This put White in a bind, to put it mildly, and she ran into some troubles back in North Carolina (here's a good run-down). So, as an old woman, she loaded up everything she owned and came out to the area where her husband had died. She opened a tavern and the rest, as they say, is history.
When we were little, we would always beg my Grandma Phillips to tell us about the good old days and she would scowl and roll her eyes. "I had to clean up the chamber pots in the morning." she would say, or she'd snort and say, "You'll pry my microwave from my cold, dead hands." She loved new things that made life easier.
I gave Lucy White some of that delight in the new stuff, the belief that the future will bring a certain ease.
Lucy White was a woman so long ago she barely remembers it. She remembers the boards she put down on the floor of the shack so that she could cross from her bed to the fireplace without getting her feet wet when it rained and the water streamed through the low spot in the dirt floor. She remembers the smell of mash bubbling in the still. And she has a sense that she felt satisfied when she finally lay down under the dirt.
She remembers that her life was hard.
And she delights in how easy it is for the folks who live on her land now. She remembers the first indoor stove she saw, how she would open and shut the door, marveling at the luxury of not having to cook over an open fire. And now? Now she will turn on stovetops that don't even get hot unless you put a pan on them. And she will rummage around in people's cabinets, trying every pot.
She remembers trying to nurse her first baby, how afraid she was, how hard it was. And she will watch young mothers with their first babies and the luxuries of bottles and formula. She loves to help. She will coo over a fat baby. She will press the buttons on the microwave while you fish breast milk out of the freezer.
And don't even get her started on toilets. She will flush your toilet fifty times in a row, if she thinks it won't bother you too much.
She loved to watch them race horses down the Pike. And then bicycles, and now cars. She is always yelling, "Faster, faster, faster," though it's rare that anyone hears her.
For a long time after she was dead, she kept waiting for someone to show up and point her to where she was supposed to be. No one came. She thought maybe she'd been forgotten.
But now, she thinks, "Here I am, where I should be."