The Healer's Wife

  by Alex A. Kecskes



            Where to begin? Well, let’s see, there was Claire, Wind in Tree and Violet. My darling, Charles. And my sweet Rose. Oh, Rose, how I miss her. But going into all that now would spoil everything. There’s just so much to tell—and so much that’s impossible to believe. I suppose I should follow my mother’s advice and start at the very beginning.

            The scent of Jasmine and the smoke of firewood from our chimney were the sensory signposts that drew me home after a day at Collegiate High, a prestigious school in New York. Stopping every so often, I’d pluck a Blue Toadflax or Round-lobed Hepatica from a field near the road. I’d tell myself, this beautiful flower could someday cure cancer. This one would end the scourge of typhus. Some days, I would arrive home with an uprooted “bouquet” of plant-based ‘cures’ for diseases that I could barely pronounce.

            Natural cures formed the basis for one of my school projects. It was a large bulletin board display of plant cures. While my teachers applauded my efforts, I could see in their eyes that they thought I was a foolish dreamer. Like Nathan, who stubbornly insisted man would someday build flying machines. My father called my cures utter nonsense. I drew comfort from what my mother often said about the advance of science: “Anything is possible, look at the telegraph and the locomotive.”

            We lived in a two-story five-bedroom colonial. By carriage, it was twenty minutes from New York City, a bit faster by horseback. My bedroom overlooked a rambling green pasture dotted with rusty sugar maples. When I was six, my father strung a swing from the closest tree just outside the servant’s entrance. I loved that swing. It was built for dreaming. The lightness it produced at the top of each swing was like an escape from reality. Nothing held you down during those blissful seconds at the top of each swing. Had I wings, I would have soared into the cotton ball clouds that often dotted our sky.

            Edna, our maid kept everything pretty much ‘ship-shape’ as Father would say. He’d served in the Navy. Pearl, our cook, was trained in New Orleans and prepared the most delicious Cajun meals, though some were bit too spicy for my father.