God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

Who Was the Real Minnie Poppe?

 Many years ago, during President Bush’s (senior) presidency, there was a program called the Points of Light Foundation.  You could call a 1-800 number and the operator would put you in touch with a volunteer organization that might need your help.  As I work with young people every day I thought I might like to try to work with the elderly.  The Foundation operator put me in touch with a retirement home and I was able to contact them directly. Upon talking with the director of the retirement home I learned of a lady named Minnie Poppe that would really appreciate visitors as she had been abandoned by family and had no regular visitors.  

 I went to the retirement home and was struck by the smell in the air.  It smelled of sickness and sadness.  The nurse on duty walked me over to Minnie’s room and introduced me.  “Mrs. Poppie (she pronounced it like Poppy- the flower), there is a young lady here to meet you. “  

Minnie was legally blind and bed ridden.  Her hair and nails were all a mess from neglect.  But then Minnie spoke to me. Her voice had that particular southern drawl that one might find in Charleston, South Carolina.  Very gentile and lady like.  She said, “My name is pronounced Pop not Poppy.”  “Really?, I said.  “Oh well how do you do Mrs. Poppe.  I’m Kathleen. “  

And from this our visits began.  Minnie would tell me about her life growing up and I would listen to her stories about her husband (who was younger than she by five years-cheeky monkey she was) and how much they loved each other. I never did hear about her children so I don’t know if she had any.  I just remember how sweet and gentle her voice sounded and one time she said to me, “Come closer to the bed darling so I can get a better view of your countenance.” And with that I stepped up to the side of the bed and Minnie took my face in both of her hands and we practically touched noses so she could see me.  I couldn’t help but giggle and then she did too.  

 I tried to think of things I could do for Minnie so one time I brought my nail kit and make up and I did her nails and put make up on her and we laughed and had a ball.  Another time I brought her the biggest balloons I could find and tied them to the side of her bed so she could see them.    

And one time when I went to visit her I found her bed had been wheeled out into the hallway and she was basically left there like a piece of furniture under the bright florescent lights.  I was so mad I asked the rounding nurse about this and was told it was because they had painted her room and were waiting for the paint to dry.   I didn’t know what to do so I decided to go out to my car and get my umbrella and open it up and placed it over Minnie so she wouldn’t have to suffer the glare of the lights anymore.  We giggled together like school girls when the orderlies walked by and stared at us like we were nuts.  We were having fun so who cared?

I remember the last time I spoke to Minnie she was saying that she was afraid to die and I tried my best to cheer her up and to not be afraid because she will be with her husband again and won’t that be wonderful?  

 Life became crazy busy for me and I didn’t see Minnie for a month.  I dutifully marched into the retirement home and froze at the door when I saw another name outside Minnie’s door.  I asked the head nurse and she said that Minnie had passed about a month ago.  I was devastated but then realized that she had passed away shortly after our last visit.  So now she is with her husband.

 At that time I vowed that someday, somehow, I would write a story about Minnie.  Not the Minnie who was bedridden and abandoned by family.  But the Minnie I got to know through our talks and her sweet and wonderfully ladylike voice.  Minnie never complained about her lot in life.  She never uttered one bitter word ever to me.  And I never forgot that.

When I set out to write her (fictionalized) story I had thought it would be sad.  About a lady who walks through life alone and nobody sees her anymore because she is old.  But Minnie’s spirit just “took me” and out she came in my writing.  

You see, when there is another person standing next to you, there is a whole world inside them.  A world you can’t see but exists deeply and profoundly inside them.  And as Minnie walked through her day she would see things that brought back memories.  Like all of us.

So now, at this time of year (and the rest as well), when you see someone who is alone and maybe doesn’t look like they have much to offer: stop and say hello.  

Look into that person’s eyes and see the wonder and joy and laughter they have inside them.  

To all who have been reading my stories I thank you humbly.  I look forward to sharing my next story with you in 2010.  

Blessings,

Kathleen

 

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Part 5 of God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

Down the main road through town and turn left onto the quiet street where Minnie and Frank and the boys built a life together.  Minnie parked the car next to the orange grove near the side of the house and went round the car to let Charlie out.  It was getting cooler now that the late afternoon was approaching.  Looks like it’s going to be another chilly willy night Charlie.  

