there are those people you walk by every day.
you stand in line with them at the market waiting to pay for your groceries.
you sit at stop lights with them in the car beside yours.
as she and i have often said . . . “we’re all just walking novels.”
the novel that is my friend celia is a special one.
she wouldn’t mind my telling you her age. because . . . for one thing
she doesn’t measure life in ‘years.’ and for another . . .
she doesn’t look her age. not one bit !
she turned 81 in june.
she has short beautiful silver hair that sweeps back dramatically.
oh how she would frown at that. i can see it from here. lol.
“no it doesn’t. it’s not dramatic at all. it’s just my hair.”
and if you would like to know exactly what she looks like . . .
go now to google.
i’ll wait for you to come back . . . type in
images of ann harding
that was an actress back in the day and was a good friend of
katherine hepburn. talk about a couple of beautiful ladies!
you now can picture this fascinating novel that is my friend.
because that is exactly who celia looks like.
her little mother was pregnant . . . i imagine in those days they
never said that word. it would have been maybe . . . expecting . . .
or maybe the biblical . . . ‘with child.’ i don’t really know.
or . . . maybe being the practical farm wife she was . . .
she did just say pregnant! anyway.
her little mother was with child about every two years of her life
for 12 times . . . starting in 1910 right up through 1936.
ceila was born in 1931. there were 8 boys and 4 girls.
can you imagine being constantly pregnant for that long? i can’t!
farm life was hard enough. especially for the women.
can you imagine being tired for that long? everyone knows how
exhausting a wonderful new baby can be. i can’t even fathom it.
of course eventually, you’d have the help of the older children.
but still . . . you were the mother and it was your responsibility for ALL
in those days, farm families did that. they had large families.
celia went to school in a two room school house.
from primary to 4th in one room and then 5th through the 8th in the other.
no middle school in those days!
she got to go to high school in a nice two story brick building in town.
grades 9 through 12.
it was the first time the children moved from room to room and
the teacher stayed still.
back in the early years of primary . . . the teachers did far more than teach.
many of them built the fire in the woodstove . . . and even drove
the school bus !
and for a lot less money than the equivalent job would pay today!
and you can bet those kids LEARNED. it was simple. and well done.
those little one and two room school houses were the backbone of
our nation for many years.
everyone could read when they left. and do high arithmetic.
(uh oh.) i feel a soap box coming on. and this is not for that.
this is about my friend ceila!
she attended these . . . what you might be tempted to call
‘homespun’ schools on the prairie. but her education is not lacking.
you may say . . . “that’s nothing special. so did my father. or mother.
or grandparent.” but what is rather special about this lady . . .
her growing up years and school days were in the midst of one of
the greatest meterological and agricultural phenomenons
of this country’s history. . . not to mention the economical one as well.
the oklahoma dust bowl.
and the great depression.
just one of those events would have been bad enough. but to live on
the prairie when they were both happening was unbelievable.
you see pictures of those days in books now. or you watch the
excellent documentary of ken burns titled simply ‘the dust bowl.’
you can’t believe that people could live through that.
even these pictures on my blog are unbelievable.
it was worse than war.
it was war with an enemy you couldn’t fight.
the war of the very air you breathed was upon you.
you fought for a clean breath. cattle lie dying for lack of something to
eat or drink. they would get lost.
you could get lost simply from going to the outhouse back to your home.
she says she and her family were really some of the lucky ones.
because they only lived on the edge of the worst of it.
yet still she remembers her mother soaking cloths in precious water
and having her children wrap them around their mouths
so they could breath a little easier.
dust was in your eyes. your teeth. the grit of it. it stung like a bee.
it lay in piles on your floor. it mattered not if you were a “good”
housekeeper. nobody was. there was no chance.
the dust came in every crack, every tiny little crevice between boards
and under the door and window sills. it was everywhere.
and the wind. full of biting dust.
always the oklahoma wind.
it was your life. for years it lasted.
she doesn’t talk about those days. unless you ask her point blank.
