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Reflections... One Woman's Life (1917 into the new millennium)

 

 

a novel by 

Diane L. Krueger 

 

 

 

FALL of 1917

 

 

Her down-filled pillow saturated each night by her tacit tears, she silently prayed for the child she seemed unable to bear. Mali and Padrig Brice were very happy together. However, their life lacked only one thing . . . a child.

Married only two years, they’d lost their first child due to a severe fall. Mali became barren. Every time one of their friends had a child, Mali felt an excruciating void. She cuddled the new arrival, smiled and went home to silently weep over life's injustices. Mali knew Paddy would be the most loving father there ever was. He never once complained about the vacancy in their lives. She was truly grateful for that. She often wished there was a way to change their circumstances.Living over their little mercantile store, Padrig opened and closed the store, but once her housework was done Mali went downstairs to work alongside her beloved husband.

Paddy chastised her for working too hard, but Mali needed something to fill the void of their childless existence. When he complained she looked peaked, she'd patiently explained how much she thrived on the local gossip. She’d continue, illustrating how miserable and bored she would become if she were forced to stay upstairs. His love was so totally hers, and her facial expressions so priceless, Mali always won the argument. She couldn't imagine her life if Paddy forced her from their store.She believed their life would be perfect . . . if only God would answer their prayers and grant them a child. Although they had hoped for many children, Mali now knew she would be blessed and satisfied with only one.

Ira Lee Walsh had left the mining camp where his daddy had worked his entire life exactly two years to the day after his father's untimely death.

Like many miners of his time, Dougal Walsh had fallen ill from a severe case of pneumoconiosis. Inhaling the mineral dust from the coal mines, his lung tissues had hardened. Ira Lee felt he would surely be orphaned because of the horridly painful disease. He was so fearful of that fateful illness, he was emotionally unprepared for what finally took his father's last breath away.

Vowing on the day of his father's funeral never to work the mines and die like his daddy, Ira Lee also promised himself he would live far from the mining camps. Epidemics, like tuberculosis in 1902 which killed his mother, brother and sisters, could wipe out entire families almost overnight, and he didn’t want that for his future family. Ira Lee crossed the mountains, in search of work, on the warm morning of September 5, 1917. He soon found himself in the town of Appalachia.

After two weeks of searching for a job other than mining his money ran out, and he gave up. Wandering into a mining camp three miles outside the town of Appalachia, he applied and was hired on the spot. Ira Lee was not surprised. He'd heard the dreaded horn blasting as he neared the camp. That frightful noise always alerted the camp someone had been hurt, possibly killed. Whenever he heard the sounds from a blasting horn, Ira Lee was overcome with the horrid memories of a day two years past.

Oh well . . . he had to earn some money as he continued his quest toward a better life for himself and Leanne. He meant to marry that girl and soon! Ira Lee missed her something awful these past few weeks. Being a man true to his word, he wouldn't return to marry his love until he could offer her the life he'd vowed to provide.

Leanne's widowed mother listened to her daughters’ tears night after lonely night. Her pacing and tears about broke poor Matilda’s heart. She didn't know what to do to help ease her daughters anguished pain. Heart-wrenched, she silently waited for Leanne to come to her. She understood the loneliness and pain of forced separation, but felt impotent as to how to ease her daughters anguishes. She felt Leanne was carrying on a bit more than normal and had to wonder why.

Leanne paced up and down her tiny bedroom. Totally consumed with fear, Leanne was beside herself and unable to find peace, even while asleep. If what she suspected turned into reality, she knew she had a major problem. The feelings of total futility surrounded her, awake or asleep. The irony of it was she didn't have a clue as to how to even contact Ira Lee.

It's just not fair . . .

 

 

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