Never Could Say Goodbye


Why did the process of leaving a family friend or relative’s house seem to take forever?  Little kids hated adult small talk, “My how you’ve grown.  What grade were you in school? You’re almost as tall as your older brother.”

Adult chattering never stopped.  Pitiful expressions, tugging at mom’s skirt, never made the process go faster. Going to your father for help didn’t work, either.  His standard response, “Go ask your mother.”  Which really meant, he knew from years of experience, saying goodbye could not be hurried.

Two generations later, blessed with more patience, the process hadn’t changed.  Only the players in these mini-dramas were different.  Grandma, family matriarch, cooked at home–did most of the cooking away from home.

For that reason, the head chef needed proper utensils, small appliances, to feel at home away from home–anything easily transportable.

Leftovers had to be divvied up.  Grandma refereed the process.  “Don’t take all of that–take more of this.  Your sister likes cranberries, you know.”

“Where were the…

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Miz Dalrymple and the Hog

pig in slopThe neighbors gathered after the first frost to slaughter the Jackson’s hogs. Terrified by the commotion and scent of blood, one of the pigs managed to escape and hide up under under the neighbor’s outhouse, a good ways off, where Miz Dalrymple was
enjoying a little time to herself, thinking all the menfolk was off killing hogs. Just as she got relaxed, she heard A deep voice, “I’ll git behind here ‘n poke ‘er with a stick. You hit ‘er in th’ head with th’ ax when she comes a’runnin’ out!”

Thinking madmen had ‘er for shore, pore Miz Dalrymple come a’flyin’ out with her drawers around her ankles. It was amazing how fast an ol’ lady could run like that. It took her two days to walk back!


Mother thinks my kitchen is a deli.  She always checks my kitchen counter for a biscuit to go with her coffee when she comes in the back door.  At the end of every visit, she snags another to take home for a snack as well as raiding  the fridge before leaving.  I caught this picture of her leaving yesterday.  You see the eggs in her hand.  In her hobo’s bundle, she has a container of fruit salad, another of turkey salad, and a piece of pound cake.  Last week she had a surprise lunch guest and couldn’t wait to tell me what a fine lunch she’d whipped up: turkey and dressing, canned fruit, and cake. It was my home-canned turkey, my home-made dressing, and sour cream pound cake.  I do believe she had to spring for the peas.  I’ll bet she never breathed a word of where all that food came from.  Of course, she had a plate of my pickled veggies on the side.

Anyway, that is not the story I set out to tell.  For Mother, leaving is a process.  First, she announces she’s leaving and gathers her gleanings from my kitchen.  Then, I go out to turn her car around and take the first load of stuff.  She follows to watch.  She has a little trouble backing out around our vehicles and camper trailer.  She keeps an eagle eye on me, then heads back to use the bathroom one last time before heading that long seven miles home, or wherever is next on her agenda.  She has to pet Buzzy a bit and hunt Bud up from wherever he’s escaped to say “Goodbye,” because she might not see him for a day or two.  Then she has two get a drink of water and talks a minute on the way out.  Sometimes she gets all the way to the car before remembering she’s left her jacket, phone, or maybe an obituary or newspaper article she brought to show me.  That necessitates a little more visiting.  Eventually, she makes it all the way to her car.  It’s not over yet!  Finally settled in, she makes a phone call or two before hitting the road, unless she’s forgotten to tell me something and has to come back in for a minute.  Her average leaving time is eleven minutes, though it’s not unusual to take thirteen.  She’s so little she has to sit on three cushions!


Andrew and Molly Finale

Molly went about her business as usual.  With four children under five, the house and homestead to run, she had all she could handle.  Even with Malcolm and Martha Wilson’s help and Rosemarie to nurse the baby, every moment held its demands.  The farm was now in excess of five hundred acres.  Will managed it for her, as well as continuing his blacksmithing.  They’d planned to negotiate for three more bondsmen and increase the timber harvesting the next spring.  Molly had hopes she Andrew could work their situation out, but he’d not approached her, though she did see him helping Will about his blacksmith shop.

The older couple strolled over after supper that evening. Will spoke to Molly.  “Molly, you and Andrew have matters you need to discuss.  God joined you together and you were separated through no fault on either part.  Your circumstances are tangled.  Neither of you benefits from antagonism.  Andrew wants to meet to discuss your situation.  Are you willing?  He’d like to come over if you are ready.”

“We do need to talk.  We vowed to love each other once.  This is a test of that promise.  It would be best for everyone if we find common ground.”

In minutes Will was back with Andrew.  “Can I see the baby?” Rosemarie reluctantly surrendered the baby but stayed at his side.  “He looks recovered.  His cheeks are round again.  I am grateful.”  Rosemarie beamed when he handed the baby back.     “I was wrong to reproach you for marrying.  Will has explained your danger.  I had no right.  The child is my son.  The Indians held another captive, the wife of a trader.  She was killed when we were escaping.  I want you back.  Will you think about it?

Molly thought long before she answered.  “We are not the same people who loved each other then, but we have needs and there are children who need us both.  I have been leaning on Will and Aggie too long.  You need to know, James left half the farm to me, the rest to the children, so it will never be yours.  I have the final say in its use, but land we get from this day forward we share.  Can you agree to that?”

“All I have thought of was getting back to you.  I was a bondsman, then a slave.  The life you offer is more than I ever hoped for.  We are still young enough to have a long life together.  I am willing.”  he answered.

“Will, can you fetch the reverend?  We need marrying.”

They were  married more than thirty years and had five more children.  Like all couples, they wrangled many times, but together increased their holdings.  It was a good life.