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Yvonne Shao


States of Mind: The Farewells by Umberto Boccioni

She knew about the Tweetsie. She wanted to go from her home in North Carolina to visit her cousin who had moved to Texas, and she knew the Tweetsie railroad was her first step. For a young woman, it was a big step.

She did not know she would only return briefly to North Carolina, to tell her tobacco-farming parents that she had fallen in love and would return to Texas to marry a wheat-farming school teacher.

She did not know about the Depression or the Dust Bowl or World War II. She did not know about Vietnam or Watergate.

She did not know about the four children she would bear, or that her husband and a daughter would die too soon.

She did not know the comfort she would derive from laying her cheek against the warm flank of a Jersey cow while milking.

She did not know that their house would burn down and they would rebuild it in exactly the same spot.

She did not know that the generator in the hatchery would fail and they would bring dozens of chicks into the bathroom to keep them alive.

She did not know that her children would marry and move far away and have many children that she would rarely see, except her youngest son who would stay home with her, helping her with the farm and working odd jobs. She did not know that he would marry late, divorce soon, and come home to the farm again, and that nothing would change except that his little daughter would come to the farm every other weekend.

She did not know how much she would love the granddaughter, how she would make her macaroni and cheese and watch her play in the wheat silos and take her to the beauty shop and buy her candy corn while she waited. She did not know they would take naps together, lying crossways on the bed. She did not know how she would enjoy making ice cream with her granddaughter, watching her lick the dasher.

She did not know about the dog she would trip over and break her hip, and how that would be the beginning of the long goodbye.

She did not know that she would confuse her granddaughter with her too-soon dead daughter, and how in that confusion she would briefly have them both with her.

She did not know any of that.

All she knew was the Tweetsie.


About the writer:
Yvonne Shao is an American writer living in Paris. Her primary outlet is her blog, entitled Escaping the Empty Nest. She also writes for the Secrets of Paris website and is currently working with GPSmyCity on travel articles about Paris and Nice.

Image: States of Mind: The Farewells by Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916). Oil on canvas. 27.7 x 37.8 inches. 1911. Public domain.

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