- ON THE ARKANSAS FARM -
Jamesí jealous rages against Ellen became more frequent and increased in intensity. As the girls approached their teen years, James also became jealous of them. He would become angry every time Dorothy talked about having a boyfriend. He said she was too young to be thinking about such things. Ellen could see the trouble brewing between them, but she couldn't seem to stop it.
Because of the molestation, Dorothy began to develop an unwholesome attitude relating to men. She didnít seem to trust any man and she was always making snide remarks about men in general. Jamesí attitude about her not going anywhere without strict chaperoning caused Dorothy to rebel. There was constant tension between them and there seemed to be nothing Ellen could do to stop it.
The summer following Dorothyís betrayal by her granddad, sixteen-year-old Ronald Lee and fifteen-year-old Morris left home permanently. They went to live with Nora and Henry.
Only Dorothy and Ellen knew about Henryís sexual problem, and neither Ronald Lee nor Morris suspected the truth. Both boys said they were sick of all the fussing at home and wanted to get away from it. Ellen didnít blame them, but it hurt her for them to want to live somewhere else.
Then in February, following Morrisí seventeenth birthday, he told Ellen he wanted to get married. He had met a girl named, Mary Lou, and had started dating her just after he moved in with Nora and Henry. Ellen tried to talk Morris out of marriage, but he was determined. Morris and Mary Lou were married as soon as Ellen and James signed permission papers.
Morris and his wife gave Ellen and James their first grandchild, Jimmy Joe. The joy of being a grandparent wasn't lost on Ellen. She doted on her grandchild and her heart burst with pride as she looked upon her brother's namesake. Ellen even imagined the child looked like Jimmy, and no one could convince her otherwise. Morris and Mary had six more children, Johnny, Mary Jean, the twin girls Marlene and Darlene, Melvin, and Lou Ellen.
Needless to say, but after more than ten years of matrimony, everyone was shocked when their marriage ended in divorce. The children stayed with their mother and Morris devoted all his time to his work.
Much later, Morris met and married Kathy, and they gave Ellen four more grandchildren: Greg, Melissa, Michael (who died when he was a year old), and Megan.
Meanwhile, Ronald Lee had joined the Navy and each month sent an allotment check to Ellen. She was grateful to receive it, and James never offered to use it for gambling. When Ronald Lee married, he had the allotment stopped, but he always sent money when Ellen wrote for it. It wasnít until he came home on leave that the family met his wife. They were married long enough to give Ellen and James another grandson, Ronald Lee Junior. It was during that period when the family started calling Ronald Lee, Ron. Sadly, Ron's marriage also ended in divorce.
Years later, Ron married Alene and they gave Ellen and James three more grandchildren, Mike, Terri and Bruce. When his marriage to Alene ended, everyone bet Ron would never marry again. And he never made a full commitment until he met Linda Wright; their marriage was an inclusive and final covenant of love.
The summer Dorothy was thirteen she began to oppose her dad. She often came home late, or left without saying where she was going. James would threaten to beat her, but because he had never laid a hand on her, she would stare at him in defiance.
While Ellen worked, James was supposed to watch after their children and Dorothy not cooperating made it harder for him. His insane jealously, coupled with his desire for freedom from responsibility, caused him to react as a child.
Ellen often came home to what she called confounded confusion. She would find James in turmoil over Dorothy not being home when she should. Ellen didn't know how to handle their arguments, and trying to play peacemaker was a hurting position.
"The only reason he wants me home is to baby-sit," Dorothy told Ellen, "so he can gamble at the pool-hall."
One afternoon, Dorothy was late getting home from school and James went looking for her. When he found her they had an abusive, verbal war. With words as weapons, respect for each other became the tragic fatality. James became so angry he slapped Dorothy, and called her a streetwalker.
"He said that I was no better than a common tramp. If he wants to give me the name, I can sure play the game! I hate him. I hate all men. They're all no-good and sorry as the day is long," Dorothy spewed out the angry words, then put her arms around Ellen and wept.
Ellen tried to heal the breach between Dorothy and her dad, but Dorothy wouldn't listen, and her defiance became worse. Ellen knew Dorothy was hurting, but she didn't know what to do for her.
