|Harry Herman Roseland, To the Highest Bidder (1906)|
It's up in her house, she says. You can't miss it when you walk in. She keeps it there because it is a reminder of her roots, she says, and that kind of reminder is what she needs more than occasionally. Oprah is one of the richest women in the world.
That's not all either. She claims that when she gets depressed--don't we all?--she gets out a folder of slave narratives, stories about men and women who never tasted a day of freedom and didn't have a painting like this up on a wall where you simply can't miss it, or a house to put it in or a wall to hang it on. To the Highest Bidder triggers a human reaction that's only difficult to understand if you've never felt it--it brings her up by bringing her down.
There's a farm down the highway from here, just on the other side of the river, that draws my attention every time I go by--and has, really, for a long time. I know the couple who live there, sweet people in every way.
She's alone now because she lost her husband. They're younger than we are, but he's not dead, only gone. She brought him to a place, maybe twenty miles away, who'll take patients like him. I don't know if she goes everyday, but I'm guessing she does, right now at least. He's been there only a month or so.
When I drive by, sometimes the garage door is open and I see the car. She's home. Alone.
It just got too hard to take care of him, their friends say. She had to get up whenever he did because he'd wander. He didn't know where he was or where he was going, and it wasn't always easy to persuade him to come back. She tried to take care of him, but, over time, through the years, it just got to be too much. Still shakes my soul to think of her leaving him there. But it was something that had to be done.
"I had no shoes and I complained until I met a man who had no feet," or so my mother used to say. It's been said a million times, so often it's become a cliche, a joke. People laugh when they say it. I have myself.
That it is a cliche doesn't make it wrong.