Because We Are Friends
Cover design by
Graphic Statements, Inc.
"Mabel Leo's early years' experiences and feelings are brought to life in "Because We Are Friends". She makes you feel what she felt. You see what she saw. She brings tears to your eyes as you are there with her in her early life.
We've known and loved Mabel for years. Now we know she is a skilled and talented writer."
Les and Muriel Blodgett,
This collection of Leoís works includes those inspired by her first visit to Ireland, the homeland of her grandparents. Others came from her childhood in the tiny town of Sailor Springs, Illinois and memories of living with her great-grandmother. It was a lonely time for the lively little girl, the time her imagination took flight and began the adventure of becoming an author. The following are excerpts from the book.
A STRANGERíS GIFT
Hot water spewed out of the shower, steam enveloping Cailin OíNeilís tired body. The flight from Phoenix to Newark and finally to Dublin was uneventful yet she had not slept, Mikeís infidelity searing through her mind.
The first time was bad enough. He pleaded, begged her to forgive him, promising it would never happen again. Ten years of marriage to her high school sweetheart overruled good judgment and she forgave him. Stupid! She screamed through the torrent of water. Stupid!
BECAUSE WE ARE FRIENDS
I AM THE WIND
and we are friends.
When you were a child we played together. We went to the park and watched as the trees released their leaves of reds and yellows and golds. I blew my cool autumn air through them and you laughed as the leaves jumped and swirled around your feet.
She made dolls from socks and taught me to use blossoms from hollyhocks as ballerinas and tree bark for play money. She fashioned a little hoe so I could help in the garden. In summer, water for my bath was warmed by the sun in a tin tub hidden behind the black walnut trees. In winter, she made ice cream from fresh snow. She was a good grandma but she didnít like to play games or listen to scary stories on the radio. She didnít have any imagination.
When Grandma sat down at her quilting table I watched in wonder at what slowly emerged as her nimble fingers worked with bits of our flour sack dresses and flannel sheets.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BELINDA!
Usually Belinda was a happy little girl always laughing and playing and having fun. But on this particular day Iím going to be telling you about she was not happy.
MUSHROOMS AT SEVEN
Slowly and painfully Jim Gleason bent down, rescuing the newspaper from the doorstep still damp with the morning dew. He straightened up carefully. Another fall could break the other hip, the doctor had warned. After much grumbling and resentment at growing older he had consented to using a cane.
Though the thick shock of once dark hair was more white than brown, the voice deep and raspy, his mind was still sharp, his eyes alert. A quick look down the row of neat yards in front of neat homes was all of the outside world he wanted.
We found the house warm and cozy, water running, and a cherry pie on the counter with a note to enjoy the homemade chicken soup in the refrigerator.
Everyone knew who lived where.
Strangers needed only to ask.
No street had a light or a sign
Or even a president's name.
Wonderful things happened when spring came to Southern Illinois at great-grandma's house. Her garden filled the back yard with green onions, tomatoes, green beans, and corn. White lilies bloomed at the east side of the house, while violets turned the front lawn into a carpet of purple and peach trees offered fruit for her juicy cobblers. Every day, she looked up at the sky, watching for rain. She said rain was Godís gift to her garden.
WHERE IS THERE?
Friends listened to my dream of being a writer and constantly said, ďIf you try hard enough, youíll get there.Ē
With no clue of where I was headed, I decided my best bet was to write a small article about something no one else had done before and, hope of hopes, perhaps, just maybe, sell it to a newspaper. Wherever there was, I was going.