[After Tea Cake’s death] Janie [Crawford, Killicks, Starks, Woods] went back to working the General store, as she always had. Hezekiah was happy for her return. It was if while she was gone, nothing changed in Eatonville. The men still gathered on the porch to play checkers and argue over anything that could be argued. It seemed as though a replacement for Jody Starks was even in place. Every day that passed made Hezekial more and more like Jody. He even smoked his cigar the same. Janie watched as the young man mused. Jody was the most respected man in Eatonville before he died. He set her up for the wealth and prosperity that she now lived. She had made peace with him. So if Hezekial wanted to be another Jody Starks that was as good a man as any to emulate.
In the coming years, Janie spent a lot of time reflecting. She sat on the porch like one of the man. She even swapped stories time to time like she would at the muck. She thought about Tea-cake most often. Every day she thought about Tea-cake. He gave her the opportunity to be fine. Janie felt isolated for years until tea-cake came and set her free. Janie also went fishing, just like tea-cake taught her. She fished for hours thinking about that first night Tea-cake too her fishing…
In all the reflecting that she did, she discovered she had no regrets. When looking back on her life, she was satisfied. Not many people can say that about their life, and Janie truly believed it.
She still got scowls from all the women in town. Janie was through weaving bonnets and tying her hair up. She was happy in blue overalls and loose fitting dresses. She was beyond trying to accommodate others. The next chapter in her life was to be dedicated to Janie. Janie used all her experience and knowledge of the world and shared it. She was as influential and controversial as she ever was. Suitors came and went. Janie said she was off the market, but deep down, she knew she was powerless to deny love if it came to her. She would have to follow her own teachings. When the young children of Eatonville gathered on the porch of the general store, Janie always gave them a freezie-pop and a story. Their favorite was the story of the hurricane. She always told them to follow their love. She told them never to settle for anyone. Love would find them if they kept their eyes open. This kind of talk stirred up all kinds of fussing in Eatonville. Parents were scared because their kids kept talking, “Miss Janie this…”, or “Miss Janie that.” That was Janie, though, and the people knew she couldn’t be talked down. The Janie that returned to Eatonville was a proud, strong woman. For all the grumbling, the townspeople still respected her. They also feared her. They saw her as a loose cannon, and worse, their children loved Miss Janie. The townspeople were terrified their children would run off to the ocean first chance they got.
Janie wanted her story told. Telling these stories made her feel good. She wanted the children to know what they could be for themselves. Janie had also never had kids herself, so this was her way of passing on her legacy. She spoke about her passions and freedom and loving life. She became a grand mother figure for all the children in town. She was beloved by many, and respected by all.
LIT203 African-American Literature, Spring 2007
Published with permission.