Ellen didn't realize that a life without God is full of rebellion. Not knowing God, and without prayer, she couldn't have the hedge of protection needed around her children. The kind of security God wanted to offer Ellen was the knowledge of His using injustice for her and her children's good.
Many times, Ellen thought of her fourteenth summer; it was the year she and Thelma had met Jim Baker. She remembered stealing the watermelon from old man Kennedy and getting into trouble with her mother. She was still a child then; she had Jimmy, and everyone called her Sister. When she thought of her youth, she wept over Dorothy's lost childhood innocence. She thought she cried alone, but God in heaven knew every tear she shed.
The summer Dorothy was fourteen, she decided not to go back to school. Ellen was working as a cook at a local Dairy Queen drive-in, and she let Dorothy work with her. Ellen believed it was the best way to keep an eye on her. James had given up on Dorothy paying attention to his advice, so he didn't say a word about her quitting school. That was the summer Ellen's childhood friend, Kelly Sanders, found her, and reestablished their bond of friendship.
"Mother," Dorothy called through the back screen-door of the drive-in. Ellen always kept the door latched, and she assumed Dorothy wanted in for her lunch break.
"Iíll be right there," Ellen answered.
"There's a lady here who wants to apply for a job," Dorothy said as Ellen opened the door.
"What did you say your name was?" Dorothy looked back at the woman as she entered.
"Kelly Drake," she answered with a smile.
"Hi, Kelly," Ellen greeted Kelly as she entered the room.
"You sure look familiar," Kelly said, staring at Ellen.
"So do you," Ellen tried to remember. Are you new in town?"
"Yes, we moved here last week. My husband, Walter, works for an oil company. We're from Houston. Have you ever been there?"
"No, but I once knew a girl named Kelly Sanders who lived there," Ellen stepped back in wonder; she knew it was her. "You are Kelly Sanders, aren't you? Remember Fort Worth, and your Aunt Margaret's apartment?"
"Are you Ellen Morris? Good heavens! I can't believe it. What a small world," Kelly was near tears as they embraced.
Dorothy shrugged her shoulders as if to say, "What crazy women!" She turned and walked out the door.
"Kelly, my word! How have you been?" Ellen questioned as she locked the door.
"Just fine, Ellen. I'm married and have a son, Martin. What about yourself?"
"I have a house-full, Kelly. I have three boys and three girls, plus two stepsons. Listen, I've got to get back to work. Here's an application for you. Fill it out and leave it by the register. I'm sure you'll get the job. We need another carhop. Can you come by around seven? That's when I get off work. We can talk about old times over a cup of coffee."
"Thanks, Ellen. I'll be here at seven." Ellen let Kelly out and went back to work. She was anxious to see Kelly again, and time seemed to drag by. Her cooking wasn't at its best and Dorothy complained about her getting orders wrong.
"Kelly's here, Mother," Dorothy yelled through the front window. Dorothy had to work another hour, so Ellen poured herself and Kelly a cup of coffee, and they sat at a small table in back of the Dairy Queen.
"Where's Jimmy, and Gennieve, and Carrie?" Kelly asked.
"Jimmy's dead," Ellen answered sadly, feeling afresh the pain of losing him. "He ate some bad meat and died from ptomaine poisoning. He was seventeen years old."
"Gosh, I'm sorry to hear that, Ellen."
"It was pretty hard on all of us. I donít know how Mother lived through it." They were both silent for a moment. Kelly waited for Ellen to go on. "Gennieve and Carrie are married," Ellen finally said. "Gennieve has a boy, and Carrie has a girl. Now, what about your Aunt Margaret?"
"Oh, Ellen, Aunt Margaret is dead, and so is my mom. They were killed in the same automobile accident the summer I was seventeen. I was still in reform school, and I nearly went crazy with guilt," Kelly spoke softly. "I had hurt my mom an awful lot. I'll tell you something, Ellen, if I hadn't met Walter when I got out, there's no telling what would have happened to me."
"Kelly, why didn't you answer my letters? And what ever did you do to be sent to reform school? Your Aunt Margaret always referred to you as being in, The Home."
