On the day before 94-year old Bessie died, she announced to her younger son Larry that she was breaking out.
Clear out of the blue. A declaration of independence so foreign to her nature that it was unfathomable. Disarming.
Feeble and frail. Yet in the end, so fierce in her final conviction.
“Where are you going Mom?” he asked
“To New York City!” she proclaimed.
Bessie, who had never been more than one hundred miles from her small county home.
Bessie, who as a young girl spent a week up on the mountain, just a few miles away, was homesick and fearful. She pined for her mother. And missed the familiar valley farmland and apple orchards. To young Bessie, this overgrown hill was much too high and close to the sky. Too far away from her roots and the bosom of the valley bed. It threw off her equilibrium. Left her shaken and traumatized for life.
Bessie, whose wanderlust didn’t extend beyond a Sunday drive down to Waterville for lunch with Harlan.
Bessie, who had lost most of her sight and hearing, but none of her unpredictable wit and natural intelligence. To the end, razor sharp and fully loaded with an arsenal of quick retorts.
Bessie, who lived a simple life surrounded by “her people.” Married Harlan and raised her boys just a stone’s throw from her childhood home.
Bessie, who never strayed far. Always walked the straight and narrow. Found dignity in the familiar and commonplace.
Yes, this same Bessie, on the Eve of the trip of her lifetime, revealed that she was now ready to travel.