On March 19, 2012, my parents purchased an old farm in Amelia, Virginia. They decided to use the money from the sale (a forced sale) of the boatyard in Annapolis to start something new. My great-grand father, Hidee (JDW3), did the same thing as he left Amherst, Massachusetts in the middle of the 20th century to start a new life in Maryland with the purchase of the boatyard on Mill Creek – which would become Willard and Sons’ Boatyard – and a farm on the Eastern Shore.
Only by the end of the day on March 19th of last year did my parents realize they were closing on the purchase of the farm on the 8th anniversary of Grandpa’s (JDW4) death. How fitting.
On his death bed, Grandpa instructed the family to not feel obligated to maintain the family business. I think he knew times were changing, the waterman culture of the Chesapeake Bay is going extinct, along with wooden boat-work, and the old way of life. I think he would be proud of this new beginning.
The farm in Amelia is, for us, a place of solace, a place to escape the hustle and bustle of “city” life of the Mid-Atlantic megalopolis. To this new place, we bring with us a little bit of the Boatyard, Grandpa, and Hidee. During this last visit, we brought the kitchen table from the boatyard to the farm house. We are making a slow transition down to the farm – little by little adjusting and planning.
Change is a difficult, but inescapable part of life. It seems as though having an open heart and an open mind is essential. I am thankful for the hard work of my family members that came before me that enabled us to have this new beginning.