July 2015 Posts

Chapter 13: Dot Loses Her Man

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“If I do not love you I shall not love; If you shall not love, I shall not have been loved” Bertold Brecht

High Water on the Pemi

High Water on the Pemi

When winter comes to an end it loosens its hold on New Hampshire’s snow packed mountains causing the melting ice and snow to thunder down into rivers, more often than not, overflowing their banks, causing all kinds of havoc in low lying areas. It is during this time of year, between winter and spring, known as ‘mud’ season, that Ray starts having trouble swallowing.

He is diagnosed with throat cancer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, an hour and a half away over unforgiving, but

winter on #25

winter on #25

beautiful, country roads. All through the summer and fall, Dot and Ray travel to Hanover for treatments that barely help. When Ray is finally hospitalized that winter, Audrey, Nora or myself make the daily drive over there with Dot. Like her, we ignore him when he tells us it doesn’t make sense to visit every day- “Why you girls are gonna kill yourselves.”

Ray does come home but he is hospitalized off and on, until late spring. When nothing seems to work anymore and Ray is unable to even take nourishment through a straw, the Doctor’s decide to put a feeding tube and send him home with medications.  Dot doesn’t doubt for an instant that she is capable of doctoring him after all the years she has been taking care of her animals. Not one of us dare say out loud that Ray was coming home to die.

Dot, Mary, Marge

The Farmar Women,Dot, Mary and Marge

Audrey, Nora, and I arrive daily and join Dot’s sisters, forming a seamless circle around Dot and Ray, and  taking over the chores for Dot so she is free to spend her time ministering to her Ray.

One morning, I call Dot telling her I am on my way  and does she needs anything else, she says,

“Honey, Ray and I have some business to clear up this morning. Let me ring you back when we’re done.”

When Dot phones shortly after noontime she says, “Well honey, Ray and I had ourselves a lovely morning together and he is at peace now. Call the other girls, will ya, and come sit with me. Ray’s body is going to be leaving soon. I called up north already to his son.”

I knew Ray had a grown son, along with a wife he never got around to divorcing. And although Ray hadn’t seen much of them for almost twenty years, when he knew he was dying he’d asked Dot to let them know when he was gone. Even so I am taken aback when I get to Dot’s and find a hearse and aged station wagon waiting in the yard.

I join Dot, who is standing off to the side of the porch, arms crossed over her chest, hearsestaring at the doorway where the gurney with Ray’s body will exit.  She says, “Ray will be leaving soon. The son and wife showed up pretty quick after I called them. They’re in there now, and are gonna hustle him out of here and bury him in their family plot up in Littleton on Tuesday. We’ll all go up for the funeral.”

Tuesday morning Audrey, Nora and I pile into the Powder Blue Caddy with Dot and make the 40 mile trip to Littleton, where we sit in the back pews of the church, paying our last respects.

Later, gathered in Dot’s kitchen, we feel Ray’s absence, and see in Dot’s eyes the shock of her loss.

dot and ray

Ray and Dot

Dot and Ray loved each other with a fierceness that outsiders only saw as playful teasing. Ray loved Dot’s independence, and this simple yet monumental gift allowed Dot to trust him enough to let her guard down. She let Ray move into her empty house and her heart, where he filled up all the lonely spaces hidden inside her. Spaces that had accumulated over the years, so quietly, she didn’t even recognize they were ever there, until they all disappeared.

We sit with her for hours, trying to comfort her, knowing nothing will ever fill the emptiness. After a time a great smile comes across Dot’s face, and we could see her eyes, bright as firelight before she clears her throat and says softly, “Well girls, Ray n’ me, we had a hell of a good time together and I had the best of him. Guess a woman can’t ask for nothing more than one good man!

Unless its another good man. But that’s another Dot story!

