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Donna Flood
My brother, Henry


Her brother, Henry, was a grown up boy when she was a child. He was the son of Donetta's father's first wife. They were neighbors but, his German immigrant grandparents were very reserved. They were master caretakers of the land and their grandchildren were schooled along side them in their daily endeavors to pit themselves as winners over the harsh prairie lands. Their grandsons were not allowed any foolishness or wasteful moments in their lives.

It was when she was a grown woman and married that she returned for a short time to live at the old home site there on the wondrous planes with edges just touching the often rain heavy clouds. This was the time to became acquainted and a time too when she grew to love her oldest brother with all the depths of feeling one has for a hero.

Henry had already faced the terrors of battle while he wore the American uniform. In his mind were the memory scars of men on a beach quietly whispering a yearning to see their Mother just once more as they died. He had buried his first wife, mother of his oldest son after she was stricken with polio. The stature of his soul's sorrows could only come through on occasion if by some chance the mention of his son's mother was made or maybe if the topic of war became a discussion.

These were days of new beginnings though. Henry was remarried. His first wife's cousin who had first of all cared for his orphaned son, and then in an acquaintance, fell in love with him. She was young, beautiful, full of happiness, and love of life. If there was every a gift to replace the sorrow for his losses it was Faye. She was light hearted with a joyful easy going personality. Not to say she was slow or lazy. Not so. She was industrious to the maximum. Her children were the cleanest and freshest dressed. The girls could have been Anglican angels with fair skin and blond hair brushed and combed to a web of gold about their faces. The boys were sturdy and held straight gazes to hold one's eyes with their sharp intelligence. Henry's oldest, now her step son but first of all her cousin, became hers to stand beside her while she stepped with light feet through the ever present chores of caring for a family there on the long stretches of highlands and low rolling hills.

Faye needed a friend and Donetta needed someone even more than she. Donetta was expecting her first child and the time she was spending there in the old home place left her quite alone. Her husband was working long days in the oil fields some short distances away. Population over the bare reaches of land was as sparse as the elements of civilization itself. Donetta made friends easily when there was anyone there with whom to make a friend.

So, these were the circumstances leading up to the evening the two couples were spending together playing dominoes. One game led to another, while they enjoyed learning so much about each other. The gusting jerking wind made no impression on them. Wasn't it always so? The fact that there was snow with it would have been a warning if they had noticed.

When two a.m. came around one of them noticed the time and began to realize maybe they should bring the night to a close as to socializing. Henry stepped to the door and exclaimed. "Say, it has been snowing!" "Looks kind of deep to me!"

Donetta's husband not born of the prairie had no fear or anxieties about the weather.

"Aw, it'll be okay." "We had better get back to the ranch." "We left all the propane fires burning."

They bundled up with coats, mittens and windbreaker over everything and started down the little gravel road in their car. "After all," it is only five miles," Pete commented.

Donetta remained quiet with only a small "Hmmmmm" as a reply. She knew, sometimes, only the distance of a city block could seem like an eternity to travel in a prairie storm.

They did get a little farther than a block, but only a little. The car was stuck in the snow. It certainly wouldn't go forward, and neither could they go backward. "Now what?" Pete was surprised.

"It isn't far, and it isn't blowing snow." "I can't walk back through this snow." "Just you go and come back for me." Donetta had no problems making decisions when it came to survival here at this place.

In only a little while she heard the heavy groaning of her brother's big old hay truck. While they rode back to his place, secure and safe above the snowed out road, she was beginning her acquaintance with Henry and there would be a growing respect for his gentle spirit. He was her oldest but newest brother and even though they had not been raised in the same house, sharing atotal life together, there was simply a special closeness they had. She was his little sister and he was her big brother. Donetta loved him so dearly, then and for the rest of their lives.


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