December 16 2009

When Ashe returned home, he found Dorrie sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee. "What, you ain't drunk, again?" Ashe looked at her and said, "I brought home some fish for dinner tomorrow night." He seemed calm, and Dorrie was flabbergasted by his state. He hadn't even been drinking. "I'm going to bed now,” Ashe said matter of factly. “I am sleeping on the couch. Leave me alone, okay Dorrie? Just leave me alone. Don't make me kill you, because even tho I promised Nana I wouldn't, I am very near that place. And if you ever put another bruise on Jennah, I will do just that, promise or no promise". Ashe turned and walked out of the kitchen, toward the living room. As he covered himself with a blanket, he looked over at his guitar in the corner. He had just won the first victory of his life. He smiled as he drifted off to sleep, knowing full well in his heart that it might be a short-lived victory, but he was still victorious and he wasn't about to share it with Dorrie. For now, it was his and his alone. It was all he had, except for the guitar and bottle. But tonight, the bottle just wasn't as important.
Dorrie's pregnancy and work was keeping her well occupied. Ashe visited Jennah every week, and got to see her whenever he took Dorrie over. No one said a thing to Dorrie about Ashe's visits, Nana and Paw both agreed that the man deserved something of his own, even if his family was considered white trash. Jennah began to grow and occasionally, Dorrie and Ashe would take her home with them for a weekend, so the other side of the family could see her also. Jennah was proving to be a smart child. She remembered people earlier than children and she had learned to walk before she was 9 months old. She loved carrots. In fact they were the only vegetable she would eat, and all it took for her to stop crying was for Carrisa to play Elvis on the phonograph. She jumped around on her belly like a frog whenever the music came on. Carrisa began calling her "froggy.”
By time she was nearly one, Jennah was spoiled rotten. Ashe still liked the bottle, but never showed up at the house drunk, and Dorrie was becoming more and more wrapped up in herself, and actually leaving Ashe alone. Besides, it was almost time for the new baby to be born. Ashe stayed away from Dorrie as often as possible. He didn't want this baby to be born with a black eye, and knew he was the reason that Jennah had been born with one. Guilt was still eating at both of them though, because Dorrie blamed herself also. She just felt guilty for a completely different reason. This year though, Rosa wouldn't be around to help with her deliver the baby. She and her husband had moved to Arizona right after Jennah had been born. Eddie had gotten a good job and they left within a week of the birth. It was better that way. Ashe never really liked Dorrie’s friendship with Rosa, and now no one would be the wiser of the extent to which that friendship had gone. Jennah Marie had been named Marie for her great aunt and Rosa had named her Jennah because it had an "AH" at the end of it. IF she ever had a child she was going to name her Suzannah Marie. That way they could keep their friendship alive and Susie's memory alive. Someday, after Jennah and Suzannah grew up they could be told the story of why they had those particular names. They would both be named Marie and both girls would have an AH at the end of their names. Rosa and Dorrie kept in touch from time to time and then one day Dorrie received a letter telling her that Suzannah Marie had indeed been born. That was the last time that Dorrie ever heard from Rosa and Johnathan Edward King. It was better that way and both women knew it.
March, 1953
Doctor Almot looked grim as he approached Ashe and the rest of the family in the waiting room. “Dorrie’s had some problems,” he said softly. “She’s okay but I have her sedated. I’m afraid the baby didn’t make it. The cord got wrapped around his neck and he was born breech. I really am sorry Ashe, I really am. We did all we could. The poor little guy just wasn’t strong enough. Breech birth and the cord getting wrapped around the neck is just something that sometimes happens. It wasn't anything anyone did, and it was no one's fault. If you would like, you can hold him.”
Ashe had stopped hearing the doctor after the word he. They had a boy, a boy who would have been named Ashe Redmond, Junior. A boy. He felt more like he was floating as he walked into the nursery area with the doctor. The words were starting to sink in and the he was having trouble standing. The rest of the family followed, all of them crying. Carissa was especially upset and Paw stopped to hold her gently, trying himself not to cry. “Yes,” Ashe said almost inaudibly, “I would like to hold my son. Just for a moment.” As he took the lifeless infant in his arms, his tears began to fall, and his knees buckled. The doctor caught him before he fell, and helped him to a rocking chair. He wasn't sure exactly how long he had been sitting there, but Dorrie evidently had awakened and somehow found her way to the nursery. She had been awake when he was born and knew when he didn’t cry that something had gone terribly wrong. She wanted at least to hold him. She went to Ashe and looked at him helplessly. “I didn’t do it on purpose, Ashe,” she said, and then she passed out. As she lay on the floor, Ashe got up and kneeled down beside her. He placed their son on her bosom and tears rolled silently down his cheeks. "Oh, Good Lord Dorrie, will we ever get it right? Will we ever be able to smile?" The nurse wiped away his tears and lifted the baby up and another one helped Ashe up. Then they set about getting Dorrie back to her room.