 

Chapter 12: Dot, the Caddy, and Cold Cash

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Dot, the Powder Blue Caddy, and Cold Cash

The Powder Blue Caddy

The Powder Blue Caddy

Moving to New Hampshire brought me the great good fortune of meeting Dot Farmar, a down to earth, old-time  horse trader, who was also a very wise woman with a wicked sense of humor.  Dot was one of those people I was proud to call friend, because as her friend, I became a better and happier person.

And could she tell a story! Here is one of my favorites, told to me one Spring morning when Dot and her Powder Blue Caddy arrived in my driveway. We were headed for Concord, NH, for our monthly shopping trip. We had plenty of time to converse, and while waiting for her this morning, I had decided to indulge in my curiousity and ask why she and Ray looked like the cat who ate the canary whenever they mentioned buying the Caddy?

“Well honey, Dot chuckled, “a few years back, when Spring just about was settling in, Ray and I decided this was the year we’d take some of our savings and go get that Cadillac we’d been wanting.

Our first stop was the local car dealer where this here Powder Blue Cadillac Sedan, with a white leather top, had been sitting all winter. Every morning when we’d go down to collect our mail at the post office we saw her sitting in the lot, still not sold. When the snow melted, Ray and I stopped at the lot to take a good look at her. We walked around the car and noted it was in great condition. Just then a young man came striding across the lot. I had known this young fella since he’d been in short pants. He knew I was a horse trader, by profession. I now knew he was a car salesman. After we greeted each other I told him Ray and I were interested in seeing under the hood of the Caddy.

No problem, he replied as he popped the hood open. The engine was clean as a whistle. Then he opened the car doors and the trunk. Everything looked brand new.  I slid in behind the wheel, offered Ray the opportunity to do the same, but he said, nope Dot, I trust your judgement. Meanwhile I had all I could do to contain my excitement.  When I exited the car, the heavy sound of the door closing, closed the deal for me.  After our test drive down the highway I nodded my decision to Ray.  When we arrived back at the dealership, the negotiations began.

Ray and I pretty much knew what the car was worth and that it had sat there all winter. We had already agreed on our final offer. We dickered a bit until I asked the salesman what was his very best price for a cold cash sale.

He asked us to wait until he spoke to his manager. A few moments later he came back with a deal Ray and I could live with and, I said, young fella, you’ve got yourself a deal. Ray and me will be back the tomorrow morning with the cash, and pick up the car.

 A Bottle of Quarters

A Bottle of Quarters

Ray and me had fits of giggling all the way home. We parked the truck, grabbed a pair of shovels out of the barn, and headed for the back paddocks where we commenced digging. For fifteen years we’d been saving quarters in pickling jars, and burying them in the paddock, believing it was safer there than in the bank. We dug for most of the rest of the day, emptying the jars into bushel baskets, and setting them in the back of our truck. When we were satisfied we’d enough money to pay for the Caddy we tied a tarp over the bed of the truck, put the shovels away, and went into the house for a couple of good whiskey’s and supper.

Next morning we drove downtown and parked our truck next to the Caddy, now  sitting outside the front door of the dealership, freshly washed, and waiting for us to claim her. The young man caddycame out, all smiles, and greeted us with a handshake. We went into the dealership and signed papers. When it came to the money part I said it was outside waiting for them.

We walked back out to the truck and, with one swish, Ray and I pulled the tarp off the truck bed. There sat all those baskets, jammed tight and filled to overflowing with silver quarters, shining in the sunlight.

Here it is, I said, to the astonished young man who was now grinning ear to ear, just like we promised, cold cash!”

When we were done laughing about her cold cash deal, she said,

“Here’s another story for you.  Did I ever tell you about the time we got a trade price for one of our trucks? I promised to bring it in the next morning but that night me and Ray switched out the engine with one of the older trucks on the farm.  Never did hear a thing about that, always wondered!”

That was Dot, a woman to be reckoned with, who had a little bit of larceny in her   horse trader heart!

 

 

 

 

 

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