Jenny brought the mail in just as Lucille finished the dishes. ” Mama, you got a letter from Miss Bessie!”
“Thank you, Jesus! I been so worried ’bout Bessie. You remember her. We used to spend the day with her sometimes on your day out. She had that little red-headed girl, Peggy. She wrote me she was havin’ gall bladder surgery, and I ain’t heard from her in over a month.” Lucille dried her hands and sat down to read her letter.
Jenny settled with the baby to hear her mother’s letter. “I sure do remember going there. I loved playing with Peggy. She had that rag doll her mama made. She always let me play with it. How is Miss Bessie?”
“Well, let’s read this letter and see.”
Dear Lucille, I hope this letter finds you well. I had my surgery and it’s starting to look like I might live, but if you ever have a choice between having gall bladder surgery and jumping in front of a train, pick the train. You know I ain’t one to complain, but that surgery like to killed me. The doctor cut me in half one day and then that big old nurse come in swishing in the next morning telling me I had to get up and walk. I was hurting so bad I couldn’t even get a good breath and she was on me about walking. She got me up, but I thought it would kill me, for sure. Then before I could even get my false teeth in and comb my hair, the doctor come in wanting to know if I was passing gas! I was never so embarrassed in my life! Now that’s just something it ain’t decent to talk to a man about. Every day after that he come busting in wanting to know if my bowels was moving. I never heard of such a thing!
Sally, my boy Reggie’s wife, come to stay for a couple of weeks when I went home. She done the best she could, but I sure wished Peggy could have come. She’s big pregnant and has a two year old and her doctor wouldn’t let her go off. He probably wanted to keep her handy to ask her about her bowels! Ha! Sally done real good except she didn’t put enough salt in nothing. She does make fine pies, though. She fixed lunch for me and Martha. You remember my sister don’t you? Sally sure made some good chicken salad with walnuts and raisins, but I did notice she was using my fine tea towels to dry dishes. I didn’t say nothing, but I made sure to gather them up when she went to the bathroom, putting some drying towels out. I know she didn’t mean no harm, but my mama embroidered them towels and I want to keep them nice. Well, I better close and get this in the mailbox. I know you and Jenny are having a good visit. Kiss that baby for me. I tucked in a little keepsake christening cap I made for the baby. She can use it later for a bride’s hanky. All my love, Bessie.
“Well, ain’t that something!” She passed the tissue wrapped cap to Jenny.
“This is the sweetest little cap. I will have to be sure to keep it nice for Lucy. She’ll be proud of this one day. I fell kind of embarrassed now, I almost laughed out loud at her about not complaining.” Jenny confessed.
“Honey, don’t you worry none about that. Bessie’s a good friend, but she does complain, but lots of times, she’s real funny when she does it. She also made a precious gift. Recognizing the truth don’t hurt nothing. I better get a little note off to her.” Jenny took her hand as she started to get up.
“Mama, let me write a note first, then you can add yours to it. I need to thank her for this sweet gift and the times I spent at her house.” Jenny folded the tiny cap back in tissue.
“That would be good, Jenny. She is a friend to us both.”
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“Did you ever get to go see Daddy in prison, Mama?” Jenny and Lucille were reminiscing over coffee.