 Let’s go inside and see what’s for supper.  Minnie picked up the mail in the box next to the front door, looked through it briefly and saw a note from her granddaughter Lilly.  Such a sweet and thoughtful little child; just like her father Frank Jr.  Charlie charged into the house as soon as Minnie opened the door and ran to his favorite chewy toy to play and run around the house awhile.  For some strange reason Charlie had to repeat this little ritual every time he came home from an adventure with Minnie.  Minnie giggled as she took off her coat to hang it in the closet by the front door and looked at the walls in the foyer as she walked to the back kitchen. 

 They are all beautiful.  All of them.  The boys all grew as boys have to do; each of them became incredible men.  Any mother would be proud.  There is the portrait of Frank Jr. and his family. Betty was his high school sweetheart and together they had three children: Lilly, Brian, and Ryan.  Next was Arthur; married to a lovely English girl named Porsche.  Naturally, there would be no end in sight when it came to the boys ribbing her about her name but how we all love her.  And their children Elena and Allie’s photos from all the family vacations hung artfully on the wall as Arthur loved to create visual memories for Minnie.  

And of course Johnny.  My sweet Johnny.  He took the longest to settle his wandering heart but finally one day after a long travel business day he called to tell Minnie he’d met the love of his life in Seattle.  That she was wonderful and that he was just given a promotion to move there and work there as an in house accountant for a very important architectural firm. She worked in the same company. 

No children yet from Johnny.  He was not yet ready he explained.  But they did have the most perfect boat house and English Bulldog named Clyde.  Minnie flew out to meet Julia last summer and found her to be quiet and very serious.  It did take Minnie a few days to better understand that Julia was actually intimidated by her and she was not sure she could measure up.  Once Johnny had explained in private Minnie understood and went straight away to see Julia and suggest that they have a girls’ day together and get to know one another.  How funny to see my boy through another woman’s eyes.  Johnny is a romantic?  Really?  He writes you beautiful love letters?  Minnie smiled and remembered the orange grove fights and the days spent jumping in the lake and a mud covered boy running through the house to get to the bathroom. 

Mrs. Poppe he is so good to me.  I really love Johnny and I want you to know how much I take care of him but more than that; how much he cares for me. 

Julia was an only child and was learning to share her love with a man whose family had such a hold on his heart.  At first, it was difficult for her but through the months of meeting Frank and the boys’ families she became more relaxed with the Poppe clan. 

The light on the answering machine in the kitchen was blinking.  A message from Lilly:

 Hi Nana!  Did you get my letter?  I can’t wait to see you at Christmas. Please call me when you get this message.  This is Lilly by the way. 

Minnie laughed and picked up the phone to call Lilly in Atlanta. 

Hello Lilly.  How are you darling?

Hi Nana! I’m fine.  It’s snowing here.  We still had to go to school but they did let us leave an hour early since it’s Wednesday.  That’s an early day for us.  Nana, what cookies do you want me to make you for Christmas?

Oh my you are talkie talkie today aren’t you?  Well, I think snowflakes would be perfect don’t you?

Oh yes.  And can I make some snowmen cookies too?

Yes of course.

Can I make some cookies for Charlie because Mommy found a dog cookie recipe online and said we could make them but we had to ask you first because Charlie is epiletic I mean epileptic well you know what I mean and could we please make them for him please?

Lilly I can’t think straight, said Minnie laughing into the phone as Lilly was too excited to breathe while she spoke.  Well, I think Charlie would love to have doggie Christmas cookies.  Thank you. 

Ok I have to go now Nana because I have a Christmas around the world project that I have to finish for tomorrow and Mommy has to go with me to buy the glitter and fluffy stuff for my poster board because Mrs. Winterburger doesn’t like it when we bring in plain boards.  She likes everything to sparkle.  Mrs. Winterburger says sparkle makes everything look so much nicer but I don’t think so but I want to get a good grade.

Alright darling.  I love you.  Say hello to Mommy and Daddy for me dear and tell them I will call them later.

 Ok.  I love you Nana. Bye.

 Bye darling.

Minnie put down the phone and went to the kitchen to begin to think about tonight’s dinner.  Salmon I think.  Maybe a little rice with lemon and pine nuts and a small salad.  Perfect.  Oh yes, and a little warm apple cider.

Minnie would you like something warm to drink?  I brought some warm apple cider to drink if you would like some?

Thank you Frank.  I would. 

Frank leaned back and pulled out a thermos from behind his seat in the truck.  Pouring a little cider into the plastic cup; Frank gave it first to Minnie so she could warm herself. Sitting in the truck on cool evenings by the lake became a ritual for Frank and Minnie.  Together they would cuddle and look at the lake and talk and not talk and kiss and cuddle some more.  Courting was an innocent time back then.  So sweet and nervous and real. 

