of a Broken Window
By Esther Gross
No one knows how I got broken, and I scarcely remember myself. I do know it happened during the years I stood there vacant and alone, no candle glow to soften the nights, no voices echoing across the timbers. I was simply an empty pane in the front window of the homestead Mr. Byron Sully built for his first wife, Abigail. (I pieced together in later times that during those years Sully was off grieving, first for Abby and his baby and later for some kind of terrible distress he got himself into out East.)
Then one day I saw him ambling up the way, leading a horse with an elegant lady in a red dress riding it. I watched in dismay as she crashed to the ground trying to get off -- and he didn't help her up. "Well, if yer gonna' survive," he informed her, "ya gotta learn to make it on yer own."
That pretty lady come right up beside me, opened the door next to me, peered in, and said she'd "take it." Did that mean my days of being lonely were over? She rummaged around in her bag for some little chunk of wood with her name on it and held it up to the outer wall -- but he was not impressed.
Not long after, Miz Charlotte Cooper and her brood arrived with the lady and a passle of cleaning equipment. My, what a lot of dust they stirred up in the hours that followed! Some of that dust drifted right through me because I was still a gapin' hole.
No one recorded who mended me, but a good guess would be Miz Cooper. Anyways, it had to be done before that elegant lady could move in. Whoever it was come up with some ingenious way to do it. 'Stead of waitin' a spell for Mr. Bray to order a glass pane, they used six canning jars, end to end, three below and three above, all sealed together.
Next thing I know, the family's moved in and tryin' to get used to livin' together, though I got the impression they hardly knew each other. One night there was a whole lot of excitement as that Sully fellow come back in the dark with a wounded Indian chief for the lady doctor to tend to. The next day Sully and the Indians were hiding out in the barn when soldiers come ridin' up the way. The doctor looked out through the panes of my window and saw them comin'. Quick as a flash, she come up with a scheme to mislead them and delay them in gettin' to the barn.
A long time later, winter come upon us -- a right strange winter 'cuz we was socked in with snow! First an' only time I can remember it (even though we *are* situated at the base of the Colorado Rockies). The family was inside feelin' all down in the mouth for the loved ones what weren't with them that Christmas, when all of a sudden my jars nearly rattled with a banging on the door! Turns out that Sully fella had come back after a long spell, this time bearing Christmas gifts. They almost let him get away afterwards -- I could have cried for how lost and unsure he looked as he headed for the door! But they finally remembered their manners and invited him to eat with them. I can tell you, it made a right cozy -- and promising! -- sight through the panes of my window that night!
Some time later the lady doctor brought to the homestead a dark-skinned man who had been burned something terrible. For days he lay on the bed, just inches from me, suffering and not always clear in his head. Once I heard him moanin' so pitiful about "Please don't take my children away!" One day a lady with the same skin come by, and she spoke right strong to him. She said, "Robert E, you are not a slave anymore!" And then I heard her say, real firm and powerful, "I'm here, and I ain't leaving!"
One night while that poor man was still there ahealin', the doc's Boston ma took a turn sittin' with him, right there next to me. The little guy, Brian, he come up to her and asked for a story. I could tell she weren't much into stories, but then she got goin' on one about a daughter what went off to a dangerous place. Well, the little guy picks right up on it, and he finishes it for her with words what would have sent tears running down my jars if I'd had any (tears, that is). He said, "After my real ma went to heaven, Dr. Mike became my ma here on earth, and she loves me just the same -- she told me so!"
Another time I got in on the action was when the little guy was feeling bad about havin' to release a deer he and the doc had nursed back to health. The whole family was gathered in the front yard, with me just alookin' on, while the kid struggled with his feelin's. Then he bent over the deer's nose, made like he was breathin' into him, and said he was givin' the deer his spirit. After that he felt okay about lettin' the deer go.
One time the family thought they was gonna have to move out of the homestead cuz Sully's used-to-be father-in-law claimed it was his. Well, after the old codger had an operation, he thought better of bein' so cantankerous, and he said as how they could stay. I could hear a little of the doc, out in the yard, stoppin' Sully from leavin'. She said something about "Stay for dinner . . . we have a lot to celebrate!" I saw him make a little half smile (well, maybe it were more like just a quarter of one), and then he come back and the whole family walked right past me into the house with their arms around each other. I felt right good that evenin'!
Some time later, there was bangin' on that door agin' (I tell you, it's amazin' the glass pains weren't broken time and again!). I saw this good-lookin' man standin' there. When the doc opened it and the man turned out to be the pa of her adopted kids, you should have seen the look on her face! Well, I couldn't see it perfect through the curtains, but I saw enough to understand she were pretty shook up.
Another dark night, and some more bangin' on the door -- and once again I was the first to have a glimpse of the terrible trouble in store. Sully's Cheyenne friend stood there on the stoop holdin' him like he were a child. Sully weren't movin' a twitch, but even in the dark I could tell he was in bad, bad shape. I can't tell you what a sight he was -- all purple and crimson and swelled up so as he didn't look like himself at all. For days and even weeks, he lay on the bed right there next to me, and I can assure you, I got to see all kinds of emotions come and go!
After he was awake, everybody was pretty tore up cuz he couldn't move his legs. One day he hollered at the doc to quit fussin' over him since it weren't doin' no good. Then he said, "And don't go feelin' sorry for me neither!" Well, she stood right there aside me for a minute -- gettin' a handle on her own feelin's, I think -- and finally she says to him, "I'll make a deal with you -- I won't feel sorry for you if you won't feel sorry for yourself!"
Once they run across an unusual kid what seemed to have no family -- that is, until they figured out he was the kid of some guy named Hank. Like usual, the doc was trying to help, but nothin' seemed to be working out. One day this nice lady they called Myra come to the homestead and stood right near me while she tried to talk the doc into lettin' the little guy work for Hank at the saloon. She promised real strong that she would look out for him and make sure he was okay.
Another time I remember a visitor what come to the homestead for dinner. Seems he had some kind of destructive sickness, and besides that, his "camera" was broke. (Not rightly sure what a camera could be. Seems part of it was glass, but with a box and black cloth, it didn't sound like no window *I* ever saw.) The man was about to leave out the door when they all started tryin' to convince him the thing could be fixed. He stood right there by me and argued with them, but eventually they appeared to get him convinced.
The above are from: The Pilot, The Visitor, Law of the Land, The Healing, Father's Day, Running Ghost, the Secret, and Portraits.
I witnessed so many scenes through the years that it is hard to remember them all. One tense moment that stands out began tamely enough with candle light glowing through my panes to soften the night outside. Inside the family was singing O Susanna! around the supper table with some guests. Another one of those knocks on the door (this one wasn't particularly loud), and Sully opened it to a middle-aged man apparently known to the guests but not Sully or Dr. Mike.
