Here we go.
1. I don't know these people, I'll bet they were kind and wonderful.
2. I make it all up, no ill will is intended.
Fred and Josiah are brothers.
Their Ma never kept it a secret that they couldn't call the same man "Pa".
Neither man was around to help with the rearin' of the young 'uns. One was a no good drunk until he was shot dead in a dispute over some horses.
The other was always gone away to the next town (Ma never was real sure why). When he was gone longer than usual during one trip, Ma sent the boys out along the river path to look for signs of trouble. Pa's horse had returned home without him. They discovered Josiah's Pa's lifeless body. A bear, they think.
Ma was a strong woman in mind and body and she saw clear that these two would grow up respectable and all.
These two boys helped their Ma with all that was needed around the farm. Choppin' , plowin', repairin' the leaky soddy roof; what ever was needin' attention was done with no complaints.
It was a lucky day, back in the hot summer months, when Josiah woke up just in time to shoot the rattle snake that was slitherin' down through the dry, tangled turf roof -- right over Ma's bed!! Fred reminisced about the time, years ago, he found a rattler tucked cozy away in the folds of the new finished quilt Ma had at the foot of her rope bed. Fred had killed that one with the hatchet. Quite a feat for a boy of just 8 years.
Ma is worried now.
Fred is leavin' next week for the war. He tells Ma not to fret or fuss. He dreams of seein' new places.
Josiah is movin' farther North to the Dakotas; visions of a new exciting life. He says when he gets settled in he'll come back for Ma. He tells Ma about the talk of a big town with a Hotel and a Bank, and a big, beautiful, General Merchandise store where she could have a choice of 2 colors of material to make a dress.
Ma is a strong woman of mind and body but her body is older now and less able. She worries how she will manage without the boys' help. She swore she would never bring another husband into her home. She reckons she'll have to change her ways of thinkin'. After all, the widower Jenkens is a right fine man.
This is the only picture made of Fred and Josiah's Ma. It was made a year ago, last Autumn.
About the same time, when the widower Jenkens came to help with the harvestin' he saw that picture.
"She is a handsome woman!", the widower Jenkens told Fred when he saw the picture.
"She cleans up right nice!"