Ramshackle

ramshackle house

She survived two husbands and three children. Living alone in her family home for nearly 30 years, she was well-known in her community. Always ready with a pot of homemade chicken soup for the sick, a hot-from-the oven pie for new neighbors or hand-sewn quilts for the babies.

Her church had a waiting list of congregants wanting to help her with any daily needs. It was a joy to spend time with her, listening to her stories. But, she was tired, so very tired.

With her last breath, “I’ve done enough, it’s time to go home.”

The 100 Word Challenge, to tell a story in only 100 words. This week’s theme is ‘Enough’

When I was a teen, my aunt and several women in her church “adopted” an elderly parishioner named Miss Estes. Occasionally, I would join my aunt when she visited. Miss Estes looked like she was at least 100 years old.

She and her younger brother lived in a ramshackle shack in rural Tennessee. They had no running water. They filled jugs from a well about 20 yards from their house. They had no central heat, nor indoor plumbing. Their three-room cabin warmed only by a coal-burning stove. An outhouse sat behind the cabin at the edge of the woods.

One day, my aunt asked me to stay the night with Miss Estes. Her brother was out of town, and there was no one else who could come over. It was an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget. This woman, who lived in what I considered abject poverty, was the most cheerful and loving person. She didn’t see herself as poor, because she was rich in other things. She had a home, food, warmth, and caring friends.

It was a humbling lesson.

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10 replies »

  1. Love the photo and this piece. My 89-year old aunt recently shared a story of when their water was turned off when they were kids, and they hauled buckets on their wagon to a neighbor’s for cooking water. The house where they grew up had an indoor toilet only after my mom got a job as a teen and had a bathroom built. We take a lot of things for granted, eh?

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  2. If you live long enough, you get to see something like this – from one side or the other. I remember a woman like this from when I was very young. That’s a warm place to go to, in my heart and mind. Thanks for the trip down that particular memory lane.

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  3. MY great grandma lived in a mining house, meaning it was owned by the MINE CO my great grandfather worked for. Until the day that they tore it down (years after my Babci died) it only had one bathroom wtih just a toilet and sink…no tub, no shower. and no HOT water.
    There are pictures of us as very little girls, having baths in water heated on the coal stoves, in the big shiny silver COAL buckets. But my Babci was beloved and never ill spirited or miserable. She was a light in my life.

    this reminded me so much of her…of how even without much, she had LOTS. I loved your words. Thanks for giving me a really nice memory today.

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  4. What a beautiful story/memory. There was an elderly lady that lived behind me growing up. I used to love to visit her and hear her stories! BTW.. The photo is beautiful!

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