Tuesday, February 19, 2013

                                                                Another Place...Another Time

 Mary loved to look at her reflection in the beautiful french doors between the dining room and the parlor of her grandparents home.  Only today she was not searching for her image, but rather peering through trying to see far into the other room.  There were too many people.  They all mingled and talked in hushed voices, the women often crying and the men with stoic expressions frozen on their faces.  And she knew they looked at her differently.  They looked down to her, trying to smile but failing, some would pat her on the head, but then all quickly looked away.  It was pity, but at the tender age of five, Mary held no comprehension of the sorrow.
She slowly took tentative steps toward the doors in her one Sunday dress with her hair fixed all pretty and wearing the shoes that hurt her feet.  She kept waiting for an adult to reach down and push her in another direction, but no one blocked her path.  Her cousins Herb and Frankie Ray were assigned to watch after her and her toddler brother, but somehow she managed to slip past them.

As she stepped through the doors, she finally got a glimpse of him.  He looked so peaceful just laying there like he was taking a nap, only now he slept in a strange looking box, with sad people surrounding him.  Her Daddy was the most handsome man, and she was his princess.  She couldn't understand what death meant, but she knew it made people cry.  And she knew she carried an awful ache in her tummy that she couldn't share with anyone.  
She noticed the owie still on  his hand where the snake bit him six weeks before.  They had gone to the well and as he pulled up the bucket a water moccasin lay coiled in the bottom.  It struck him on the hand before he jerked away, and he grew deathly sick for several days.  Momma never went to the well anymore, and Daddy cracked jokes about it.  Mary loved it when they all laughed.

Mary stood next to a group of older men who talked in low tones and never realized she stood nearby listening.

"Horace sure was a good boy."

"Strong boy."

"Damn shame."

He was just trying to finish working his field with his one horse plow so that he got his crop sowed before the rain. He told his wife his side ached,but didn't think it too urgent.  He needed to finish.  So as the pains grew more fierce, he grew more determined to finish and he did.  By the time he made it to the local doctor his swollen appendix burst.  In 1935 living in rural East Texas, the prognosis was dire.  Gangrene set in quickly and he died within the week at the age of 23.  He left behind his loving wife Pauline, his doting daughter Mary, and a toddler son Frank...Damn shame.

Mary grew more confident with each step because she came on a mission.  Once she reached the casket, she needed a boost to see over the side.  Her Daddy's loved the blue sweet peas growing outside, so she cautiously went to the flower bed and picked him a few.  Now, She gingerly tucked the sweet peas into his lapel with her tiny fingers so that he would look nice for the funeral.  And that is her most lasting memory of her father.

Mary is my mother, and even though her mother eventually remarried, she lived a pretty tough life.  From the age of seven through high school she worked long hours in the cotton fields, either hoeing or picking bolls.  She is my hero :)

No comments:

Post a Comment