Kelly laughed, "Aunt Margaret always hated the thought of me being in reform school. She preferred to think of it as some type of home-away-from-home. About your letters, I remember our telling each other that we would someday amount to something, and I felt like you would have condemned me if you really knew why I was there."
"But, I wouldn't have, Kelly. I wish I could have talked to you, to your face, then you would have known I was still your forever friend. Have you forgotten our pledge we made the summer we were eleven years old?"
"Oh, Ellen, I never forgot our promise to each other. Not for one minute did I forget! But, I was so ashamed, and well, this isn't easy, butÖ," Kelly hesitated.
"You don't have to tell me. It doesn't matter one bit. What matters is right now," Ellen reassured her.
"But, I want to tell you. It's just hard to know where to start. The last summer we saw each other I had decided to run away from home because my step-dad was so mean to me. When I got home from visiting for the summer with Aunt Margaret, my step-dad started molesting me. One day he raped me and told me I had better not tell anyone or he would accuse me of trying to cause trouble. Somehow, I believed my mom would think his lies were true, but I couldn't just continually be raped, so I finally told my mom. I was right, she didn't believe me. We had a big fight and I ran away. I took up with this guy who was a lot older than I was and we lived together until the police caught us. My boyfriend was into selling illegal guns and stolen goods. They sent him to prison and me to reform school. Well, that's my story. It's pretty bad, huh?"
"Pretty sad, I would say. We have something in common. My step-dad molested me too, but instead of telling my mother, or running away, I got married."
"No kidding! Are you still married to the same guy?"
"Yep, same guy. It hasn't been a bed of roses, but it could be worse. I have some pretty good kids that I wouldn't take anything for," Ellen smiled.
"I'm sure you do. My son, Martin, has been such a joy to us. Walter and I married in the spring of thirty-eight, but Martin wasn't born until ten years later. Walter worships his son and we've spoiled him rotten, but we know how lucky we are to have him," Kelly laughed. "We were told that I couldn't have children. Martin is six years old now, and in school. But, I've talked enough about my kid. Tell me about your girl, Dorothy? She's a pretty thing. How old is she?"
"She's fourteen, and she's had some pretty hard knocks herself. When she was twelve, my step-dad molested her. I never told Mother or James about it. I just couldn't bear to have Mother hurt anymore and I knew if James found out, he would kill Henry. James is the jealous type and he's constantly on Dorothy's back, about where she goes, and what she does. He's afraid she's going to be a bad girl. She's getting awfully wild, but I know it's because she thinks everyone she loves has betrayed her, and she's hitting back the only way she knows how. I'm afraid for her, Kelly, and if you come to work here, I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye on her for me."
"Sure I will," Kelly assured her. "I'll help all I can. I know just how she feels." Black-eyed, slender and graceful, Kelly had a sweet nature that made it easy to love her. She became the same faithful friend to Ellen that she had been when she was young. Dorothy felt as though Kelly understood her, and she began to settle down.
A few months after Kelly came to work with Ellen, James received his insurance settlement. He started looking for a home to buy. He read about real estate for sale in the Ozark hills of Arkansas. Kelly's husband, Walter, had become a good friend with James and when James went to look at the Ozark farm, Walter went with him. Walter liked the looks of Arkansas and saw property close to where James had bought. When Ellen and James moved, Walter and Kelly bought acreage close to them. They used most of their savings to buy the farm, and was soon trying their hand at what Ellen called Hillbilly farming.
James and Ellen's land came with a spacious two-story house, a barn, and several outbuildings.
They had electricity, but that was about all the modern conveniences on hand.
The small well house was just a few steps from the back door.
They had a six-lid wood stove that heated several gallons of water in the container built on the side of it. There was a large fireplace in the living room, and a screened-in porch where Ellen's washing machine was put (she hauled water for it).
In more ways than one, the outside toilet proved to be an inconvenience. It wasn't as close as Ellen wished, and that winter, snow blew through gaps between the boards. It reminded Ellen of the outside toilet at the Barn-house.
Most of the teenagers in that area played a guitar, or a fiddle, and could sing like professionals. Right away, Ellen's children made friends and nearly every weekend she found herself with a house full of youngsters, picking and singing. Ellen enjoyed sitting on the front porch with them and listening as each one played his or her own type of mountain music.
