warning signs were there, and poor Ida Mae should
have seen it coming. After all, she had lived in
Wells Falls, Virginia most of her life and knew
almost everybody. Miss Mae had arrived decades
before the railroad ran a spur line out past
Charlottesville, at a time when tobacco was king.
And she hadnt been too happy about the
changes since then.
kinda progress you call it when your town is full
of those damn strip malls, Ida had
complained to Mabelle, her neighbor and closest
not driving buggies anymore, Ida, Mabelle
had said. People want convenience
and they dont want to walk anywhere.
they try killin off those of us who still
do! But Ida Mae had been killed off very
slowly, living well past 80. One stifling spring
morning she failed to venture out onto her front
porch. Mabelle had gone to investigate, called
the Coroner, and made funeral arrangements. The
Tribune published Idas obituary.
appointed day, Offies Funeral Home was
packed with Idas Town Council cronies,
Garden Club friends, half the membership of the
Knights of Columbus, a few remaining DAR sisters,
and a representative sampling of the towns
went as planned, with Mabelle inviting people to
come forward and remember the life and times of
their friend. Things were winding down and the
men loosened their ties and eagerly eyed the
exits. Smelling strongly of sloe gin and bay rum,
Dr. Samuel Perkins weaved his way to the podium
and stared out over the crowd.
Ida when she first came to Wells Falls, he
said warmly. Her mother brought her in with
a bad case of vaginal warts.
gasped and began furiously fanning themselves
with the funeral program.
years before fancy antibiotics. It took weeks to
get rid of those lesions. But Ida hardly
complained was a real trooper. Next time
she came in alone, was about three months along.
The Knights of
Columbus members squirmed in their seats. Doc
Perkins swayed and grabbed at the podium for
never told me who the father was, but I damn well
know it was one of you. He pointed at the
audience. Humming cicadas in the alder trees
outside became suddenly conspicuous. Hell,
it could have been me for all I know. In her day,
Ida was quite
lets just say,
There was a
low murmur of agreement from the contingent of
gray-haired men. Mabelle rose from her seat,
stalked to Idas open casket and firmly
closed the lid. The women sighed approval.
that, it was just your run-of-the-mill yeast
infections, D&Cs, arthritis, and eventually,
heart disease. She lasted 84 years. God bless her,
Thank you, doctor, for such a personal
escaped to their cars, glad that the new family
clinic had opened and Doc Perkins could stay
retired at least until his own memorial