Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Rose and Her Bud

by Marilyn (Cole) Posey

As Joyce Brennon chose to write cherished thoughts of her mother, I too want to share some memories of the strongest woman I had the pleasure to call, my mother. She was born Mary Lee Bee on April 4, 1935 in Orlando, WV. She was the first daughter of James Adam and Alta Mae (Blake) Bee. Grandpa built a home for his new bride and this is where my mother’s life began. The house was just across the road from her Uncle Fred and Aunt Ruby Bee’s place on Oil Creek. I remember her telling me how they had to park along the old road and walk back into the little “gully” amongst the trees with goods in hand. My grandparents first born was a son who died within a few hours of birth, but they felt the need to name him just the same. My mother always told me that her father referred to this son as “ Little Jack”. So it goes without saying why my mother came by the nickname “ Little Jackie” by her father. We used to sit and talk about how her life was as a child. “ Life as a child Marilyn, I don’t really know”. So as the years added new numbers behind our ages and more wrinkles to our faces we quietly sat down with our preverbal cup of coffee and I was then taken back in time through my mothers eyes. “ Mom and Dad loved each other very much and they worked very hard to make a good life for us”. As I mentioned in an earlier story, my grandmother had polio at the age of 15. So even as an adult some of those effects remained with her. “ I was baking biscuits standing on a chair at 5 years old.” This brings to mind a disastrous breakfast she spoke of so fondly. It seems that Grandma hadn’t been feeling to well the night before so she chose something simple for breakfast this particular morning. Cornflakes and yesterday’s biscuits! One of her sibling’s was planted at the table and waiting to be fed. Evidently this little one was hungry and a bit angry for being made to wait. The rest finally came to the table and just at the moment a spoonful of cornflakes was about to make their way to someone’s stomach, Grandma screamed, “ No!”.
Apparently the first one at the table had left a calling card in a bowl of cornflakes. It was yellow and it wasn’t bananas.
Above are Marily's (the author's) grandparents, her mother Mary Bee's parents, James Adam and Alta Mae (Blake) Bee, at the
time of their wedding.

To the left is Marilyn's mother, little Mary Bee, with her mother Alta Mae and grandfather John Adam Bee.

Not only was she a great helper to my grandmother, she worked along side her father cutting filth and working the garden. When she was twelve years old, her father had a heart attack and was confined to bed a few short days before his death.

Wanting to know more about my grandfather and learn something from someone else’s view, I paid Great Aunt Ruby Bee a visit. I asked her what kind of a man he was. She said, “Jim was a strong man honey and I don’t mean physical strength”. She went on to tell me that she was there the night he died. “ Fred and I walked up to Jim and Altie’s after supper. We talked for awhile and at one point, Fred was going back to our house. Altie asked me to stay for a bit. Me, Altie and you mom were sitting in the kitchen talking and Jim yelled..”Ruby, are you all talking about me?” I said, “ No Jim” and he said, “ Well okay then”. A few hours later he passed.

Since the Moran family knew my grandparents, Mr. Moran allowed my mother to be with her father while he was preparing him for burial. I guess my mother wanted to be with him as long as possible. My mother truly never got over that loss. With her father now gone, Grandma moved them to Gem, WV. They lived rent free in an old farmhouse in exchange for labor in the garden and canning of the vegetables. They remained there for about 3 years and them moved back to Orlando.

Below to the left, Mary Lee Bee. to the right, Harold Quniton Cole in his WW2 uniform, before he married Mary Bee.

My parents married in 1952 and moved to West Broad Street where their first child, a son, was born. A year and a half later they moved to Brush Run off Three Lick, where I was born. I believe it was the old Wilt property. In total, there were nine children born to this union. In 1957. She gave birth to my brother Ronnie. He was very ill and weighed only 2 lbs 2 oz’s. At the age of 2, my parents knew something was wrong. He couldn’t walk or speak. After numerous trips to a variety of doctors, they were forced to accept the painful truth. There would never be an “ I love you Mom and Dad”, nor would he be dancing at his first prom. His care required help form each of us. As the oldest daughter I devoted and enjoyed every moment with him. He was the “apple of my eye”. However the full time care still would remain the heaviest on my mother and would always remain her top priority. She worked outside the home, not because she wanted too, simply because it was a necessity with nine children at home. My brother needed special items for his daily care and at that time they did not have the special services they do now, such as Home Health Care. So between working a full time job, keeping up a large family and home and caring for Ronnie there wasn’t much time for her to do the little things in life that she had always wanted to do. I know of one time my mother traveled outside the state of West Virginia and it was a one day trip to Ohio. Her one small dream was to go to the mountains and spend the day just sitting and admiring the view and for that much needed time alone. However, that dream was in fact “ just a dream”, as she would never have left my brother for any period of time even if for only a day. I can honestly say, I never heard my mother complain, if she did it was silently. My mother eventually quit her job so she could care for my brother full time as his condition began to worsen with each passing day. Her entire life revolved around his life. She didn’t want people to feel sorry for him, “because I don’t want him to feel sorry for himself and feel that he is any different than any other child”.

In 2002 Ronnie developed masses of kidney stones due to his bedridden condition. While he was hospitalized, his breathing deteriorated quickly and he was placed on life support. Although my mother’s health had also gone down hill and she was suffering from severe emphysema, heart condition and poor circulation, she never once left his side. She slept in a chair by his bedside and would not accept our offers to relieve her .By the grace of God, Ronnie pulled through that ordeal and we had him with us once again. I recall many years ago as a child hearing a close family member make the statement, “You just need to put that boy in a home because he will never be more than he is now”. I thank God everyday that my mother never heard that callous remark.

To the left you can just see Ronnie and his brother Roger sitting with their Uncle Slim Cole at a family reunion is 1966.

To the right, Ronnie and Mom, Mary Lee a few years ago.

In 2006, another hospitalization for Ronnie took it’s toll on my mother and I think she knew at this time he would not be returning home again. That March 9th in 2006 will remain in my heart and on my mind forever. After he slipped into a coma, my mother leaned over and whispered into his ear..” Boppy, you need to go now. I want you to sing and dance and do the things you never got to do and your Dad is waiting on you to make your first homerun”. Almost immediately he took his last breath. I do believe in my heart that he was waiting for her to say, “ it’s okay to go and I will be with you soon enough”.

On May 10, 2007, my mother was hospitalized for lung function testing and had asked everyone to leave and return at 5:30 p.m. She passed at 5:26 p.m. At her request, both their ashes were taken to the mountains and released together. As the crisp wind blew over those massive rocks, I knew my mother was exactly where she wanted to be…… It has taken me many years to learn what the true meaning of strength was all about. You see, it’s not how much you can carry physically, it’s the amount of burden and pain one must bear within their heart. It takes a special person to have such a strength and that special person would be My Rose and Her Bud. As my Rose would always say……if you get the chance, I hope you’ll dance.

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