Thursday, August 05, 2010

Heat Wave

We had just learned from a high school classmate of Gerald that our friend Ruby Treece was now living at Marion’s Liberty Village, a retirement community. The classmate wanted us to plan to pick up Ruby and take her with us to their class’s annual get-together in recent years. We were pleased to do so, because Ruby almost seems like family. One of the 16 graduates in Gerald’s 1948 Wolf Lake High School class, Ruby was born on the same day as Gerald and attended the same rural grade school. She married the brother of our sister-in-law Opal, and after his death and the death of her brother soon after, she had a terrible fall in their two-story house in Cape Girardeau. Recovering from that, she had decided she better relocate where she could have less work and better care. A grandson’s family in Marion clinched the decision to come here.

Ruby called me Saturday to tell me she realized she already had two engagements that same day of the class reunion and although she’d like to go to the reunion, there was no way she could. She said she had not met many people yet at Liberty Village. But during our chitchat about this, I told Ruby about getting acquainted with Eric Levin and how charming his mother sounded who had lived there for several years and whom he had just moved to assisted living part of the compound. When I told about Mrs. Levin being accomplished pianist, Ruby gasped and said one of the few people she had met was this lovely lady who said she was a classical pianist. Ruby told her that she would love to hear her play, and the lady invited her to her apartment and played beautifully for Ruby. (Eric says she was so very good as a younger woman that now that her hands are arthritic she feels she is no longer good--but she is.) I told Ruby I could not wait to share this with Gerald at lunch. And I did.

After lunch, the phone rang again. Ruby said she had gone into the common gathering area and there was the lady, Sylvia Levin, and a younger man, whom Ruby immediately knew must be her son. She told them we had just been conversing about them and how long she had known Gerald. And that she had known Gerald’s' Gma Zula Godwin, who was friends with Ruby's mother. I had gotten an email from Eric the nite before asking about his first wife’s relationship to Uncle Melvin Godwin and I forwarded it to Gerald to answer. So that email from Gerald was waiting for Eric when he got home that night.

This is the reason I talked almost two hours with Ruby Morrison Treece on Saturday. I thought the coincidences were fascinating once more proving that the world is a small world.

Jerry Pirtle, who lives down in rural Ozark, had dropped by Tuesday night after visiting his nearby farm in our neighborhood. Jerry was first just a friend, but later he and Gerald found out they share a family tree on Gerald’s Grandma Zula Pirtle Godwin’s side of the family. Gerald was telling Jerry about our new friend Eric Levin, who had married a Pomona girl, Diane Ellis, whose mother’s sister was married to Bill Godwin, son of Gerald’s Uncle Melvin Godwin. Gerald has been reviewing Uncle Melvin memories with his brothers Keith and Garry, Gerald remembered Uncle Melvin from his childhood as a great story teller, back when the family was still close enough to go up Pomona for visits.

Jerry was born and lived in the Pomona-Alto Pass community until he and Margie moved to Ozark. Yes, Jerry remembered the Godwins, and his father was a friend of Uncle Melvin. So that visit with Jerry Pirtle stirred all kinds of memories of Pomona and the Jerusalem Church and cemetery. In fact, Jerry had gone to school with Dianne Ellis Levin’s two older sisters.

Despite the heat wave, Gerald has continued to work outside most of most days this week. He has picked okra, tomatoes, and cantaloupe—great quantities of all three. He brought in a mess of sweet corn from Scott’s field next door. And although he was exhausted Monday night, he was very pleased that he and Scott had finally completed their months’ long plan of being able to pump water from our lake to the experimental plots on the other side of our long driveway. An intended phone call to “Julie” had been forgotten by someone, and unfortunately they accidentally cut through the landline phone wire buried in the middle of our lane. We had to drive around that excavation into the grass that night, but the next day the phone company repaired the line and Gerald has been leveling the lane once more. Since then, he has started a project to put in a system that would allow the local fire department to use the lake if needed in case of a fire. The chief had suggested this but never followed through on it, so Gerald did. I am not sure he has finished that. All this in addition to other miscellaneous activities and a doctor’s appointment about numb fingers has made his week very productive despite the heat.

He might come in dripping wet, clean up, cool off, and change clothes, but after awhile he could be outside again on a tractor or in the garden or his shop. Yesterday, however, when the heat index was 120 degrees, he came in before lunch and announced he would not be going back outside unless it was in the air-conditioned truck. After lunch, he looked pretty relaxed in fresh sports clothes when two men, who are going to do a small timber project for us up at the other farm, showed up at the house. Soon they were off in the air conditioned truck to check out that timber site.

Because Jerry Pirtle, who recently retired from the forest service, has always been Gerald’s source of information about trees or timber, Gerald called him to talk trees after the foray at the timber site. Soon they were reminiscing about Pomona, the Ellis and Godwin families, and their childhood memories. Jerry came up, and once again Gerald took off in that air conditioned truck. He and Jerry were off to explore those beautiful hills and valleys. They got back to Woodsong long after I was home from our early evening Wednesday church service. I was watching television, and he brought me down a half of a regular peach and a half of a white peach on a dessert plate. Later when I went up to fix the morning coffee, I saw the large wooden box of peaches he bought during their visit to one of Jerry’s friends in that peach orchard country.

This morning when I got up, he had spread his photographs of his Uncle Melvin and Aunt Essie’s tombstone and other tombstones at the Jerusalem Church cemetery including that of Dianne Ellis Levin. He was already outside working, of course, but when he came in for lunch, I heard more about his travels. He needed to run into town this afternoon, but I was not surprised when I came home from Katherine’s that he hard at work outside near his shop. Today was somewhat cooler at least. I finally gave up waiting to eat supper with him as the clock approached eight.

Now I guess I better go back upstairs and straighten the kitchen and make tomorrow morning’s coffee. I will want to sleep as late as possible but will need to be up by seven tomorrow. Gerald, who can’t sleep past seven and often wakes at four or five or even earlier whether he wants to or not, will have already walked down the lane and back for the daily newspaper, fixed his toast and 30-second egg in the microwave, and probably will have read the paper and already be outside before it gets too hot. Or he might be downstairs in his office working on photographs or checking grandchildren’s remarks on Facebook. If he happens to still be at the breakfast table, we’ll eat a peach together.

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