Mary May in Central NE
We stopped for ice cream and met a delightful rancher. Her story is a grand finale to my rural women stories collected as we drove across the Heartland and into Canada on our Can Am Spyder.
Sitting while hot, tired, and lapping up a creamy delight, a woman came and sat with us. We had unconsciously sat where a cup was left on the table – it was her cup. She held a paper towel, with obvious blood spots, on her right arm. When asked what happened, she gave us her story. Enjoy!
(Writing in first person to duplicate how she spoke)
…Well, this morning I went to an auction and there was a cream can. You know, a ten gallon cream can. It had a mailbox attached on the top. My mailbox flag doesn’t work so I checked this one out and it seemed to be in good shape. The can was full of rocks or cement or something because it was really heavy. I should have waited for my grandson, but I didn’t. As I was lifting it into the back of the pickup truck, I must have scraped my arm on the mailbox. And you know how, when we get old, our skin gets thin. It’ll be fine. I’m eighty-three and probably should know better.
…I live thirty miles south of here…and then I drive about five miles on a gravel road.
…I was raised in SD and after my dad died my daughter needed me to babysit my three year old grandson while she taught school. So, my mom and I just moved. My grandson is twenty-one now, so I have been here eighteen years. My mom has passed, but I keep plugging along. My grandson helps me some.
…I calved out forty-five momma cows this year. But even waiting until April, we had some pretty tough weather. I keep back around fifteen heifers each year. My grandson really helped me this year by fixing the fence. I bought molasses lick for my cows this morning. …The blocks come in different sizes but I buy the ones that are 200 pounds. …I drive into the pasture and push them off the tailgate.
…You know this is the first year that I have not seen or killed a rattle snake. The first year! Once, a few years back, while I was busy doing something, my dog was barking and barking. I finally went over to her, and she had two rattle snakes corralled. I didn’t have any tools so I took a broken tree branch and eventually stunned them enough to kill them. …Well, I couldn’t let them get away. They were too close to the house.
…Every Saturday I work at our local thrift store. We all take turns. You know, it helps. It helps people.
…It is good to work. I think that’s why we’re here.
I want to be like Mary May when I grow up! Remember she is an independent eighty-three year old rancher. A rural woman extraordinaire. She inspired me, I learned from her, and she motivated me. She did, in a ten minute visit, what I strive to do with hours of writing. She lived her values.