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Here in New England: My First Day

Here in New England: My First Day
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“Perhaps not quite as valuable now, Robb,” I said laughingly, conscious that I had omitted the word “Uncle” for the first time. He laughed, too. My mother and others had warned me that he was stern, serious, imposing, and, as they always said, “difficult.” Yet in less than five minutes I felt close to this complex mountain of a man. It was the beginning of a bond between us that would outlive him by many years.

“Goddamnit!” he said, suddenly serious again, examining the almanac. Then he seemed to brighten. “Well, they say grief but aggravates the loss.” He was quoting from something echoing in his mind from years of prolific reading. “So grieve not for what is past,” he said, and with that he flipped the blackened almanac into an old wicker basket he had beside him on the floor.

“Come on,” he said, rising briskly, “let me show you what I’d like you to do this morning.” Though he was not quite 60 years old, his 6-foot-4-inch frame was somewhat bent at the waist as he walked across the room. I noted later, however, that there were times when he chose to walk ramrod straight.

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