West Tisbury: Long Hill


It was with a sense of nostalgia that I drove the Edgartown Road this past Saturday afternoon, heading toward Long Hill. It was a drive I took regularly for much of six years. This time I was going to celebrate the life of Elizabeth Sandland. It would probably be the last time I would see Long Hill.

Elizabeth was a force of nature. At the funeral service Saturday morning, Elizabeth’s brother, Christopher, told stories of her determination and devotion to her sons and to her mission as a nurse. She bought the house that became Long Hill, home to many Island elders who needed a supportive, caring place to live to the end of their lives. After she closed it last spring, it became her home, and she died there on Feb. 8.

The Rev. Stephen Harding described conversations with Elizabeth, and remarked on the detailed plans she made for this last party at Long Hill. It was to be a party, a celebration, a fond adieu for all of us who had known her, much in the manner of her annual Christmas and Fourth of July parties when she invited the whole Island in to party with her. And it was, with an abundance of fabulous food, live music, recollections of times past. She even had a basket of perfect miniature violets for guests to take home as keepsakes. The only thing missing was the hostess herself.

Elizabeth was always at the center of her parties. She loved giving them, and loved being there. She was always dressed in some splendid amalgamation of garments, usually colorful, always silky and with plenty of swing for dancing. Often there were hats.

My favorite was the day she arrived at Long Hill to show us all what she planned to wear to the Kentucky Derby. Amid ruffles and acres of fabric topped with a hat of true Derby proportions, Elizabeth had always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, and wanted to be sure we would recognize her outfit in the stands if we saw her on television. Of course, we all watched, avidly scanning the stands for a glimpse of our friend.

I don’t mean to give the impression that Elizabeth was all froth, although she certainly was a person who would set her mind to something and do it in style. She was also a crackerjack nurse. Her skill and her devotion to everyone at Long Hill was evident. She was practical, and always an advocate for the best care for all of her residents. I learned so much from her.

It was an honor to meet her brother, Christopher, who came from England, and Elizabeth’s sons who grew up here on the Island, Daniel and Jackson, with their girlfriends. I hope you will read what I wrote and smile with my memories, and with memories of your own.

Losing Long Hill has made the availability of assisted care on the island more critical. It is a situation we all need to address. Another subject for another day perhaps, but one we cannot wait too much longer to address.

Sunday afternoon I attended Suzi Wasserman’s birthday party at Joanne Scott’s, one of our winter afternoon gatherings, mostly an excuse to get together for tea, conversation, and cake. A birthday is always an excuse to eat cake. Happy birthday wishes to Suzi and her husband, Bob, who share a Feb. 18 birthday.

Congratulations to Paul Karasik, who won first prize in illustration from the New England Newspaper and Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers competition for his Graphic Report of Alley’s General Store. It appeared in the Vineyard Gazette. Here is where to see it for yourself: bit.ly/AlleysGraphic.

The Ag Hall will open its doors this Saturday evening, Feb. 23, at 5:30 pm, for the fifth annual Meatball Dinner & Dancing. BYOB and place setting. First come, first served; admissions are $20 for adults and $10 for children; free for children under 5. Dance music by the Space Invaders will highlight the evening. For more information, call 508-693-9549.

The library has planned special activities for the weekdays of school vacation. Drop-in crafts will be set up in the children’s and young adult rooms between 10:30 am and 4 pm. From 11:45 am to 12:45 pm, all are invited to a free soup and bread lunch. Then stay for a free movie at 1 pm. Family movies will be shown in the community room and tween/teen movies in the young adults room. Popcorn is always free.

Other library events are:

Saturday, Feb. 23, 10:30 am, Laura Jordan’s Little Bird Music Class in the children’s room. The monthly meeting of the Lego Club for all ages will meet at 2:30 pm.

Sunday, Feb. 24, 3 pm, a screening of the documentary “One Big Home” will be followed by a discussion with Paul Rashba.

Monday, Feb. 25, 7 pm, MVY Radio’s Dave Kish will show a jazz film and lead a discussion afterward.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 4:30 pm, “Love Remembered” will feature instrumental love songs by renaissance musicians Ed Merck and Eric Johnson, followed by readings of love poetry by Fan Ogilvie, Christopher Legge, and Kanta Lipsky.

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 4 pm, Lynn Thorp will lead a Sign Language Learning and Practice Circle.

Despite a couple of snowfalls that melted right away, it is obviously getting lighter and warmer. There is a splendid cornus mas blooming inside the stone wall along State Road at the Polly Hill Arboretum. I have seen patches of snowdrops along Music Street and the Edgartown Road. I no longer need to turn the outside porch light on for Mike to come home around 6 o’clock. Pretty soon, sooner than I wish, I will no longer be able to drive to the end of my driveway and onto an empty Edgartown Road. Pretty soon, sooner than I wish, there will be cars zooming up and down the road as I sit there waiting and watching them speed by.