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I’ve got to end this series, since it is the basis of my next book and I don’t want to give it away but there are so many stories I want to share. One is about a suicide and a mean Christian.
Mrs Rivers was as old as the hills. I believe she was born that way. Widowed more than forty years, no one ever spoke of her husband. It was impossible for me to imagine anyone could have ever wanted to marry her, as unpleasant as she appeared. Still living in the house where she raised her children, her son had built a house on her lot. My mother often remarked she’d be a trial as a mother-in-law as we drove by and saw her dressed in a dark, long-sleeved dress and sun bonnet working her garden with a push plow. I’m sure she refused her son’s offer to plow her garden, because no one would have expected someone that old to plow.
Old Lady Rivers, as she was known, was a practicing Pentecostal, though she attended the Baptist Church just across the road from her house and interfered with its runnings as much as she was able. While she didn’t have a vote, she did have opinions and battered the faithful with them as often as possible. She was the first at services, wakes, and funerals, eager to share “how they took it” and why. Never losing track of when a marriage was made, she was the first to predict should a baby appear to be coming “too soon.”
She was a skilled craftsman of gossip, eager to bear bad news or scandal. In the days before telephones were common in our rural community, it could be a challenge to get messages to people in a timely manner. One sad day, a poor old gentlemen shot himself in the head out by his mailbox. His panicked wife called her son from next door for help. The son covered his father with a sheet, but left the body lying awaiting the sheriff. A neighbor hurried to a local store to call the school principal to intercept his daughter, Alice Fay, a school bus driver, before she left school with a bus load of children. Sadly, they missed her by about fifteen minutes. The principal summoned the coach and together, they hurried to catch up, hoping to spare her happening up on the grisly scene at her parent’s home, not realizing a couple of her stops had been eliminated. He was behind her at every stop.
Old Lady Rivers heard the news before the bus was due. She waited on the porch and puffed her way out to flag Alice Faye’s bus down. The principal skidded to a stop behind the bus just as Alice Fay opened the bus door to see what the excited old lady wanted, Mrs. Rivers propped herself on her cane and announced, “Alice Faye, yore daddy done shot hisself in the head! God help him, he’s going to Hell for shore!”
Alice Faye reacted, as you might expect, erupting into hysterical tears as the principal and coach rushed up to comfort her and restore order to the traumatized children, three of whom were Alice Faye’s. It was a horrendous situation. The principal drove Alice Faye and her children home, and the coach finished the bus route on that awful day. It was a shocking announcement of tragedy Alice Faye and her children could have been spared.