Today I found myself thinking of my Grandfather and a promise I made to him many years ago.
Lester Schornick was what they called deaf in one hear and hard of hearing in another. When I was child he would hold my face in his hands so that he could keep my face still and read my lips. I adored him. He was my safe place and he smelled of pipe tobacco and work.
When I was eight years old he showed me a picture of a young woman and said, "She was a good mama and I am the last to remember her." He had tears in his eyes and I can remember feeling frightened at the idea that anything could make my Papa unhappy.
I ask him what had happened to her.
He told me that when he was a boy his family was travelling through the Colorado prairie on their way further west to deliver horses to the Army. My great grandfather Frank was what they called a mule skinner and he and his wife Jemima and their four children spent much of their lives on the trail.
It was 1899 and a drought year. They were looking for cotten wood trees because that would mean water.
My grandfather Les was tired and thirsty from eating the trail dust and as the days wore on the lack of water began to wear on the party and their livestock.
Les crawled in the wagon and he buried his head in his mother's lap and wept from the thirst. His mother had been confined to the bed for sometime with consumption but he said she stroked his hair and tried to comfort him and then he said she gave him the last of her water.
That day they came to a creek and Les helped his mother from the wagon and lead her to a shade tree. He then went to help his father water the stock and when he returned with water for his mother she had died in the shade of that tree.
His father buried her there on the prairie and sent Les back with his younger siblings to an uncle's ranch in Oklahoma. My grandfather armed with a 22 rifle drove that covered wagon 600 miles to Konowa, Oklahoma. He was 12 years old.
Years later he would try to find his mother's grave but the place was lost to him. He never forgot his mother's sacrifice or her loving touch.
So I promised him that I would never forget her. My grandfather died years ago, but for some reason I thought of that story today and although it is not relevant to anything but the abiding power of love I thought I would pass it along.
Jemima Sears Schornick died on the prairie at the age of 28. She was a good mama who gave her son the last of her water.
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