“Only once, when your daddy was up for parole. For him to git out early, I had to show up with my marriage license saying I would take him back. I hadn’t ever asked no time off from work before, so when I talked to Mr. Peabody, my boss, he didn’t give me no trouble. I was surprised, but he gave me five dollars for my trip, almost a week’s pay. Anyway, I took two days off and rode the bus down a’gittin’ there about five-thirty. I walked to the YWCA and got a room, then got the Blue Plate Special at the Woolworth across the street for supper. I even finished off with a piece of lemon meringue pie and cup of coffee. It was kind of nice knowing somebody else was a’washin’ my dishes. They was gittin’ ready to close, but I had time to buy some blue earbobs and a lipstick. I ain’t seen your daddy in almost four years and wanted to look purty for him. I felt almost like a bride. I didn’t hardly sleep none that night. I was a’waitin’ at the door when they opened at eight. A trusty brung me to see the warden. He told me Russ was up for parole, but they had to know he had somebody and something to go home to. I showed him your picture and my bank book. He was right surprised I’d managed to save money from my job. I told him about you a’livin’ in the Hope Home and me a’stayin’ in the pantry where I worked. A year or so before that, I had bargained to make the pies and cakes Mr. Peabody had been a’sendin’ out for. I even sold ’em to a couple of other places. That’s how I really filled my pocketbook. I knowed by that time your daddy had a chance a’ comin’ up for parole and wanted us to have a start. Anyway, the warden stood up and shook my hand when we was through a’talkin’ and said I was a fine woman. I ‘preciated that. He told the trusty to bring your daddy to his office. I never would a’hoped that.
When he brung him in, it was like I was a’seein’ him for the first time. I had thought I would a’run and grabbed him, but we was bashful till the warden said we could hug. When I was in his arms, it was like no time had passed. We didn’t want to let go, but was embarrassed to keep hangin’ on to each other. Back then folks was more private-like with their lovin’. Anyway, the warden give us a minute to talk then sent Russ back.
When I left, the warden said our meeting was confidential and I’d be hearing after the parole board met. I felt real hopeful as the trusty showed me out.
That was the best day I’d had in a long time.
In college, I suppose I was just a bit slow to catch on when Bud and his cousin Freddie kept talking about a guy in one of their classes named “Doo Doo Bossier.” I was always hearing, “Doo Doo did so and so.” or “Wait till you hear what Doo Doo did now!”
As I was walking to class one day, I met, Judy, Bud’s cousin’s wife walking with another girl. She introduced us, “This is Becky Bossier. Her brother has a lot of classes with Freddie and Bud.”
I am friendly, if not too smart. “Oh, then you must be Doo Doo Bossier’s sister.”
She made sure I knew her brother’s name was Gerald. We never became friends.
Growing up on a farm in the sixties had its bright spots. Farm life was long on work, but we were at liberty to swim and fish in the pond and ride horses when we weren’t working. My brother and I counted on riding late Saturday afternoons and every Sunday after church with friends, then maybe swimming later in the day in the summer. It was the high point of our week. Winter wasn’t so bad because there wasn’t so much work and there were school and friendships to look forward to. That tells you a lot about how much social life we had, doesn’t it?
When I was a young child, I adored Daddy who was very indulgent and loving, but as I aged out as a small child and became a girl, I felt he withdrew his love. This was extremely cruel and painful. I felt as though my heart had been amputated.
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In response to The Daily Post writing prompt “Our House”
Our house, was a very, very, fine house, I thought. The center of my world….a small, white frame house surrounded by a picket fence sitting under a huge shade tree. For many years it was a three-room house till Daddy added two bedrooms and a screened-in back porch to accommodate his growing family. I played in the deep, soft sand with my brother and sister on hot summer days. Honey-colored pine floors warmed the rooms, walls covered in cedar paneling. Yellow and green tiles in an alternating pattern covered the kitchen floor. The stove, with a pan of left-over biscuits for snacks, its door propped up with a stick, stood at one end of the kitchen, the refrigerator at the other, while cabinets ran along the outside wall. We all crowded around a red dinette set with a high chair…
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Mother was a slow learner. It took her forever to learn that Daddy was not the thoughtful kind of guy who would ever surprise her with lovely gifts and gestures. He was more the kind of guy who felt sorry for himself when she got her feelings hurt or got mad. After all, he was pretty sure he’d gotten her something last year, for her birthday or Christmas, one or the other. What had she done with that eggbeater?
This year was going to be different. Virgil Hughes had a nice Pinto horse. It was a good deal since it “wasn’t broke” yet. Nobody really wanted it since it stomped Euless and broke his leg, but Daddy was sure he could make a fine riding horse out of it. Kathleen was scared of horses, but she’d get over that. If she didn’t, he’d ride it. Daddy stopped off on the…
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