As I looked out the living room windows, two scarlet patches of leaves were there in the midst of the green to delight me. A tree that Gerald planted over 11 years ago. Looking out the kitchen window across the driveway and behind the garden, tall brown corn awaits the combine. On down the lane, our neighbor’s lush green soybean plot is pleasingly speckled with yellow leaves. Everything is changing for the end of this growing season and preparing for winter’s rest.
Brian and Mary Ellen are working as fast as they can to gather this summer’s corn crop with its over-the-top yields. After last summer’s drought, they are rejoicing over these abundant results from their hard work.
Mary Ellen has learned to drive the pickup with the trailer behind pulling the golden grains to the market. This is not easy to do, and she was fearful at the prospect. Yet that did not stop her from jumping in to assist in this way. Brian put new tires on the trailer so that she did not have to fear a blow-out that might very well topple a wagon.
I am amazed that she has been able to quickly learn this new skill, but I should not be. One adjective I have used to describe her since she was a little child is the word “competent.” Need rice crispy treats? Little Mary Ellen was good at it. Need your hair fixed? Mary Ellen could do it. Drive a tractor? Mary Ellen did. Sew a garment? She did it all the time. Make a gift? Her craft skills were fine. Need a pianist? Yes, Mary would.help you out. Or a soloist? Sure. She was always my helper in so many ways.
In college, she shone in ag communication classes and organizations. She even took one semester out to work as a secretary. After graduation in the middle of a recession, she went right to work as a reporter on our local newspaper, and took and developed photographs as needed leaving the old Marion Daily Republican building in the middle of the night if necessary to meet a deadline. It scared me to death but did not faze her. But, of course, she wanted a better job with benefits and advancement possibilities.
No agriculture jobs were available with the ag crisis going on, so she gave up looking for the better job in
and she decided on a move to Nashville,
where she joined her sister Katherine. That was a great place for someone who loved
music as both those daughters did. Temporarily
she stayed in Katherine’s apartment and took temporary jobs, where I am sure
she was appreciated for her competence by that agency. Soon she was hired as a writer for Tennessee Magazine. And eventually she was editor. She was enjoying her success and the travels
it provided her and all the fascinating people she met, and then her former
boyfriend came back into the picture.
I had it in my head that the boyfriend might be giving her an engagement ring that Christmas at Pondside Farm, but that didn’t happen. What did happen is he gave her the ring down in
and on New Year’s Eve, she called us to
say that they were being married that night in the chapel on Music Row. They
had just decided.
Should we drive down? No, Brian’s mother was much too far away to make it from
and maybe it would be fairer if we didn’t come either. His cousin and fiancé were in town from Florida to offer support, and her girl friends were
helping her with flowers and cake. She
had time for a whirlwind shopping trip, and she looked gorgeous in her short two-piece
wedding dress in the beautiful photos that they had to share with us.
We had an exciting family celebration when they came up for the weekend at Pondside Farm. From there, Brian had to go back to northern
where he was working in his home area, and Jeannie sweetly drove Mary Ellen
back to Nashville. That long-distance marriage did not last long
until phone and flight bills made it easy for them to decide they wanted to be
together more than on the weekend, so Brian moved down to look for work
there. That did not last long either
because Brian was offered a full-time job with DeKalb that he had been seeking,
and were soon settled in Iowa.
As Brian advanced in his career, there were moves from
Iowa, where their two
children were born, to Michigan to Indiana to St. Louis, and
finally to their country home five miles south of Waggoner and its population
of 250 while Brian worked north of Springfield. So there were lots of houses for Mary Ellen
to decorate and settle in, many schools to help her children adjust to, family
medical needs to be attended to, and eventually a successful real estate career
that had to be aborted with the move to
Waggoner and then rebuilt in Springfield, where she continued developing her
public relations skills and experience, which she always had a talent for. .
Now with their two children starting their own adult lives, Mary Ellen is back in her home rural community with Brian working in an office in their home and driving into
St. Louis when necessary. For the moment, Mary Ellen is a homemaker
and a truck driver, who still likes to help me out carrying in a meat loaf or
slow-cooked ribs or sharing egg salad she said they would get tired of. It is so fun to have her nearby to talk to
and to see what new thing she has achieved with the home they have moved
Until harvest is over, she is sharing this busy season with her husband. Brianna was home for
’s fall break, and
she rode the truck with Mary Ellen while they caught up with Brianna’s news
about life as a college freshman, What will be next? More real estate? She is good at that. Another move if Brian’s work calls for
it? She’s good at moving too and making
friends wherever she goes. A completely
different career? Whatever it is, I know
from past experience that she will be quite competent. Murray