Minnie can I tell you something if you promise not to laugh?

No Frank I can’t promise you anything but I will happily listen if you kiss me one more time.

Frank dutifully kissed his Minnie and started,  See that clearing over there by the orange groves?

Yes, you mean that empty space to left of the grove?

Exactly.   I mean to build a house on it someday. 

Do you now?  That is something.  And who will live there with you?

You Minnie.  I love you.  I cannot see my life with any other woman.

Frank what are you saying?, Minnie pulled away from Frank to look fully into his eyes.

Minnie, I love you.  I cannot see my life with any other woman.  Please will you marry me?

Frank…..yes…of.. of course!  Minnie jumped forward to kiss Frank and squeeze him as hard as she could.

They sat there the two of them quietly staring out at the quiet night that rested it’s stars on the smooth sheet of dark water. 

Frank?

Yes, Minnie.

What kind of life will we have?

Oh Minnie, we will have a two story white house with black shutters.  And many babies and a dock over there behind the house and the orange grove will stay so you can make freshly squeezed orange juice and the kids can play in the trees outside. 

I like our life.

So do I Minnie.  So do I.

Minnie seared the salmon and fluffed up the rice to place the salmon on top.  The salad was a simple dark greens thrown together with grape tomatoes and some balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of blue cheese crumbles on top.  And warm apple cider.

 Minnie gave Charlie his evening meds filled chewy treat and his dinner and then sat down to eat.  After dinner she bathed again and put on her warmest pjs to cuddle up in her bed under the fluffy down comforter.  Minnie was very sleepy tonight.  Good night Charlie darling.  Minnie turned to look at Frank’s picture on the nightstand and smiled.

Good night Minnie.  I love you.

I love you too Frank.   Good night.

And with that Minnie turned out the light and slept deeply.  What a life we had.  Thank you my darling.  

THE END

 

 

 

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Part 3 of – God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

Getting ready for the day was always Minnie’s favorite part of any outing.  As a force of habit she would choose the proper outfit for the occasion, decide the colors to fit the mood,  lay out her jewelry, stockings, lingerie, and shoes the night before.  Minnie carefully undressed and happily walked about the bedroom in the nude.  How delicious the cool morning air felt on her skin.  Poor Charlie was not so much a fan of the cold and decided instead to scuttle out of the room to find his warm bed by the bookcase in the hallway.  There he dug himself into the little blanket and made sure the only thing showing was the end of his long poochie snout. 

Ah…the feeling of being young again.  In her mind’s eye Minnie was still young and vibrant and all firm flesh and rounded hips and breasts.  Still, she knew that the image on the other side of the mirror would betray her and show the truth but Minnie never cared.  This body has seen and felt so much life.  As she gazed into the full length mirror hanging over the back of the door Minnie smoothed her gray hair and smiled.  There are the stretch marks that announced the beginning of a new life growing inside her.  My goodness that Brian was a huge child.  You would have thought I was going to birth a baby walrus for the size of that boy.  All nine pounds of him came out with fists in the air and a defiant firmness in his lips.  And my son never changed his ways from that first introduction into the world.  Frank Jr. was the easiest.  Just like his father, Frank Jr. didn’t make a fuss; just passed into the world with eyes wide open, very quiet and sure of himself with an expression of an old man that seemed to know Minnie the moment he laid his eyes on her waiting face.  Johnny and Arthur both wanted to snuggle and cuddle up to Minnie and suckle the most milk possible. Minnie always laughed to hear Johnny’s sucking noises and then watch him lay back his head on her arm and make puppy noises because he was so happy.  How she loved her boys.  Each one in his own way loved her back; always protective of their Mom. 

Minnie, are you going to wear my favorite dress tonight? 

Which one Frank? 

You know, the white one with red dots on it.  I love that dress on you Minnie. It shows off your figure and makes me a proud man to know you.

Frank Poppe you behave! – Of course, Minnie had already put the dress out to wear because this was Frank’s favorite dress and Minnie knew this.  How his eyes would spark when she wore that dress.  -Perhaps this is why we now have four boys.

Yes, that may be, and it was fun making them too.  Why I believe I could go for four more Mrs. Poppe.

Frank!  Minnie blushed and laughed as Frank came up behind Minnie and held her tightly around her waist; kissing her warmly on her left shoulder. Standing together quietly with Frank’s head leaning on her shoulder and standing behind her Minnie asked:

What jewelry would you like to see on me tonight? 

