My Forty Years Scribblin's
Personal Memories
The "Oddest" Couple

This story was written in 1998 and was submitted to the Charity Peak Outlookin April, 1998. Tommy and "Mrs." Kirk of Evaro seemed an unlikely couple.

I was eight years old—almost. Just the age to view anyone over twenty-five as ancient. Well then, Mr. and Mrs. Kirk, friends of my grandparents, the Johnsons, must be really, really old! They owned a small farm a quarter mile past the railroad section house and lived in a little three room house on top of the hill. They could look both ways, toward the town of Evaro and down the other way too, when a car came chugging up the road, which not very many did.

Mr. Kirk, whom everyone called Tommy, was slight of stature, with ruddy features and a thatch of white hair that stood on end. His wife was just his opposite. No one would suspect her of even having a given name. She was first, last and always, Mrs. Kirk. She looked all black and gray to me—black shiny high laced shoes, black gloves and hand bag (we didn't carry purses then). The knot of hair on the back of her head matched the gray of her wool coat and skirts. Her visage was determined and austere. Although she didn't appear to notice me, I was half afraid of her. Everything connected with Mrs. Kirk was speckless and organized, her clothes, the Model T, even Tommy.

In a small child way I resented the way she overpowered him. She buttoned him into his mackinaw, brushed off an imaginary dust spot, and saw that he wore his scarf.

"Tommy, don't forget you gloves."

"She bosses me around all the time," he grumbled to my grandparents.

I couldn't understand the broad grins on their faces. I know there wasn't any on mine!

But the worst thing she did was take food and then shove it off on Tommy's plate.

"I don't eat sweets," she would say, "but I'll try some and if I don't want it Tommy'll eat it."

Then she would take a bite out of a piece of cake—or whatever—and lift it over on his plate.

"I don't want your scraps!" he would argue. But he always ate the offering. I thought she was the meanest old woman I'd ever seen.

The Kirks disposed of the Evaro farm and went back to a home they had kept at Alberton. The years went by and I grew up—enough to get married. I had occasion to spend a few days in Alberton and I gathered enough courage to go to see them.

It was something of a shock. Mrs. Kirk met me with a smile! Her hair, still combed back tightly, was as white as Tommy's but somehow, while I grew up she had gotten younger and seemed genuinely glad to see me. She set out refreshments and we were having a friendly little chat.

Then Tommy came in and she bounced up and hurried to get out a plate of frosted cinnamon rolls and pour him a cup of tea. And all at once it came to me—she had taken that piece of cake—or whatever—so Tommy could have a second helping!

Well, love is hard to explain. It must mean caring enough for some one to put their happiness ahead of our own. Like the Kirks.

Eighty years is a long, long time. And somewhere along the way, somebody in this trio had to have changed. And it wasn't just the Kirks!