It was the turning of the night.
Just past the darkest hour, when it seemed she always woke.
It was not necessary to summon the courage to set foot to the wooden floor and go to check the clock above the fireplace to know the time.
Soon the dawn would begin to show it's hope, her Mama would remind her and laugh softly,
'God is there in the dark just as He is there in the light daughter'.
Mahota still was overjoyed when they had electric lights and she could leave a small one on for herself, especially in the hours just before dawn. It was then, when she just couldn't shake the feeling that God was furthest away and the veil between us and whatever else is out there was at its thinnest. Able to read before she turned 4 years old, books were always by her bedside and she could easily keep her self entertained, occupied and comforted through any sleepless night.
It was as she lay listening to the familiar and usual sounds of the house; the baby sleeping, Daddy, lightly snoring ... that she heard the bells of Doc Smith's carriage approaching. At this time of night he would be coming for Mama, which meant somebody was either dead or being born.
Mahota hoped it was the latter.
Both would leave her Mother physically, emotionally and spiritually drained, but a new life - that brought a spark and joy to Agnes' eyes that it seemed made it all worth it.
By age 5 Mahota had watched Mama at work, laying out her cousin Sarah's toddler, who finally succumbed to the damage the dust bowl pneumonia had done to her lungs.
'A child's deaths always the hardest on a family, gotta let our heavenly father's love get ya through'
her Daddy had said, as he had held Mahota tight in his arms. She could smell the good dirt and tobacco pipe on him, his face scratchy against hers. She had watched as Mama washed the little fair haired child's tiny body down, her braids framing her face like a cherub . The little girl looked like she was sleeping, but when Mahota had touched her cheek, she was cold like the stone angels that surrounded the graves at the church.
Mama's voice whispered at the door, Doc had come because twin baby boys had passed. Agnes went to her oldest daughter Billie June, asking her to attend with her, laying out a baby was no easy task and in this circumstance the family was overwhelmed with grief. Mama wanted help from the adolescent who lay with curlers in her hair, who had been sleeping soundly only moments before.
'I am not going to help with dead babies Mama!'
Mahota could hear the sheer terror in Billie's voice. Despite the fact that more than once she had been scolded by her Mother for being frivolous, and the frequent reminders that chores were more important than doing her nails, Billie was a beauty who truly cared deeply for others. In the dark of the night however, faced with her Mother and a situation that would have shaken most adults, she could not find the strength or bravery to go and help.
Mama went out the door to the carriage alone, Mahota watched as Doc took her gloved hand and helped her in to the seat next to him, they opened a thermos of coffee and set out onto the dirt road to town.