Shattered Dreams: A Woman’s Test of Courage
Mary-Belle’s mind switched gears again. In her mind’s eye she saw her mother wasting away little by little. Brain cancer had ravaged her body. Her once, elegant long dark brown hair was now sparse from cancer treatments. Her sparkling, blue green eyes lost their luster; they were the eyes of a woman approaching the end of her life. Martha was so weak that she needed help walking. Mary-Belle remembered her mother being so weak that she couldn’t get out of the bed some days.
Mary-Belle had to grow up fast at six years old. She remembered climbing up on a stool and making eggs on the stove for her mother to eat. Sometimes, after she went to the trouble to make breakfast, her mother was too weak to eat. On occasion when her mother did manage to eat, she couldn’t keep it down. It was just she and her mother, and when her mother got sick, she sometimes was too sick to get to the bathroom. Mary-Belle sometimes held a basin for her to vomit in.
Her mind wandered a little deeper into those times with her mother when she was sick. Mary-Belle knew from those days she assisted her mother when she was sick that she wanted to become a doctor. She wanted to make people like her mother better so they wouldn’t have to die. Mary-Belle didn’t have a real grasp of what death was back then, but she knew by watching her mother waste away that death was going to take her mother away. Cold, shivering Mary-Belle marveled at how much she understood, being so little.
When her mother wasn’t sick, before she got laid off from her job, she sometimes had to leave Mary-Belle by herself. She remembers being extremely mature for her tender years. Sometimes Charlie Mason, next door was home and he let her stay at his apartment until her mother got home. It was fun at Charlie’s house. He had a dog named Fritz. Fritz was a Schnauzer. Fritz was always happy to see Mary-Belle when she came. She sat on the floor watching Popeye cartoons. Fritz happily chewed on his toys. He would go to his toy box and get all of his babies out and together they would play and watch Olive Oil and Popeye.
Her mother usually came to get her when Sylvester and Tweety were on, or sometimes a little bit later when the Freddy Freihofer Show was on. She remembered how she wanted to be on the Freddy Freihofer Show so badly. Little boys and girls were invited into the studio and watched cartoons. Jim Fisk hosted the show; he was an artist. He called a child to come draw a picture and then Mr. Fisk would make a picture out of it for the child to take home as a souvenir. The show was sponsored by the Freihofer bakery. There was always birthday cakes, because the show featured kids who had birthdays. She remembered asking her mother if she could go be on the Freddy Freihofer Show. Her mom wrote the show, Mary-Belle she never was chosen to be on the show. Mary-Belle wondered if Jim Fisk was still alive. She hoped so. She hoped she would be alive by daybreak.
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Image of the Freddy Freihofer Show by Flickr.com