“It’s Jim. He’s dead.” John
came to the point quickly as he spoke to his wife.
“Oh no! I can’t believe it.
What on earth happened? An accident?” Zona was shocked.
“I’m not sure. They said he
went to sleep and fell off his wagon and the wheel ran over him.” It
didn’t seem real to John, either.
“His wife? She’s so sick,
John. I don’t think she’s going to make it. She needs a doctor.” Zona felt
frightened and unsure of what to do.
“I’ll just grab me a cup of
coffee, and I will turn right around and head back to town.” John made a
decision in an instant.
The sounds of the woman’s
breathing filled the house. Zona had been up practically all night trying
to keep her comfortable. She took soft rags, heated them on the stove and
put them on the woman’s chest when she complained she was so cold. A
kettle for moisture was on the stove. When the woman’s temperature shot
up, Zona put cool wet rags on her forehead, arms and legs to bring it
down. Occasionally the mother asked for her child. Another time she wanted
to see her husband.
John wasn’t gone that long
when he came tearing in on his horse at breakneck speed. The doctor was
riding double with him and hanging on for dear life. They had not even
taken time to harness and hook up the doctor’s horse to his buggy.
“How’s she doin’?” John
asked as he came through the door with the doctor.
“Not good, John. Not good.”
Zona had a strained, worried look about her.
The doctor took one look at
the woman and said, “Pneumonia.”
“Is it that bad?” Zona
“It is bad.” He told her,
“if she has any relatives you had better see if they can get in touch with
“She doesn’t. She’s from
Kansas and I’m not even sure where in Kansas. Her husband was killed last
night. What are we going to do about this poor baby?” Zona was aware of
the ominous reality of what was happening. She was now sitting up, dozing
beside the woman’s bed, and when she woke from her light sleep intuition
made her feel the stillness of the house rather than hear it, and she
“Doctor?” She softly spoke
to the man across from her.
“It’s over for the poor
girl.” He shook his head.
Zona got up and wanted to
walk, to run, anything to get away. Her little daughter was standing
beside her. She knew the girl was a tender-hearted little person who was
wise beyond her years.
“Mommy!” The little girl
Zona reached over to her,
held the child to her breast and they wept together. The high pitched,
thin wail of the baby pulled her away from its mother’s death and back to
‘The doctor was another
arrangement the federal government had made for the 10,000 people who had
settled in this town of Guthrie, Oklahoma which had been established
overnight by the land run. It was this man, the doctor’s, destiny to tend
to the traumas and tragedies of these who were settlers. And this he did,
often in a solitary way. Softly he closed the door of John and Zona’s
home. He knew his work was finished here and others in town would surely
be needing him.
After the doctor left Zona
had to get out of the house.
She stepped into the wintry
blast. Everywhere was nothing but the evidence of winter. Trees along the
creek were bare and some even creaked as the wind tugged at heavy trunks
and lighter branches. The woman was in a kind of shock and now she
screamed aloud but no one heard her over the moaning of the wind and she
knew they wouldn’t.
“I best get inside, or I’ll
be in the same situation as that poor woman in there,” Zona spoke aloud to