Cornelia was dutiful; that was the trouble with her. Dutiful and good: “So good and dutiful,” said Granny, “that I’d like to spank her.”
Things were finished somehow when the time came; thank God there was always a little margin over for peace: then a person could spread out the plan of life and tuck in the edges orderly. It was good to have everything clean and folded away, with the hair bushes and tonic bottles sitting straight on the white embroidered linen.
While she was rummaging around she found death in her mind and it felt clammy and unfamiliar. She had spent so much time preparing for death there was no need for bringing it up again. Let it take care of itself now. When she was sixty she had felt very old, finished […] she made her will and came down with a long fever. That was all just a notion like a lot of other things, but it was lucky too, for she had once for all got over the idea of dying for a long time.
Little things, little things! They had been so sweet when they were little. Granny wished the old days were back again with the children young.
Why, he couldn’t possibly recognize her. She had fenced in a hundred acres once, digging the post holes herself and clamping the wires with just a negro boy to help. That changed a woman. John would be looking for a young woman with the peaked Spanish comb in her hair and the painted fan. Digging post holes changed a woman.
I want you to pick all the fruit this year and see that nothing is wasted. There’s always someone who can use it. Don’t let good things rot for want of using. You waste life when you waste good food. Don’t let things get lost. It’s bitter to lose things.
There was the day, the day, but a whirl of dark smoke rose and covered it, crept up and over into the bright field where everything was planted so carefully in orderly rows. That was hell, she knew hell when she saw it.
I want you to find George. Find him and be sure to tell him I forgot him. I want him to know I had my husband just the same and my children and my house like any other woman. A good house too and a good husband that I loved and fine children out of him. Better than I hoped for even. […] no, there was something else besides the house and the man and the children. Oh, surely they were not all? What was it? Something not given back.
Yes, John, get the Doctor now, no more talk, my time has come.
The rosary fell out of her hands and Lydia put it back. Jimmy tried to help, their hands fumbled together, and Granny closed two fingers around Jimmy’s thumb. Beads wouldn’t do, it must be something alive.