A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
Judy’s suggestion, that a woman whose husband has Alzheimer’s might simply start dating again, preoccupied Evelyn for the rest of the day. And it is still on her mind when she enters the Quilt Room. Hopefully, the night’s first draw will provide her with a distraction from these thoughts.
JOY AGE 3-6 is the first paper Evelyn unfolds. She smiles as she approaches the box marked accordingly. She hopes that Joy’s energy, which filled her heart so thoroughly just a few days ago, will return to the room in the next few minutes.
“How perfect!” Evelyn exclaims to no one, as she holds up the small tee shirt that Joy had painted. “This will be beautiful in the quilt!”
Evelyn grins broadly as she looks at the figures—some so primitive; all so abstract. There is a house—theirs, apparently. And a family—also theirs (apparently). And a dog? They never had a dog. Perhaps Joy felt that was an essential part of the nuclear family.
But what Evelyn loves more than anything are the abstract splashes of paint that surround the more obvious images. There is a flow to those splashes. A purpose. An energy. And she remembers Joy bringing that energy back with her every afternoon when she returned from day camp. There was something about her tales back then. They were the days before she started speech therapy, and her speech was charming.
“Today!” she said, her feet dangling happily as she occupied a stool right next to her father’s in the kitchen. “We rode hortheth!”
“You rode hortheth?” Davy replied, imitating, but not mocking, his five-year-old daughter’s lisp.
“Yeth! And they were amathing! I rode one called Thilver. A white horth!”
“And did Silver behave?” Evelyn interjected at that moment, giving Davy the eye as she refused to play the lisp game.
“Oh, yeth!” replied Joy. “He wath tho gentle.”
“And what else did you do today?” Evelyn asked, smiling at the angel before her.
“Well, we rode in the morning, and that wath great, and then, in the afternoon, we painted tee thirth. Wanna thee?”
“I wanna thee!” Davy replied, nodding enthusiastically while waving off his wife’s scolding glances.
Evelyn looks again at the “tee thirt” in her lap. Joy’s enthusiasm and forward momentum began at an early age. The colors and swirls show it. No lisp, no hurdle, would stop her from moving ahead.
While Marilyn spent so many years vying for their father’s attention, Joy seemed to have spent those same years on her own “magnifithent” path, ensuring that her father’s attention would never make or break her.
Evelyn realizes, looking at the tee shirt, that she envies Joy in some way. Their second daughter had, for whatever reason, gotten the best. She’d inherited Davy’s fabulous spirit without feeling beholden to it. She owned it, and it traveled with her.
* * *
to be continued on April 16th .
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.