When Ashe returned to the waiting room, he approached Nana fearfully. “Can I please go home with you folks tonight? I need to hold my little girl.” Nana and Paw looked at each other and nodded. Lord these kids were having a horrible start in life. In the two years they had known each other, everything under the sun had happened. It was almost as if the marriage had been made in hell instead of heaven. Lidia's intuition told her that their lives were star-crossed and would never get better. The thought made her shiver as she took her turn at holding her first grandson. Silently she said a prayer before handing her to Maw. Paw had steered Carissa clear of the nursery, and when Maw came out, he went in to say goodbye to the little fella, then one by one they began to file out of the nursery, but before
they got out of the hospital, Carrisa turned and ran back to the nursery. Paw and Nana quickly followed her. "What are you doing Carrisa?" Paw asked. Carrisa looked at the doctor coming out of the double doors. "Please, can I hold the baby?" Dr. Almot looked at Nana quizzically. "Please,” Carissa asked again, “I want to hold the baby. I don't care if he is dead, I just want to hold him. I want him to know I held him. He will know, God will let him know. You told me God takes babies immediately to heaven and God knows everything, Nana, so, please, I have to hold him." Carrisa was softly crying. "Come with me, Carrisa," Dr. Almot said, "you know I delivered you also. You certainly have grown up a lot." Carrisa smiled and noticed that Nana and Paw were behind them. So was everyone else. As they all took turns holding the baby once more, Ashe never had felt more love in a room. When the last person was ready to give the baby back to the nurse, Carrisa looked at him once more and told him they all loved him and were sorry they wouldn't be able to watch him grow up. Then she quietly led the family out the door.
The next three days were full of tears and sadness, and life. Plans were made to bury Ashe Jr. at the only cemetery near Lyons, where his great - great grandparents were at rest. He was just across from them, so he would be near the family In fact, there were several family members from both sides resting there, surrounding him. It was a huge resting ground, and had lots of big old oak and pecan trees. The markers were all very large and white and depicted all kinds of things from church steeples to figurines. It was lush and green and peaceful. Carrisa was holding Jennah and thought back to the day she had held Ashe Jr. To her, he felt like a real live person who was just sleeping. The doctor had said the baby didn't feel any pain or hurt. He just never started breathing at all. Carrisa was glad that he hadn't hurt, because she had finally found out what real pain was like. Deep inside she was hurting really bad, as everyone around her was. Even Jennah seemed to be hurting, but she was only a year old and Carrisa didn't think she could come even close to understanding what was going on. Jennah watched intently as Ashe Jr. was being taken to the grave site by a little red wagon. Ashe had bought him a new one, and when the rites were over, he parked it beside the oak tree that Ashe Jr. was laid under. Ashe had pulled the wagon himself, from the church that sat beside the cemetery. He wanted the honor of pulling his boy in a red wagon. Ashe loved red wagons; he had one as a child, his only real toy. His boy deserved one also. He went out and bought it the day after Ashe Jr. died. The whole time he was in the store he cried, but the clerks only looked at him with mild concern. He didn't explain it to them; it was none of their business. If he wanted his dead child to have a red wagon, he would have one. Dorrie had thought it kind of crazy, but Nana didn't. She understood; for the first time, she understood a little about Ashe Redmond.
After the graveside service, Ashe laid three pennies on Ashe Redmond, Jr.’s grave, one for each day of his earthly visit. Dorrie told him that was sweet, but he just pulled the wagon away and parked it under the big old oak tree nearest the site. Then he walked away and let the tears fall, and unashamedly allowed his knees to buckle and sink into the damp grass, sobbing. Dorrie stood for a long time at the grave, then quietly sat down and talked to her son. “You know that we would have loved you, Ashe, with all of our hearts. We would have done our best. But I guess God needed you more. So I hope you have a good life wherever you are.” The tears were gone. She had cried enough tears to fill the ocean. She could cry no more. Another child of fate had been born and decided not to stay. Dorrie didn’t blame him. When she looked up, Ashe was standing beside her. He had made his way back to the site . He knelt down, and reached over to Dorrie and took her by the hand. "You know Dorrie, we both have made a lot of mistakes in the past. I still drink too much. We are so different, yet we love like there is no tomorrow."
"I know, Ashe, I know,” Dorrie said almost inaudibly. As Ashe took her in his arms, Dorrie found more tears spilling from her eyes. It was the first time in a very long time that they had held on to each other. Nana and Lidia were standing by the car with Paw and Roy waiting quietly. Carrisa was still holding Little Janna, watching Dorrie and Ashe. "Wow, they are hugging each other." Nana and Lidia smiled, and Roy said, "Well, something good always comes out of something bad". Paw looked over at Roy. He nodded his head and Roy asked, “By the way, do you have a name other than Paw? All I've ever heard you called by is "her Paw and Nana."
"Yep, it's Emerson. Now you know why I like to be called Paw. My wife's name is Olivia Marie. It's hard to believe we, well you know. It's sad that something like this has to happen to bring families together."
“Yep, it shore is Emerson, it shore is." Then Roy laughed for the first time in several days. "Don't blame ya there, I used to get called hillbilly Willie. That's why I changed it to Roy, my middle name. Willard is my given name. My wife's given name is Lidia, but I call her Little Dove.
"Well, Willard is just as bad as Emerson, I guess", Paw said, with a grin. Both men were trying hard to skirt around the issues at hand, and to be brave like men should be for their wives. At least that is what they thought men should be at times like these. Both men could understand tho, why Ashe probably wasn't feeling very brave, but in both man's eyes, Ashe had shown a lot of bravery over the last few days. Paw looked at Roy as he glanced back at their children, hugging each other. "Why don't you leave those kids your car and ride with us? I think they need to be alone for awhile".
“Okay, Paw, you got it." He walked over and dropped the keys at Ashe's feet. "We’ll, meet you two at the house,” he told them. “Take all the time you need."
"Thanks Poppa Roy." Dorrie said, never letting go of Ashe.
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