"Play, I Walk The Line, again," Kelly requested one evening when everybody had gathered to pick and sing.
"I want to hear, Honky Tonk Man," Patsy spoke up.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute," came the singer's voice. "First let's jes' pick one. How 'bout, Missouri Waltz, Does youn's know it?"
"Sure. All right," Ellen heard them agree, then the music of guitars and fiddle started.
Ellen's children and their friends, along with Kelly and her family, were sitting on the front porch of
Ellen had left for a moment to close the hen-house door before dark. She was at the well house when she heard someone on the fiddle playing the Missouri Waltz.
It was almost dusk, with soft shades of evening closing around her. The Ozark-mountain forest surrounding her home was already been clothed in dark obscurity. Fireflies were twinkling in the distance, and Ellen heard the soft Call of a Whip-poor-will. Something about the wistful music in the background, mingled with the sweet call of the Whip-poor-will, soothed her heart.
She stopped to drink in the serenity of the moment. A gentle breeze was stirring and the faint smell of honeysuckle came floating on the air to surround her. Ellen was enchanted by the lovely sensations her senses were absorbing.
"What a perfectly wonderful way to get rid of a weary heart," she smiled to herself. "Just take the time to let Mother Nature quench my longing for rest. How I wish this kind of quiet peace could last."
She hated to break the spell, but she knew the others might be wondering what had happened to her. So, she hurried to her chore and then ran back to the front porch. Kelly scooted over and patted her hand on the seat for Ellen to sit beside her. Ellen sat down and everyone enjoyed an evening of fun and music.
Not long after moving to the Ozark Hills, Ellen became acquainted with a family who lived about two miles down the road from her.
There were five children in the family, and their grandmother lived with them. Everyone called her Granny.
Granny's daughter, Hazel, and Ellen began visiting each other. The more Ellen was around Hazel's family, the more she came to see how important Granny was to all of them.
Ellen enjoyed visiting with Granny and hearing about the stories of her life as a young hillbilly girl growing up in the Ozarks. Granny was an ignorant thirteen-year-old when she married, and she had been determined that her daughter would not be a child-bride.
Hazel was seventeen when she married, and Granny was always proud that she had kept Hazel at home as long as she had. Granny's husband had made his living as a bootlegger of homemade whiskey called, White Lighting.
Soon after Hazel was married, Granny's husband was killed in an automobile accident. Hazel's husband, Josh, asked Granny to come live with them. She helped bring all five of her grandchildren into the world, and after Josh was killed in a logging accident she was there to help Hazel raise them.
Granny had lots of friends, both young and old. She barely reached five foot in height, yet, in a time of need, she seemed as huge as a mountain, and just as unshakable. She was gentle, but firm, and always seem to have time to listen to others. The air of security about her made Ellen feel as though Granny could handle any problem that one would have. In times of trouble, it seemed as though the whole countryside sought Granny's advice.
"Ellen," Granny told her, "people's like little pups. What thay need most, is fer sum'un to love Ďem. And they ain't no body can love 'em, like my Lord."
Ellen was sure the love Granny gave with her advice and potions, was half the cure. Granny often talked about God, and His love for people, but Ellen ignored her. She figured that Granny's illiterate background made her more susceptible to religion. She was sure that if Granny had been educated, she wouldn't have been religious.
No one had ever told Ellen that God views the wisdom of this world as foolishness, and apart from Him, all in vain. She didn't realize that God's wisdom is pure, and gentle, promoting peace, full of mercy, and good works, without partiality or hypocrisy. Granny's wisdom was a gift from God. And her faith was placed in an unshakable Lord who caused even her enemies to be at peace with her. What more could one wish for?
The night Granny lay dying Hazel sent for Ellen. They stayed by Granny's side long after she had drawn her last breath of life. As they sat in the room, still and heavy with the sorrow of death, Ellen fought a desire to ask about Hazel's deep-rooted belief that her mother was better off in death than she was in life.
