At last the entire family stood, like people seeing
someone off at the rail station, waiting in the room.
"Well," said Great-grandma, "there I am, I’m not
humble, so it’s nice seeing you standing around my bed. Now next
week there’s late gardening and closet-cleaning and clothes-buying
for the children to do. And since that part of me is called, for
convenience, Great-grandma, won’t be here to step it along, those
other parts of me called Uncle Bert and Leo and Tom and Douglas, and
all the other names, will have to take over, each to his own."
"I don’t want any Halloween parties here tomorrow.
Don’t want anyone saying sweet things about me; I said it all in my
time and my pride. I’ve tasted every victual and danced every dance;
now there’s one last tart I haven’t bit on, one tune I haven’t
whistled. But I’m not afraid. I’m truly curious. Death won’t get a
crumb by my mouth I won’t keep and savor. So don’t you worry over
me. Now, all of you go, and let me find my sleep…."
Somewhere a door closed quietly.
"That’s better." Alone, she snuggled luxuriously
down through the warm snow bank of linen and wool, sheet and cover,
and the colors of the patchwork quilt were bright as the circus
banner of old time. Lying there, she felt as small and secret as on
those mornings eighty-some-odd years ago when, wakening, she
comforted her tender bones in bed.
A long time back, she thought, I dreamed a dream,
and was enjoying it so much when someone wakened me, and that was
the day when I was born. And now? Now let me see…She cast her mind
back. Where was I? She thought. Ninety years…how to take up the
thread and the pattern of that lost dream again? She put out a small
There…Yes, that was it. She smiled. Deeper in the warm snow
hill she turned her head upon her pillow. That was better. Now, yes,
now she saw it shaping in her mind quietly, and with serenity like a
sea moving along and endless and self-refreshing shore. Now she let
the old dream touch and lift her from the snow and drift her above
the scarce-remembered bed.
Downstairs, she thought, they are polishing the
silver, and rummaging the cellar, and dusting in the halls. She
could hear them living all through the house.
"It’s all right." Whispered Great-grandma, as the
dream floated her. "Like everything else in this life, it’s
And the sea moved her back down the shore.