Ah…I have a surprise for you.

With that Minnie spun around and pushed Frank away with a joyous laugh filled scream began to clap her hands and said smiling, A surprise?!  For me?! Where? Where?  Oh boy! What is it Frank?

Minnie never stopped behaving like a little girl at Christmas no matter how many times Frank would surprise her with trinkets.  Although they were not often, Frank tried the best he could to make life fun for Minnie by giving her little presents here and there.  A crystal blue bracelet from Chase’s, a rhinestone broach in the shape of a rose for her Sunday coat, and today was the most special of all:  a pearl necklace.  Not just any pearl necklace but a real one.  Frank had a heck of a time secretly putting money aside each week for a year to pay for it but he knew that Minnie had always wanted one and could not wait to see the look on her face.

Turn around. Close your eyes.  Close them Minnie.  I can see you looking. – Minnie could not stop herself from giggling and wiggling for the excitement of what could possibly be her new present. Gently from his pants pocket Frank pulled out the pearl necklace and from behind he began to work the necklace onto Minnie’s neck.  Instantly Minnie felt the cool pearls on her skin and grabbed Frank’s hand and stopped him to turn around.  Her eyes filled with tears.  She knew they were real. Knew the sacrifice they meant.  Knew how hard Frank had to work to save up for that necklace.

Frank this is too much.  We can’t afford this.  We can’t.

Minnie Poppe I love you too much for you to say no to my love trinket.  Now, please put this on so your husband can see how beautiful you are, he whispered into her ear and kissed her gently on the neck.  With tears of joy streaming down her face she quietly clasped the necklace and adjusted it to lay about her neck.  Without a word she kissed her beautiful Frank and there they stood in a warm embrace neither one moving; just breathing together; arms tangled about each other.

Minnie turned from the mirror and went to the bathroom to take a nice hot shower.  Charlie liked to come to see her then because the steam filled the room and he liked to poke his nose through the shower curtain to see what Minnie might be doing in there all wet.  Climbing out very slowly Minnie dried off and then covered her body with talcum powder.  She smoothed her hair into a smart chignon and carefully made up her face always remembering to play up her mouth with a warm red lipstick.  It was funny to Minnie to see that her mouth had not seemed to age like the rest of her body.  Everywhere else she was wrinkled.  Not so her mouth.  Still full and round like her younger more saucy days.  She had to wear red lipstick she told herself because it matched her red patent leather pocketbook.  Perfect.  Now to put on her pearls and then to dress.  Minnie liked to do things her own way. She found something alluring and rather dangerous about preparing one’s face and hair in the nude and putting on one’s jewelry before dressing.  Maybe this is why we had four sons….hhmmm…

Charlie let’s get in the car.  With that he ran down stairs and bounded out the door for the car in the driveway to see Dr. McGrath.  She was the best vet in all of Mount Dora and well worth the drive into town to see her.  And besides, Charlie loved her.  Driving down main street through the town was an easy drive today.  Not that many people here during the week. It was on the weekends that people came from all over to see lovely Mount Dora.  My how the town had grown from the small community Minnie had known.  But something about its’ charm seemed to enchant people who came to see her Lake and walk along it’s downtown shops and restaurants.  Minnie turned the corner to Grant Street to find parking near Dr. McGrath’s office.  Parking the car, Minnie opened the passenger door to let Charlie out and the two walked together into the vet to see the doc and decide what to do about his skin itchys.

Hello Mrs. Poppe.  How are and Charlie doing today?

We’re just fine, thank you Elena.  Just an itchy issue with Charlie. 

Alright.  Here’s a treat Charlie.  I’ll let the Doctor know you’re here.

Thanks.  Minnie and Charlie sat for a moment and waited for Dr. McGrath to appear. 

Hi Charlie. Hi Minnie. How are you?  I’m so glad to see you both.  Come on in here.

Minnie followed behind Dr. McGrath into the examining room and suddenly Charlie remembered this place and began to shake and try to hide behind Minnie.

Now don’t be silly Charlie.  You know Dr. McGrath.  Come on then.  Let’s get up on the table. 

Placing him on the metal table Charlie decided nobody would see him if he hid his muzzle under Minnie’s arm.

It won’t work darling Charlie but if that helps you that’s fine with me.  Now let’s see…yes. It looks like allergies.  See how flaky his skin is under the fur?  It looks like dandruff.  See? 

