Miniature Roses

By Treadway, David C. | Family Therapy Networker, November/December 1994 | Go to article overview

Miniature Roses


Treadway, David C., Family Therapy Networker


A therapist finally makes the long journey home.

ALTHOUGH IT CLEARLY SAID "STURBRIDGE: NEXT RIGHT," I almost drove by the exit. Now that would be an inauspicious start to this therapeutic adventure, I thought.

As I pulled off the Mass Pike, I was surprised by how little Sturbridge had changed. I went by the Publick House. Built as a tavern in 1761, it's a sprawling, white building that has only a few guest rooms and four big dining rooms. When my parents bought it in 1946, it was a wreck, but they worked feverishly together to rebuild and redecorate it in time for a grand Thanksgiving opening.

The Publick House was my Dad's first Treadway Inn independent of my grandfather's hotel chain. My mother had spent hundreds of hours researching colonial interior design in order to recreate the Inn in an authentic period style. Flush with the confidence of youth, my young parents had taken on an enormous debt to make a go of this venture. "We thought the world was our oyster," my father used to say. My Mom was 28 years old and pregnant with her fourth child. I was a little more than a year old.

Memories of our regular Sunday meals at the Inn washed over me as I drove by. My younger brother, Jimmy, and I always had the roast beef, mashed potatoes, and more than our share of the bread basket filled with corn sticks, garlic bread and sticky buns. Being the owners' children always meant that the waitresses treated us like visiting royalty.

On the other side of town, I made the turn to go up the hill. It had been 35 years since I last drove up Fiske Hill Road. As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed, with a small stab of disappointment, that our old house was now brick red instead of the bluish gray of my childhood, and that the barn where we kept our horses was gone.

It was odd to be renting a room for the night in my childhood home, but our house now provided additional rooms for the Inn. I wanted to rent my old bedroom, but it was occupied. I turned down the offer of the master bedroom I knew I didn't particularly want to end up in my parents' double bed. I chose my older brother's room.

As I walked through the living room, I was struck by how little had changed. It all seemed like a museum. The TV was in the same place it had been when we ate popcorn and watched "The Lone Ranger" and "Howdy Doody." The glass-topped coffee table with the magazines was still there. I wouldn't have been surprised if they were the same magazines. Even the chintz-striped living room chairs looked like the same ones that my mother led us charging up and over in the parade when I was 6.

It had been a rainy Sunday afternoon, and we were all bored. Mom decided we should play follow-the-leader. She called it a parade. We each had to wear something exotic on our heads. I wore one of her hats with a veil, my sister wore one of Dad's fedoras, Jim had on a pointed clown's hat and Mom had Life magazine split over her head with the pages coming down over her ears. She marched us around the whole house, over all the fine furniture, including the dining room table. She got us singing and laughing as if we were the Von Trapp family. She could do that kind of thing. She used to be a lot of fun in the Sturbridge days.

After unpacking, I called my wife, Kate.

"I'm here."

"How is it?"

"Feels a little anticlimactic, so far. I

think I might have spilled all the feelings I have left in Barbara's office, Tuesday."

"How are you feeling about tomorrow?"

"I'm afraid that I won't feel anything. But, I tell my clients that it's good enough to go through the motions and not to feel they have to have some kind of cathartic epiphany. I guess the same goes for me."

"Well, it's about time you did some of the things you tell your clients to do," Kate said teasingly.

I ate dinner at the Inn in the room called the Barn. For a hundred years, it had been the horse barn for the Inn's guests. …

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