Going Home

[Note: Friends of Justice is a personal blog. I speak only for myself.]


Dear Friend of Justice,

This Thursday, I will be getting up at the crack of dawn to fly to Brainerd, Minnesota. (That’s the town where the movie Fargo actually is set. And people in that part of Minnesota really do talk that way.)

My niece will be meeting my plane and driving me to my hometown, Aitkin, where I will be visiting my mother. She turned 87 in September. Her spirits are good, but her health has been failing her. She has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and emphysema. How she got emphysema is a mystery: she has never been a smoker and has lived all of her life in rural Minnesota.

I treasure these visits. But I never know which will be my last.

My mother lives between two lakes and this is the time of the year when the ice goes off. I haven’t seen the ice go off the lakes since I was in high school, many decades ago. I plan to take a long walk every day that I am there. (I often spot an eagle in flight during these walks.) I particularly enjoy the walk to the little country church that my grandfather and great-grandfather helped build. They and many other family members are buried in the little cemetery attached to the church. This cemetery will also be my mother’s final resting place.

When I was a kid, I thought Aitkin, Minnesota was the most boring place in the world. I couldn’t wait to get away. It took me decades to appreciate it. I am now glad to have had a home town. Aitkin has shaped me in ways that I probably will never know.

A dozen years ago, I created this page about Aitkin. It includes material from the local newspaper, chronicling the year 1896.

You may be wondering about the picture above. It is a float from the world’s only Annual Fish House Parade, which takes place in Aitkin.

The struggle against injustice can be very dispiriting. Anyone involved in it needs periods of respite so that the soul can mend. I always return from these trips somewhat rested and refreshed. I will be back in Boston late on April 22nd.

-Bob Chatelle