One day I saw Mrs. Hill and she looked flustered.
Miles and I often visited Mrs. Hill after I got home from work. We would walk over to her back porch where she sat in the summer to enjoy the cooler air. When we saw her from our yard, we would walk over and visit. She always welcomed us. This day, she looked out of sorts. She was in her late 70s, very healthy and so friendly. She was so kind and generous and always in a good mood, but today she was not right.
Mrs. Hill had just been at the store, and she thought she had seen her father. She told us that she thought she had seen her father out of the corner of her eye at the store waiting in the checkout line. She realized quickly that it was not him, of course. He must be dead, she told me. But every once in a while, she would catch a hopeful glimpse of someone who might be him.
Mrs. Hill was one of more than a dozen children. In 1929, her father lost his job and his savings. Everything was wiped out. He kept his truck because he owned it outright and they kept their home. But in one fell swoop, they lost almost everything in the crash. He tried to work and searched far and wide for jobs. One day, he did not come home. He never showed up. Her father disappeared. Maybe he ran away because he could not handle the humiliation of not being able to take care of his family. Maybe he went looking for a job and got in an accident far from home and nobody could identify him. Maybe he was killed for his truck. She had no idea. She was in he late 70s, and she never found out what happened. He never returned. She raised her younger siblings and took care of the household. Every so often, she would catch a glimmer of hope in the visage of a stranger on the street or at the store. But it was impossible. He must be dead, dead for a long time.