Still. The wind didn’t even whisper. Ladies in the parlor, men folk on the front porch. A few children played quietly in the front yard. William sat beneath the chinaberry tree next to the front porch. The gray white stubble covered his black cheeks, a leftover from his all-night vigil. Gathered around her bed were her children. Doc had already joined the men folk, at her request, for she was ready.
Miss Molly was a lady ahead of her time. From a well-to-do, but not wealthy family, she marched to her own drummer. From a young woman until the ravages of old age, her resources and talent were equally spent among the slaves as well as the white community. This practice just after the Civil War, strained at best, never restricted her – even against the hard-core element of Southern society in that era. Called on constantly for her nursing skill and knowledge of home remedies; she was at everyone’s disposal in time of need.
Doc related one story that best described her, on the front porch that evening. He pointed to old William. “I remember when the top floor of the feed mill collapsed. As the rescue for the trapped men was organized, the cry for Miss Molly was heard. They drug the injured from the accident, one by one. Miss Molly finally arrived. Her father, some irritation in his voice, wondered what had taken so long. The answer she gave in front of the men of the town was not what he wanted to hear. William had been kicked by a bull and she was patching busted ribs and a broken leg. She didn’t leave when summoned until she was sure of William’s well-being.”
“She put them all to work quickly, ordering bandages and clean water to boil. When she spoke they moved, her father included. With the situation under control and the injured attended to, she called her father. With the tired rescuers gathered, in her commandingly soft voice said, “William is a man too.” Her dad smiled. He knew she was a lady ahead of her time”.
Her rosary intertwined around her bony fingers, she asked for her Bible. She whispered to her daughter, “Go fetch William”. He shuffled by the men folk, into the parlor where the ladies made a pathway. He limped to Miss Molly’s bedside. She whispered in his ear. She smiled and patted his hand.
“Draw the curtains open,” she requested.
Outside, beneath a clump of pines and scrub oaks, William began the soft remains of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. She rose slightly and made the sign of the cross. Her last breath was peaceful…, as she had lived.