The man talked real pleadin' and sweet to the lady guest for a spell (I think her name was Dorothy), but it was plain nobody was happy to see him. Some of 'em even ordered him to leave--that's when he startled 'em all by pullin' out a gun. Quick as a flash Sully had his tomahawk out, too. Turned out the man weren't intendin' to shoot nobody, just offerin' the gun to the lady to get her to believe he didn't mean her no harm. He said as how he'd rather die than hurt her again, but I didn't get the impression anybody was much convinced.
When the lady went out with him, little Brian says, "Is he gonna hurt her?" Sully, tomahawk in hand, said he would make sure he didn't. After they was all gone, Dr. Mike talked real strong to Colleen makin' sure she knew she didn't *never* have to let no boy or man hurt her.
Another tense event was when the Cheyenne folks was all riled up cuz one of 'em had been shot in the woods and nobody would fess up about it. Matthew was at the homestead watchin' out for his sister and brother. He was snoozin' in the rocker huggin' a shotgun when he hears someone ridin' up hard and fast outside. He wakes up Brian and Colleen on the bed and tells 'em to get down and hide. Then he sneaks right up to me, slips the curtain open a crack, and sticks the gun out the window (don't ask me to explain that one!).
Turns out it was Sully and the doc ridin' up, all worked up cuz the barber guy, Jake, had been carried off by some Indians. Sully and Dr. Mike had a big disagreement about what they should do as far as tellin' folks what had happened. Seems she finally prevailed. (Nobdy ever told me what happened to Jake . . .)
One time Dr. Mike was sleepin' even after the sun was shining bright on her through my curtain. Sully come ridin' up, all excited cuz some kind of sickness was layin' folks low at the reservation. She hurried to get ready to leave, but before she did, she kissed Brian and Colleen and said she didn't know how long she'd be gone. After they left, Matthew sat on the bed there by me, holdin' his head like he weren't feelin' well at all.
I had me a feelin' some kind of big trouble was about to happen---but then everyone left, and no one came back for days and days! I never did find out what happened. I tell you, it can be right frustratin' being glued down tight in one place!
Some of the strangest times I ever saw was when my former mistress, Abagail, showed up now and again and was talkin' to Dr. Mike! It all started one night when Dr. Mike was sleepin' on the bed there beside me and a breeze come through my curtains and disturbed her sleep. She woke up kind of spooked by some strange noises she was hearin' from out the window, including somethin' like a baby crying. She even walked out into the night trying to trace it down.
Like I said, Abagail kept showin' up in Dr. Mike's dreams--or somethin'. They talked right out loud to each other about human subjects that didn't mean much to me -- like unfairness and loss and love, about leavin' or not leavin', takin' and not takin', and about not forgettin'. Only thing I could figure out for sure was that Abagial weren't one bit happy about Dr. Mike.
When they talked about Abagail's baby that she had been expectin', I got sad myself rememberin' how much I had been lookin' forward to havin' that baby in the homestead after it was born. But for some reason, that never happened! Suddenly there was not only no baby, there was no Abagail -- and then there was no Sully for all that long time either.
The last time I saw Abagail, she was saying to Dr. Mike, "You're wrong; we would have been friends." Can't help wonderin' what that would have been like! Then there was somethin' about a little red rockin' horse that Abagail seemed to take way with her--right strange stuff, like I said. Anyways, after Abagail was gone, Dr. Mike woke up in her rockin' chair when it was already bright morning. She went past me out through the door and called a cheery "Good morning" to Sully and the kids playing in the yard. Seemed like she must have come to peace with whatever was disturbin' her sleep those nights cuz it never happened again.
All this time, I suspected some kind of feelin's might be growin' up between the doc and that Sully guy, but they didn't never seem to let on much. He just kept showin' up whenever he was needed, and the two of 'em always seemed to get involved in doin' stuff together.
Well, one absolutely crazy time a whole passle of screamin' kids was stirrin' up bedlam in the homestead. Had something to do with the Reverand and the doc, though myself I never figured out what. When the Rev went to leave one night, the special tones in his good-by to the doc caught my ears. What's this? The doc and the Rev? Not the doc and Sully? You mean I had it all wrong?
One night the Cooper kids was at the homestead when Sully arrived lookin' for the doc. Seems the noisy kids was out somewhere with the doc and the Rev. The Cooper kids was standin' right near me and Sully, feeling' real sorry for themselves, saying how the doc cared more about the "orphans" than she did about them. When they heard someone driving up outside, Sully pulled back my curtain and looked out.
It was the doc and the Rev arrivin' back. After the noisy kids seemed to disappear, those two stood outside, right in my line of vision, just talkin' and smilin' and butterin' each other up somethin' fierce--and then, would you believe, he asked her to marry him!! So I did have it figured out all wrong! I was sure I was right when next thing I knew, he was kissin' her!
Suddenly I realized as how Sully was standin' beside me in the open door with Matthew, glarin' at 'em. I could only imagine the look on his face, but then I didn't have to imagine it! When he couldn't stand watchin' no more and turned away, he turned right toward me! I'll tell you, given the look I saw in those electric blue eyes, I'm surprised the Rev was able to ride away in good health!!
The above vignettes are from: Sanctuary, The Incident, The Offering, Halloween1, and Orphan Train
Season 2, cont'd
Sometime later the whole family and Sully were in the homestead with clothes and suitcases scattered all over the place. Sully was standing right by me (I always *loved* it when he did that ;-> !). Dr. Mike seemed to have a million things on her mind, and it sounded like she and the kids were goin' away somewheres. She and Sully were talking about his looking after the homestead and sayin' good-by to some folks named Cloud Dancin' and Snow Bird. He said, "I promise," and little Brian piped up, "Sully always keeps his promises!" Does that mean sometimes human folks don't?
The kids was askin' Dr. Mike about their clothes, but whatever they showed her, she said it weren't "good enough for Boston." Didn't know what this Boston place was, but if nothin' from our Colorado Springs world was good enough for it, then I was glad *I* didn't ever have to go there!
Then the doc got real upset, so upset she raised her voice at Brian and then run out the back door. I think she was cryin'. Sully went after her. Oh, good! I thought. I'll be able to listen in on what they say outside. But not so. I was so disappointed when they stayed at the far end of the homestead, towards the barn, so as I couldn't see 'em or hear 'em. I tried awful hard! I caught a few words, like him tellin' her she was plenty strong herself, but not much else. I do think I figured out at the end, though, that Sully must have gathered her into his arms and let her finish her cryin' in his shoulder. Hmmmmm!
