Nora Ray (Ray Trilogy) - By Kelley Brown Page 0,1

to the milk room, Laura left to prepare the evening meal. She watched the cream separate from milk and go into different containers as she hand cranked the machine. The blue john milk as her mother called it was set aside to be fed to the pigs while the cream was put into the cooler to be taken to town to be sold.

The cream in a week’s time could provide enough money to buy sugar, flour, and other essentials that were needed in the kitchen. Selling chicken eggs also provided weekly money. Occasionally, she and Danny bought a new pair of shoes and a pair of jeans for school out of the cream and egg money.

Her little brother, Danny, took care of the chickens now. It used to be her job until she grew big enough to help in the barn. She had always enjoyed pouring the chicken feed in the old tires that were split down the middle, while the chickens scurried over her feet hoping to get one of the first bites. Then she had carried lard buckets full of water from the pump in the back porch to the tractor tires split down the middle in the chicken yard for the chickens. That was Danny’s job now.

I guess that is part of growing up, she mused to herself.

She walked through the back porch into the battered old kitchen. She expected to see the meal almost prepared and her mother to tell her to set the table, but the kitchen was empty and no meal was being prepared.

“Mom,” Nora called out.

She heard quiet voices in the living room. She softly entered the room. She saw her mother and her Aunt Betty Johnson, her dad’s sister, sitting on the sofa talking in hushed tones with tears in their eyes.

Laura motioned for her to sit beside her. Gingerly she sat on the edge of the sofa with questions in her eyes. Her mom reached over and held her hand, saying, “Your little cousin, Jordan, was diagnosed with polio this morning. You know that he has been crying a lot and complaining about his legs. Your Aunt Betty took him to the doctor and that’s what he said was wrong with him.”

“Oh, no,” she shook her head. “No.” She leaned back on the sofa. “Why does little Jordan have to hurt so much? He’s so little,” she grieved. She felt such a pain in her heart.

“How is he taking this?” Nora asked her Aunt Betty.

“He doesn’t really understand what is going on. He just knows that he hurts.”

Aunt Betty and Laura held each other’s hands and then her mom wrapped her arms around Aunt Betty while she cried.

Nora made her excuses and went to her rock to digest all the information and the pain that that she felt. As she sat there, she thought of all the hurt in her family. She thought of the struggles to maintain the dairy, the pain of doing the heavy work, her mom trying to make all the ends meet financially, then her father who seemed to shove the work their way rather than taking the lead in completing the work. Now there was her little four old cousin diagnosed with polio. Where will it all end? What is the answer? Is there an answer?

Somehow there has got to be a better way. Happiness in her family was there but so fleeting.

She groaned under the burden. What can a seventeen year old girl do? Finding a job somewhere was impossible. There was no transportation for her. She couldn’t in good conscience leave all that work for her mother to do. Screaming at her shiftless father was what she felt like doing. He should provide better for the family. It should be his responsibility, she thought.

Her next thought was, How does getting angry at my father help little Jordan?

She lay on her back on her thinking rock feeling exhausted and emotionally spent until she began to feel her strength come back to her.

Nora knew her family needed her. Right now her mother needed someone to cook the evening meal. Her little brother Danny needed comfort, food, and somebody to help get him ready for bed. With new determination and fortified with purpose she headed back to the house to see what needed done first.

She was amazed. Aunt Betty had left, her mother had tucked Danny in bed, and her father was washing the dishes. “I fixed you a plate. It’s sitting on the cabinet,” he pointed