Sunday, June 26, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 29: Friends I should have made for life but didn't

The second winter in Garland Grandma King died.  Mother and Dad decided it was too far away for them to afford to bring me home for her funeral.  Aunt Neta had already been there a week because Aunt Nethella called her to come and spend a few days with her.  I stayed with Miss Woodside.
So when I arrived home in the summer I was acutely aware that my beloved Grandma was gone. I felt guilty because I had not gone to see her the previous summer hardly at all.  She had been busy, too.  Her sister Lil and husband, Uncle George had asked if they might come and live close to her in Escalante.  A very sick daughter-in-law had joined them with her two boys.  One of the boys had the same wasting disease that she did, so they weren't there long before she took him to seek more medical treatment.  They both died, and Dan, the older boy, came back to live with his Grandparents.
Grandpa and Aunt Nethella were busy building the new ranch house.  I was curious about how that was going and would go down and check on them from time to time.  I wondered how long Grandpa would live with his partner for a life time gone.  They had been married a little over 50 years.
I did bring a friend from Garland home with me who was destined not to stay the full week we planned.  I really didn't see any purpose for Bonnie to come since I was not returning to Garland, but she insisted.  I told her I was afraid that she would not be able to handle staying in my parents' home who were much rougher people than Aunt Neta.
I had stayed a number of times with Bonnie in her parents' beautiful old brick mansion in one of the farming communities northeast of Garland.  They were reputed to be some of the wealthiest people in that whole area.  Bonnie's bedroom was as big and well furnished as most living rooms.  She and her younger brother were the only children they had, so I thought Bonnie may have been too sheltered to enjoy our primitive ranch community.  We still didn't even have electricity!
Bonnie assured me that she had been hunting with her father and was used to roughing it.  So I agreed to let her come.  Another friend of mine from Escalante joined us, and we went camping in Kings Pasture.  I recalled later Bonnie noticing the sheaf of letters I had saved from the previous summer that Neal wrote.  I told her yes, they were from Neal but they did not say much, I had been disappointed in them.
Was that the reason she suddenly demanded to be taken to the train in Junction so she could return to her home as soon as we came home from the pasture?  Surely she could not have been jealous of Neal's and my tepid correspondence?  But you could never tell what girl was madly in love with Neal.  I also wondered if Connie, my Escalante friend, who seemed to feel a little jealous of Bonnie because I said she came from wealth, had said or done something to rile her.  I just had no idea what caused Bonnie to have such a big change of heart about my company.  She never wrote to me and explained anything when she got home, either.
In fact, all the way to the train, Bonnie acted like she could not leave soon enough.  Well, that was certainly a switch.  I thought it was a very lucky thing I had decided to leave Garland, because having Bonnie reject me in school would have made matters worse.  She was regarded as highly intelligent due to having the highest IQ in the school, two points higher than mine at 133, besides possessing the wealthiest parents in the valley.  She could have done me serious damage.
Years later I ran into her again when I was a junior at the University of Utah after she acquired a job working for a company downtown in quite a public place.  She had gotten her degree early she said, but she was still just as unfriendly.
By that time I had been rejected as a friend by another small town popular girl at the University who joined a sorority and got more picky. I was beginning to get an inferiority complex when it came to making and keeping friends. Even my Escalante pal whose friendship I thought I could never lose married well and eventually decided she was done with me, too.
Barbara and Elaine, my Boulder school chums, came from large families and when they married both had  fairly large families of their own.  I really did not expect them to have the time to keep up a school girl friendship.  Keeping up their relationships with their family members was I thought more important.
I was even having a hard time staying friends with my sister Margie, less than a year younger.  She told me the first summer after I had been away that at last she had been able to make friends after I left.  That seemed like a low blow. Did I have something in my makeup that made lasting friendship impossible?
Our father seemed to be doing fairly well.  He and my mother were even talking about purchasing a new ranch property.  The sisters who had stayed home said Daddy was still drinking, but he was not going to the extremes that had caused me such upset I had to leave home early.
Margie would be going away to school for the first time when I planned to be in Salt Lake attending high school. She and Aunt Vesta had decided that she could take dancing lessons even though she would be going out of state to Washington.  I told her that if she ever changed her mind about going so far away to live with Aunt Vesta, she should try to live with Aunt Neta.  I was sure given her interest in sewing, Margie would make an ideal school girl boarder, just as our cousin Roma had.  Margie did not even blink at the prospect of making a suit.  I still felt guilty over Aunt Neta's anger at my leaving, but not enough to change my mind even though I knew I was now her least favorite niece.
I was relieved when Mother said she talked to her Aunt Anne in Salt Lake and she agreed that I could come and stay with Great Grandma Wilson who lived across the street from her.  She said that Grandma was either going to have to start living with her kids or someone would have to be brought in to stay with her.  So I would be on trial for the next winter, being a companion to this old lady. She might not fall in love with me either, but I resolved to do my best to entertain her.  I made up my mind not to take it personal if I failed my trial period.  I just hoped I could hang in there a year.
I really did not know Great Grandma very well, having only seen her a few times in my life.  But if staying with her would get me established in Salt Lake, I was willing to try it.  I told Mother to tell Aunt Anne that come fall, I would be there!  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that living in Salt Lake might be exciting in all kinds of ways!

No comments:

Post a Comment