A Long Life Lived…Doing What She Loved

The end of our days is unknown and I would like to think that I would die at a ripe old age surrounded by those that I loved.  I heard of a ninety-three year old lady who lives down the lane who recently died.  Driving down the old one lane winding road that leads past her farm, always a quite ride, a time of life reflection.  I see her field on the left and it is strange, almost haunting, when I go around the bend that reveals her tiny old, white house.  It always takes my mind on a journey.  I think about the season I am in, we all are in—the mothering season and I think of what her life must have been.
I had passed her along the road hundreds of times.  I would see her little frail body bent over in her flower garden, pruning and lovingly caring for her little white house in the country.  The white paint peeling off of other coats of white paint from years of applying that new fresh layer when she wanted it to look bright again.  The green trim around the windows always drew my eyes to that porch.  It all looked so perfect in its own imperfect way.​ Old tin roof in need of repair and I am sure the floors were worn creaky.

My neighbor gave me the story.  Fran said, “Old Dorothy finally died.  And she died doing what she loved best.  Her kids told her to slow down and not to work so hard and she said to them, ‘I will die what I love doing best! The second I slow down is when I will die!’ and so she was out weeding her garden and sat there on her little green painted porch and she was sipping her lemonade as she overlooked the cows grazing the field, and she just died!”I did not know Dorothy.  I can only imagine her long life in that little white house.  I imagine the day her husband crafted that little house.  I bet he picked that spot just for her some 75 years ago so that she could look at all the cattle in the field as she washed her dishes.

 It was right there on the side of the hill, and yes it soaked in the last rays of the sunset, the white paint shines golden at that time of day.
They probably married during the 1940s.  He may have seen her downtown Linden TN for the first time and he just knew she was his girl.  He probably was in the service back then, as WWII was raging.  Coming home from battle, her lovely face was one thing that seemed like a long lost dream come true.

​Now as I pass the old house and I can see in my mind a proud husband carrying his young bride over the threshold.  I can imagine the calico dress that she wore with her hair pinned up on each side, with red lipstick.  Her dreams and visions for her flower garden and a promise of a lifetime with the man of her dreams.  Holding her hand over her growing belly.  The thoughts of what precious baby she would soon hold.I imagine the baby that was born in the bedroom with the little window.  The window open, the curtain whipping in the gentle breeze with the tiny baby wailing.  Her eyes meeting his as they both embraced — there where the new chapter came in the heat of the Tennessee afternoon.  Wrapped child in arm in the blanket her mother knitted.  I know she would rock the baby just in that swing on the porch as she would sing a soft lullaby.

Several children must have been born in that little house some 70 years ago.  Long days in the field, her strong husband would toil and come in the front door with a sweated brow, and she would have a warm welcome, smells of bread baking and soup simmering at the old wood cook stove.  The children would quietly play and she would gather them up for the meal with their daddy.  Daddy would tell them all about his adventures on the land that day and Dorothy must have looked on in admiration.  It was her life.I imagine the two little ones in the pram that she would stroll down the lane on hot summer mornings to lull them to a quiet slumber.  Nestled around the quilt her grandmother sewed for her for a house warming gift some years ago by that time.

Many dishes were washed in the low light of the evening with dim light to guide her hands.  Kids growing and playing in the yard.  I imagine the peach tree that dad planted off the front side of the porch and the promise of peach pies.  I can see the little boys jumping off the porch in one big swoop and then up the big oak tree.  Little girls playing dolls on that front porch.  Mama picking flowers in her garden and ​​​​​​occasionally bringing them in to dress up her table.  It brought a touch of warmth.Cold winters huddled by the warmth of the wood stove, watching her faithful husband lovingly load with the wood that he harvested on their own land.  The soft sound of crackle and the faint smell of smoke that would fill the air was her world.

As the little family lived by and by and through the tough years of the Depression, they held fast to

their dreams and stood their ground, as I imagine in those times, they feared to lose everything they had.  The land was theirs, but could be taken for payment in times like those.  Or traded for food.  Yet I imagine the family just had to do without in those times.  They pinched their pennies so they could keep the farm.Miss Dorothy must have seen it all.  She lived through times we only see in the movies.  She may have buried a child far before his or her time, she had the whole in her heart, the pain of loss, but as all good women did in those days, she would move on, and she lived still.  Her and her beloved must have sat many nights on that front porch talking about the years that went by.  She had disappointments like the rest of us, maybe times where their marriage suffered and years of silence for lack of words when times were hard.

I know she was a widow.  He is long since gone, of course.  He is probably buried over yonder on their property behind an old oak tree I imagine.  She had to brave the land alone even in her later years.  She learned how to swing that old heavy ax and cut and stack her own firewood after her husband was gone.  I saw her do it!  Even at 90 some years old.  I did not see many visitors there.  Her kids probably were busy with their own lives and forgot about the good old days on the farm.  Not sure why they were not drawn back.  She seemed alone but busy with keeping her home clean, tidy, and warm with fire.

I never looked in her eyes.  But I imagine if I did, they would be deep.  The wrinkles would have been proof of the years of pain, joy, grief, hard work, and true perseverence.  I imagine she had a deep faith in Christ.  I bet the Lord got her through all the peaks and valleys of her long life.

She was a Proverbs 31 woman.  That is all I know.  Because only a woman like her would have stayed the course, not given up.  Only a woman like her would still be out in the flower garden picking flowers to grace her table when all the others were gone, and the kind that would sit and knit on that porch after applying another coat of fresh white paint, looking over the beautiful field that never changed.

I will never know what it is like to grow roots on one piece of land, as we have moved and shifted over the years.  I had to realize that my home was in heaven and that where ever my family is that is where I call home, no matter where we are at the time.  They are my safe haven.

I want to be like this woman that I never knew.  I want to stay the course, and be a keeper of my homestead, find joy right where I am planted in all the seasons of life.  I want to sit on my porch and see the ever changing skies and know that I am right where I need to be.  I don’t want to grow weary in well doing.  Dorothy sure did not and she died doing what she loved best—being a keeper of the home!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Galatians 6:9

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0 thoughts on “A Long Life Lived…Doing What She Loved

  1. I think that she was a wonderful woman. I will be to be so courageous and I will begin a proverb 31 woman. Your idea is fantastic. I am very impatiente. I love you my sweet friend. Marlène 😘

  2. I think this post is lovely. I am SO not trying to be nit picky, but as a homeschool mom and a history buff, can I make a tiny correction?? If they married in the 1940s, their little family would not have lived through the Great Depression, which was from Oct 1929 though around 1941.
    Just a quick thought. You don’t even have to publish the comment, just thought you’d want to correct that. Perhaps you meant they married in the 1920s?? and that he was a WWI vet??

  3. This such a precious story. It is written beautifully Erin, I felt like I could have been there with her. I know I will find my mind returning to this women and her little white all day long.

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