Hannah plopped down into the chair with a hearty sigh and grinned. The exuberance she had for life was contagious and I was drawn to her light. She was luminous.
Whether Hannah was talking smack with the guys or running her business, she did them both with an unparalleled passion. She was a leader…a fun leader. Her motto was ,”Work Hard. Play Hard” and she certainly did both well. Her company was well sought after and no one could deny her ability as a brilliant business woman. I admired her.
In the time it had taken for her to cross the room and plop down, something had changed. It was as if the air had been drawn out of her. She seemed distant. I couldn’t help but wonder what was on her mind. I offered to bring her a refill and she politely smiled and said she was fine. Sometimes in the quiet you can really sense a persons true state. There was a desire emanating from her for something. “Is there anything you need?” I quietly whispered to her. Hannah’s eyes glossed over and for a brief moment I thought she was going to cry. Hannah looked my way and said, “I would like to tell you a story. Have you got a little while?” I have to admit I was shocked and excited. Of course I replied, “yes.”
Hannah looked at me with the kindest of eyes and then said, “Well I guess I am going to need that refill after all.” I grabbed Hannah’s glass and quickly scurried across the room to the bar and refilled her glass with Maker’s Mark on the rocks and a twist of lime. I hoped I had prepared it the way she liked it. When I handed her the glass, she promptly took a sip and with a nod of approval thanked me for it. I quickly sat down next to her and the fire and she began to tell me her story.
“I was born the year that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and planted the American flag on its surface. It should have been a year full of pride for our nation, but in 1969 our country was full of unrest over the Vietnam war. Although we lived in a quiet river community the seeds of unrest in the world seemed to have planted themselves into my soul. I spent countless hours staring at the river and dreaming of a life far away. I sensed the same unrest in my mother. My mother had become a widow at a young age, but had been left with enough to live a comfortable life on the river. I often wondered what kept her there. Daddy had died before they had a a chance to have another child so it was just the two of us. Mama had been raised with the best of Southern manners and a work ethic that allowed her to prosper in a time when most did not. She was desired by many for these reasons. She was always dressed beautifully and her make-up and hair were always flawless. We had a very close relationship from the beginning. I loved to watch her get ready in the morning. She would pin her soft, blond curls up into a bun and then gently and precisely apply her lipstick and powder. Occasionally, she would powder my nose, too. There was always a kind smile on her face and her eyes emanated love. I didn’t know of anyone that didn’t love and respect my mother. People had loved my daddy, too. Many of my dad’s friends kept a regular check on us. It wasn’t that she didn’t have money to take care of us, it was clearly out of respect for my dad. When I turned sixteen, she sent me to Europe for the summer. Leaving the river would change my life.”
The party had died down since Hannah had started telling me her story and I found myself so drawn in that I hoped and prayed we would be left alone. I stoked the fire beside us and added another log. I was planting myself in for the duration. Hannah’s eyes were still glazed over and she never looked in my direction. It was as if she was in a trance. I gently spoke her name and she sat up and took another sip of her bourbon and said, “Sorry dear, I was lost in thought.”
To be continued…