They was gone to Boston the longest time -- weeks and weeks. I think eventually Sully went to check up if they was comin' back or not. By then I was right sure I knew how Sully felt about the doc. Now if he would just come up with the courage to tell *her* about it!
Finally one day they all arrived back. I saw the kids go flyin' out of the wagon to check on everythin', but Dr. Mike jist sat there starin' around. When Sully finally helped her down from the wagon, they hesitated there together, starin' at each other the longest moment, and glory be! I knew right away *some*thing had happened while they was in Boston!
After they unloaded the travelin' stuff from the wagon, Matthew was antsy as a butterfly in a hailstorm to get off and see Ingrid. The doc wanted him to stay and help -- until Sully said, real significant-like, "It's hard to be away from somebody you love!" Oooohh! This was gettin' good!
It got even better the minute them two was alone. He offered to help her unpack. I mean, the words were simple enough . . . but . . . well, it was like his voice reached out and caressed her -- and you should have seen her get flustered! But that was only the beginning.
She wanted to go to the clinic. He said, what's your hurry?
He suggested they could enjoy some time alone together. She -- lookin' like some scared bunny -- repeated dumbly, "Alone?" Now what in thunder did she think he wanted time alone for?
He offered to "show her his world," but she claimed she'd already seen it. Even I could see she hadn't a clue what he was talkin' about! When he said (in that same carressing voice, mind you), "Only what I wanted you to see" and then "Now I'll show you everything," why, I was ready to blow-torch whatever was holdin' me down and follow him anywhere myself!
Well, I thought for sure there'd be weddin' bells after that, but obviously I didn't know much about how humans go about such things.
It was some time later when I heard them going at it on that far side of the house again. Couldn't see much, but that time I sure heard 'em! She claimed as how she was tryin' to teach him to dance, but it sounded more like she were just trying to change him to suit her. Well, he weren't having none of it, and he finally stalked off.
Next time they come around, I had a front row seat! Dr. Mike was sittin' on the front steps knittin' when Sully come upon her from the back way and sat down beside her. She apologized for bein' impatient that other time, and he did, too. I thought things was goin' to get right fixed up between 'em -- but then she started askin' him nosey questions about what he'd been up to and how he got the sweets he'd brung her. He said he had his ways, and that was all she had to know! What *is* it with those two? I wondered.
Another time I remember, Sully and Dr. Mike were on the side of the house when the Rev. come rushin' up, sayin' some terrible sickness was makin' people die in a place called Soda Springs. Dr. Mike said she'd go, and Sully said he'd watch out for the kids. When she come to leave, she hugged the kids a bunch and said as how she'd miss 'em. Then Sully took her horse and pack mule by the reins and walked her a bit away from the house. I figured maybe he wanted a little privacy so as he could hug *her.*
But no. They just stood there gazin' at each other again--sort of like after they come back from Boston--and sayin' a few words to each other. I wanted to holler "Kiss 'er! Kiss 'er!" -- but I couldn't find any voice to do it with. He never did, and she finally got on her horse and left.
There was lots of excitement while she was gone, but I didn't get to see any of it. And I couldn't see much of her homecoming either, but I'm pretty sure Sully gave her a nice hug then.
The above vignettes are from Where the Heart Is, Giving Thanks, Best Friends, and Sully's Choice.
Season 2, cont'd
I have lots of happy memories from those days, but there was a spell of time there when it seemed like the only things happenin' was sad and heavy things.
It started when Dr. Mike and Sully brought this real strange girl to the house. I say "strange" because she looked like them in her face and her skin, but she was dressed more like Sully's Cheyenne friends. At first, she was even talkin' strange kinds of words and only Sully seemed to understand her.
That first night, Dr. Mike come over by me to turn down her bed for the girl, but Sully said she weren't used to sleepin' in a bed. Then the girl said somethin' to Sully and he changed the words so as Dr. Mike could understand them -- something about the girl wanted *him* to stay with her. I couldn't see the Doc's face as Sully hunched down near the fire by the girl, but she kind of stopped still in what she was doin'. I had me a feelin' we was in a right puzzlin' situation what was goin' to get worse before it got better.
I turned out to be right 'cuz quite a few nights later I could hear the Doc and Sully goin' at it on the side of the house again. It was a dark and quiet night, so I didn't have no trouble hearin' them even though I couldn't see them. I couldn't catch it all, but the words was flyin' hot and heavy -- all kinds of accusations and insinuations, all drippin' with sarcasm. I picked out a few words, like "kissin' in front of the children" and "afraid to be alone with me," and I could feel myself cringe right there in my wooden frame. For sure it sounded like the very foundations of their romance was bein' battered somethin' terrible.
Guess I must have been right because it was a long, long time before I got to glimpse any more of that delicious romance :(.
Another night the family was asleep and the house was completely dark when I seen someone sneaking quietly across the front of the house. He went around to the side -- and oh, how I wished I could have screamed a warning of some sort! Next thing I knew, I heard Colleen cry out, followed only by frantic, choked-up sounds. Dr. Mike was out of her bed quicker than a frog off a lily pad, grabbing the gun which was right between me and her bed. She screamed for Matthew, and in a flash him and Brian come burstin' through the front door. Next thing I hear are gun shots and everyone screaming and crying. The guy who had been sneaking around was lying on the floor. Seemed everyone was horrible shocked to see who he was!
The next day when Sully stopped by to take the kids to school, Brian was hidin' under the porch with a stick pretending it were a gun. He jumped out and made shootin' noises -- but Sully were not playing his game. Instead, he give Brian a serious talkin' to about guns not bein' for playin'. I was sure hopin' Brian was gettin' the message!
Inside, Sully tried to get Colleen to go to school, but she insisted she was too tired. Later, she was hidin' behind the rockin' chair with that gun of Dr. Mike's when she heard someone ridin' up. *I* could see it was Dr. Mike and Sully, but she couldn't. She scared me to death thinkin' she was gonna shoot 'em!!
After she found out it was them, she and Dr. Mike sat on the bed beside me, and Colleen was just all broken up and cryin', sayin', "He seemed so nice! I liked him! Why did he want to hurt us?" Dr. Mike tried to tell her as how it were some disease the guy had, but Colleen was still cryin' that she was afraid all the time now and couldn't trust nobody no more. Dr. Mike told her that in time she would learn again not to be afraid. I hoped she was right, cuz even *I*' had gotten a big scare out of that one!
Another *awful* night I remember started out so strange. Usually when there was company for dinner, everyone was laughin' and happy. But this night, the folks they called Robert E and Grace was there -- and nobody was sayin' hardly a word around the table. Miss Grace didn't want nothin' to eat, even when Brian asked her real nice. Robert E and Dr. Mike did some quiet talkin' about "bein' different," about "abolition," and about folks bein' "equal." Sully stood real respectful by the fire watchin' and listenin'.
