In this, her second memoir, New Prairie Woman is Susie Rosso Wolf’s depiction of her journey from Los Angeles to the historical town of Three Forks, Montana. On these pages you will discover the grandeur of “The Last Best Place” through her writing, poetry and photography, the challenges of living in a twenty foot trailer in sub-zero temperatures and how love, perseverance, and the miracle of faith can lift a soul up from the depths of the deepest, darkest waters.
Born in Santa Monica, California, I was raised in the small bedroom community of Sunkist Park that borders Culver City, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice. I attended Venice High School, West LA Community College and California Institute of the Arts. My studies included English, English Literature, Poetry, Creative Writing, Choir, Classical Voice, Shakespeare, Musical Theater, Television and Film Acting and Art History. In 1980, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest and in 1982 I married Kurt Wolf in Corvallis, Oregon. During the course of our long journey together, I have remained devoted to not only my husband, but to my friends and family, and the arts. What defines me most is my passion for expression through art. I’m an avid reader, writer and poet.I also enjoy painting and photography. Additionally, some folks consider me a pretty good cook.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Four, con't
The shells were pleasantly plump with the filling pushed tightly from end to end. Lined with red sauce, I placed them side by side in a large disposable deep dish roasting pan. Covering them in another thick layer of the red sauce then burying them under a mountain of mozzarella, provolone, and Romano and parmesan cheese. Taking my olive oil cruet in my right hand, I gave several hard shakes of the oil over the cheese medley then topped it all off with a sprinkling of anise seeds, dried oregano, dried basil and ground black pepper. I placed the cardboard top over the disposable pan, pinched down the sides then double wrapped the entire pan with aluminum foil. I opened the freezer and placed the pan on the bottom shelf.
Tired and limping a bit now from standing so much on the hard Italian tile floor, I cleaned the kitchen then sat in my vegetable garden for a while to watch the corn and tomatoes grow. While resting I could hear the land line ringing in the house so I slowly made my way into the family room to answer the phone. The moment I heard Brenda’s voice I knew why she was calling. The moment I heard her voice she asked, “Well, are you going or not?”
“Not,” I lied.
“I’m so disappointed, Sue,” she said in a dark low voice. “I thought God would answer my prayers of getting this family back together but I guess I was wrong.”
“Brenda, let me ask you a question.”
“Oh, here we go…”
“In all the years you’ve known me, and you know that my name is Susie, why do you insist on calling me Sue?”
“Because that’s your name,” she said with more energy now in her cute little North Carolina drawl.
“No, my name is Susie, or Susanna, or Susanna Marie, or Susanne, but not Sue or Susan. Don’t you know that by now after forty years?”
“Well I sure as hell didn’t expect to get yelled at today, that’s the last thing I expected. You know, you sure can burst a person’s bubble and put them in a pissy mood.”
“Oh well thank you for the compliment. If you’d only stop calling me that horrible name then maybe we could get down to business.”
“What business would that be Miss Piss Ant? We have business?” Now her voice was high pitched in her most comical, southern accent that can only be described as pure Brenda.
“Yes, Brenda. That is your name isn’t it? Brenda?”
“Would you stop with that crap?”
“If you could just say my name properly one time, we can change the subject.”
“Yes, Susanna Maria Juliana Rosanna Rosso Wolf and all your other names!” She roared at me while laughter busted out at the seams.
“Ah! Now that’s better! Now you’ve got it!”
“Oh, whatever!” She said in a fake valley girl accent.
“Brenda, where and when?” There was a little pause, then a gasp of breathe, and I could feel hope rise up within her.
“Where and when what? What do you mean?”
“Where is Ontario Airport, and when does his flight arrive?” She screamed into the phone and then she dropped to her knees praising Jesus.
“Thank you Jesus! Thank you my precious Lord Jesus! Thank you Father God in heaven! Thank you all of my angels! Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! Thank you for this miracle you have bestowed onto my family.” I listened to her wailing for several minutes as she remained in loud, tearful prayer. Finally, I began to coax her back up to the phone, yelling loudly so she could hear me over her hysterics.
“Brenda! Get up and come back to the phone! Brenda!” Her continued wailing was melodrama that only Brenda could provide. After several more pleas, she finally regained control of herself and answered in a tearfully thick voice.
“Okay, Sue, I’m here, I just had to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this miracle. Do you understand, Sue?”
“Brenda, all I did was to ask you where and when. I didn’t say we were going.”
“Oh! You’re going! By God you’re going and we’re all going to put an end to this nightmare that has torn us apart. I have prayed for three years asking the Lord to heal this family and you’re going to that airport to fulfill your part in answering those prayers. You have no idea how much I have suffered without you in my life. And all because of my idiot son who was stupid enough to do what he did. Now you need to forgive him so we can be a family again and I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“I’ll go on one condition,” I said.
