Old Dead and Alive
Creak, creak, Sadie Craig sits on her front porch, rocking in her old weather-beaten white-wicker chair, watching the traffic, what little there is in this small town, going by on Main Street. Sadie has sat on that porch doing what she is doing today for as many years as I can remember.
She is, or could be, a tourist attraction in her yellow gingham dress that covers her body from under her chin to her shoes. Her habits are well known around town. She hasnât changed in all her many years; has never known anything but modesty.
âLook at that darn motor car racing down the street; going faster than lightning,â she said thinking out loud. The car belongs to Melvin Watson, and he is going the legal speed limit, 25 MPH, but to Sadie that is too fast.Â She never cottoned to the idea of replacing horse and carriage with those noisy, raucous machines.
My Grandfather, Amos Field, for whom I was named, had one of the first automobiles in Bickford. He told me that way back when, Sadie Craig was a young woman she refused to ride in his car; hated the noise and smoke. She shouted her disapprovals at him every time he passed her house.
âSadie hasnât been away from her property, and that porch since her father died forty years ago,â Mel Moody said. âI know itâs hard to believe, but itâs true.â
Mel Moody is a boy in a manâs body; the local Mr Fixit and errand runner, he gets her groceries and takes care of all her business… has ever since her father died.
Sadie, in all her one hundred and two years, still smokes a clay pipe, wears the same clothes day in and day out, takes a glass of port every night, and sits on that porch every day, rocking back and forth. She must have a hundred thousand miles on that old rocking chair by now.
Sadie loves to argue politics with anyone brave enough to oppose her views.
She has never been more than forty miles in any direction since she was born. âJust because I donât travel all over Godâs green earth doesnât mean I am ignorant of whatâs happening around the world. I stay tuned to the radio and I read the paper cover to cover every morning before breakfast.â
No one can remember not seeing Sadie sitting on her porch three seasons of the year, winters in Maine are too harsh to sit outside. She, like a bear, hibernates during the cold season.
There is something odd about this day. Itâs August fifth, and Sadie Craigâs rocking chair is sitting on her porch; eerily silent.
Mel walked the quarter of a mile to Sadieâs home to receive his morning instructions. It isnât a difficult walk, quite nice, especially at sun up. Miss Craig likes to get things done early; more time to sit on the porch and watch the traffic going by her small Cape. But this morning, or any morning in the future, Sadie Craig will not be sitting in her chair on the porch. Sadie Craig is dead.
âItâs just the way I found her, Doc,â Mel says to Doc Miller Bickfordâs only physician and the county ME.
âWell you know, Mel, Sadie is… was a hundred and two… thatâs what I call ripe old age.â
âI guess so, Doc, but Iâll miss that woman. I worked for her for forty one years ever since her father died.â
âI know, youâve been a good companion to Sadie, and she told me she didnât know what she would have done without you, Mel.â
âShe told you that, Doc?â Mel asked.
âMore than once.âÂ Â Doc finished his business and gave Sadieâs body to the two men on the townâs rescue squad. âTake her down to Peabodyâs fellas.â Peabodyâs is the funeral home owned and operated by Joshua Peabody and his son, Herman.
These last twelve years have passed quickly. I have walked by that small Cape on Main Street, the one that belonged to Sadie Craig, a thousand times since she died, and I can tell you, it is weird to look at that old place and not see Sadie rocking in her chair. Her old home is now owned by Otis and Jessie Scott from Cumberland Falls.
âI miss seeing that old rocking chair and old Sadie who sat in it for as long as I can remember,â Doc Miller said. âIt doesnât seem right that the Scottâs tore down that old porch and put up a cloth awning in its place, but I guess nothing stays the same forever.â
âTake life, itâs like a baseball game,â I said. âWhen your team is up to bat, you wait in the bullpen. The manager calls your name and you step up to the plate. Later you retire and leave the game forever. When I was young my grandparents were up to bat, later as I grew older, my parents were up to bat, they finished the game and left the field. Now itâs my turn at bat, and Iâll leave the game as did my grandparents and parents before me, and the next generation will step up to the plate. Some of us hit a single, others a double or triple, and some are good at the game; they get a home run. I feel like Iâm on third base when I think of all the things God has allowed me to see and do in my lifetime; blue skies, roaring brooks, magnificent trees that change color in Autumn, travel across this great country, and good friends. I feel blessed.â