All of a sudden!--these white shapes come out of the darkness into the front yard!! They set fire to a wooden cross, and it reflected real bright in my glass. Ever'body come rushin' out of the homestead onto the porch -- 'cept Sully. He rushed out and kept on goin' towards 'em, hollerin' at 'em to get off his property! Instead, the guy in front starts hollerin' and wavin' his arms -- and then one of his sleeves catches fire from the cross! Next thing, he's runnin' off screamin'. I was sure relieved to see the rest of the white shapes go after him!!
See what I mean about dark times? And we wasn't finished with them yet! Even I could tell that little Brian always seemed to like school and learnin', so it was a real surprise to both Dr. Mike and me when he started in complaining about a stomach ache and not wanting to go to school. Seems like it all had somethin' to do with a new teacher.
I never got to hear what the real problem was but, but finally there was one night when Brian kept tossin' and turnin' in his bed. His ma (that's the Doc) was readin' one of her medical books in the rockin' chair by the fire, and I could hear an owl out in the woods somewhere. Pretty soon she got Brian on her lap and talked real quiet and soothin' to him. Made him promise that he would tell her if any time someone tried to hurt him. Then she sang him a nice song (somethin' called a "lullaby" - whatever that is), and he fell asleep.
But, hey! -- what happened to the romance, I kept on wonderin'!
The preceding vignettes are from Another Woman, Life and Death, The First Circle, and Just One Lullaby.
Season 2, cont'd
I always knew I did not get in on everything that happened in the lives of my family. Even around the homestead things didn't always happen where I was "included" in them, and many important things happened to them away from the homestead.
For instance, one time Dr. Mike was gone for several days and the kids was real worried about her. Finally Sully brought her home, wrapped up in some kind of gray blanket and scratched up something horrible! I couldn't imagine what kind of ordeal she had been through! But one thing I did know -- something had changed between her and Sully! They seemed to have found some new kind of secret bondin' in their hearts, and I can assure you my glass heart was ringin' with joy!
I knew I was right when one day Sully come knockin' on the door and walks in bringin' pretty yellow flowers. Told Dr. Mike he wanted to cheer her up. Even though the sun was shinin' on me bright and warm that day, I could tell she needed it. He sat at the table with her real sweet like and told her he was proud of her because she had stuck by what she believed -- and then he took her hand and looked into her eyes while he kissed it ever so slowly and romantically. Was I ever glad I was behind that curtain so as nobody could see me blushin' and sighin' ! Then Sully got excited and told her he had some kind of idea to help with whatever it was that was makin' her so downhearted. Whe she wanted to know more about it, he just shushed her and said she should do what he told her for once!
Not long after that, Brian was out in the front yard at night with this strange tube thing on three legs. He kept pointin' one end at the moon and stickin' his eye in at the other. Then Colleen come out, and they started arguin' real bad -- something about a ball of white cheese, and imagination, and silly stories, and sharin' and not sharin'. They was hollerin' so loud, Matthew come runnin' out of the house, and then Dr. Mike. They tried to stop the kids from fightin', but they just got more riled up. Next thing I knew, they bumped the strange thing and it went crashin' to the ground!
Next time the family got around the dinner table, Sully was there, but Brian and Colleen was still fightin' and sayin' nasty things like they somehow wanted to get rid of each other. Got so bad, Dr. Mike raised her voice at 'em real sharp like! That got their attention! She made 'em sit on the bed beside me while she tried to get some peace between 'em. She made 'em say what was really botherin' 'em, like hurt feelings and Colleen callin' Brian stupid. Then Dr. Mike made 'em tell each other they was sorry.
After that, she talked to 'em real strong about some ideas that was strange to me - ideas about losin' and cryin' and laughin' together, about some day movin' away but always being brother and sister. I guess windows can't have brothers and sisters, but listenin' to Dr. Mike right then, I sure wished I could!
Later that same night, something happened that made me glad I was exactly what I was and where I was! Sully and Dr. Mike sat down close together there on the porch step, and she was feelin' *real* melancholy -- again. She started talkin' about some guy named Hank and how she couldn't seem to be able to help him like she thought she should. Talked about feelin' guilty that she had done everything for him except "care."
Well, Sully pointed up to the moon and started talkin' in that soft, caressing voice of his. Said somethin' to her about the light of the moon bein' covered over for a while, but that it would come back. Then he says, "You've got that light -- I've seen it. Trust that it's there, and the shadow will pass." Then he put his arm around her and drew her head down on his shoulder, and somehow I knew everything was gonna be all right -- for her and for all of us.
These vignettes are from The Abduction, The Campaign, and Man in the Moon.
Season 2, cont'd
Dr. Mike had invited lots of people to dinner over the time I had known her, but one gentleman was certainly different from the rest. In the first place, he was so tall, he almost had to duck to get in the door! And at dinner, he talked about the most unusual things -- like eatin' mushrooms, using somethin' called Bay Rum, and havin' common tastes. Then he talked about a place called Montana, and glaciers, upheavals, wreck of matter, and crush of worlds! Who *was* this guy, anyway?
I didn't get any more clues about him, but one night Matthew and Brian was playin' checkers on the bed when Dr. Mike tells 'em to come over cuz she and Sully have somethin' to say. Then I hear Sully askin' the kids for permission to marry their ma!! Why, you should have seen 'em start dancin' all over in their excitement, and I felt like dancin' right along with 'em. Hallelujah! it was about time! In fact, I was so excited I scarcely noticed the mention Sully made of buildin' a new homestead. That realization would come later.
But a few nights later, everything was sad again, only in a strange new way. Sully was pacing outside the homestead in the dark, all dressed up in his fancies, when Dr. Mike slips quietly out of the house in a most beautiful blue dress. They started talkin' in real soft voices so as I couldn't hear their words much, but I could sure hear the shock, pain, and uncertainty in their voices! Her back was too me, but I had a perfect view of his face -- and it made me want to cry. What had happened to my two favorite people?
Next thing I know, the strange, tall gentleman was come for supper again, only this time Sully weren't there. The man kept tryin' to talk to the kids, but they just kept pushin' their food around their plates and givin' him short, choppy answers. Then Sully come bangin' on the door -- and a few minutes later the sparks started flyin' (and I'm sure not talkin' about the fireplace!). Sully was right angry with this tall fellow, somethin' about the guy hadn't said rightly who he was. I had never seen so much fire in Sully, and I just knew he had to be hurtin' mighty bad inside!
