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BEFORE I MET LOTTIE MAHR, MY GRANDMOTHER
E M Tragert 03/2010 Words~648
This is the beginning of a series of Family History Stories that I am in the process of compiling for my new GreatGrandchild and my six other wonderful Grandchildren. The story begins in 1892 and continues to the present time, for now!
When the last of the family and the mourners had gone, Lottie closed the two sliding doors to the parlor. It would be some time before she could bear to enter that largest room in her home again. These fittings in the parlor had been a source of great pride to Lottie and her husband Tommy. Heavy rose velvet drapes, held back with tasseled ropes. Ornate Victorian maroon chairs, with plump horsehair upholstery and carved wooden frames. Several marble-topped lamp tables and a tall glass peacock lamp. The lamp, when lit, was the fashionable centerpiece of the room, throwing prismed-colored darts of light against the walls and ceiling.
After her wedding to Tommy in 1892, Lottie had chosen the furniture to reflect their comfortable social status. Today, this furniture gave her no pleasure. Memories of the past weeks flooded her thoughts. Pain, fear, doubt, loss and dreadful sorrow weighed down upon her like a heavy mourning cloak.
Her young husband Tommy, not yet forty, had been feverishly ill for six weeks. Lottie had administered constant baths and alcohol rubs to bring his temperature down, to no avail. He was weak and often incoherent. The doctor came and went at all hours, bringing folded paper packets of medicinal powders but he terrified her by his tight-lipped, detached manner. Lottie knew that he had many patients and other families burdened by this flu, but she watched his face intently for clues about her Tommy’s condition. It gave her little comfort to know that this was an epidemic flu, infecting many this year. He could not stop to console nor relax on his rounds.
"We will know soon," Doctor Messineo had said on his last visit, as he packed his black leather satchel and headed for the door.
When that soon came, it was much too soon for a young wife and mother. Her two young boys were just babies.
Lottie wanted to scream out ”This should not have happened to us", thinking of her two children who were upstairs with her sister Kate and Kate’s husband Jake.
Walking through the two small adjoining bedrooms Lottie slumped into a chair by the dining room table at the rear of the brownstone house. The funeral service at the church and burial service at GreenwoodCemetery had exhausted her. Numb with fatigue, she rested her head on folded arms and keened her sorrow as the evening shadows began to lengthen.
"Lottie, are you in here?" her sister Kate called from the downstairs hallway, startling her out of her grieving.
"Yes, I'm in here, but…are the boys with you"? Lottie answered. She did not want the little ones to see her until she could compose herself. She lifted her head and daubed at her teary eyes.
"No, dear, they are upstairs with Jake" Kate replied, entering the dim room. "He fed them supper so they are all right for the time being, but they will need your reassurance soon."
"I don't know how we will get through this, Kate. I don't know where to start," Lottie began. "It's not fair…."
"We will work it out. Tomorrow is time enough to begin, Lottie. Jake and I can put the children to bed tonight, and you and I will talk about what we can do about all of this tomorrow."
That was to be just the beginning of all the tomorrows in their lives. Lottie and her sister Kate were two loving but very different women, and raising two young boys would put them in conflict many times in the coming years.
To be continued? I hope so!