Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: An Afternoon of Memory with Miss Ellie

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The little, one-room house still stands just off Hwy. 87 in Howard County, Texas. Half a mile away is a rundown, now abandoned station and feed store. A little further up a winding dirt road is a long neglected cemetery with the name once written over the gate, long ago faded.

“It was such a beautiful house back in 1939 when Mr. Rogers and I married,” said Miss Ellie. “A traveling preacher married us on a Thursday morning. We set up house keeping, living there for three years. There was a dirt floor, but Mr. Rogers built a wooden floor and fixed the windows and porch. When the children started coming, we moved down the road into the big house.”

“After the marrying, we went to the (cotton) fields and worked until midday. I cooked dinner for all the Rogers boys. After dinner I stayed home and fixed up the little house with things from my hope chest.”

Miss Ellie took her eyes from me and gazed out the window. Then she continued, “Those were such wonderful days. We had a spring fed well next to the house. Every year we planted a garden. Even after moving to the big house down the road we always had a garden and orchard. Our pantry was filled with canned goods and the smoke house had plenty of meat.”

Caussey's Corner: An Afternoon of Memory with Miss Ellie

Photo: @kaitlinking2011 via Twenty20

There was a pause as she fidgeted her hands that rested traditionally in her lap. With a sigh and moistened movement of lips she continued.

“You know, I sure did love Mr. Rogers. He and my Pa were friends. He was some older than me, but we had a good life together. We raised six kids that all turned out good. Mr. Rogers never hit me, only took a drink on Christmas and Independence Day, and went to church regularly.”

“Mr. Rogers was a carpenter, building just about anything he wanted.  He liked to dance and play the fiddle, and he dearly loved apple cobbler. He passed in 1979. I sure do miss him!”

The afternoon had enveloped into early evening. The nursing home appeared to be in a state of residual slumber. Miss Ellie’s room was small and the wall exposed a visitor to an array of pictures that featured her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Caussey's Corner: An Afternoon of Memory with Miss Ellie

Photo: @mespilman via Twenty20

Next to her bed on a small table was a picture of Mr. Rogers.

“I talk to him sometimes when I get lonely,” she said. “This is a good place to live, but not many folks come to see me. Most of my friends are either dead or crippled, and the kids are always busy.”

Miss Ellie’s eyes appeared to campfire glow with a light that seemed to travel beyond the small room into a realm of the past. We sat there for a while embracing stone silence. Both lost in our own dreams of past deeds and present fortunes.

Finally she spoke, “It’s nice to have a visitor. Especially a young man that I’d never met before. Thank you for coming to see me.”

Caussey's Corner: An Afternoon of Memory with Miss Ellie

Photo: @eagleyebond via Twenty20

I hugged Miss Ellie goodbye and exited the room quietly. At the open door, I paused and looked back into the room. Miss Ellie had left the rocker and was now sitting on the bed’s edge. The picture of Mr. Rogers was in her hands as I heard her say in a rich, tender voice, low to the ear, but audible.

“Yes Sir, that man was a dancing fool.”

Miss Ellie passed away last week. Today she is surely dancing with Mr. Rogers.

If you haven’t visited a nursing home or a hospital—please do so. Visit a friend or a stranger, it won’t matter. It will make for laudable music among the heavenly host. More music made for dancing.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist. He may be reached at this outlet or [email protected],