Minnie thought she would be sick at the sight of dry flaky skin but she soldiered on only to seem brave in front of Charlie.

I need  you to bathe Charlie with this oatmeal shampoo once a week and then put this moisturizing spray on everyday until the condition improves. 

I think I can do that. 

Great.  Well, everything else seems to be ok.  Ears look good.  Weight is just right. Teeth look good.  Great.  Alright I will see you in a few weeks if you need to. Otherwise I will say goodbye for now as I have a moody cat in need of my help in the next room.  Bye Minnie.  Bye Charlie.

Thank you.  Bye for now Dr. McGrath.  After the visit to the vet Minnie decided to take Charlie for a stroll downtown before heading back to the house.

To be continued…..

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Part 2- God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

“Come here Charlie darling. It’s time for your treats as well dear.”  Who knew dogs could have Epilepsy?  Minnie thought he had thrown out his back the morning of his first seizure.  Poor thing would just stare straight ahead not moving. And then the seizures.  Horrible seizures. The last and most difficult part for Minnie was watching poor Charlie flop like a fish on his side shaking for many long minutes.  She could do nothing but sit helplessly on the floor next to Charlie and hold his head while his little black and tan body rumbled and rolled. He was her fifth child wrapped in fur she liked to say. A Dachshund rescue with Epilepsy; little Charlie required his meds each morning and each evening stuffed in his favorite chewy treat. Carried by his Toulouse Lautrec legs and happy always to see his Minnie Charlie lifted his front paws to Minnie’s knees to lean on her and eat the tasty chewy treat he knew to expect before each meal. 

   After breakfast the two went out the back door by the kitchen to face the Lake and greet the new day. There really is nothing like the beauty of the morning sun as she dances up over Lake Dora. Even the morning air is sweeter. Minnie took her tea to the yellow Adirondack chair Frank had made for her and placed under her favorite tree.  It was the family Wishing Tree.  Here by this tree was where Minnie and Frank shared their first kiss, where Frank proposed to Minnie and she thought he was joking and said no the first time, and where each boy was named:  Frank Jr., Arthur, Johnny, and Brian.  Minnie eased gently into her chair and watched as Charlie bound about on the dock.  He was never allowed by the water’s edge.  Not in Florida as gators like to make a tasty morsel out of dogs so Minnie had to teach Charlie to play on the dock and lay there in the afternoon when he felt the need take a nap outside.  The Lake was exceptionally calm this morning.

Minnie, would you like to join my family on a picnic by the lake this Saturday? I know I would like that.  Frank was always direct in his requests with Minnie. 

I can’t Frank.  I don’t know how to swim.

Come now that can’t be right.  You’ve lived here all your life and you’re telling me you don’t know how to swim?  If I didn’t know better Minnie Collins I’d say you’re trying to beg off my invitation. 

No, Frank.  I really can’t swim.  I never learned. 

All the more reason to say yes as I will teach you to swim better than all the fish in all of Lake Dora Miss Collins.

You will. 

Yes. I will.

And if I say no to your invitation Frank Poppe?

You won’t. 

I won’t?  

You won’t.

Why not?

Because Miss Collins,  there is no one as sweet and funny and stubborn as you and nobody else I want to teach how to swim.

Minnie never knew what to say when Frank used his sweet words on her.  Blast that Frank.  Nobody else had that way of talking to me. 

Off to the beach by the Lake they went that Saturday along with Frank’s mother Gertrude, his father Howard, and his sister Eunice. Each took their part in setting up the picnic table: lay out the dishes, the cutlery, napkins, open the basket of cheese and butter sandwiches, set out the  bread pudding, carrot sticks, cucumber pickles, and lastly to sit down and say grace together:

For this meal we are grateful, Lord. Please bless the ones who grew the grain for making of this bread, for all they had to do. Bless those who made and cooked this food, whose eyes and hearts and hands Show vision, love and laboring that each one understands. Reveal Thy Word to us, O Lord, for it is just and good, and walk Thou in the harvest fields. Give us our daily food.  Amen.

Are you ready for a swim Miss Collins?

No, Frank. I am not.

Good.  Let’s go change into our swimsuits. 

I don’t want to.

Aw come on Minnie.  I promise it won’t hurt a bit. 

No. 

Minnie Collins, do you mean to tell me that a little ol’ thing like water is going scare the likes of you?  Why I suspect that right now as we speak fish are swimming away in fear for the knowledge they have of you coming in for a swim. 

