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Birthday trip brings back nostalgic memories of life on the farm

Sister in front of childhood home

Though author Thomas Wolfe’s book title claims “You Can Never Go Home Again” that does not deter most folks from walks down memory lane. Such was the case when, in celebration of her 87th birthday, Sister Mary Martin de Porres Grisé (Sister Marty) and two friends rode up a street in New Braintree to see her family’s former home and dairy farm.


 

Two Sisters with their Dad Its 315 acres are no longer farmed, but the setting, complete with a barn and stately Victorian farm house, remain intact. The mountain-framed vista is spectacular.

Sister Marty and Sister Mary Adrianella, her one remaining sibling, are two of the 12 children born to their parents, Adrian and Ella Grisé. In their growing up years, their father’s Sunnyside Farm was dotted with two large barns, cows, chickens, pigs, horses, fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetable gardens.

Lisa Careau, niece, says her Aunt Connie (Sister Marty) worked a bit before entering the Sisters of Providence but her Aunt Rose (Sister Adrianella) “was only 17, so really grew up with the Sisters of Providence.”

Sharing memories
Both sisters are quick to share some of their fondest childhood remembrances. Sister Marty remembers the time she woke up startled to feel the house shaking. The quivering was not from earthquake tremors, but because her dad’s bull was rocking the right back corner of the house, trying to scratch his back!

Sister Adrianella says her younger sister Theresa had a favorite cow named “Suzie.” When Suzie produced a calf, Sister Adrianella was already in the convent. Missing her, Theresa named the calf “Rose Marie” in her honor.

The two Sisters of Providence look back on heartbreaking times, too. They lost Theresa at age 16, their mother as a young woman, and their brother Billy, their dad’s “right-hand man,” their grandmother, and their aunt as well. All were waked right in the family home. Then there was a devastating fire that resulted in lost cows and a barn burned to the ground.

Sister in front of barn

The property is quite removed from the town’s center, so at times there could be a sense of isolation. “I used to be so sad when the school year ended. It meant I wouldn’t be seeing my friends, except maybe at church, until the fall,” said Sister Marty.

The entire family pitched in to do the hard farm work. Though the girls were not expected to milk cows, they were counted on to feed the chickens, retrieve the eggs, round up the cows, cut grass, harvest hay, and help with cooking and housework. All and all, though, when the two sisters reminisce, more often than not, it is on warm, wonderful family memories they share of their young lifetimes “on the farm.”

 

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