WOMEN OF STRENGTH, FORTITUDE, AND BRAVERY
In this collection of six serials, Linda Swain Bethea weaves narratives of women through several centuries. The stories span from 1643 to 1957.
Beginning in England in 1643, a young couple travels to Jamestown, Virginia, to begin a new life in the American frontier. The rest of the stories travel from West Texas to North Louisiana to the Texas Panhandle to East Texas. Disease, death, starvation, and prison are faced with stoicism and common sense, and always, with a sense of humor.
The women in each tale stand tall and possess the wisdom and tenacity to hold families together under the worst conditions. Through it all, they persevere, and Linda Swain Bethea’s storytelling is a testament to the legacy they left.
Conversational and homey, you’ll fall in love with the women of Just Women Getting By – Leaving a Legacy of Strength, which celebrates the courage of those women who had no choice but to survive.
WHEN GIVING UP WAS NOT AN OPTION
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Lissy, a tiny black-haired girl came to Vacation Bible School with her cousin Judy the summer I was ten. I immediately warmed to her, though she was so shy she’d only talk to her cousin. She and her mother had come to spend the summer with her Uncle Joe and his family. I didn’t see Lissy again until August when Mother spent a few days in the hospital delivering my youngest sister.
Lissy was Mother’s roommate. I was almost totally ignorant of anything to do with sex, having only accrued a bit of misinformation at that point, but I did catch on that there was a big secret about Lissy. I overheard Lissy’s mother talking to the doctor, “She wouldn’t start, and she wouldn’t start, but when she finally did, she wouldn’t stop.”
Lissy was crying and wouldn’t answer the doctor’s questions. I never saw her again.
Mother sent me out before I heard any more. I felt bad for Lissy, but was intrigued. Knowing I’d learn nothing more, I sequestered that information in my mind, hoping I’d understand later. Long after I was grown, I remembered to ask Mother about it. She remembered well. Little Lissy had suffered a miscarriage and was admitted with massive blood loss. She was only eleven.
Ellen chose not to attend the funeral once she learned it would be a simple service at the village church fifty miles away, a great relief to her husband and mother. In the 1940’s a trip of that length on winding, rutted roads was no small endeavor. Naturally, in the absence of air conditioning, most trips in the sunny south might invest over a steamy ride with the windows down, dust fogging in the windows. It would not do for a pampered lady like Ellen to arrive sweaty and dishelved with wnd-blown hair. Ellen reasoned she didn’t know Cousin Jean’s friends and could grieve in the comfort of her own home. Charles and his boys escorted Geneva while the girls were left at home with Birdie and Josie. Josie was devastated to miss the trip, since she’d hoped to see her sweetheart, Bobby.
A group of true friends gathered to honor Cousin Jean’s life. Due to her oddness and departure from the accepted role for women, she never been plagued with foolish friendships. She’d farmed, hunted, fished and shared her life with those she loved in the face of scorn, criticism, and family estrangement. She gave generously of herself, especially in her love for her orphaned niece, Geneva. It was a life well-lived.
Returning to to farmhouse, they received friends. The table, counters, and refrigerator groaned under the weight of casseroles, fried, chicken, potato salad, cakes, pies. Robert, Bessie, Bobby, and their young son Freddy attended the service and joined them at the meal. Robert had grown up on the farm and brought Bessie there as a bride. Cousin Jean had attended the birth of both children, along with a midwife. They had spent more hours with Jean than anyone else these past years and deeply grieved her passing. They assumed Geneva would have inherit, but should she sell, they could be out of a home and job.
Geneva assured them they’d continue as before, but would get back to them as soon as the will was read, which did provide them some ease.