My Guardian Angel
by Kathy Davis
My paternal Grandmother mothered me for most of my first ten years. She was Scotch/Irish and raised on her family's farm in Butte Montana. Her name was Kathryn Farrar. I was the daughter she never had, for years before, her only daughter was stillborn and Grandma kept an album of poetry expressing her grief tucked away. I only discovered it amongst some of her personal belongings that had been guarded for decades in a box. It was a treasure of an insight of her grief and vulnerability that no one would have ever sensed she possessed while alive.
Kathryn Farrar ran away from her family farm toting her violin and long eared rabbit when she was fifteen.A boarding house became her home and she made a living playing violin and piano. In private she recounted how numerous times she endured being locked in a closet and beatings by her mother. Her crime was putting her finger in the cream to taste a bit while churning butter.
Things must have been very bad at home to risk running away,yet Grandma made quite a life for herself. She became the leader of an all female orchestra and became famous in the West with the aid of her violin and piano.Newspaper clippings from the early 20th century portray a spunky pretty woman armed with her female troop of musicians.
Before Kathryn Farrar played in my Grandfather's cabaret nightclub and eventually marrying him, she played violin duets with a man named Flex. She confessed that he had been the love of her life. I remember hurting for my Grandfather when she shared her heartbreak with me for it was the first time I had ever thought of anyone other than my Grandpa being at the center of her life.Her secret was safe with me for two reasons; loyalty to her and wanting to protect my Grandpa. Flex died from salmonella poisoning after eating lemon meringue pie while traveling with Kathryn Farrar on a train en route to a violin duet. I can only imagine the grief she must have endured while feeling so alone in the world after losing the love of her life. I keep a photo of Flex and Kathryn Farrar tucked away much like Grandma did with her secrets. My loyalty is to my Grandpa, but I feel honored that I was trusted enough that she knew her secret was safe with me.
I can see her now in my mind's eye with Rapunzel - like auburn braid, flawless pale skin and flashing green eyes. Life was hard for her in the beginning but she was made of the stuff to turn her life around. She shadows me in mine, and I call to her with knowing and feel, she is really is around, but this time, as my Guardian Angel.