Time with the Rickel family (my mother Gretchen’s ancestry). This is an excerpt from a writing I stumbled across. It sounds very much like what I’ve heard about my Grandfather Armin’s father. I made a note or two in ( ) throughout. I am unclear as to who the author of this work is; might be Walter Pitkin-1940s.
The Rickels lived in a big brick house on
the northern side of Adelaide Street. To us, of Fourteenth Street, it was a
king’s palace. Yet, it was only a comfortable dwelling with high ceilings and
many rooms, all furnished well but plainly.
by one, the family appeared. First the mother, a sweet, simple woman who
reminded me in some ways of my own mother. Then the two oldest brothers, both
so much older than I that to them I was just a kid. They heeded me little. Then
Martha and Armin, the two youngest. Martha was a darling of eight or nine
years; I quite fell in love with her. Armin was a clever boy with a bright
smile. He won me, too, on the spot. All was well. Yes, but what was that noise
harsh noise. A loud noise. A noise from a human throat. A noise indicating
anger. And so, in came Mr. Rickel, lord of the manor. A small, slightly bent
man, with thin, tight lips, he was trying to shake off a bad tempter. Somebody
who had come up the walk with him had enraged him, and he did not try to
suppress his fury.
My overall opinion – rate 4 out of 5 (I liked it, a lot).
This author, an American, went to Paris and never left. Why you might ask; she met a man and they married. This book discusses what she’s learned over thirty years. Her perspectives on food, fashion, and social behaviors clarified many of my misconceptions I had about the French. For example, restaurants don’t have take-away bags because they expect you to order only what you can eat and enjoy your meal with your companions. Private dinner parties may not start until eight in the evening and go on until at least midnight. The Parisians have a firm grasp on ‘the joy of life’ even though many people think they can be somewhat combative and unfriendly. They are actually quite the opposite and love to stir up things to make life more interesting. I understand Harriet has several other books and I look forward to reading them in the future. I think this is a non-fiction book worth checking out.
This letter was one of many bits of information that spurred me on to write my novel which, I admit, is fiction mixed with truth. It seems that only people who have known me quite a while can discern the difference, but many still have questions. If you haven’t already, I hope you will consider reading my novel;
Buried Truths—A Daughter’s Tale…
October 25, 1991
Your letter of the twentieth was
most reassuring, and we are truly grateful that you escaped the worst of the
earthquake. For the first couple of days, the phone company automatically
rejected all calls to the Bay area. I got through to your son only after
failing to get through to you. The media sometimes exaggerated tragedies, but
one is always concerned over such an event, and it is good to know that all is
well with you.
Gwen continues to have a rough time. We went away for a couple of weeks rest. She missed the last step on a flight of stairs and had another fall. The doc said no bones are broken. Her recently healed hip was not re-injured. Nevertheless, she is in pain whenever she sits or lies down or even tries to rise. The doc says time alone will cure it, but it is a significant drain on her in the meantime. He tried to prescribe some pain medication, but she would only agree to aspirin.
Driving into Cheyenne, Wyoming after a leaving northern Colorado was a bit unexpected. The place professes to hold 60,000 people, but I don’t know where they are all hiding. On this Saturday afternoon, very few people are milling around. The Airbnb place we are staying in is a private home with newly renovated lodging over their garage. If I understand correctly, they have another room for guests in a different area of the property, as well as a camper for rodeo visitors or participants in Frontier Days. The couple who are hosting us are originally from Michigan, which is quite a coincidence as I have spent many a time there since my mother is from that very state. My host’s son coincidentally worked on Mackinac Island for four summers, which brings us all into a kind of harmony. I diverge from my intended path. After comparing our origins, we discussed and resolved some confusion I had about the upcoming rodeo. I’m looking forward to the event even though it is a side benefit to our original intention of visiting the state to decide whether or not we want to leave the east coast and retire on the west.
To move along in my Cheyenne description; I should
say, we decided to take a rather lengthy walk into town that began uneventfully
with a stop at the State Museum to learn about military and mining history in
Wyoming. The older lady at the information desk had a dark purple swath of hair
mixed in with shades of brown and gray. My first thought; Cheyenne isn’t
conservative, but one person’s looks can’t tell the entire tale. In the free
museum, I was surprised to see a wagon from some immigrants that arrived ages
ago from the Basque country of Spain to hunt for gold and fortune but became sheep
farmers instead. I noted this because I love visiting Spain.
Since her father’s death, Maggie was busier than she’d ever been in her life. Driving the children to soccer practice, scouting events, gymnastics and horseback riding lessons were part of her job. Her husband, Jim, brought in the money to keep the family going and got involved with as much as he could in his spare time. Now, Maggie had her mother to care for as well in a community an hour away. She was easily overwhelmed. Her only free time was on Friday mornings. In those hours, she relaxed with her draft horse while they rode through the woods. His robust and steady disposition helped settle her soul.
As they forged through narrow trails, creeks, and rivers, she thought of traveling through life’s challenges and hoped to come out on the other side of the dark places that tried to consume her heart at every turn. She deeply breathed in the autumn air catching the scent of the peaty leaves that lay on the ground and proceeded down the trail. While being acutely aware of the rocks and roots under the horse, a toad scooted off to the left as they passed by. When they arrived at a river crossing, he refused to move forward. This wasn’t like him. Upon closer examination, she noticed a branch caught on a cluster of boulders that created a chilling image of a trapped animal. No wonder her trusted friend refused to forge the placid waters. With some encouragement, he moved forward. On the other side of the river, they moved ahead for another half hour before turning back around to the barn. The ride helped, but the relief was only temporary.
Mirabelle sat on his bare back and up the hill they went. The pony went faster and faster to avoid his pain as she began to experience her own. Mirabelle knew he had a sore on his belly but rode him anyway. Neither of them understood why they ached. Running seemed like a cure. How could these things be happening? Her father was dead. For the first time, she truly understood the fragility of life—death is inevitable. She was strong and brave when he was alive and now afraid of everything.
The pony crested the hill and began to turn sharply to the right as Mirabelle leaned the other way. She knew what would happen next and didn’t care. Her eyes closed. She was falling and wanted the horrible ‘it’ to happen. Life had become too emotionally unbearable. In those split seconds, she didn’t think of anyone. Not her children, not her husband; not anyone. She went head over heels down onto the hard-cold hellish ground.
While she was unconscious, she dreamt of a wolf who spoke of a life worth living. When she woke minutes or more had passed, the sky looked down at her with disapproval. The pony grazed without any concern over her condition. She had only remembered closing her eyes and falling, but not hitting the ground. Does God protect us this way before we die? Maybe we don’t feel pain as we leave this world to a parallel universe we call heaven.
Mirabelle scolded herself for being so selfish; she didn’t really want to die. Her family needed her, and she was valued. Shame filled her heart. She lay on the ground without moving, her neck felt sore. There was no one around to pick her up, and she’d deliberately left her cell phone behind. She had to get up on her own, both in body and soul. She rolled over while supporting her head with her hand and sat upright. Walking up the hill and into the house, she found an ice pack in the freezer and applied it to the back of her neck. She thought about the wolf and wondered who he represented. Why had she fallen off her pony, her life was full yet overwhelming. She was wide awake in her pain and vowed to never try the wretched ‘it’ again. But, the wolf had frightened her and said we are all reincarnated after death. Mirabelle didn’t really believe those words. It was her mind playing tricks. The dream was nothing more than an unconscious delusion. Or was it?