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When I was eleven I became friends with a girl named Bessie.

I didn't know it then but she would turn out
to be a big influence in my life.

We were together all the time, at school and after school.

We were so different in many ways,like she was tall, I was short,
she was brave about so many things and I was timid.

Well, the truth was I did not like to get in trouble with my mom.

Bessie never worried about things and I worried all the time.

She taught me to not be afraid to talk to boys.

We could go up and talk to any of them
because we figured out early on
that they were as afraid of us as we were of them.

Boys put up a good front, like saying stupid things to hurt girls feelings.

I know if it had not been for Bessie
that when a boy said anything hurtful
that I would have run off crying.But instead, we stood our ground and would tell them that they were being hurtful and that we didn't like it.
By the time we reached junior high,
we were friends with just about every boy in school.

One time we decided that we were going to skip school.
I was scared to death but I always acted brave.
Bessie had an older sister named Charlott, and Bessie could talk Charlott into anything.

People used to think that Bessie
was two years older then Charlott instead of the other way around.

Well,we skipped school and went riding around,
we went to the next town to see
if we would run into any of the kids that were out to lunch.
Then we just went riding around
and all of a sudden the car kind of leaped forward and stopped.

The axel had broken! There we were, miles away from school.
Charlott had to call her mom to see if their dad would come to get us.

Oh, My Gosh!!!

Was I scared and worried?? You know I was..

Their dad came from work and took us back to school.

It was just getting time to go home.
I had lucked out and Mommy didn't find out.

The thing was, the next day at school,
Bessie said that they didn't even really get into trouble.

Their Mom & Dad were so easy going.

Well, that taught us a good lesson.

We never skipped school again.

When I was thirteen my grandma Sancegrow died.

We kids had never had anybody die that we were close to.

My mom was so close to her mother but she handled it like a lady.

Maybe she figured if she started crying she may never stop.

That same year our grandpa Douglas died.

It was so hard for the remaining grandparents, to go on without their husband and wife.

From then on after mommy's mother died,
mommy started going to the doctor all the time.

We kids just figured it was because she had nothing better to do.

By then there was only me and Shirley still at home.

It was nineteen sixty three and mommy had running water,
washing machine and things that made her life easier then she had ever had it before.

She went to the doctor just about every week.

She said that the doctor thought that there was something wrong with her heart.

By nineteen sixty five when I was fifteen,
Shirley had gotten married and I was home by myself with Mommy and Poppy.

I missed the other kids but, I stayed busy running around with Bessie and other friends.

Pop worked hard as always and I would be at school or in the summer time I would be with Bessie.

Mommy was so lonesome.

Of course at the time I didn't realize how much but, as I look back now,I know she was.

By the end of nineteen sixty five I was doing all the housework,the cooking and washing.

I would hang the clothes up on the line before I left for school and get them down when I got home from school.

I would give Mommy her meds before I left for school and when I got back.

I was starting to believe that maybe she was sick but I knew she would get better.

Then in November 1966, Mommy had trouble breathing.

This time I really knew there was something wrong with her.

I rode in the back of the ambulance with Mommy.They had the oxygen on her and I was scared.

When we got to the hospital it seemed like, as soon as the doctor came in, mommy seemed better.

I told myself again, that it was nothing.

Pop and I had no way of getting home again so we road back with the ambulance driver.

We had no car and no phone so we relied on our neighbor lady, to let us know if she heard anything from the hospital as when they would let Mommy come home.

Well, we got the call
but not the one we thought we were going to get.

Our next door neighbor came knocking on the kitchen window,
hollering for Pop to come to her house for a call from the hospital.

We both ran over there.I stood there listening and heard Pop say,
"what,? well I'll be darn, when did she pass"??

That's all I heard because I ran back to the house,crying.

They said that Mommy was dead but,
how could that be? I kept telling myself, that Mommy was too strong to die.


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