An old woman, a hurricane and her promise of a ride was gone.
|Patrice was moving as quickly as her seventy year old bones would allow. She had stuffed precious pictures, letters, a few clothes, and the family Bible in a pillow case. Her memories didn't need a container.
'Surely, the Good Lord has blessed me.'
Patrice had been born on this rich black land that fed her family. She married a strong and gentle man, raised five children and nursed her ailing parents right here. They had been surrounded by family until they met the Lord.
Her handsome husband, Ephraim, had been laid on the very oak sideboard he had built for his wake. She had dressed him lovingly in his wedding coat with a bright red peony in a buttonhole. He was such a good Christian man but he never saw his first grandchild. He was so loved, people stood in line for an hour to say good-bye.
She had been without family for ten years. They had gone north to find good jobs and started families. Tear-stained letters that had been read many times came from her children. Traveling was too hard on her bones and there was no money.
Her wealthy white neighbors, the Beauregard family, were waiting for her.
No time for tears; the "Big One" was coming.
Outside, sheets of rain felt like glass tearing her fragile skin. She walked as fast as she could. Her hips were on fire. They were goin to pick her up at the end of the dirt road where her home was. She was late, picking up sentimental stuff, reliving memories and her damaged body took so much time to move.
She arrived just in time to see red tail lights retreating, their Lincoln leaving Patrice and Bojangles, the Irish setter Patrice had been looking after for them.
Her mind couldn’t conceive this.
Her children thought she had a ride, now the phone lines were down. They would be worried. Lord, what was she going to do?'
The wind pulled the pillowcase loose. The dog whined and put its cold wet nose in her hand.
She watched her Bible become part of the carnage carried away in the wind. She knew her Bible by heart, God was still here in her heart.
She hung on to whatever she could. Branches were breaking as she tried desperately to get back to her house.
The sky was oily black.
Finally, she grabbed for the doorway, found herself in her Momma’s broken rocker. Water was crawling up to her knees.
Bojangles jumped up into her lap.
Why would those people promise, then leave her? She was just an ole colored woman to them. Didn't they care about the poor dog? It was that mean ole husband. She had seen thunder in his face when Missus said they'd pick her up. Guess ridin in their big pretty car was different than buying her vegetables.
It was what it was!
She prayed for courage.
She felt Ephraim’s strong arms giving her strength.
“Baby, I sure miss you”.
Floating by her in the debris, al bottle of nitroglycerin pills beckoned.
Enough for an old woman and a dog, God would understand.
By Kathie Stehr