Fatigue in the Summertime



When summertime fell on the Riddermark, so did a worsening of Odwena's health. Though she did her best to hide it from her husband and her daughter, Odelynne noticed. 

She saw when her mother thought she wasn't looking - the way her breathing was labored, the way she leaned upon things to keep her balance, how her smile became more of a grimace. 

But she was a child, and Odelynne still believed in the childlike naivete that mothers were invincible, so she did not press these matters with her mother, and still went out with her in the summer fields. They went out in the tall grasses and blooming flowers. She danced upon lily-pads on the creek-sides while her mother watched. 

Odelynne would still bring her mother berries and roots to mix paints, getting her hands just as dirty when she helped Odwena crush them - because she could notice the strain it caused on her now. Still, she said nothing. It was easier to say nothing because acknowledging it made it real - it made real the fact that her mother was sick.

 It was still behind closed doors at night when Odelynne was sleeping that Holdwine insisted his wife rest. That she rest, or he calls upon a doctor, and she would always refuse. She would laugh, and say, "All is well. The summer sun is here, and with the heat comes fatigue. I am just getting older." and of this, she would insist and insist until her husband yielded, and they would go to bed.

 Ignoring it, not acknowledging it, yielding to it... lasted through the summer. Through the summer her fatigue worsened, where Odwena could no longer hide her labored breathing even as she painted, requiring a walking stick to go from their house to the nearby pond. Odelynne was as energetic as ever, however, and she refused to curb her daughter's enthusiasm for the outdoors and effervescence for life. 

Until that is, Odwena collapsed after a hot afternoon outside. Odelynne called out for her father, and Holdwine and a stable boy ushered the woman inside and to the bed. The doctor was finally called upon, and with him bore ill news for the coming autumn months.

She would never get to walk to that pond with her daughter again.


"Ophelia" (1894) John William Waterhouse