The tall guy tried to say somethin', and next thing I knew, the two of them was fightin' and tusslin' right there beside me and the door! Matthew jumped up and pried 'em apart. Then the tall guy (sometimes they called him Andrew, sometimes David -- so who *was* he?) put some kind of tense question to Dr. Mike. The place grew silent as a tomb while they waited for her answer. Even I could hardly breathe. Then she kind of whispered to him, "Don't go," and everybody looked at everybody else right strange and painful-like. Sully started for the door again, and Dr. Mike stopped him, sayin' she needed time to "think." He said, real scornful-like, "About what? Our engagement's off!" She said, "I didn't say that!" and he said, "Yeah, you did -- just now!" and he was gone.
It was all I could do not to melt down into tears myself that night.
A few nights later, I heard Dr. Mike and Sully talking on the side of the house by the barn again. I couldn't see them or hear their words, but I could tell by the sound of their voices that there weren't no anger in them then. Seemed like all I could pick up was tones of love and caring -- and then Sully was gone again. Were these two ever going to be able to sort out their hearts and put things to right again?
They just had to!
The above is from Return Engagement.
Sometime later the whole family came rushing out on the porch to welcome their friend Cloud Dancing back. Seems he'd been away for a while on something called a "vision quest." He talked about making peace with his son's death and things the spirits had told him -- like that Dr. Mike and Sully were to be married. Oh! so they really were, after all! Did that mean Sully was going to start living at the homestead -- and sleeping with Dr. Mike in that bed so close beside me? Oooohhhh. . . .
Cloud Dancing said he was worried about his people because of somethin' comin' called a "train." When Dr. Mike invited him to stay for supper, they all trooped up on the porch, right past me, and into the house.
One day when the doc and the kids was gone, Sully come and sat on a chair on the porch like he was waiting for somebody. Pretty soon Matthew come ridin' up. Sully told him he had something to give him -- and then motioned toward me and the homestead!! What?! That's when I first come to understand that Sully was gonna build a new homestead for when he and the doc were married. Course, I was a heap disappointed over that news! But since Sully said he wanted to give this one to Matthew so he and Ingrid could get started on their life together sooner, I thought I better see how things were goin' before I got too upset.
Matthew got real sober then because of the way everything was changin'. Well, I felt along with him on that! Said it was hard for him to think about everybody goin' their separate ways, even though he knew that was the way it were supposed to be. He and Sully looked at each other real hard and long -- and then they give each other this big, brotherly kind of hug. Made me want to hop right down and join in with them!
After all the good scenes I had a feeling I had missed out on (since I couldn't follow people around), I finally got in on what had to be one of the best! It happened one night after there was a terrible row in the house, with Dr. Mike and Sully yellin' at each other about the railroad, Colleen and Matthew yellin' at the two of them, and Brian crashin' things around. After the kids was in bed, Sully and the doc come out on the porch, and he stood right there with the soft light from my window on his back. Why, I could have reached out and touched him!
The old melt-down in me started when she said, "The first time you ever said you loved me was on a train. Do you still?" Sigh! Well, he swore he always would and that they was still gettin' married in the spring. Then they talked about this "train" thing comin' and how nobody could stop it. Whatever it was, sure seemed like it would be up-ending people's lives! They talked about the world changin', about tryin' to make it change the way they wanted it to. But Sully said it was "too big" for him and he didn't know how to deal with it. The doc agreed as how it wasn't goin' to be easy, and then she promised him that if she ever saw his heart abreakin', that they would pack up and leave. Sounded to me like a great promise -- couldn't help wonderin' if it would ever be put to a test. . . .
Because Dr. Mike's bed was right beside me inside the hometead, I got in on a lot of special moments over the years. One of those was when Colleen was real upset with her little brother -- in fact, with all boys in general. Said they were disgusting! Dr. Mike explained to her that (according to Sully) the male kind of humans just like to look at the female kind, but she said there was a big difference between lookin' and spyin' and that most important of all was something called "respect."
The thing I remember most about that talk, though, was when Dr. Mike asked Colleen if there was anything else she wanted to know about "what happens between married people." Well, I perked up to listen real good, thinkin' I was sure to learn somethin' new and interestin', but by the time I could focus on their words again, Colleen was sayin', "You don't have to worry! I've seen him, and he's always lookin' at you!" Aaahhhhh! I knew for sure no one would ever say that about *me*!
Now as a window, poetry hasn't been much a part of my life. About the only time I ever heard any of it was one real dark night when Sully was readin' by lantern light, sittin' on the porch on a chair right next to me. Dr. Mike joined him, and I thought I might get in on something real romantic. But when he started readin' that poetry stuff to her, you should have seen how fast she tensed up! Why, after a few minutes she jumped right up, walked away from him, and started goin' on about things not bein' "appropriate" or meant to be written about.
I had a for-sure feelin' in the conversation that followed that Sully was tryin' to get her to come out and say somethin', to put words on what she was thinkin' instead of just talkin' around it. But she never could bring herself to do it. I thought to myself, if this had anything to do with "what happens between married people," then this Sully fellow had more than his work cut out for him before this prim and tense beloved of his would be ready for a weddin'!
In the end, she made a sort of half apology about its having been a nice idea. But when he suggested they might try it again sometime and she might feel different, she said she doubted it. Frankly, I did, too -- but then Sully, real calm like, glanced around to make sure no one was watchin' through my panes, kissed her cheek, and said, real coy-like, "You never know!" Hmm..... Sounded to me like Sully understood all about that work what was cut out for him!
And he must have, too, cuz another night they talked some more, sittin' over on the steps away from me, and then finally a night came when they sat together, right there by me again, with him readin' poetry to her like before -- only this time her head was relaxed on his shoulder, the way I knew all along it should be!
I always enjoyed the storms, especially at night when the folks was home, because they gave me a real chance to do my duty by my family. Protectin' them always made me feel good. Well, one bad, stormy night the lightning was reflecting off my jars and Dr. Mike was readin' a scary story to the kids, somethin' about tryin' to give life to a monster. Little Brian got so tensed up, his big brother couldn't help jumpin' him and scarin' him half to death!
After Sully left and the others had gone to bed, Brian snuggled up with the doc in the rockin' chair for a little more story. That time she started readin' some of the monster's own thoughts -- and Brian was surprised to find he didn't sound much like a monster at all. Dr. Mike told him it was cuz people looked only at the outside of him, but inside he was really a sad and lonely man. I had me a feelin' Brian was gonna have reason to remember all about that before long . . . .
The above are taken from The Train, Fathers and Sons, The Library, and Halloween2.