"She's gone to a better place," Hazel almost whispered as she looked at Granny. Ellen wanted to ask how Hazel could be so sure of where Granny was but she just smiled and nodded her head.
Granny's body was buried the very next day, in a small church cemetery down the road from Hazel's house. Ellen thought it strange how the hill-people accepted death so calmly.
All of Granny's grandchildren stood solemn at the graveside. After the service, each one silently returned to his own home.
Ellen lay awake long into the night, trying to understand this matter of life and death. She concluded that, if there was a God, he would take anyone as good as Granny to heaven. She felt comfortable with her conjecture and soon drifted off to sleep.
The next time Kelly came to visit, Ellen questioned her about her beliefs.
"Kelly, have you ever thought about what happens to a person when they die?"
"Not a whole lot," she answered, puzzled that Ellen would ask such a question. "What's the matter, Ellen? Has Granny's death got to you?"
"I guess so," Ellen answered with a sigh. They were silent awhile, then Ellen asked, "Kelly, do you believe in God?"
"Oh, sure, I just think you can carry this religion stuff too far. Remember my mom? She was too religious. She never missed church, always tithed, donated time and money to charity, and often had the preacher over for Sunday dinner. I mean I've seen some really religious fanatics running around and they're plum crazy. My mom was more concerned about appearances than love or truth. She sure had a long, hard fall."
"But, don't you think we ought to go to church and live a good life?"
"Well, I think we ought to live as good as we can. But, Ellen, this church business I just can't swallow. Remember how my mom used to make me go to church?"
"Yes, I remember."
"I said then it was a bunch of bull. What good did it do my mom? She was so prejudiced, and snobby. Remember her calling your family heathens?"
"How could I forget? But she was embarrassed that I overheard her."
"Yeah, well, water under the bridge. I shouldnít criticize my mom. I certainly wasnít a prize daughter. But, Iíll tell you Ellen, these goody, goody church people just want your money. Churches are full of fanatics and hypocrites. Itís just not for me."
"I think you're right," Ellen agreed. They dropped the subject of religion and talked of other things.
Later that summer, Sunny and his wife, Gracie, came for a visit. They asked to take one of the children to California with them. Dorothy wanted to go, because she still idolized Sunny, but Ellen was afraid of trouble. Peggy and Junior wanted to go also, but Ellen thought it best to send Patsy.
She felt it would be good for Patsy to be away from Dorothy for awhile. Patsy wasn't sure she wanted to go without Dorothy, but Ellen talked her into it. The night before Patsy left, she and Dorothy made a promise to look at the same bright star and think of each other.
"See, there it is," Dorothy pointed to the star. "No, no, not there, over here."
"Now I see it," Patsy said. "I will look at it every night and say a prayer for you. And you can say a prayer for me."
"I won't be so lonesome for you if I know you're thinking of me every night."
"I don't really want to go," Patsy started crying.
"I think you should go," Dorothy encouraged her. "You've never seen the ocean and just think, to go where you've never been. I think it's exciting."
"But, I wanted you to go also."
"Well, I can't go, so that's that," Dorothy somberly stated. "I'm happy for you though, and I want you to write and let me know what you think of the ocean."
"I will, and I'll buy you a keepsake from California."
"I love you, Patsy. You're the best sister in the whole world."
"I love you too, and we'll always be best friends, won't we?" Patsy smiled through her tears.
"Yes, we will," Dorothy said and they hugged.
After Patsy left, Dorothy became so sad and listless even Kelly couldn't cheer her up. Ellen called and asked Monroe if Dorothy could stay awhile with him, and their grandmother, Lily Bitsche, in Oklahoma. They agreed, and Dorothy seemed pleased to go.
Monroe was good for Dorothy, because he looked after her as a loving father. He had become a Christian and he tried to witness to her. They stayed up late listening to gospel music and reading the Bible.
Their grandmother, used to having all of Monroe's attention, became jealous and asked Dorothy to leave. Dorothy couldn't understand, and was deeply hurt when Monroe wouldn't defend her. He did find her a good home and a job with friends of his in Fort Worth, Texas, but she didn't seem to appreciate his efforts. She stayed for awhile, then moved back home.
