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Kate married into a powerful Confederate family for all the wrong reasons, only to discover her true love from the past. In this sequel to The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice, Kate’s father-in-law locks horns with Andrew Johnson, military governor of occupied Nashville, and he turns their world upside-down. Murder, deception and a missing Union soldier change their lives forever. Kate has made bad choices before. Can she make the right one this time?
THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER
BY BELLE BLACKBURN
Menopause: Swapping One Set of Problems for Another
“It is certainly a scorcher today,” Mrs. Rockwell said, fanning herself with her hand. Redness crept up her face. She unbuttoned her top two buttons and held her neckline out to allow air in.
“I was thinking it was rather pleasant,” I said. “There is a nice breeze.”
Ruby pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, dabbed at Mrs. Rockwell’s forehead and then waved the handkerchief by her face to create a small movement of air.
Addie Thompson looked up from her needlework. “It feels comfortable to me.”
“It’s your climacteric,” Mrs. Goad said, bent down over her needlework. Mrs. Rockwell looked surprised.
“Brice says the modern name is menopause,” I said.
“Why?” Mama asked. “Is it going to start again? It should be called menostop.”
“I just never paused to think it could be that,” Mrs. Rockwell stammered.
“It’s something all of us here will go through,” Mama stated. “It’s just part of living, if you live long enough.”
“I will certainly be glad to be rid of the messiness,” Mrs. Rockwell said.
“Well, there are good things like that,” Mrs. Goad said, “but you are trading one set of problems for another.”
“Like what?” Mrs. Hamby asked.
Mrs. Goad snorted. “As if you don’t know?”
She turned her attention back to Mrs. Rockwell. “Your hot flushes are first, which last for years. I used to go out in the snow in just my night clothes and it felt good. Probably melted all the snow around me.”
Patricia and I looked at each other and shivered. We were always cold.
“Your skin will dry up. Then one day you will get a good look downstairs and see that your crinkum crankum is skinny and droopy.”
“My what?” Mrs. Rockwell looked terrified.
“Your crinkum crankum,” Mrs. Goad croaked. “The part between your legs, where things come out and sometimes things go in.”
Mrs. Owens sighed. “Mrs. Goad, may I remind you that this is a group of ladies?”
I saw Carolina frown slightly as she stitched and knew she was thinking there were only two ladies there, her mother and her, and I might be a slim possibility for a third by virtue of marriage.
“Ladies have a crinkum crankum too. How do you think they produce more ladies?” Mrs. Goad gave Mrs. Owens a questioning look.
“Do we have to discuss it here?” Mrs. Owens asked.
“Where else will you learn about it if you don’t learn it here? It’s a group of women.” Mrs. Goad lowered her head and rotated it to get a better look at her needlework with her one eye.
“Perhaps from their mother?” Mrs. Owens countered.
Mrs. Goad looked up from her work directly at me and then Patricia. “Have your mamas told you that your crinkum crankum will dry up and shrivel up like two skinny hoecakes that will stick together?”
Patricia and I both looked at our mothers. Surely this was not true. Instead of refuting it Mama’s resigned expression gave confirmation. Patricia and I looked at each other in horror, mouths agape.
“See?” Mrs. Goad said triumphantly. “It’s up to the elder ladies of the community to educate you. And the inside of the crinkum crankum keeps getting deeper and deeper, like it’s trying to crawl back up inside. Then your bladder falls out.”
“Huh!” Patricia started to laugh and then stopped. “Onto the ground?”
“No, it is still attached but it just hangs out. Your womb and backside can fall out too.”
I looked at Mama to rebut this outrageous claim. “Not everyone, just some,” she said, keeping her eyes on her needle.
“What do you do?” I was not sure how, being the daughter of a doctor, that I did not know these things.
“Poke it back up,” Mrs. Goad answered. “We used to keep a board propped up against a tree stump. When it happened while we were working in the field we would lay down with our legs up the board and push it back in and get back to work.”
“There are also pessaries that can be used to help keep it up,” Mama said in a subdued voice.
“Does that have something to do with pissing?” I whispered.
“No. It’s a pessary, not a pissery,” she whispered back.
Patricia and I stared at each other, eyes wide, mouths hanging open. I resolved right then and there not to grow old. I looked around the group and wondered how many were sitting on their insides and shriveled up parts at that very moment.
“Then your shoulders lock up.” Mrs. Goad produced a long, liquid cough.
I looked again at Mama. She sighed and shrugged. “It sometimes happens. Most seem to be women in their fifties for some reason.”
“How long does it last?” Mrs. Conner asked.
“Year or so. Freezes up like a block of ice and hurts like the dickens.” Mrs. Goad grabbed her shoulder in memory.
“I apologize to you, Mrs. Rockwell and Carolina,” Mama said. “Our conversations are usually a bit more dignified.”
Mrs. Rockwell looked stymied, probably thinking she should have kept her hot flush to herself. She let go of Ruby’s hand so they could get back to work.
I was the little nerdette with a library card in my kindergarten hand, reading the kiddie books and planning what I would write. Come college time accounting seemed a more certain way to bring in a dollar so journalism was a minor. Writing was put on the back burner while dollars were made and kids and parents were raised, however, reading was always on the front burner. A conversation with my husband 20 years earlier about suicide vs. murder percolated in the back of my mind and then announced it wanted to be written. I obeyed and out came The Doctor’s Daughter: Journey to Justice. The history of Nashville during the Civil War is just so interesting and so important at that time but most people won’t sit down with a history book so I sneaked the history and the antebellum law and medicine in with a good story.
Links to Belle’s website, blog, books, etc.