Building - Memoir by Pat West

The End


I got the wood for the ceiling today. Sonny helped me stack it under the house to keep it dry. His oldest boy is going to be valedictorian of the seventh grade and Sonny’s wife can no longer recognize their children.


Dad has started on the ceiling. My parents both look good- daddy is glad to be back with so much to do. My foot won’t let me up a ladder. Cunninghame brought me a yellow kitten- said he will take care of it- have heard that so many times before but I’ve never said no. Will call him Freddy Cougar.


Cunninghame’s birthday- 17. Also the day for husband’s yearly haircut and shave. Cutting his hair on this day has been my job for 15 years. Even before I longed to be cutting his throat instead, it was an unpleasant undertaking. Today I just refused the box of hair tools still encrusted with last year’s hair. His mouth dropped open, he spun around and held out the box of hair cutting tools to my poor mother. Her mouth fell open and she had to sit down. Husband left with the box under his arm, looking for someone to cut his hair. He looked so unmasked before he thrust his lower lip out and hardened his face that my planned pleasure was stillborn. All the fury and hate that have plagued me lifted just long enough for me to see that I wouldn’t be dancing on his grave. There would be no final scene. I would just keep stepping back till he fell away.


Over a month since I last wrote. Something deep inside me is not content. I’m getting some things done, but find that the world does turn without me pushing it.

The time with Mom and Dad was wonderful. Mom cooked every meal- took the kids to their many engagements. Dad put up the ceiling with help from Mom, not me. I sat most of the time on my bed sewing on a blanket, finally letting my foot heal. So much to be done everywhere- I sat sewing poorly and planing.

The Roanoke sidewalk art show came and went- I sold nothing- failed again to bring Roanoke to its knees. But I did win second prize.

Ray and Jerri’s party was the next weekend- I really wanted to go but it was hard getting there. After assuring husband that I would have the car back for him to go out, didn’t even get off our road before the car died. I begged Jack to come fix it- he came over drunk- too drunk to fix it. I paid him to drive me to Mt. Lake where the boys were working. Left the boys to find their own way home and took the old truck to Ray’s party. There was this man there, Chris, who made me kind of buzz when I was near him. He lives 100 miles away- that would be perfect for a lover. No one to bother me at my house- could meet somewhere for loving- away from all the baggage I carry here, tied tightly to me.

Ray and Jerri brought him to my house the next day. I risked my foot on the long walk to the Cascades to be near him- have got to ask Jerri how to pursue him.

I had to have my tubes tied while I am still married and am covered by husband’s health insurance. It was awful from start to finish. The fool of a doctor wouldn’t cut till my husband signed the papers approving the surgery. I lied and said he was out of town for six months. Nothing worked- I was almost crying- poured out my whole story to a nice nurse in the office. She said, “Don’t worry, dear- I’ll just pull your chart and mark you as single- come Thursday and have the surgery.” Many blessings on her. I’m going to get out of this life without ever facing an abortion. Post-op was dreadful but Mary stayed with me through it all.

Yesterday I started working a little- soon I will be back to running madly after my wishes. Both boys are working in the restaurant at Mt. Lake this summer – I love knowing where they are at night. I’m going to take all the kids to Mexico this Christmas.

It’s still very hot in my little house afternoons- how can I make it cooler? The big red wasps are still everywhere- I want full time water.

That’s all I ever wrote, stopped even keeping a diary.
I found these old notebooks many years later, still covered in white dust. The 17 year locusts have cycled through again and are due back again in two years.

Pat West

The Artist in Her House
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