Season 3, cont'd
I had pretty much always figured as how a window was a just window -- I mean, a piece of glass that lets the light in and lets folks look out. If that was the case, then why on earth was Dr. Mike talkin' about wanting a window with "character" for her new homestead? And a window that was "pretty"! Okay, so I admit I probably can't be called "pretty," I certainly think I have character!! I mean, where else in the whole world would you find a window sportin' six canning jars??
All that talk about a fancy window mad me feel pretty bad, but seemed like it was causin' even more problems between Sully and the doc. She was offerin' him some of her money to pay for it, but he said no how, no way, without even a "thank you, ma'am"!! Got up from the table, said kind of soft-like in her ear, "I took care of my family before, and I'll take care of ours," picked up his coat, called to Wolf, and walked right past me and out the door.
A few days later he come by early in the morning when the chickens was pecking around the yard and the family was puttin' breakfast on. He was all abuzz with the news that he was goin' to work for the wild west show to get the money to pay for that window and finish the new homestead. What?? Even I knew that kind of doin's would be an insult to Sully's own character! Dr. Mike was surprised, too. She said, real sober-like, "You mean would rather perform in this show than take money from me?" and Sully said, "Yes!" My, those two were stubborn people! Wondered how they would ever make it, tryin' to live together in a marriage!
Whatever happened about that highfalutin window was another one of those things I never found out.
One time the doc and Sully had been gone a few days and Brian and Colleen had been stewin' about what they was goin' to fix for Thanksgivin' food. Late one afternoon Sully come ridin' up with his hair flyin' and the sun shinin' on it real nice. Dr. Mike, Matthew and two other folk was comin' behind him in the wagon. First thing, they noticed that even outside everythin' smelled of turkey and pumpkin pie! Brian and Colleen and Cloud Dancin' come troopin' out of the house onto my porch to welcome them. Seems like the other folks were good friends who had been invited to share Thanksgivin' with them.
The man guest told 'em it was goin' take extra time sayin' the blessin' cuz they had so much to be thankful for. Well, that sounded right good to me! After the whole bunch went inside, they was all workin' together at settin' the table and puttin' the food on it (and even doin' some kissin' on the side!). Then they all set down, held hands around the table, and bowed their heads. All this time some music was floatin' around with words about bein' thankful and "I'm thankin' the Lord he made you!" That was one time I was right glad to have a front-row seat.
I always figured doctorin' folks was just given 'em medicine and once in a while havin' to use a knife on 'em somehow to get rid of somethin' that was given 'em trouble. But I found out from listenin' to Dr. Mike and her friend Miss Dorothy one night that there were a bunch more to it than that. Seems like Dr. Mike thought Miss Dorothy needed one of those cuttin' jobs -- but Miss Dorothy weren't havin' no part of it. Dr. Mike was tryin' to help her friend make peace with the idea, but Miss Dorothy just kept goin' on about amputation, bein' butchered up, and bein' half a woman. I felt real depressed that night cuz it didn't seem they found any answers, no matter how much they talked.
Of course bein' a window, I don't have many parts. And I never thought much about whether I "liked" any of my parts or not. But apparently humans do a lot of that kind of thing (thinking about their parts). One time the sun was shining real bright through my panes, but Dr. Mike found Colleen lookin' like a thundercloud on a stormy night. She was tryin' to bind herself up, I guess tryin' somehow to get rid of a part of herself (seemed like it might be the same part Miss Dorothy were havin' trouble with). Said somethin' about boys makin' fun of her and none of them ever lookin' in her eyes any more and seein' who she really was.
Dr. Mike tried to tell her about how she herself didn't like her hair when she were young cuz it was so straight, but I couldn't tell that made much difference to Colleen. Then Dr. Mike got all excited about needin' to talk to the Rev. or a boy's mother about somethin', but Colleen got real upset and said as how she'd talk to the boy herself. Wow. That sounded a mite brave to me, considerin' how bad she felt about it all!
I had had me a feelin' there for some time that Sully was carryin' a heavy burden about somethin'. I was pretty sure it had to do with the people of his friend Cloud Dancin'. Seems like somebody wasn't treatin' them right fair like, and it weighed on Sully somethin' terrible. One day that tall guy, Horace, come with a telegram that was supposed to have been good news, but to Sully it weren't at all.
He went into the homestead alone and stood all dejected by the fireplace. My glass heart was really achin' for him, so I was glad to see Dr. Mike follow him in. He said he'd tried to do things her way and it didn't work--so he was quittin'. He seemed real surprised when she said she didn't blame him. Said she didn't know as it was what she would do, but she understood and respected his reasons. Well, I thought, it's about time these two was makin' some progress in acceptin' each other as they were and actin' like they was on the same side for a change!
Then Sully got some bright idea of somethin' he could do for his friends. He took a book off the table and dropped it in the fire! I wasn't sure how that was goin' help them, but I was glad for them that they had Sully on their side.
The above are from Money Trouble, Thanksgiving, Ladies' Night, and Indian Agent.
Season 3, cont'd
One night when Sully and the doc was clearin' up the supper dishes, they was tryin' to get Brian to tell 'em where Colleen was -- but he wouldn't say. About that time, Colleen come real quiet in the door -- and suddenly she and the doc was goin' on about something terrible Colleen thought was about to happen, but the doc swore to her it weren't so. Colleen sounded plenty scared, and it didn't help when Dr. Mike tried to tell her there weren't no reason to be. She said, "Just cuz you're not scared don't mean I'm not scared!" and she stomped off to her room. Now what in the world was that all about? I wondered.
One of the most amazing people I ever got to experience at the homestead was an fascinatin' lady with a man's name. When night time come, she set out her bed on the porch, if you can believe it! When Dr. Mike come out, they sat on the steps for a spell and talked. Never heard nobody say the kind of things that lady said - and they all made good sense to me, too. In fact, some of the things she said that night, I've never been able to forget.
"Sometimes the unexpected is what gives us the most, teaches us the most." "Hurting doesn't happen with someone you don't care about" (seemed like those two had something to do with an upsettin' letter Dr. Mike had got from her ma).
Then they got to talkin' about some mountain this Sam lady was set on climbin' -- and, mind you, I don't think it was the one right behind the homestead! Dr. Mike asked if she was nervous, and she said no, she'd been wonderin' about this moment all of her life. I had the strongest feelin' she were talkin' about something else what only she knew about!
Two other things I remember her sayin' to my doctor. "I have the distinct feelin' you'll find out for yourself one day" and "I've never thought of caution as a means to lead one's life -- and neither have you!" Well, that did seem to fit the doc *I* had come to know!