"That Christian junk is for the birds," Dorothy told her mother. "I don't believe any of that stuff about love and forgiveness. Anyone who could believe that is a fool," she spat out the words in anger.
Ellen tried to soften the hardness Dorothy felt about her grandmother and God, but it was difficult, when Ellen felt the same way. Dorothy became moodier than ever, and she continued to defy her dad. James ranted and raved at her, and she fumed and raged right back. She became bent on self-destruction and wouldn't listen to Ellen, or Kelly.
That winter Morris and Mary came for a visit. Ellen was thankful and happy to
have her grandson to hold and spoil. Ellen was also thankful Dorothy had settled down long enough to form a closer bond with
It was during Morris and Mary's visit that winter forced herself upon their Ozark world like an angry, vengeful woman. The fearsome storm was ravaging everything in her path 'with layers of ice, sleet and snow. At times, the wind sounded like a wailing mother who had lost her child to the fury of such a storm.
Ellen's old house started shaking and groaning in protest over the sheer misery of being so brutally assaulted by winter's blast. In spite of the tempest doing her best to frighten everyone, Dorothy felt cherished and protected. Her perception of security was established in Ellen who was in the same room with her when the storm hit.
Ellen was seated in one of her overstuffed chairs and in her arms was Morris and Mary's baby. Ellen started softly singing old ballads and Irish lullabies as winter's storm threw her continuous tantrum outside. Dorothy was sitting on the floor beside Ellen's chair and she laid her head on Ellen's knee.
"You were my first girl-baby, Dorothy, and I used to sing you to sleep this same way." Ellen's eyes were smiling as she ran her fingers through Dorothy's hair.
Dorothy snuggled closer and joined Ellen in singing the songs. "I don't want to ever forget these songs," Dorothy whispered to Ellen. "Because I want to sing them to my children someday."
Ellen smiled and turned her attention to the hearth as she continued singing. The yawning fireplace was stuffed with logs that were cheerfully crackling and blazing. The firesí radiant shades of crimsons, intense oranges, and electric blues
seemed to be trying to leap out from their rhapsodic dance.
Like a marauder, winter's frigid wind would intermittently swoop down the chimney and try to plunder and rob the fireplace of its source of heat. The flames would recoil, and cringe away from the air's chilling breath, but their scarlet talons always clung to the logs in resistance. Each time it happened Dorothy would jump in surprise because the logs sputtered and spewed hot sparks as the arctic draft swirled by.
Noraís oil lamp, that she had given Ellen, had been placed on an end table beside Ellen's chair. The wick had been purposely lowered so the slumber of the angel-unaware in Ellen's arms would not be disturbed.
Because the light in the room was only a soft, swaying glow it gave the lurking shadows a more elusive form. Each time winter erupted with one of her blasting roars Dorothy would conjure up a fictitious creature from the eerie blackness. The chill of fear that ran down Dorothy's spine, when she dreamed up a mystical beast in her vivid imagination, made her glad Ellen was so close.
Across from where they were sitting was a foldaway bed with Junior lying on it. The creaky, cranky, old bed had been rolled in and made out for Junior because Morris and Mary had been given his bedroom. When Dorothy glanced at Junior he grinned back at her. He was satisfied just drinking in the peaceful scene and absorbing the sounds without participating. Dorothy turned her attention back to her main source of refuge as Ellen began singing another lullaby.
Outside, winter raged on with her menacing storm. Her angry winds howled and screamed at them in defiance of their shelter. The old, Ozark home continued to shudder and whimper in fear of being torn asunder. Nevertheless, and in spite of winter's fury, Dorothy's small world remained safe and warm as her mind continued to store all the sights and sounds of that winter night.
She would later recall each and every precious detail of that stormy night. Dorothy would also carry a deep and painful regret that she never told Ellen how much she loved her that night.
The following spring, Dorothy started going with a boy named Jessie. They shocked Ellen by asking permission to marry. Dorothy had just turned sixteen, and though Ellen argued against it, they were married.
Three months later, in the middle of the night, Jessie pulled up in front of Ellen and Jamesí home. He let Dorothy out and then left. Dorothy made her way to the door where Ellen stood waiting. When Ellen saw that Dorothy had been beaten she helped her to bed. As she covered Dorothy up she whispered that they would talk in the morning. Dorothy, sick and hurting, soon fell asleep.
