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15 A Summer in the High Country My first morning in the old Homestead without my mother was so poignant with its sense of loss, so rich with memories both sweet and sorrowful, that I shut myself in my study and began a little tribute to her,a sketch which I called The Wife of a Pioneer. Into this I poured the love I had felt but failed to express as fully as I should have done while she was alive.To make this her memorial was my definite purpose. As I went on I found myself deep in her life on the farm in Iowa, and the cheerful heroism of her daily treadmill came back to me with such appeal that I could scarcely see the words in which I was recording her history.Visioning the long years of her drudgery, I recalled her early rising, and suffered with her the never-ending round of dishwashing,churning,sewing,and cooking ,realizing more fully than ever before that in all of this slavery she was but one of a million martyrs. All our neighbors’ wives walked the same round. On such as they rests the heavier part of the home and city building in the West.The wives of the farm are the unnamed,unrewarded heroines of the border. For nearly a week I lingered upon this writing,and having completed it I was moved to print it, in order that it might remind some other son of his duty to his ageing parents sitting in the light of their lonely hearth, and in doing this I again vaguely forecast the composition of an autobiographic manuscript—one which should embody minutely and simply the homely daily toil of my father’s family, although I could not, at the moment, define the precise form into which the story would fall. The completion of the memorial to my mother eased my heart of its bitter self-accusation,and a little later I returned to my accustomed routine,realizing that in my wife now lay my present incentive and my future support.She became the center of my world.In her rested my hope of happiness.My mother was a memory. 181 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 181 To remain longer in the old home was painful,for to me everything suggested the one for whom it had been established.The piano I had bought for her, the chair in which she had loved to sit, her spectacles on the stand—all these mute witnesses of her absence benumbed me as I walked about her room. Only in my work-shop was I able to find even momentary relief from my sense of irreparable and eternal loss. Father, as though bewildered by the sudden change in his life, turned to Zulime with a pathetic weakness which she met with a daughter’s tender patience and a woman’s intuitive understanding .He talked to her of his first meeting with “Belle” and his tone was that of a lover,one who had loved long and deeply,and this I believe was true. In spite of unavoidable occasional moments of friction,he and Isabel McClintock had lived in harmony.They had been spiritually married, and now, in looking back over the long road he and she had traveled together, he recalled only its pleasant places. His memories were all of the sunlit meadows and starry nights along the way. Prairie pinks and wild roses hid the thorns and the thistles of the wayside. His joy in the songs she had sung came back, intensified now by tender association with her face and voice.The knowledge that she who had voiced them so often,could voice them no more,gave to some of the words an almost overpowering pathos, and when he asked me to sing them,I could not immediately comply.To him they brought grateful tears and a consoling sadness, to me they came with tragic significance. But that mother she is gone Calm she sleeps beneath the stone was not a song but a reality. More and more he dwelt upon the time when she was young, and as the weeks went by his sorrow took on a wistful,vague longing for the past. Through the gate of memory he reëntered the world of his youth and walked once more withWilliam and David and Luke.The mists which filled his eyes had nothing hot or withering in their...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780873516662
Related ISBN
9780873515665
MARC Record
OCLC
835517518
Pages
352
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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