she is like my other “good ones” in this series.
remember mrs hancock?
well . . . they are people who live totally in the present.
they love life!
there is no ‘poor me’ and no ‘why’? about this kind of pioneer spirit.
they just get on with it.
though i think living through those times had to form what she is
i’m not even sure she realizes it herself.
she says she is nothing special.
but i see it. i see it in the way that she ‘deals’ with whatever comes
along. she simply gets through it. no complaining. no whining.
there is not a lot of unecessary laughter.
she would not use nearly as many LOL’s as i do for instance!
but there is a warm hearted humor there. and a genuine interest
in people and what they have been through or are going through
themselves. she always says . . . every one has a story.
every child in that large family of hers became educated and many are
very musical. she herself plays the piano, by ear!
she can play it all. classical . . . jazz . . . whatever! and she’s good at it.
my friend celia had a knee replacement surgery three days ago . . .
as i’m writing this.
she is already home. they got her up on it the very next day.
she spends time in re-hab each day. they come to her house.
she can’t wait til she can drive again. she’s a good driver.
and she has missed walking a lot. she likes walking.
she stocked up her kitchen and got the throw rugs picked up before
the operation. she was ‘getting ready.’ she forgot nothing.
there is no lolling in bed for this lady.
the surgeon said that both of her knees were “bone on bone.”
can you imagine what kind of pain that has to be ? ! ! !
she never let on. you just saw her wince and limp a bit when walking.
she will have the other one ‘done’ in april of next year.
she’s “practicing on this one.”
she found herself a ‘walker’ which is necessary til the knee is healed.
she got an “almost new one” for 50 cents at a second hand store.
50 cents ! ! !
this child of the dust bowl and the depression!
if you want to survive . . . you just latch on to one of these.
they know how it’s done.
she has known much suffering.
not many are left of those dear 12.
she lost ben. the brother most like her. only last year.
she has survived bouts with cancer . . .
. . . and losing a beloved husband and his children . . .
. . . who had become just like her own . . .
losing them through circumstances beyond her control. just loss.
and then she lost the love of her life . . . my uncle jack.
she is the matriarch of her family. the glue.
family celebrations begin always with her. she is the life line.
i treasure this lady. we don’t see each other often.
i’m a hermit after all. yes. for all my talk. i’m a hermit.
and she lives in the big city. 20 miles away from my town.
but we talk every day.
. . . except on my 3 quiet days a week . . . which will be another post
on another day.
remember the three little boys? in the story of my dad, jim reed ?
jim 9 ~ jack 6 ~ grady 3
well . . .
my uncle jack met her after his dear wife died of lou gehrig’s disease.
jack asked me once if i ever thought i’d marry again. since i lost bob so
early and all. i replied “no. i don’t think i’ll ever find that kind of love
he said “don’t be too sure of that. i’ve had two angels in my life.”
that second little angel is my friend ceila.
they had almost six years together.
when jack died . . .
she started calling me.
and soon. we talked every day.
and now. she is like an older sister i always wanted but never had.
she is a child of the dust bowl.
how thankful am i that her family didn’t pack up and move
she is an ‘okie’ through and through.
you know . . . it used to be a derogatory term.
people would get mad if you called them that.
i don’t see it that way.
those were and still are some of the most courageous . kind .
and amazingly wise. people . you will ever meet.
and ps . . . . she’s an accomplished water color artist.
and . . .
and . . . next is ann’s favorite. ann is her beloved niece.
that sweet little guy is regis.
and she’s on line ! her own computer !
she got herself a laptop. she gets mail and sends it.
she does get mad at it sometimes.
she’ll tell me she’s “ready to kick that dang thing out the window!”
she’s really more into books
and difficult crossword puzzles
and the science and bbc channels on tv and lunching with her friends.
and we both love the big bang theory.
but even as mad as she gets at that dang computer . . .
she loves me
and therefore she reads this little peanut of a blog.
so if you’re reading it now darling girl . . .
get well soon!
i love you ! ! !