Days Gone Bye

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 11, 2004

The lady in the window

I’ve written a fair amount about Mabel Jones over the years… ..’bout how she was one of the last living mamas of any of my boyhood friends.

She’s not here now. Not unexpected… .but still an unwelcome void down yonder in Linden Town.

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Everytime I went to Old Town Domiciliary to visit Tommy Mack’s mama, I remarked about that big picture she had hanging in her room of her and her long ago departed helpmate, Frank.

Tommy sent me an 8×10 of that photo to run with the column this week. There it is. Look good, don’t they?

Seems like of all my young memories of the Jones bunch who moved in sorta southeast of our house, and across the dirt road called Boggs Street, I always conjure up a picture in my memory bank of Mabel looking out the kitchen window.

She either did a heap of cooking and washing dishes, or she just wanted to be checking to see what Tommy Mack was up to.

I’ve already told y’all a bunch of times about the Jones Muscatine vines, their collie dog named Laddie Mack, Mabel making Tommy wear those danged old knee pants called knickers, and all such stuff as that.

Let me tell you one other thing about the void left in the county seat by the passing of my dear friend, Mabel Jones.

She was a good woman, and had a heap of good friends. You talking ’bout loving a church… Now that lady dearly loved the Lord, and loved to worship him with her buddies at the Linden Baptist Church. She’d get to talking about that place, and you’d see a soft glow come over her face.

Her eyesight got to going pretty bad a while back. She told me she sure was glad she had Faye Haskins to read my column to her every day, even though her hearing was not all that great either.

Right before she had to move to the Nursing Home, I went in to see her, and she was pretty weak, and her eyesight had gotten sho nuff bad. She looked up at me, and said, "Well, I’ve been wondering where you’d been the last few days, Preacher." I knelt down by her chair, and made her to understand that I didn’t mind being called a preacher, but I hadn’t gotten to be quite as big a man as Reverend Billy yet awhile.

Talking ’bout her hearing. One day, a few years back when she could hear it thunder and such, she leaned over to me, and said, "You know Mrs. So and so in here. She’s no fun to talk to. She can’t hear it thunder."

Another time, and Mabel could get around pretty good up ’til the end, she told me about another resident up there at Old Town. She said, "I just hate to get in behind her going to supper. She moves so slow."

Well, those were about the only derogatory things you might ever hear that dear lady say about her fellow man… or woman, but you know what? When there’s somebody with such a sharp brain, locked down being unable to see or hear, and not move about as well as she once did, that’s a mighty frustrating thing to handle.

I’ve told y’all about these folks from yesteryear sitting in their homes, or in a rest home. Just sitting. A visit from a young un from the world goes a mighty long way with that man or woman, who was once looking out kitchen windows, picking grapes, fixing supper, filling church pews, and making sure the boy has got on his knickers.

I ‘member when Tommy went out for football. Mabel saw me walking down the road one day, and she stopped me. Said, "Thomas, you know Tommy’s going out for football. Sure wish you’d keep an eye on him out there."Shucks, Old Tommy Mack got to be so big, he didn’t need any looking after. Mabel never failed to ask me to help Tommy when she passed on, as if he’d need any help, but it was an honor for my brother and me to help carry Mabel Jones’ casket to its final resting place. After the funeral, I rode down Boggs Street. Just to kinda stop and look at that window.

The lady was gone… .but I remember.