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McDonald Tales - Mt13 - Late April 1882 and Jane Talked With Nellie

Updated on November 18, 2017
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

She rode through the countryside

A country scene
A country scene

Nellie rode out the farm on Saturday

A saddlehorse
A saddlehorse

Nellie Truesdale visited her sister, Jane, on Saturday, April 29

When Nellie made her Saturday visit to the McDonald farm on Saturday, April 29, it had been four weeks since that infamous day when their nephew, Jimmie, had been swept to his death in that flood-swollen stream. Enough time had passed, though, for their lives to begin to return to a new normal. Nellie was teaching every day, of course. Jane and Daniel were busy with the spring planting activities. The cattle herds had produced a fine new crop of calves to be looked after and nurtured. Jane and Nellie still reserved a couple of hours to themselves on that Saturday afternoon to keep connected in their knowledge and thinking about their families and their own lives.

Jane: How do you see Lewis and Carolyn coping with their loss, Nellie?

Nellie: They are each struggling, each in their own way. They now realize that neither of them had connected with Jimmie as well as they thought they had, and they are each searching for how to deal with that now.

Jane: In what ways do you see that?

Nellie: Carolyn now clings to Myrtle, even more. She has spent much time with Rev. Boyd, from the church, but her faith has been badly shaken. It remains to be seen how much that will help.

Jane: And Lewis?

Nellie: I’m sure you know the answer to that one. Much like our father, under stress, Lewis has turned to the bottle. He would never admit it, but each time I see him, and I try to do so a couple of times a week, the signs are growing. He thinks he has poured himself into his work, even more, but that is a cover-up, I fear.

Jane: I was afraid of that. What can we do?

Nellie: We must be patient, with each of them. They are responsible for their own actions. We can support them as best we can, but interference of any kind, any time soon, might be very ugly.

William enjoyed working on the farm

A farm in the valley
A farm in the valley

The conversations turned to William

Jane: Yes, William still goes to school, but he really wants to be out in the fields, on the farm. Graduation is very important to him, thank goodness, but his heart is really out here, on the farm.

Nellie: That is very understandable, especially on these fine spring days we have been having. I certainly enjoyed the ride out, and I’m not even a farmer.

Jane: Both William and Charlotte are really concentrating on learning their future roles on the farm. Grace and I don’t get much time to chat during this busy season, but we have talked about how their ‘talk’ has now moved to the ‘action’ stage. William and Charlotte each ask more pointed questions. They each want to be involved in every critical activity. Actually, it is kind of fun to observe, but also somewhat frustrating.

Nellie: Frustrating? In what way?

Jane: Sometimes I just want to say ‘watch and listen’ - that is really all they have to do. It is almost like when they were 3 or 4 years old, just starting out. They wanted to know everything - now. It is wonderful, but…

Nellie: I see. Good luck with that!

They each enjoy reading and their Book Clubs

A book of the nineteenth century
A book of the nineteenth century

Jane asked Nellie about Dr. Potts

Jane: I did see that your social life made the paper a week or so ago. How is Dr. Potts doing these days?

Nellie: I was pretty sure you would get around to that… (Big smile)

Jane: I certainly couldn’t let it pass without comment. I’m sure he had dinner with you and mother to see how our mother was doing.

Nellie: As a matter of fact, he has been very kind to mother. She does have more aches and pains these days, and he is very good at treating them.

Jane: (Even bigger smile) And I suppose he treats your ‘aches and pains’ as well?

Nellie: I don’t have any ‘aches and pains’ to treat, thank you very much. There is not an overabundance of people in this community who are as well read and as pleasant to have a real conversation with as J.D.

Jane: Ah, J.D., indeed. I do agree, though, that he does have a lot to offer in the way of conversations. I’ve very much enjoyed each time I’ve been in a Book Club with him.

Nellie: As have I. It was mother’s idea to invite him to dinner. I didn’t even know about it until she had already invited him, and he had accepted.

Jane: I understand, I will admit. Mother has never been especially subtle about getting what she wants. She was as pleased with how the evening went as you were, I’m sure.

Nellie: Yes, I’m sure that is fair to say. She is already thinking about the correct occasion to ask him again. And no, I won’t object. I really won’t push it, but I won’t resist, either. He is a very pleasant companion, as I said earlier. And it does put some new life in mother, during what have been very trying times.

Jane: She is a very strong woman.

Nellie: Yes, she is. She has seen hard times, as well as good times. She seems to take each in stride, reacts appropriately, and just keeps on going. I try to emulate that, but it is very hard for me not to have higher highs, and lower lows.

Jane: You do very well. You are one of the most levelheaded persons that I know. That is one more reason I so appreciate talking with you regularly.

Nellie: Thank you. I kind of feel like it is my place to follow my mother’s example. I don’t have a family of my own, and this is a contribution I can make.

Jane: Whatever it is, keep it up. And tell, ‘J.D.’ I said ‘Hi’ the next time you see him.

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    • Homeplace Series profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Larry! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Well done, as always.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I appreciate your comments, Sha. You ask the key questions, of course, but still speculation. Life can take many directions.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      It looks like love is in the air for Nellie and J.D. Seem that way, anyway.

      It's sad that Lewis is turning to the bottle to cover up his pain. It's not uncommon, though. I just hope the loss of a child doesn't split Lewis and Carolyn up. That happens all to often. Now is when they really need other.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your kind words, Mary. These were times in the distant past, but we can still connect, today. I still recall working side-by-side with my father in the farm fields. There is really nothing quite like it. I have some cousins, on Facebook, who still do it each day, by the way. Many changes, of course, but much the same, as well! ;-)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Not just a history lesson, but a touch of humanity at the time. How interesting to see such a rapport with the family doctor. Of course romance is never far away.

      It is hard for most of us to realize the importance and joy of working in the fields as we're so removed from that lifestyle.

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      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Actually, life-expectancy at this time was between 45 and 50, according to stats I just saw - not real accurate before 1900... but likely about right. So, yes, loss was very familiar. Really appreciate your specific comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The people who lived in 1882 were most likely intimately familiar with loss....what was the life expectancy back then? Fifty? Sixty? Certainly no more than that, and those who lived on farms, ranches, in small towns...I'll bet the life expectancy was lower for them.

      Anyway, thanks for the history lesson.