Friday, February 15, 2013

Ethel Linda, the Divine Cow

This was written by Cathy Manau, my parents' neighbor, and a friend of the family. She sent it to my Mom on Valentine's Day. February 15th marked 10 months since my father's passing.

For over 4 years, Bob, my neighbor, struggled with his health. The effects of diabetes and congestive obstructive pulmonary disease finally took their toll until he was confined to a single room in his
home, moving throughout the day between his bed and recliner.

His wife, Priscilla, was his primary caregiver and she tended to Bob’s every need 24/7, massaging his feet with Lavender oil, cutting up fruit for his meals, making sure he was warm and comfortable.
Priscilla would do anything to take care of her beloved husband and dozens of friends and neighbors were more than willing to help.

On occasion, I would stop by to brush Bob’s teeth or if Priscilla needed to run errands, I would “Bobbysit” while she took care of business outside their home. Bob, a retired commercial airline pilot who could be Sully Sullenberger’s twin, loved to tell stories about his experiences in the cockpit, his interests in planes and vintage cars, boating, and traveling.

While I was sitting with Bob one day while Priscilla was away, Bob began to reminisce about his early childhood days growing up in a small town in Mississippi. His family had struggled during the
Depression but were more fortunate than many. They owned a grocery store, had a modest home, garden, and a single cow named Ethel Linda, who provided milk for the family. Bob’s face beamed at the remembrance of Ethel Linda and he painted a clear picture of her standing patiently in a corner of their tiny plot of ground, waiting to be milked. How he loved that cow!

Bob became more frail and passed away a few months later. On the day I received the phone call, I was saddened to hear the news and my thoughts turned to Priscilla. In the early evening, my husband and I walked toward their home and stood helplessly outside, not wanting to intrude on the family as they gathered to mourn the loss of their great patriarch but wishing to offer support in some way.

Another neighbor couple, who had the same desire, joined us on the side of the street. The four of us stood in respectful silence to send warm, loving, comforting thoughts to the newly bereaved family.

As twilight descended, quiet conversation included stories about Bob. My favorite memory was Bob telling me all about Ethel Linda. Just as I finished relating the tale to my husband and neighbors, all four of us heard the clear, distinct, unmistakable moo of a cow in the distance.

We were astonished! Why? Cows have been gone from our neighborhood for several years and even though we searched the area extensively the next day, we never found the source of that divine moo! I can only assume it was Bob reassuring us that he was, indeed, okay!