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MYSTERIES OF LOVE AND GRIEF: REFLECTIONS ON A PLAINSWOMAN'S LIFE

I still love her as a child does; as I did. She has ever been the extension of me that children feel their mothers are. And though I don't want to set aside those feelings I have for her--the sensibility of a child--I want also to love her for herself. I want to say: Here is a woman. Here is what I know about her life. She spoke German as a child She lived in Oklahoma and New Mexico and Arizona and Texas, on tenant farms and in a settler's cabin, in boxcars and stucco houses. She labored her whole life.She married four times, but she loved only the husband of her youth. She suffered losses and still got up in the morning. She cultivated a garden and apricot trees. She once had a dachsund named Tiny.

Like a mourner at a grave, I honor her. If I had the skill, I would paint her portrait. I would paint her standing in her backyard, her hand shading her eyes as she studies the sky, watching the storm come in.