in actuality was a romantic person. Even while she was living in a log
cabin hastily erected by her husband to try to beat the freezing drafts
that would regardless of a Joe's wish to protect them still come through
the spaces between the logs where the packed hay was blown out by the
wind. Winter was approaching as they were trying to get the structure
ready and the ground has become so frozen they could not use the mud to
pack between the cracks. Bell's son Lee would remember and tell how they
would awake in the morning with the snow resting on the heavy comforters
Bell always made by hand.
"Mama, Mama," Lee rushed in to where his mother, Bell, was
as usual busy in her quick nervous way. "Mama, here's a letter from
Gertrude was affectionately nicknamed Gertie by the family who loved to
shorten names with an ie to the last of them. Bell picked up her apron and
wiped her hands drying them as she quietly thought about her girl she had
left behind in their flight from the dust bowl. Gertrude was only fifteen
at the time and she had been married to a man who would become her life
time mate. She was a delicate beautiful child and more beauty did she
possess than any during the hardest of times around the settlement where
she grew up. She lent her beauty and courage to her mother and her family
in the short fifteen years she had been with them and now as her life
progressed she kept in touch with her mother. With the letters she sent
she always included a picture of her family. They were a study of the life
she lived in that they were records of her own ingenuity and skills.
Bell had taught her to sew, to crochet and the skills in the kitchen the
moment the girl was old enough to handle the tools necessary to complete a
task. Her tiny fingers would hold a needle and thread learning to hem tea
towels and edges of garments when in reality she had not the thinking
ability yet to do a task of anymore greatness than this. Today as Bell
opened the letter a picture of Gertrude and her husband and first
child was there. Gertrude was dressed in an immaculate dress of white
organza looking fabric which was edged with handwork so delicate no one
could have found a more lovely image. Her hair was carefully
and neatly arranged. The child with her was as neat as was her husband who
looked back into the camera with eyes so intelligent as to tell the
observer he was not thinking at all about the camera but of something else
of far greater meaning.
Another photograph was there too. This one was of Gertrude alone. She was
dressed in a finer softer garment and she had a quality about her to make
one realize this was a woman who held a power of love so strong in her
personality as to radiate the quality through to the thoughts of the
photographer who caught it to be forever recorded in history. The
gentle sweet half smile was but just a whisper of such an idea
the thought of it touched the mother's heart.
The mean surrounding fell away from Bell as she touched with a gentleness
the sweet photographs of her daughter and her family. Gone was the
roughness of the little cabin, her fears of the daily battle she waged to
hold her family to life, and the having been made aware of the fragile
balance there with the loss of little Inez. "Look, son, here are
pictures of your sister," Bell held them out for Lee to see too.
"Mama, you know I have the most beautiful sister on this earth,"
Lee was always sure of it.
Bell put her chores out of her mind as she reached for the old violin she
always kept in its case but somehow, ever ready to be easily picked up.
The drawing of the bow across the strings was a song to fill the little
cabin with all the sorrow, the love, the joy in the receiving of the
treasured images of her daughter. When she put her violin away Lee asked
her, "Mama are you sad, you are crying."
"No, no, my son, these are tears of joy. I am so happy for your
sister's thinking of us this way. She has her own life now and I know all
the work and care she put into this and I think it is just the most
thoughtful thing for her to do to lend us lovely images like this.
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