Rodney was gone and
at work so much of the time I think Mrs. Donahoe believed I was like
a widow. Every once in a while she would make one or another comment
about my being alone so much.
I chose this time to
pull out a painting that was mostly finished.
My work showed her at
work and that was to catch the woman in a serene moment as she
looked over a field of corn. A brown dress the color of the earth
was a way to make a person think
about the colors
involved and why they were like this. To show this woman of the
earth who built these great fields of food for a multitude of people
was my greatest wish. The Dallas skyline in the background spoke to
this thought. The varied greens of the growing crop and the azure
color of the sky was my pallette and it was one of harmony. With a
hoe in her hand she was forever to be remembered as a person of
courage and quiet resolve to accomplish what she did with only the
barest of a crude tool. To say her strength had to be recorded for
posterity didnít even measure up to the true person she was.
Suddenly Mrs. Donahoe
was quiet and thoughtful and then she said, "My doctor told me if I
get on that tractor one more time, well, he couldnít promise me
anything with my heart, and all. I donít think Iíll go like that
though. I imagine Iíll just go off to sleep and not wake up."
It was something for
me to think about and I felt a bit guilty about putting the hoe in
the picture. To some of the older folks this was a symbol of death.
I had not even thought about it at all.
"Billís a good catch,
you know." Mrs. Donahoe was mischievously grinning.
"Now, Mrs. Donahoe
Iím married." I smiled as I said it.
"Yeah, but heís never
around. Does he work all the time?" She was sincere.
"Yes, he works a lot
but he gets paid well, too." I told her.
"Still, you canít
accomplish a thing without a man. Look at my old man, he can hardly
do anything but heís always with me." It was her way of thinking.
Her husband was always right beside her if no more than simply
driving her truck for her as he waited patiently while she
accomplished some one or another chore. I didnít disagree with her
but knew for myself I was content. The attraction for anything but
my family just wasnít there.
Mrs. Donahoe called
the next morning and said, "Iím sending Bill over with some
vegetables," She was wily and I knew it.
In a rush I ran
around the house pulling clothes out, scattering them here and there
over my usually neat house. I grabbed dishes from the cabinets and
loaded up the sink and counters. Who would know they werenít dirty
dishes? By the time Bill arrived the house looked like a tornado had
struck. It was funny, too. Most people tidy up before a guest
arrives. Here I was doing the opposite.
This shy, polite man
stood just inside the door with his hands full of a sack of
vegetables. He looked around the place with bugged out eyes and
couldnít seem to take his gaze off the mess. I could have been
Elizabeth Taylor and he wouldnít have noticed me. Here was this hard
working man in the presence of the laziest housekeeper he had
probably ever seen. He quietly backed out after he put the sack on
the floor, walked down the drive and was off and gone in a hurry.
I did feel a bit
guilty for this deception with my dear, beloved friend, but it was
the quickest way I knew to handle the situation. As it happened Mrs.
Donahoe was aware and did know of her physical condition.
The phone rang in the
early morning. Something about the jingle of it made me feel
"Mrs. Donahoe passed
away during the night in her sleep. We know so many people we are
having a private funeral. Please will you be there?" Patsy spoke
with quiet remorse.
Having the funeral
the morning after her death that night was typical of a kind woman
who would not pull people away from their duties in a lengthy drawn
out process for burial
Already a great
loneliness settled over me. The funeral was short but the large room
was full and overflowing. The minister simply said, "Mrs. Donahoe
wanted to be remembered as a hard worker."
I could have felt
guilty for having squelched the thought of giving her a last belief
in her sonís settling down with a wife if not for the woman next
door to them who had a small son. I often saw Bill in his truck with
the boy beside him. This was before his motherís death. He soon was
married to a very nice lady who owned the land next to him so it all
worked out for the best. Mrs. Donahoe accomplished her last task,
the one to see her son married and settled.
The days were going
by slowly. I had known there was a lump in my side for quite a while
but it wasnít until now I began to feel tired all the time. I made a
decision to return home. Surgery wasnít a new thing because Mark had
been delivered by Caesarian and I wanted to be close to family in
case anything went wrong. Little did I know what the future held for