Chapter Three: The Story of Ralph and Mary Carey
The years rolled on and Ralph and Mary saw their children grow up, marry and some move away and some settle down in the area. Electricity finally reached the Hudson Valley-how wonderful it was to have lights, a refrigerator and other appliances. Ralph was able to install a sink in the kitchen, build and furnish a bathroom, and get water piped to the house.
About this time his health began to fail. He tried to ignore the symptoms, thinking the congestive heart was only asthma or emphysema. He finally agreed to sell the milk cows and be freed from that responsibility. Mary thought about moving to town, thinking it would be easier to Ralph to find a job that wouldn't require so much effort and much long hours. But dread the idea of living in town! "What would I do?", he would ask, "Walk up to the post office and get the mail every day, and then stand around in front of the bank and watch people walk by?" Such a life seemed unbearable.
But Ralph continued to get weaker, and the spells of sickness with periods of hospitalization became more frequent. Finally in December of 1956 the time came then Mary went into the hospital room and saw that Ralph would not be coming home again. He knew it too; his doctor had told him his heart was worn out and he didn't have long to live.
Mary went close to the bed and said, "Dad, is there anything I should do?" He talked some about the friend who had said he would like to buy the farm. Then he pulled her close, kissed her and said, "Mom, I guess you'll just have to do the best you can."
The next day, Ralph was delirious, comatose and heavily sedated. He never knew Mary was there. She stepped-out for a few minutes with her daughter and while she was gone, he died. He was sixty-six years old. It was December 2, 1956.
All the children came home for the funeral and burial, held on a cold, foggy day in the Wheatland Cemetery. Afterwards, and after a dinner at the local grange, Mary and some of the children drove out to the farm. It was clear by this time, the fog had lifted, but it was cold and a strong wind blew across the frozen ground. [funeral program: cover-inside]
Mary did not go into the house at first, but instead, walked up the hill toward the outlying building. Her children sensed that she wanted to be alone. She went past the windmill, the granary, the chicken houses and the pieces of farm machinery scattered about. Stopping near the barn, she looked out over the land. She could see most of the original three-hundred and twenty acres they had homesteaded over forty years ago. The farm had not reached the standard Ralph had hoped for and always believed was possible.
Mary somewhat defiantly, said goodbye to those acres she believed had been the cause of Ralph's death. He had worked so hard and so long and literally poured out his strength day after day. Somehow Mary felt a resentment toward his dedication and determination that took him away from her-just when things were getting better for them. So many times she had pleaded with him to take life easier, but it seemed he just could not.
Now this chapter to their life was finished. She turned to go back
down the hill to the house. Now, as when they had first come, he had
gone away and her children still needed her.