I hate you Frank Poppe.  Fine. I’ll change. 

The water was cool on their feet as they dangled off the dock.  Minnie could not believe how easily Frank convinced her of things.  How sure he is of himself.  And so calm.  She suspected she might like this Frank more than she wanted to admit. 

Alright now Minnie just ease into the water.  I’ll jump in first and you come in and I will hold you.  With that Frank slipped off the dock into the water. 

Clumsily Minnie let herself slide into the water and Franks’ waiting arms.  He put his hands around her waist and explained how to gently float on her back. 

Don’t worry Minnie.  My hand is on your back.  Just breathe Minnie.  Look out at the trees on the shore.  God is in the trees Minnie.  Relax and just breathe.  It took no time at all for Minnie to trust Frank and before she knew it he was standing by her side; watching her float on the water.  Swim lesson number one.  Minnie remembered herself and began to giggle and lose her balance and stood up again. 

That was fun Frank!  I want to do that again. Please Frank, please?

Ok Miss Collins.  Now don’t get all excited ol’ girl.  We haven’t commenced to swimming yet, he said with a confident smirk on his face. Minnie splashed Frank with water and there they stood smiling, eyes shining each one taking in the other. 

Morning had fully arrived by the Lake now. As she drank the last of her tea  Minnie called out, “Charlie, come now darling.  It’s time to see Dr. McGrath.” 

To be continued….

 mount dora

 

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God is in the Trees, Minnie Poppe

6:30 am.  Up at the usual time. Minnie had always heard her mother complain about the fate of growing old; to wake earlier and sleep less.  She wondered if this too would happen to her.  True, as always Mother was right.  But then Minnie was never one to admit such a thing to Mother.  Because Mother was always right.   There’s a slight chill in the air this morning.  November finally feels right in Mount Dora.  Minnie slowly rolled cigar-like out of bed and slipped on a robe and shuffled in her bare feet across the wooden floors.  Most people put on shoes to warm themselves but Minnie quite liked the few months of cool in the air.  Summer was unbearable in Florida.  Now was the time to feel the breeze and enjoy the chilly willy weather of November.  What to do today?   Plenty.  Take Charlie to the vet again.  Dr. McGrath warned of the constant itching and said that Charlie may have allergies.  “Hmph, dogs didn’t have allergies when I was a child.  Clever way to squeeze money out of an old ladies’ red leather pocketbook. “ It must have seemed odd to see an old woman with a patent red leather pocketbook but Minnie never minded.  It was a gift from Frank.  

The one gift from Frank that Minnie treasured.  She kept it looking new and always polished and placed in a special velvet bag for safe keeping in the closet.   It was a gift from Frank you see.  Minnie had admired it for some time in a window at Chase’s downtown.  She could never think to buy such an extravagant thing like a red patent leather purse.  But Frank listened. He never said anything the day Minnie came into the shop crying because somebody took that purse out of the store window and bought it and now it was gone and Minnie could just die because she wanted to know who took her purse away.  Frank listened quietly and smiled.  “Aw Minnie, now don’t get so upset.  Just look up at the trees.  God is up there in those trees. Relax and take a deep breath.  I’m sure somebody is going to give that nice little purse a good home.”  Frank had a way of making Minnie breathe and relax.  His voice was pure and clean and she never once in their forty five years together ever see Frank anything less than cool under pressure.   And calm under pressure he was when he pulled out that very red patent leather pocketbook and sweetly handed the box to her on her birthday.  Red was Minnie’s favorite color.  Frank remembered and quietly stole into Chase’s that very afternoon he saw the look of love on Minnie’s face when she pressed her forehead against the glass of Chase’s window display.

This was a good thing too because Minnie could be a spitfire when crossed.  More than once Frank had to step up behind Minnie and whisper to her, “Just look up at the trees Minnie.”  This was their code.  A language invented between two young lovers that served well into the marriage they would build together.  And what a life they had.  Minnie had never imagined a family of four boys, a two story house; white with black shutters; living on Lake Dora with  orange and grapefruit trees on the left side of the property and enough land on the right for boys to discover mischief around the corner and play games all day drenched in sweat and covered with dirt.

Minnie had grown used to the quiet of the house.  It was just Minnie and Charlie now.  Not that she minded.  What a life they had.  Minnie smiled and looked out at the trees.  Time to go downstairs to the kitchen to make her morning tea and toast with orange honey and butter.  The usual.  So many things to do today. 

TO BE CONTINUED….. 

mount dora

florida oak trees

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