CHAPTER FIVE - SETTLING IN
I was so happy to enter into the large room from the left side porch and to finally be inside safe from the nipping geese. Aunt Ree put our things away and we all followed her to the kitchen. Buddy sat in the old Morris chair and Uncle Bill helped Irene and I set upon the tall wooden stools that stood in front of the Hoosier cabinet. The Hoosier had a porcelain counter top that when pulled out doubled as our table.
Aunt Ree made us summer bologna sandwiches and served us green lime Kool-Aid in little pink and silver speckled plastic cups. In another fifteen years from that day our Great Aunt Ree would serve the same kind of meal to Buddy’s sons. We all remember those little plastic cups with green Kool-Aid. Time stood still in that cozy little kitchen.
After lunch Irene and I settled into the large room to play with toys we dragged out from the toy room, as Buddy tinkered in Uncle Bill’s tool room. Buddy was fourteen and always had fun at the farm. Uncle Bill would let him drive the tractor on the property. The two of them would hunt groundhogs and deer. This time he had plans on constructing a go-cart out of wooden crates, tin cans, and any spare part he could get his hands on from the barn. As the day wore on we caught the smell of roasted chicken coming from the kitchen.
After dinner Aunt Ree pulled three pints of Neapolitan ice cream out of the freezer an cut them in half through the middle. Each of us ate the ice cream right from the little square half a pint container. I thought this idea was just great...ingenious in fact...no bowls or dipper to wash, just spoons. I still appreciate the simple way of life our great aunt and uncle lived.
The late evening set in, as we all gathered in the dimly lit large room and began to get ready for bed. Uncle Bill gave me a flashlight and told me to use it if I was afraid when the lights were turned off. The bed upstairs was already prepared for Buddy to sleep in as Aunt Ree pulled out the trundle styled daybed in the large room on the first floor and made it up for Irene and I. I tucked the flashlight under my pillow.
Aunt Ree took Buddy upstairs to bed and Irene and I followed along. Buddy climbed into the old bed and Aunt Ree proceeded to tell us that this bed was her mother’s bed and that it was that very bed that she passed away in. We asked questions about our great grandmother and Aunt Ree volunteered to show us a picture of her. She took us out into the hall and through the door into the servant’s quarter’s section of the house.
In the third room she opened a trunk filled with old photographs, tintypes and memorabilia. She pulled out a large gray cardboard folder type picture frame and opened it and there she was, our great grandmother lying in her coffin, in her own living room. Gazing at my great grandmother’s dead body sent shivers up and down my spine.
Her death photo was not exactly what we needed to see just before bedtime our first night away from home. Aunt Ree meant well, after all this was her mother who was very dear to her. However, we never knew her and to us that photo of her was dreadful!
It was definitely time for bed and poor Buddy had to sleep all alone upstairs in the deathbed of our great grandmother. Irene and I hurried downstairs far away from the bed and the trunk that held the old photos. Aunt Ree tucked us in, kissed us goodnight and reminded us to say our prayers, the light went out and now I was ready to cry myself to sleep, because I not only missed my mom but also couldn’t get the site of my great grandmother in her coffin out of my mind.
Hours seemed to pass by and I noticed Irene was asleep.
As I lie there trying to fall asleep I heard what sounded like muffled crying. At first I thought it might be coming from my brother far off in the upstairs bedroom at the opposite end of the house. But then I noticed that it seemed to be coming from the corner, just at the bottom of our bed. The corner where the tall mirror stood.
I became almost paralyzed with fear and shook Irene. I was hoping to awake her so she could hear what I heard. As soon as I whispered “Irene, Irene, wake up!” the crying stopped. Irene rolled over gave me a little push and fell back to sleep. I said another prayer and fell asleep.
©2006 by Diane Dunwell-Hoffman
All rights reserved. This book is registered with the U.S. Library of Congress ISBN: 1-4137-9770-9 (softcover) ISBN: 978-1-4489-2487-5(hardcover)