Mariah, after roaming about
Ponca City, here and there, and not finding any security with the
divorce and loss of her children, moved to Bartlesville. For a while
she stayed in the hotel room Chief, her brother, had rented. It was a
dark, hidden space at the top of wide steps and had an old spacious
landing. The couch like bench, resting on one end of the room made
this area a possible place where visitors might wait for their host to
receive them which had to be a throw back to elegance of a by-gone
era. Mariah didn't care about the age or impending shabbiness of the
hotel room. She was working as a cashier in a cafe, something she
couldn't have done in Ponca City, without causing her family to look
down on her. Little of her time was spent in the hotel.
“Well, come in this house, Mariah!” Gwen welcomed her husband’s sister
into her home.
“I know you don’t like the kids to have pop so I brought some chocolate
milk and some fruit juice. There is some fruit here, too.” Mariah
began unloading the contents of the paper sacks onto the table.
The children were busily
looking to see what was there for them. Katy stood close by Mariah and
tugged at her sleeve.
“Are you going to draw
for us today?” The little girl asked.
“Go get your paper and
pencil. I have some water colors here in my purse.”
Mariah was famous for
taking time with kids to teach them to draw. There never seemed to be
any image she couldn't capture with her quick squiggly lines, whether it
be a flower, a dog with changing ears, snout and tail, or whatever
object a child might request. It was almost as if she, herself, was a
child again, able to see intricate forms in a childlike way.
As Mariah entertained
this newly adopted little family of children she visited with her
sister-in-law, too. She was lonely and even though there was never a
complaint about missing her own children anyone could see, she did..
Weldon was on the road most of the time and with his renewed interest in
rebuilding the ranch, she hardly ever saw the man.
“Will Weldon be home this
week-end?” She asked Gwen.
“He’s going up to the
ranch to put on a new roof. I don’t think he has any help. I suppose
he will be working alone. The job will take longer, that way.”
“Oh well! He’s a work a
holic, anyway.” Mariah knew how he was.
“If you see my brother,”
and at this she chuckled, “tell him I'm getting married.”
“Married! Oh my! I'm
sure he will be pleased though. You just don’t know how concerned he has
been about you.” Gwen told her sister-in-law.
That week-end and the
following vacation time Weldon had, he spent roofing the ranch house.
None of the family saw him working but everyone was totally impressed
with his going ahead on his own and doing what needed to be done. There
was a kind of reprieve for them and they were relieved that, at last,
someone was settling down to the hard work it would take to rebuild and
restore not only the house but the lands, as well. He already was
putting up new barb-wire fence. This ripple of joyful expectations gave
“Are you planning to live
there?” Mariah asked.
“Chief wants me to move.
How did you stand living so far out?” The woman was a bit concerned
about being alone and far out while he was driving on the road.
“You will get used to
it. It really isn't that apart from everything. The place is located
five miles between Foraker and Grainola. The isolation makes people
bind together stronger and there are others who will be there for you.
I was never lonely. Seems like something was going on all the time, in
fact, more so than when we lived in town. When the children start
school, their activities will keep you running.” The voice of
experience was placed at the feet of someone who had not the faintest
idea for what was ahead of her.
“Well then, ahem, look at
what happened to your marriage.” Gwen wasn't buying all that Mariah was
“That had nothing to do
with the locale, nothing at all. We wouldn't have been married as long
if we had not moved out there. I'm sure of it.”
Mariah wasn't at all
convinced of the future of her brother but she wasn't going to make it
her business. She had found happiness and planned to start a new
family. This was her only interest.
“I’ll start all over with
another family.” She told anyone who asked.
She was interested in her
brother’s alcohol problem, though, and she point blank asked.
“How is Weldon doing with
“It’s a problem. He does
say he wants to be free of it by the time our child is born.” Gwen
seemed to be confident in her husband’s ability to quit drinking.
“I hope so,” was all
“Seems like Old Crow has
his claw in him." Mariah could always, like her Collins ancestors, make
a comparison or use a metaphor to get her point across.