Not long after, Dr. Mike was packing up her saddle bags in a big hurry when Matthew come in, all upset with her. Guess she was settin' out to climb that mountain, too, and go lookin' for that Sam lady. Said she didn't expect Matthew to understand. When he pulled out a gun for her to take to protect herself, she refused it -- but he said either it went or he did, so she took it.
Wonder whatever happened to that most unusual lady?
It had occurred to me that when Sully married the doc, he would be getting a lot more than most men did when they took a wife. I wondered how he felt about takin' on a whole family like that. I found out one night when the kids was studyin' and talkin' about what they was plannin' to do for "Roman day" at school. When Colleen asked Sully if he would stand in like her pa in a chariot race, Sully told the kids he and their ma had been thinkin' about adoptin' them. Wow! Guess he really cared about them as well as the doc, and it were plain as day the kids were crazy about him!
I figured that would be the end of it -- but no! Next thing I knew, that guy was back--the one what claimed he was their real pa. This time he had a lady with him, and they was takin' the kids away to live with them! The kids was cryin' and pleadin', and I can't tell you how upset *I* was!! How come Dr. Mike and Sully thought they had to let him do that?? After they drove away in their hifalutin wagon, Sully just held Dr. Mike real close out there in my yard, and I knew they was both hurtin' inside something terrible.
Somethin' must have happened, though, because in the end that guy and his lady was gone and the kids was still with Dr. Mike and Sully! Whew!!
The above are from End of the World, Pike's Peace, and Cooper vs. Quinn.
Season 3, cont'd
One of my greatest treats, always, was when Sully and the doc was in the homestead, just the two of them. I'll never forget the night they was talkin' about havin' a special day together, one with no appointments, no schedules, just the two of them, with a romantic dinner and a moonlight walk. Hmmm! I thought, I hope they're goin' do it all right here so I can watch! But I sighed with her next words cuz she talked about goin' out to a valley with a waterfall . . . Rats! Sounded real nice, I had to admit, but once again, I would be left behind!
If the lady with the man's name was one of the most special people what ever crossed my way, one of the strangest and most aggravatin' was a blond kid what claimed she were only 14. Well, for 14, she sure knew how to throw life into a stew!
When they first brought her home, I could tell they felt sort of sorry for her, and so I did, too -- but not for long! She started bossin' Colleen around and talkin' at her something terrible!! When Miss Dorothy come to ask her questions, the girl spun her some of the most far-fetched tales I ever heard! She even tried to seduce Matthew one day when nobody else was home!! Tellin' him he should come away with her! Well, I never!
Of course, Colleen was plenty upset with the gal, even when Dr. Mike tried to soothe her feelin's. One day I was watchin' them all out front when that Horace fellow come ridin' up with a telegram. The girl was peekin' right out my window listenin' when they read that her pa didn't never want to see her no more. That sort of made the others feel sorry for her again -- but not me, not this time! I did *not* trust her! Fortunately, I never seen her or heard much about her anymore after that.
While Colleen and Brian had some pretty good fights in their time, I could always tell that Colleen and Matthew cared a lot about their little brother. I remember one time they tried to protect him from findin' out that somethin' his pa had give him (remember? that guy what tried to take 'em away?). Brian treasured the thing aplenty, especially cuz it were all he had from what he called his "real pa." When the older two thought he was goin' to find out it were nothin' but a fake, they hid it on him.
Well, Brian were plenty upset about it bein' lost. When he found out what his brother and sister had done, he was so mad, he said he hated 'em. Course Dr. Mike couldn't let him talk like that! Matthew and Colleen were wantin' real bad not to have to say somethin' that would make Brian sad, but in the end, they had to tell him why they done it and Matthew had to tell why he was sure Brian's treasure was a fake. I could see everybody felt real bad. Real pa?? Excuse me while I lose my lunch all over the porch! Oh, that's right! I'm only a window, and I don't eat lunch -- but that's how I felt about it!
The above are from What Is Love?, Baby Outlaws, and Bone of Contention.
Season 3, cont'd
I had seen a lot of sad things come and go for my family in the homestead, but never anything like what happened shortly before the wedding. It started with a young boy from Cloud Dancin's people coming to stay at the homestead so he could have better food and get strong again. Brian and the boy -- they called him No Harm -- got to be best buddies. Called themselves each other's "nayo." No Harm was teachin' Brian how to play his tiny homemade flute, and it sounded real pretty echoin' through the homestead.
Seemed like there was big trouble for his people, something about not havin' enough to eat and the return of a guy named Custer. The doc was writin' letters to the government tryin' to get things changed, all the while talkn' with her family about whether this Custer fellow was a hero or a villain and the same about the dog soldiers what was raidin' the settlers' farms for food.
All of a sudden, a sharp bird call rang out in the night outside. Sully jumped up and said as how it was Black Kettle. No Harm headed for the door, saying he wanted to see his "chief," but Sully stopped him, sayin' it were too dangerous. He flung the door wide open and answered with a bird call of his own. When some figures on horses started comin' around the bend, Sullly quick shut the door, with him and the doc out on the porch. Next thing I knew, Brian and No Harm was huddled right up against me so as they could watch through my panes! Looked like this was *one* scene I wasn't going to miss out on!
Old Black Kettle started talkin' to Sully with his hands (now that were some fancy way to say things!), and young No Harm were tellin' Brian all about what he was sayin'. Seems Black Kettle was worried about Cloud Dancin' and wondered if Sully knew where he was. Sounded like Cloud Dancin' was off with the dog soldiers -- but that sure didn't sound like what I knew about him!! When Dr. Mike told Black Kettle that No Harm and Brian were nayos, he took her hand in both of his and looked so pleased! Told her they might be of different nations, but they were one people. Then he and Sully put their hand and arm together in a special way, and Brian and No Harm did it, too.
A little later, Sully and the doc sat out on the porch steps talkin'. He said Cloud Dancin' wouldn't be comin' back while this Custer fellow was around. Said somethin' about Custer bein' a loaded gun . . .!!?? I didn't understand none of this, but it sure sounded plenty bad to me!! And then Sully said Custer wasn't just there to kill Indians but to make folks think it was a good idea! Excuse me?? What kind of person was this Custer? No wonder Dr. Mike didn't want to go to his dinner! But somehow I had me a feelin', after she and Sully talked about it, that they went to it anyways.
Sometime after, Brian was practicin' his flute, tryin' to play as good as No Harm. His friend was gone now, gone with his people to a place what was supposed to be better and safer. Suddenly some more of that bangin' on the door, and there was Cloud Dancin'! He said Black Kettle had been "turned away from the fort." I couldn't make no sense out of it, but whatever it meant, Sully thought it was very bad news. Next thing I knew, he and the doc had left in a big hurry with Cloud Dancin', talkin' about warnin' the folks of some kind of danger.