“Oh what is it now? Can’t you just be happy that we’re almost through with this crap?” She was screaming at me again, she cried and lashed out.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Four, con't
As I filled my giant stainless steel bowl with two pounds of the creamy rich Ricotta cheese, and blended more sweet basil, oregano, two eggs, two cups of fresh grated parmesan cheese, two cups of fresh grated mozzarella cheese, one cup of fresh grated provolone cheese and then peppered it with fresh cracked black pepper, I thought of Jo. She was pleased with my decision to meet Robert at the airport and said as much to me out in the garden. And although waves of nervous giddiness washed over me as I continued the process of completing my recipe, doubt plagued my every thought as I second-guessed my decision. It was natural, I suppose, for me to question whether or not I was making the right decision, but I did make the decision so I vowed to live with it.
Preparing the shells was no easy task. The water had to be just the right temperature of boiling before I dropped the dried pasta into the water. Dried, the shells were round, but once they boiled in the water they would flatten out and this is where the hell begins with making the mannicot. Plenty of olive oil in the water helps to keep the pasta shells from sticking to each other and flattening out too much, but keeping them from splitting up the sides was the most annoying obstacle. Just off the boil, before becoming aldente’, I gently lifted each flattened shell out of the water with my large screened spoon and placed it on a cutting board covered with paper towels. I patted each shell dry one by one then placed it onto a large baking sheet. Once the sauce was cooled to luke warm temperature I poured half in the bowl of creamed cheeses. Blending it all together with my heaviest wooden spoon, slowly I began to add the Italian bread crumbs. The aroma hit my senses and soon I could picture my father cooking his red sauce over the old stove in the Bray Street house and I laughed out loud remembering how he would stick his hand right into the boiling water to grab up a pasta noodle and stick it in his mouth to test for tenderness. As I stirred the crumbs into the mixture I wondered if Father would agree with my decision. Whenever I cooked Italian, I could hear his voice and the words by heart telling me to always take care of his Bobby. And now I was attempting one last time to fulfill my promise in some small way, to reconnect with the precious lamb that lost his way.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Four, con't
With the air conditioning cranked on high in Blackie, my Italian groceries remained quite cold as I came over the hill from Culver City. Once home, I quickly loaded them into the fridge then began making myself an espresso to go along with one of the Napoleon’s Ursula had packed for me. While sitting for a little rest, I smiled at the thought of my silliness. Although I would not openly admit it, I knew exactly why I had driven all that way to buy the best Italian products money could buy this side of Palermo; if there was even the slightest chance that I would muster up the courage to face Robert at the Ontario airport, there was no way in all good conscience, that I could do it without taking him some of Aunt Susie’s Manicotti. It had been his favorite recipe of mine and from time to time I would make him a large tray just for him to enjoy. And although he loved all of my cooking, particularly my pasta dishes, it was my Manicotti that he would die for. So, while I delighted in the fresh pastry and espresso topped with a frothy hot hand whipped steamed milk, I began to peel garlic on my small cutting board that I placed next to me on the kitchen table and then I pinched off the beautiful large leaves of basil from their stems then placed them into my stainless steel colander.
Always starting with the vegetables, I sautéed two chopped onions and eight cloves of garlic, pressed, in olive oil. Adding the fresh basil, anisette seeds and dried rosemary filled the entire house with the aroma that never failed to take me back home to Bray Street. While the onions and garlic were sweating, I began opening up all of the cans of imported tomatoes. I poured them all into my largest cooking pot and then I grabbed them up into my hands and began the crushing process. Squeezing as hard as my hands could and trying to hold onto the slippery juicy fruit, the process of making sauce from the whole tomatoes was a therapeutic ritual. I was crushing more than tomatoes there in my kitchen; I crushed away so much fear and anger and doubt, I began to imagine my beautiful nephew holding me in his arms for a long and thoughtful embrace. The idea of seeing him again filled me with a tingling sensation, and for the first time in three years a pain so deeply buried began to lift from my heart.
Once the sauce was started on a good low flame, I cooked the Italian sausage, drained it, and then added it to the sauce. I dropped in two cans of pitted black olives and then began to re season with more fresh basil, rosemary, oregano, a little salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper, black pepper and a sprinkling of sugar. The sauce was looking good now so I left it alone with the lid of the pot half cracked and headed down the hall to our bedroom to change out of my cooking clothes that were covered in red stains from the tomatoes. Just as I finished changing, I heard a voice yelling “Hello! Susie?”
“Hi Miss Jo, please come in!”
“I had to come over to see what you’re cooking I can smell it all the way over at my house! What are you making this time?”
“Manicotti, eventually, I just have the sauce started now.”
“It smells so good I could stay for dinner!”
“It’s not for us; otherwise I’d invite you and Ralph later this week when it comes out of the oven.”
“Later this week? Who’s it for?”
“It’s for Robert.”
“Are you kidding me? You’re going to Ontario?”
“No, I’m not kidding, I’m going to take him his favorite meal so he has something to eat in-between flights. I thought we could have a tailgate party at the airport while he waits for his connecting flight back to Montana and this way, it would be a good ice breaker.”
