Merle had spent her life
“working hard.” She was a nurse and didn't mind telling anyone, “I was
never sick and off the job. Never.” There was no doubt in my mind she was
telling the complete truth. This was just the kind of person she was.
The now elderly woman had
lived with her husband on a successful farm which covered quite a few
acres. It was his grandfather's farm. The love of the place was inherited
along with the land. The man, Merle's husband, provided well and they
enjoyed years of companionship along with raising their children too.
These days were different
though. Merle was uncomfortable with living in the far out area after her
husband passed away and while a new breed of young people rushed up and
down the country road beside her house.
Now, as she went about
closing out her farm house it must have been typical of the way habits and
problems were worked through. There was an unhurried attitude. Actually,
no one seemed to know when she moved. One day the woman was on the farm
and the next day settled into the beautiful if not small house in one of
the best parts of town. Her sister offered the home at a fantastic price
and Merle made no dilly dallying about accepting the offer. It was as
simple as that.
Once in a while she made
trips back to the farm her son was now operating and this was known
because she made comments about this or that incident. There was only once
when she seemed to be a little home sick for the place when she spoke of
how the Walnut trees had been so beautiful. She didn't say, “I'll miss
them,” but one had the feeling the thought was in her mind.
When she spoke of her
grandmother as being Ginger Lee Adams we were caught by the statement.
This side of the family was known only by two or three names. They were
different sounding names, put together first and second names to be spoken
as one which is customary with the southern people.
“Ginger Lee? That was my
grandmother's mother's name and the name also of her sister. Grandmother
always said they were related to General Lee, thus “Gingerly” as was
spoken of his personality.
As our acquaintance became
more and more casual it was discovered there were many names alike. They
were unusual names one did not hear that often. There was ParaLee, Charity
Lee and so forth and so on.
Furthermore, the woman's
own daughter's also had names in agreement with their family.
With more searching and
digging it was almost certain in my mind it would be fairly easy to trace
a kinship. For the most part at this time the thought of a mysterious
connection was more to my liking and I was glad to leave it at that.
Instead, the pleasure of learning of the woman's ways and habits maybe
leading back to the people of that line was more of a joy than actually
knowing. You will see what I mean.
A month before Thanksgiving
Merle called. “Are you planning to have a meal with anyone on
“No, no. We will probably
have hot dogs and sauerkraut here.” I joked with her as to the menu.
“Why don't you let me cook
the meal?” Merle offered an invitation.
“Are you sure? I hate to
have you go to that trouble just for us.”
Merle insisted. “I'm here
by myself. The kids are all tied up with theirs. Why don't you come over?”
“Sounds wonderful to me.”
I took the woman up on her invitation and what a wonderful day we had.
Nothing left out or spared. It was a great meal.
During the time we had
together more and more personal character traits made me aware of things I
had only heard spoken about in the family. They were small things but so
strong and striking in performance. If there was a way I could have
stepped over the chasm of time to the past it would not have been any
better than this association.
All at once the things
acted out, carried out, and maybe even a little off the beaten track
happened with the women and myself. Her ways were not strange but somehow
compatible. I found myself a little uneasy with my slow acceptance like
a child wishing to receive a gift but too on guard and uncertain to do
so. Still, I knew, I felt it to be true that here was the line of people I
only knew by name. For those of us who are satisfied with small pleasures
let me say this for me is even more than a small pleasure. It was like
having my grandmother of that line in my presence. I wanted to know so
much about her but not wishing to frighten her away it was my position to
go slowly, to be satisfied with just seeing the acting out of her
habits. Somehow it is a little like having immortality..