When she awoke she saw Junior standing at the foot of her bed. His fists were clenched tight and there were tears in his eyes.
"Iíll never let another man mistreat you again," he said through tight lips. A few months later, Dorothy filed for divorce. She said Jessie was as jealous of her as her dad, and she couldn't stand it. Jessie had tried to beat her into submission.
"Everything was just fine, until we were married," Dorothy told Ellen. "But after the ĎI do'sí he acted as though I was his property. I couldn't even talk with another guy without our quarreling over it. I'll tell you right now, Mother, no man will ever treat me the way you've been treated."
Ellen understood Dorothy's rebellion and couldn't blame her for feeling the way she did. She decided it would be an encouragement to offer Dorothy a way to get a job and an apartment on her own.
"Your dad and I have been talking about renting an apartment at Harrison and working through the week, then coming home on the weekend. Do you want to move to Harrison with us and try getting a job there?"
"Sure, I guess so. But isn't the farm paying for itself?"
"No," Ellen told her.
"We've tried, but I guess we don't know enough about farming to make it work."
"Okay, then I'll go with you." Dorothy was glad to think of being on her own. She had always wanted to feel free enough to make her own choices.
To help supplement their income, James and Ellen had invested in hogs. They were trying to figure out a way to make their farm pay, but they were getting farther and farther into dept. Walter and Kelly came by as James and Ellen were making plans to move into town. Walter and James walked outside, and Ellen poured Kelly a cup of coffee. Kelly started telling Ellen about how far in debt she and Walter were, and what they had decided to do about it.
"Ellen, we're going to put our farm up for sale and move back to Texas. We can't make a go of it here, and Walter wants to go back to work in the oil fields."
"Oh, Kelly, no," tears came into Ellen's eyes. "Moving away from me again."
"We sure hate to, Ellen. You know Walter has tried, but our savings are gone. We're in debt, and there's just not enough money coming in for us to survive."
"I know how you feel. We're in a bind ourselves. If we don't get outside jobs, we'll lose our farm."
"Well, I'm thankful for the time we've had together. You've been good for us, Ellen. I know this move will hurt Martin more than it will hurt us. He thinks of you as his Aunt Ellen, and your kids are the same as his cousins."
"Your move will hurt Dorothy too. She has always valued your friendship, and she loves Martin like a brother."
"You know what?" Kelly gave a small laugh. "Martin asked me to bring Dorothy with us."
"Oh, Kelly, he's so tenderhearted," Ellen smiled.
"Ellen," Kelly became solemn, "Dorothy's so rebellious, she doesn't even want to listen to me anymore. I wouldn't know how to handle her. But, just as soon as we get settled, she can come for a visit."
"Well, I understand, and she'll be glad just to know you want her for a visit. Now, you make sure you answer my letters this time," Ellen's smile gave away her pretense of being hostile. Kelly laughed and agreed to write.
Not knowing, that it would be ten long years before seeing each other again, Ellen and Kelly cried as they said another goodbye. They both made promises to visit each other often.
After Kelly and Walter moved away, James and Ellen went to work at Harrison, Arkansas, about a two-hour drive from their farm. Dorothy went with them, but Junior and Peggy stayed home. Ellen was uneasy about leaving her two youngest children, now 12 and 14 years old, but both assured her they would be fine.
Peggy was scared every night her mother was gone, but her pride wouldn't let her admit it to anyone. Junior sensed Peggy's fear and tried to make her feel at ease. He wanted her to believe he could protect her from anything or anyone. The year was a strain on the whole family. Peggy and Junior tried not to miss school but it was depressing for them not having their mother there.
Through the year, there were a lot of dreary days for everyone. But the worse thing to happen was Dorothy getting into trouble. God saw Dorothy's heart and knew that it was full of self-pity and rebellion.
Dorothy had never seen true Christianity lived, and that made it easy for her to reject God. She didn't know God and she didn't want to know Him. She wanted to live her life her way, and she did. She didn't realize, nor would she have been willing to pay, the high price of reckless defiance.