations. The man has proved to be physically stronger than the doctors predicted, however. Our Wilcox clan comes from hearty stock.

My parents eloped to Canada at age 16. The eldest child, I was born just as mom turned 18. My parents always seemed young to me, because they were. Only as an adult did I understand how much and the ways we kind of grew up together.

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A Maine Reflection

The weekend trip to Aroostook County, Maine, ended Feb. 19, 2024, when my sister and I joined a full flight of passengers flying from Presque Isle. Scheduled for 6:15 a.m. EST, the jet took off late due to deicing of the wings. Travel to Maine had been sudden, and unplanned; the ravages of old age accelerate, and we can’t know how long Dad will last.

As the aircraft lifted off the ground, I wondered about the abnormally low amount of snowfall; chuckled thinking about my father’s absolutely adorable and friendly Shih Tzu dogs; and longed to see more wildlife outside the Solarium windows.

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They Come to Eat

On the second—and last—day visiting Dad, he asked my sister to take out scraps for the birds. She put them beside the building just below the big windows looking out onto the backyard. She calls the room, where his little dogs like to sun, the Solarium.

During the course of the afternoon, I observed birds and several red squirrels come by for grab-and-go snacks. The glass was clean enough that I could shoot through the window, using Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Featured Image sets the mood for the set. Look sharp for the red squirrel. Vitals: f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/900 sec, (synthetic) 230mm (digital and optical zoom); 1:58 p.m. EST, Feb. 18, 2024.

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Dad’s Dogs

The first morning in Aroostook County, my sister and I left our Aunt’s house to be greeted by a balmy air temperature of -10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). The next day: -17 C (1 F). Brrr. By the way, -40 is where the two scales of measurement meet—and, yes, Northern Maine absolutely does get so cold.

Dad’s dogs are the cutest ever. The Shih Tzu littermates are about three years old, and they are litter pan trained. Think about it. Would you want to take out two little dogs to do their business when it’s so cold outside. Wind blows constantly at the family farm, so think colder.

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That’s Not a Lot of Snow

My hometown of Caribou, Maine averages about 279 cm (110 inches) of snow per season, which typically spans from mid-November to late April. But October isn’t too early or May too late for a dusting or meaningful accumulation. Depending on your measure of cold and snow, winter is as long as six months.

But 2023-24 is anything but typical. Snowfall is significantly below normal. According to outdoor enthusiast site Snoflo: “Snowpack levels across the state are currently 35 percent of normal. The deepest snowpack in Maine was last observed at Caribou Wfo [Weather Forecast office] with a snowpack depth of 7 inches [17.8 cm], about 35 percent of normal when compared to it’s 20 inches [51 cm] average depth for this time of year”.

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Three of Us

I take the hint—just need to follow-through. Tonight, my cousin Dan emailed another photo, taken by my uncle, circa 1970, with closing “call any time”. I will. I will. We Wilcox men must stick together.

Meanwhile, the Featured Image, later edited by me, is what he sent. I only share with you because everyone benefits from humbling moments of public humiliation. Eleven-year-old me looks like the prince of dweebs. I am aghast, honestly. Someone should have left that little twerp in the woods.