It was many days before Sully and the doc come ridin' back, and when they did, I could hardly believe it was the same folks what had left. They looked so . . . so -- stricken!! Sully had a little baby on his back, what he handed over to Grace. I had to listen real hard to pick up what they was sayin' to the kids and to Robert E and Grace what had been stayin' at the homestead. Seems this Custer fellow had killed all the folks that was tryin' to get to a better place, not only Snow Bird and Black Kettle -- but even little No Harm!! When Brian heard that, he went right to pieces. In fact, every one of 'em looked right stricken by then!!
It just didn't seem right that the sun was shinin' so bright that day.
I wondered if things would ever be the same again for my family after what had happened at the place they called Washita. I mean, my usually optimistic doctor went around for days lookin' and actin' like she could have been somethin' Sully whittled from a tree stump! When she tried to smile, even I could tell it was just pasted on her face and not comin' from inside her. And Sully? he just kept watchin' her and watchin' her, like he wished he could take her pain and carry it hisself -- only I knew he had plenty of his own.
One Saturday night Colleen made all the doc's best eats, but she just sat there movin' 'em around on her plate. Then all of a sudden she decides she has work to do at the clinic! At night? Sully tried to stop her, and he said he'd wait till she got home, but she kept sayin' no and wouldn't listen to him or look at him.
The next morning the doc was flittin' around the homestead just doin' stuff when Sully come in suggestin' they go see the Indian baby after church. But no, she weren't goin' to church -- she had too much to do at the clinic! Who did she think she was kiddin'? About that time Brian come runnin' in from the barn wailin' about a splinter in his finger. The doc tried to get it out, but she couldn't find nothin' and he kept wailin' about her hurtin' him.
When he wailed out again real good, the doc just sort of lost it. She went out the back door and we could hear her thrashing about in the barn. And then she started in with the most soul-wrenchin' sounds I ever did hear. Sounded like her very heart were goin' to break right out of her body. It were all I could do to stay glued to my spot and not go to her, and I think Sully felt the same way, too.
After that, I didn't get to see much of what happened. Little by little life did begin to move along like before. Sully and Mike started talkin' again about their weddin'. I could tell that somehow, somewhere, some healin' had begun to take place and they was managin' to make a kind of peace with what had happened.
Speakin' of makin' peace . . . Over the years I had come to be right fond of Dr. Mike and Sully. I had watched the love growin' up between 'em from the very beginning. I was plenty happy they was gettin' married, and little by little I had made a peace of my own with the fact that when they did, they would live in a new homestead. Besides, I was lookin' forward to havin' newlyweds Matthew and Ingrid to watch over.
Finally the morning of the weddin' day came. I made sure the sun was comin' through my panes and the curtain with a special glow that day. The lamp that had been beside the doc's bed all those years wasn't lit, of course, but the sun was makin' the oil in it glisten bright and gold. Some white flowers was sittin' by the lamp, and a rooster's crowing outside added a nice, nostalgic touch to the morning.
Dr. Mike overslept a little. Right after she opened her eyes, I could tell she realized what day it was. For a moment she looked a little hesitant, like "Am I sure I want to do this?" Then she reached over and touched the pillow on the other side of her bed, and I knew she was thinkin' about her Sully. Next thing I knew, a smile blossomed right out of her heart and across her face. She flung back the covers, rose out of the bed, and was off to face -- not only the day, but marriage as well. I know all six of my jars was grinnin' in their little glass hearts!
There is just one more scene I have to talk about. A couple of weeks later, the mornin' dawned for us real special like that again. The chickens was rustlin' around as usual, and ever'body was wakin' up with a special sense of excitement. Brian were sittin' on the front steps there with the two dogs, playin' No Harm's flute. The haunting melody seemed to echo all across the town as folks woke up.
Yes, this was the day Sully and his doc was comin' back from their honeymoon. I knew they would be comin' that day to move all their stuff out of the homestead. I would miss 'em plenty, but I had come to love 'em so much, I couldn't be anything but happy for 'em.
Hey! I think I had a lot to do with startin' 'em on this fallin' in love business!
The above are from Washita, For Better or Worse, and A New Life.
By the time you read these memoirs, I will be gone.
The homestead will be gone.
The spot where we now stand will be nothing but barren, broken gray rocks.
When I first heard we were to be torched, I reacted in disbelief and panic. NO!! This could not be happening! Why would they do this? It wasn't fair!
Then I stopped to think. I had had a good life, a rewarding life. I should have no regrets.
I have experienced warm, sunny days as well as cloudy, dreary ones. I have seen dark, haunted nights -- and romantic, moonlit ones. I have felt rain lashing my glass and at least once have shivered with snow on my ledge. I have been kissed by the fresh breath of new mornings and have reflected the molten glow of evenings.
Some special and wonderful people have been part of my life, and I have been part of theirs. I have watched them grow, and learn, and cry, and fall in love (that was the best part!). I have seen them experience pain and laughter, shock and joy, anger, dismay, and tears. I have watched them search for wisdom, struggle with uncertaintes, shrink in fear, dissolve in grief, devise assistance, and offer each other council, encouragement, challenge, and hope.
I watched Brian evolve from a toothless little tyke with a crooked smile to a warm and caring youth. I saw Matthew change from an angry, defensive teen to a young man ready to take on the future. The elegant but naive lady doctor has grown into a confident mother and an influential woman who is comfortable on the frontier.
Then there is the puzzle of Colleen. I'm still shaking my head--that is, my jars--and don't understand what happened with her! She certainly changed the most of them all--not just in growing up a lot, but in her very appearance! I mean, blond hair to red and a completely different face?!? How *do* humans manage to do things like that??
And Sully? Ah, Sully! So lost and illusive at first, he has found his way back into the hearts of a family and of his fellow townsfolk -- but most of all, deep into the heart of that prim lady doctor from Boston. You can't tell me it wasn't *her* love that helped him find his way!
Some will try and tell you that these people who lived in my house are only imaginary. I wouldn't know about that. I know they were completely real for me. And, based on the number of people who have walked up that road toward me since Sully did it with the lady in the red dress, I would venture to say that these people who lived here must be abundantly real to *some*body out there besides me!
Why, I bet even after the homestead and I are gone that some of them will still come back to look around!
That's why I decided to write these memoirs. Before it is too late, I wanted to record some of my life so these people and the lives they lived in my homestead won't be forgotten.
Yes, I have had a full and memorable life. I have served well and faithfully the purpose for which I was designed. And that is why, when they come tomorrow with the torches, I will stand my ground bravely and my glass jars will be straight and firm to the end.
I *will* go out with dignity.