I remember being home from school and wanting to play. Mom had rules…lots of rules (she kept order in the chaos of our lives for sure). We could have ginger ale, crackers and stay in our rooms. that was it. I remember how I hated sick days!
Years later – #5 came along and use to stay home sick on Wednesdays or Fridays until mom figured out she wanted to hang with Bessie – our housekeeper of 20+ years. Bessie was awesome and another of mom’s wonderful finds – a fabulous cleaner and caregiver – she was Czechoslovakian and as sweet as could be. She could tell stories and would do just about anything for us. One year, very early in Sesame Street days – she gave us each a 45 record of a character singing a song – they became “our” songs so we each had a favorite – created by Bessie. She was subtle that way – giving us our own space and uniting us at the same time.
She was a constant presence in our lives for as long as I can remember. We wrote and called during college – saw her on holidays and long after our family needed her services, still had her over or visited her from time to time. When I think of my childhood – Bessie is as much a part of our history as any other person. We were blessed to have such loving support in every area of our lives and I believe it was essential to the balance of our crazy childhood.
I have only a few pictures with Bessie in it – which is strange to me because I felt like she was always there.
Bessie wore her hair in a bun – always. We begged and begged her to take it down and show us what her hair really looked like. So, one day on her way to Wednesday Church Meetin’ – she stopped by the house all dressed up – we were so excited as there was quite a bit of build-up. She walked in and it was about an inch longer than the bun! In hindsight we knew the bun was tiny, but at the moment in time – we were SHOCKED – “where’s all of your hair” we wanted to know. “Well now – it’s right hee-yar” She sing-songed as she tugged at the tiny bit of hair. We giggled and had a few minutes of fun before she dashed out the door to be on her way.
She was like that. Full of love and joy – yet serious as all. She had watched the children of others we knew and sometimes told us just harrowing stories of events involving people we knew. They were not harrowing looking back — but we were appropriately agog and aghast at the things she told. Once, when I guess my mom was watching the Lecher twins, one of them wiggled right out of my hands and landed on the hard floor on his head – I was devastated – Bessie had a story to tell to show me it was ok….she thought. “Once a youngun I watched choked on a small marble…it was the scariest thing – it went RIGHT DOWN HER THROAT and she couldn’t breathe…she plum stopped breathin and I had to turn her over my knee to knock that toy out of her mouth and get her breathing again – she cried – land-o-goshen did that little one cry — we were glad to hear it since it meant she was breathin again”. Terrified me! 🙂 haha!
She was a little like a live-in Grandma since she was at our house so much and took care of us so wonderfully. Tucked us in at night, sang songs with us, and always on the go. You rarely saw Bessie sitting down – only if it was to read to us (usually folding while she did).
I’d love to have a Bessie in my children’s lives….for now I will just share the memories as best I can.