The old woman believed in dreams. She believed that a faithful heart made dreams come true. All one had to do was embrace a dream in their heart, to see it with the mind’s eye, and it would come to pass. She trusted that whatever you truly and faithfully believed would be what you experienced for eternity. Right now, however, the old woman’s dream was for a simple bit of strength.
The old woman might as well have been trying to break an oak log in half. Instead, she was simply, but unsuccessfully, trying to snap the long, thin, branch she held in her gnarled hands. She was trying to size the branch to fit into her small cook stove. After a few minutes of futile struggle, she simply set the unyielding piece of kindling down and resigned herself to defeat. She had learned to embrace defeat, rather than fight it, as if loss was an old friend. Long ago, or at least it seemed long ago, she stopped cursing her mounting inadequacies and inability to accomplish the simplest tasks, and accepted the inevitable: she was alone and alone she would stay. She shuffled her way to her old rocking chair and carefully sat down with a sigh.
She sat so still that if anyone were there to look upon her, they would think they were viewing a still-life painting. One would imagine her slight trembling to be nothing more than an illusion of breeze against canvas. Her shaking came with age. Age and a life of toil and hardship, but also a life filled with joy and ease. Either way, it had been a long life. She could not exactly remember how old she was. Not that it mattered, that information became useless and slipped away long ago. Lightheartedly, she would simply say that she was as old as dirt.
The old woman would be going hungry again. Fortunately, this did not bother her. She had adequate food in her cupboards, and could easily find something to eat, but she lacked the strength to pursue that solution. She was bone weary. Anyway, hunger had become as bothersome as a buzzing fly and she swatted it away just as easily. Hunger was a part of her life and she accepted it as such. She knew that her life had become less flow and more ebb. This, too, she accepted with calm detachment. If she became too hungry, she would simply nibble on a cracker, which amounted to a satisfying meal these days.
To look at her now was like looking at an old well-thumbed book. It might be hard to see it on the surface but she held an inner sense of power, energy, and, especially, determination. She had lived a full life. She had been married to a kind and gentle man, Isaiah, for sixty-eight years. She had mothered five strong children and helped them build their own families. She had done these things and so much more in the house where she now sat so still; the house that was her home.
Isaiah had built their home with his own two hands. At the time, they had been living in a large city to the south. With the help of their two sons, who were old enough to work and...