Aquinnah: Family support, town developments, Beverly Wright, and AACDP presentation

—MV Times

I have spent the past 10 days in California helping my sister and my cousin cope with the recent deaths of their partners; both died within a few days of each other. Two deaths in a few days, one of them unexpected, have left our family numbed with grief, and reminded once again of the power of love to hold us, to shatter us, to provide us with the ballast that helps to keep us steady, and to be the storm that can threaten to sink us.

I am the sister-in-law, the one who is one step removed from the most devastation. As such, it has been my job to cook, to clean and sort, to make phone calls and create spreadsheets, to thank the visitors bearing food while I gently steer them out the door, and to provide comic relief when that was appropriate. It has been my job to stand by those who are frozen in their grief, to hug those who want to be held, to provide tissues and tea to those who are crying … doing the work of a less broken family member. I have been the recipient of many good hugs, participated in hilarious memory sharing, and have been comforted in my own grief by those who share this sadness with me.

I will hold the two we have lost like a little stone in my pocket, the stone serving as a talisman, a reminder of how lucky my family has been to love and be loved by those two good men, Rob Edwards and Charlie Tobias. And I’ll hold memories of these first steps of grieving as a tender and powerful time.

Being away meant that I missed the work party that cleared so much of the area behind Aquinnah Town Hall, which will become a playground. It meant missing the church steeple being repaired. It meant missing watching my granddaughter, Tillie, play her saxophone at the all-Island fourth grade band concert. It meant missing watching Tom Murphy and Forrest Alley as they placed flags on all veterans’ gravesites at the Aquinnah Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day. And I missed the work on restoration of the historic curtain inside our Town Hall. People have surely been busy here at home!

It’s a sure sign of summer that Beverly Wright has arrived for her annual pilgrimage to her traditional homeland, along with her husband, Robert MacDiarmid. We get to have her elegant presence with us through the middle of October. If you don’t know her, she is a board member of the Aquinnah Cultural Center, a docent at the Lighthouse, and a volunteer at the IGI food kitchen. She has worked at Stoney Creek Gift shop on the Cliffs for the past 20 years or so. Go by and say hello.

Looking ahead, on Saturday, June 3, at 2 pm at the Aquinnah library, Marsha Winsryg of the African Artists Community Development Project will present stories and photos about the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Home and its latest project, the Zambezi Communal Farm. (If you go, welcome Vera back to the desk.)

Birthday greetings go to Emily Vanderhoop on June 4, and to Allen Carney on June 9. My own family has three celebrations coming up: Noli and Isaac Taylor celebrate their anniversary on June 2, we’ll celebrate my wondrous grandson Emmett Taylor’s birthday on June 5, and my beloved husband, Charley (known hereabouts as Charley the Potter), will turn 84 on June 8. I’m breaking out the cake pans now.

One last note about my grandson: Next week, the West Tisbury Middle School is having its annual eighth grade exchange with a school in Manchester, England. It has happened for more than 30 years, but this is the first year they’ve done it since 2019. Among those headed over the pond will be our Emmett, along with fellow Aquinnah eighth grader Malia Bodnar. Emmett follows in the footsteps of his dad, Isaac, who went when he was a student at West Tis. We’re cheering for you, Emmett and Malia, and we can’t wait to hear your stories when you return to us.

That’s it. Please remember to let me know the news that you want shared at And don’t forget that time is precious, and to say “I love you” to those you care about.

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Kathie Olson,