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Billy and Eileen
Move to Maine

Billy and Eileen Brockett move to Maine in 2005

Mother and Eileen
Mother gives Eileen a hug at the farewell dinner

In March of 2005 Billy and Eileen bid Branford farewell when they moved to Bridgeton, Maine. Although they were looking at houses for over a year and Billy frequently talked of moving it was hard to believe that they would actually leave.

On March 19th, 2005 many friends and family members gathered at The Guilford Tavern to say good-bye, share memories and give their best wishes to Billy and Eileen. Disbelief yielded to reality and many of us were numb. It was a sad occasion, for many people were touched over the years by Eileen's thoughtfulness and warm heart. Almost everyone present had attended at least one of Eileen and Billy's many family picnics during the past twenty years. They remembered the good times they shared with family members and friends on so many summer holidays while eating hot dogs, hamburgs and homemade salads. Others remembered the delicious Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners Eileen and Billy cooked in their kitchen and served to family and friends. Both holidays were always enjoyable times for anyone who stopped by and many people did. Who could forget the wonderful afternoon when we gathered for the 50th wedding anniversary of Donald and Priscilla Ballou? Graceful white tents enclosed every table in the grassy yard around which were seated throngs of friends and family. We had a grand time celebrating the enduring marriage of Don and Priscilla while unbeknownst to us the bonds that held us together grew even stronger. It was extremely difficult for many to accept that those joyful times were gone and that this was our last meal together in Branford.

Guilford Tavern
Our farewell dinner was at the Guilford tavern
Mom, Billy and Aunt Catherine
My mom, Billy and Aunt Catherine
Deanna prepares a memory book for her mom, Eileen

Deanna took pictures and collected personal notes from many people at the farewell party. She created an extensive memory book with the photographs and personal notes for her mom and dad. Billy and Eileen visited all the tables and talked with everyone. More than a few tears were shed and quietly wiped away with a napkin after Billy and Eileen moved on to another table. The food was well prepared but neither my Mom nor I were very hungry. We ate a little and then saved the rest for another day.

The mood of the dinner was somber and in sharp contrast to the joyful and happy times that we so often shared in at Billy and Eileen's home on 190 Leetes Island road. The tavern was dark; heavy curtains hung at the windows and blocked much of the early spring light from entering. Lighting was sparse and dim. The round tables were too close together which prevented people from milling about easily. Many faces were either tight and expressionless or clearly sad. Some people were on the verge of tears. Most folks ate quietly. The level of conversation was low and barely competed with the clatter of silverware and coffee cups.

Not hungry
Our farewell dinner was at the Guilford tavern
Billly and friends
Billy shares memories with family and friends
House for sale
The house is for sale and a moving van is in the driveway

On March 27th, 2005 my brother Tommy and his son Christopher and myself gathered one last time with Billy at his and Eileen's home on 190 Leetes Island road. The weather matched our mood; it was gray, dismal and occasionally a few raindrops fell from above. I helped load a few items into the big U Haul truck and then walked around the yard one last time. I reminisced about all the wonderful times so many people experienced here. Eileen was always a gracious host and warmly welcomed everyone to her picnics and her home. It was here, in this wide grassy and embracing backyard that our family would gather two or three times a year. We would share delicious food and memorable conversations in the warm sunshine. It was a time when we reaffirmed the value of our familiar bonds and celebrated them as a family. Since our large clan was spread across the country, Eileen's picnics were the only time we all gathered in one place. Larry was the furthest away in Colorado and his seat at the table was usually vacant. In 2002 I believe, he was passing through Branford with his long haul 18 wheel rig and stopped at the Union 76 truck stop where Deanna was working that afternoon. They chatted and my normally reclusive and restless brother decided to stay for the evening. Eileen, with her incredible graciousness and kind heart immediately arranged for a late afternoon family picnic. That evening we ate together and shared pleasant conversation while creating enduring memories. Larry looked a little tired and seemed to showing his age more than he should. He was only 53. His hair was graying and he appeared thinner than usual. I remembered that he ate well that night. He often laughed and smiled while he recounted his adventures on the open road. He clearly enjoyed being with his family. Everyone had a good time. It was wonderful seeing Larry again and reconnecting with him. Much to our shock and grief, Larry passed away from cancer a little over one year later in Colorado Springs. Eileen and Billy's hastily arranged picnic was the last chance he had to be with his family.

U Haul Truck
A large U Haul truck is filled for the last time
Inside the truck
Billy and Christopher organize
the inside of the truck

Moving Day Photos

Moving Day Blues
Even Billy is afflicted by the moving day blues

Even Billy seemed to be affected by the moving day blues. On the outside Bill's demeanor was always rough but on the inside he treasured his family. He wanted us close by and like Eileen often helped to make us feel comfortable and welcome in his home. When Bill first got married he bought a home just four houses up the street from my Mom and Dad's home. Deanna was raised there and brought much joy to my parents. When Billy needed a bigger home he bought one in Branford just a few miles away. Soon after moving, Eileen and Billy started the tradition of family picnics in their spacious and welcoming back yard. Eileen made salads and delicious desserts and cleaned the pool for the kids. Bill mowed the lawn, cleaned the yard and then tended the grill on day of the picnic. He cooked hot dogs and hamburgs for his brothers, his mom and dad and other family members and guests. Almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas for over two decades Eileen and Billy graciously opened their home and hearts to their families and friends. The Guilford Tavern was packed for their farewell dinner and I was not surprised. Many lives were touched, many hearts were made light, much joy and happiness emanated from Billy and Eileen's old home on 190 Leetes Island road in Branford, Connecticut.

Pink Granite
Christopher wheels a piece of Pink Granite
from the garden to the truck
Inside the truck
Tom loads a bushel of peonies roots that
originally came from my grandmother's garden

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