The postscript to the story is more painful than leaving, if in fact that is possible. Above are my father's handwritten notes detailing the damage and destruction we discovered on returning in May, 1969.
When we departed Merasheen in October we left with our household belongings only. Our house was left unlocked ready for use by anyone inclined to do so. One of the last tasks was to make and place a sign on the entry door stating, USE BUT PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE. It was my father's intention to move our house the following year, after obtaining a building lot in Marystown; sadly that dream was shattered by what we discovered. My father's written account detailing what we encountered that Spring hardly does justice to the scope of the damage and destruction we found upon entering our house; the image is frozen in my memory. His handwritten account references the door, lockset and the large window in the kitchen, but makes no mention of the cupboards torn off the wall, the window smashed in the living room door, the table broken in pieces, and the missing furniture. The kitchen was gutted and destroyed; doors were either left open or completely gone.
While going throughout the house, we soon discovered the plundering wasn’t just limited to the kitchen. Windows were wantonly broken throughout the house on both levels. In the bathroom the sink and toilet were gone, the room completely gutted. There is one particular image that sticks in my mind, an image that I still have great difficulty in accepting. How could a human being be so cheap and destructive? Our bathroom wall had four inch square ceramic tiles all the way around to a height of about four feet, which had been removed one by one, and taken away. The perpetrators and culprits were cheap but energetic, having expended great effort to dig up several lengths of sewer pipe in the meadow.
Every building we owned had been broken into and ransacked, Stage, Store Loft, Little Store Loft, Little Store, Shop and our House. Much of the fishing gear which had all been left behind was stolen. The sign, USE BUT PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE and signed by my father sadly meant nothing. I believe it may have served to fan the rage and resentment of the people who came to plunder and pillage soon after we left. Despite repeated requests from my father to the RCMP to investigate the crime, none was ever carried out. That the destruction and theft were done by people from our own community make it difficult to accept and understand, even fifty years later.
At long last, a sympathetic ear.
ID EST QUOD EST.
Fifty years on, it is still a painful memory. My father was bitter, but because he was a man of strong Christian principles, with a philosophy of "thy necessity is greater than mine," this finally permitted him to slack away the rope of bitterness and let go of the end.
My mother though, never forgot nor forgave. She carried the pain and loss with her constantly, unforgiving to the end of her memory, when once again she lived, in Merasheen.
To ensure there was no doubt how she felt, she made another note in the family bible some time later in the intervening years.
Left Home Merasheen, Hann's wharf around 9:30, October 9, 1968 on Bertha Joyce for Marystown. My heart was heavy. I was so sick, upset over it all. I never got any better, over the years. I still love Home, Merasheen.
My father's life was not defined by the pain and loss of Resettlement. Always a good community man he worked hard to adapt in his chosen home. On arriving he immediately went to work at the fish plant in Marystown, helping process and pack fish for export until he discovered the plant was putting out a product for food he wouldn't have even used for lobster bait in a previous life.
At the age of 59, Paddy went back to school, got a trade, and started a new career. He died with his boots on, still working in his sixty eighth year less than ten years after leaving Merasheen. He made a contribution in his new home, serving on the Executive of the Marine Workers Federation Union, Local 20 at the Marystown Shipyard where he was employed.
Mere months before he died, he fulfilled his dream, of having his own house in his new, chosen hometown. He built and moved his family into a new bungalow, in Marystown. The pittance he received for relocating covered less than 15% of the cost.
Mary lived to be 92 and died in 2014. She returned to Merasheen, every Summer with her two sisters, for almost thirty years. She so loved going back that she turned down a trip to Rome from her son, Father William. Imagine his surprise, with her ticket bought when she said, "William honey, I can't go to Rome, you knows I have to go home to Merasheen for the Summer." And go home to Merasheen is what she did.
The Rocks Of Merasheen to my mother were living stones. Merasheen was her home, her anchor. She collected rocks everywhere she went, but the rocks she had from "out home" were prized. One of the final acts of love for each of us was to place one in her casket as we said our last farewell.
50 Years LATER