She was a little woman from the hill country. People there were noted for their feisty personalities. Hers had been modified by life to a more reflective mood. She lived with family. Her husband had died. Hers was mostly a solitary existence.
"I stay in my room," she told me. "I can hear people talking, sometimes arguing, but I stay out of it. I don't want to cause trouble."
She had a nice view, trees, mostly. "I study on 'em," she told me. "Some are young, just starting life. Some are old and gnarled, like me." There was no bitterness in her voice.
"People think we hill people don't know how to talk right,", she once confided. "Take 'heared'," she went on. "Now herd is supposed to be correct, but it is a bunch of animals." She paused to see if I got the message. "Heared is when you have listened to something." She went on to make her point.
She was visiting her sister. One morning it appeared she had lost her mind. She looked looney as she emerged from the bathroom. Her sister thought the worst. "Did you ever see anyone's hair so crazy?" Aunt Ellie finally spoke. She had left it as it was to show her. They laughed together.
I wanted to take their picture together, but they posed so formally, I resorted to a trick. The camera was set on a tripod and focused on them. I told them I wanted to get something and I would be right back.
I had threaded a timer on the shutter release and left the room. I could hear them talking and laughing as I waited outside the room. Suddenly there was a gasp as the flash went off. I reentered. "Sorry about the trick," I explained.
Back in the days of chemical photography, I had to develop the picture. There they were, seated close together, their heads almost touching as they shared a story. It was such a cute picture because they had thought they were alone.
This is how they were, long ago, alone together and natural as could be. How I miss such people, a type gone away. I am so eager to see them again, this time forever.