My mother’s childhood was completely different than mine, so I wanted to share a story that I love hearing Mom tell over and over again…
I could hear little green frogs, bull frogs, and crickets outside the bedroom window where I was laying on the bed with my new baby sister, Ann. The smell of corn growing in the fields next to the little farm house we lived came in the open window. It had a sweet smell mixed with the honeysuckle vines on the fence.
I held Ann’s bottle while she drank her milk like a hungry piglet. We lay on a mattress with no sheets because we were too poor for them. I can still see the black and white ticking that the mattress was covered in.
The sounds were peaceful until I heard what I thought was a pig that had gotten out of the pen. The groaning got closer and closer to the window along with some deep snorting. I was only three, so I was oblivious to all of the danger ahead.
The moon was brightly shining and helped the lit kerosene lamp make the room brighter. We did not have electric lights, running water or any of the conveniences that are normal today. We didn’t have a phone and I had never even seen one. We also did not have a television because it hadn’t been sold yet!
I looked out the window which wasn’t hard to do because our heads, baby Ann’s and mine, were right by the window sill. Suddenly, I saw the two big eyes of a bear! His head filled the opening of the window because he was so large.
The bear roared loudly.
Mom said, “Shhhhhhhhhhh.”
She blew out the lamp, took the pillows off the bed, soaked them in kerosene and lit them on fire.
As she walked out of the the room, she reached up and took the only new dress I had ever had up to that point in my life. It was polka dotted with a red sash and black top. The sash had a little red velvet flower pinned to it. I loved the dress.
Mom went out the front door and threw the pillows and the dress at the end of the walkway where the big bear was standing on his hind feet!
When he saw the fire, the farmer across the field came with his sons to help. They tracked the bear with dogs and killed him because he had become a threat. He was getting too close to homes and was dangerous.
The ironic part of the whole night was that my dad and uncle had left to go hunting bear! If he had just stayed home and rested on his bed, he could have shot a big brown bear!
I am 67 years old and the memory of that night is as vivid in my mind as is my memory of breakfast this morning. The scene is still sharply etched in all my senses.
I have never forgotten my little dress. I think that is why polka dots always catch my attention. Sometimes I even feel the fear of the moment when I looked into the face of that bear who was only about twenty inches from tiny little form.
I can see the brass bed, barren mattress without sheets, no pillow cases, no curtains, no dressers and no closets. Instead there were just nails in the walls to hang clothes. I also can remember my pretty mom. She was beautiful with bright red hair, a smile that lit up a room, and skin as fair as a lily.
Wow, life is so funny. Thank goodness I know the purpose of it all.
Thank you Mom for sharing this spine tingling story with us and I look forward to many more.