I believe memories rest within our minds as gradient colors on endless paint chips, the most vivid hues attracting our attention to be called forth and lingered over for the joy it will bring to our day. My Birthday Cousin Joy is ruby red for her vividly colored hair and splash of freckles across her beautiful face. She is also colored red for the unusual love story she has to tell.
Joy was a woman child who longed for the things all women do without the capacity to manage them once in hand. For this reason her mother, my Aunt Rachel, set up a home for her to keep only steps away from her own front door. Finances were managed by Aunt Rachel who kept a running tab of expenditures on a blackboard, chalk hanging from a string. "Tomato sandwich, .25cents." Figures tabulated the end of each month, money deducted from income earned.
With a home of her own a nest needing two, Joy turned her attention to finding a man. Her church, within walking distance, the obvious place to look; a man "come down from the mountains" a perfect catch. Beau was as thin as he was tall to Joy's width as she was short. A factory job found, a doubling of blackboard tabulations, "I do. I do's" exchanged, a place to rest the head.
It was about this time I would get to visit Joy only steps away from Aunt Rachel's door. She was so eager for me to see how she had made a home. We tiptoed across the grass wet with evening dew, "Shh, don't make a sound, Beau is sleeping!"
I was astonished to see Joy pull from a string around her neck, a key that fit a padlock on her door. "Joy! You padlock Beau inside your house? What if there's a fire, how will he ever get out?" To this day I will never forget her response.
"Oh, there's church women who've got their eyes on him. Beau's a catch now he can read! Besides, he's skinny enough, he can slip out the winda if he has ta." I couldn't wait to meet this Beau!
It was such a sad day not many weeks ago to receive a call from North Carolina telling me of Joy's early passing. She was as young as I am old. My mind was immediately filled with the color red and the last conversation I had with Joy. "Beau's done run off with another woman! I should have never taught him to read!" I do believe Joy died of a broken heart.