TITLE: My Grandmother's Secret Chapt.2
By Iris VanDeventer-Whitney
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Lela's Story Spring 1903
The day was warm; a nice breeze was blowing through the trees making a faint whispering sound. It was soothing to the ears. I walk along a well-worn path that leads to the Post Office, where I work as the Post Mistress. It is a beautiful morning, and I plan to enjoy it fully as I make my way to work.
The leaf buds lining the tree branches are peeping out of the little tight cocoons they have been resting in for several weeks. It is a great day to be out of doors. I enjoy this same walk each morning as I make my way to work.
Work is a new word to me, this is my first time to work; however, it is beneficial in several ways, I enjoy it. I am financially independent and take care of my own needs. Most important, work has denied me the time to brood about things.
I do enjoy independence, I married young, and I found one does not always express what they think. I did express my own wants and needs on several occasions. It did not work out to my advantage. The words gave me pause, however; the stern, stiff atmosphere caused me great discomfort. I decided to refrain from voicing my thoughts. I experience the same feeling if my corset is too tight.
Well, I will not dwell on the unpleasant part of my life, that part is over. Yet, I walk on with this feeling of disquiet inside of me. Why do I sense all this unhappiness, when this beautiful day is showing its beauty everywhere? I always spoil things with my gloom and doom.
My mind is so occupied I nearly walked past the Post Office. I hope no one noticed. Carrying the disquieted spirit with me, I entered into the door and began my day as usual; I greet the townspeople and sort the mail, along with finishing several small tasks.
Five o’clock rolled around slowly. Finally, the bell rang the welcome sound, to the workers, mostly to me. I started for my rooming house, anxious to get to my room, change into a gown and read the new book my landlady lent me.
Hurrying home, I am ashamed to admit I failed to notice all the beauty on display that I enjoyed while walking to work this morning. Inside of me is a growing feeling of despair, or something unsettling. I try to shake it as I turn to go up the steps, and escape to my room.
Walking down the hall in anticipation I pause, there stands my landlady, anxious to spill all the day’s events. Although I am tired, I smile and greet her as politely as possible. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Thomas,” how are things with you today? That is all it took for her to spill the day’s happenings.
“You know the lady who moved down by the tracks? Well she finally had her baby. A little girl; makes five girls for her now!” Smilingly she continued, “I spect that’s not going to be all till they get a boy.” I felt uncomfortable the way she talked to me about things I would rather not discuss with her, and I barely listened. My thoughts tangled on how good it will be to slip into my gown and read before supper.
“That good-looking fellow that was here last fall is back. You remember the schoolteacher’s nephew”. My ears perked up when I heard my landlady speak those words. Why did I react that way? He and I met only once and spoke just enough words to get his letter mailed!
Giving Mrs. Thomas a nod of my head, I rushed to my room, thankfully without further exchange of words. After brewing a cup of coffee and slipping on a gown, I pick up my book and start to read. I intended to settle down and ease the unrest I feel.
Barely finished with one chapter, I abruptly put the book aside, as I jumped up from the chair. The feeling of disquiet is on me again. I cannot concentrate. I might as well face up to it, and figure out what is wrong.
I know for sure, what is wrong with me, why do I think putting it off will make it go away? Well, did I have a choice? What would others, in the same circumstances, have done? No matter what I try to do, someone thinks their choices are better.
I made the choice about the girls. My two little girls, I feel I have forsaken them, yet what else could I do? I am working to support them. If they were with me, how would I support them? Who could care for them?
My land, they are only four and five years old. It is not likely they could care for themselves! It is settled. They will get more attention from their aunt. It goes against my heart; however, I had no choice. So many changes in our lives, it made life more difficult than I care to remember.
A short time ago, I had a home, someone to support me and had no worries. Yet, here I am struggling and hurting; yes, I admit it, I am hurting! Turning over in bed, uncontrolled sobbing racked my body.
In the morning, my mood improved over last evening’s, I decided to walk down to the corner square, where the towns folks gathered after work, and on the week-ends to get all the latest news. There were games and socializing, plus the always popular game of horseshoes, in progress.
Reaching the area, I glanced to see if there was a familiar face, I see none, but men are leaning against the buildings, talking and laughing. The ladies are sitting on benches provided by the town merchants. Some are holding babies; others watch as their children play close by.
Not having seen an acquaintance, I walk toward a big tree with a circular bench around the trunk. It is an excellent place to read, sitting down; I lean back against the tree trunk and began to read. Time flies when I read, and today is no exception. Slipping the book into my sweater pocket, I slowly make my way back to the rooming house.
I notice young people couples together, having fun and making plans. They are enjoying the day together. I felt a twinge and a yearning to share in the gaiety. I remind myself again, I am divorced and the mother of two girls.
Rounding the corner, I hear a step behind me. Mrs. Thomas spoke of the boy, and here he is! I can hardly breathe; here he stands, as good-looking as I remember him to be. My heart is beating hard in my chest. Many people are about, it cannot be improper to be with him.
He speaks, “Say, my name is Derek Foster. I am staying in town with my aunt, who is the best teacher around these parts, don’t ya think?” All the while, he smiled right in my face! “I’m helping Auntie fix up her class room, as I did last year.” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “I wanted to come around sooner, but Auntie has kept me pretty busy.”
I feel warmer than I should feel. I think I might faint. No doubt, my cheeks are giving me away. Thankfully, we reached the rooming house and I turned and walked toward the front door, I turned the doorknob, when I heard him call, “Say, there’s a singing tonight, I’d be glad to stop by and walk you down, then see that you got back safely.”
I stood there frozen and stared at him. Pausing, he said, “What ya say?” I gave him all I could give him; a slight smile and a small nod of my head, before I rushed inside and leaned back against the door.
As I hurriedly make my way up to my room, there stands Mrs. Thomas with her hands on her hips. She blurts out to me, “Well, you are as red as a beet; I didn’t think it was hot out!”
I continued to hurry to my room, and left her standing, staring after me.
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