“Well, now you’re thinking! You know the way to a man’s heart is right smack dab there in his belly!”
“Here Jo, taste the sauce!”
I gave her a teaspoon of the red sauce and her eyes rolled as she sipped it up from the tip of the spoon. “Good God girl, you are one extraordinary cook!”
“Thanks Jo, that means a lot coming from you.”
We talked for a while out in the rose garden and every so often I would go into the kitchen through the French doors in the living room to turn the sauce and to make sure it wasn’t boiling. Eventually our visit ended with me bowing out of a walk around Napa Street so that I could begin the process of making the Manicotti filling to stuff the shells. I said goodbye to Jo and watched her walk through our little gate then kept my eyes on her as she sauntered up to her house. I couldn’t help but think of her, as she left me that afternoon, marveling at her courage. John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway,” and boy was he right about that. Jo was the epitome of that sentiment. Each time I looked at her hands I felt a deep sense of pride in knowing someone who faces her own challenges with great dignity. She exemplified the meaning of courage as she dared to live each day to the fullest despite her limitations.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Four, con't
Two days passed and I knew our phone would be ringing soon with Brenda on the line asking if we were going to Ontario to say hello to Robert and goodbye to the girls as they make their way to Montana with their daddy. I was adamantly against this spontaneous meeting and yet I found myself in Culver City at Sorrento’s Italian Market shopping for the best imported mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, Italian sausage, canned roma tomatoes, manicotti shells and Chianti that money could buy. I bought huge stems loaded with gigantic leaves of the most beautiful fresh Sweet Italian Basil you could find in Southern California. The aroma takes you right to the door of the old country and the olive oil tasted like silky green olives soaked in gold. It was good to be back in the old neighborhood and to see the Vera family, who had been family friends for as long as I could remember. Mama, (Lydia) the matriarch of the Vera family, was still working behind the counter and knew my mother when she had been pregnant with me. “I remember your mama sitting you on this very counter while she shopped and I would feed you fresh Italian bread dipped in my red sauce and olive oil and you would chew on the bread with a smile on your face and drool all over the counter! You loved the sweet ricotta filling in the cannoli and would cry if we tried to take it away from you! I remember you all through your life. And now you come back to say hello, you brat!”
“Oh Mama, you know I’ll always come back to see you no matter how far away I live. I can’t stay away from this place for too long, I can’t live without your Italian sandwiches and pepperoni!”
“You see! That’s all you love me for is my cooking! Just like the rest of the brats around here!”
“Oh Mama, you know that’s not true, I love you for so many reasons.”
“Shut up brat and put this in your mouth so you can stop talking!” She practically stuffed a big fat cannoli into my mouth and in an instant I was taken back to my childhood as she had previously described when she would feed the sweet creamy filling to me when I was a baby and then growing up she would never let me leave the store without a cannoli or Napoleon. I looked up at her beautiful long white hair that was braided all around the top of her head and held up with the same gorgeous tortoise shell hair pin that she had been wearing since I was a little girl. I admired her stamina and devotion to her family. Here she was, in her eighties I would imagine, she had to be at least eighty, and she was still working and giving the orders around there! I loved her so much and realized that I needed to drive out to see The Vera’s more often.
“I know you’re mad at me,” I said with my mouth full of cannoli.
“Shut up and eat, brat, I don’t want to talk to you anymore, you always leave and never come back unless you want to cook something.”
“Hey Mama, that’s no way to talk to our friend here, leave her alone!” Albert’s voice bellowed from the back of the store and then I heard his footsteps over the old wooden slat floor. He came around from the counter and put his arms around me and gave me a gentle squeeze. “How are you, Bella? Long time, no see! You look beautiful!”
“Hi Albert, it’s great to see you!”
“Where in the world have you been?”
“Oh, we moved to Northridge and I don’t get out here to the old neighborhood much anymore.”
“We know, we know,” I heard from the front of the store as the screen door slammed. It was Ursula, Albert’s wife.
“Ursula! How are you?”
“I’m fine, Junior, take this please,” she said as she passed a heavy box of fresh vegetables over to Albert Junior. “You look good; it’s nice to see you. Is Mama taking care of you? Are you hungry?”
“Yes, she’s taking care of me all right, while she tells me off for not visiting more often.”
“Mama, leave her alone and be nice, she’s a busy married woman.”
“Yes I know and she should have married Junior that’s all I’m going to say about it,” Mama said in her thick Italian accent.
Ursula, Albert and Junior all chimed, “Mama!” in unison. We all laughed and I noticed Junior’s face turning red and I wondered if mine was blushing as well. Ursula hugged me and led me by the hand over to the dry goods section of the store which was actually just a small corner of the store with a table set up with imported folded ladies peasant blouses, shoes, hair brushes and hand mirrors and boxes of Italian music on CD and cassette. She picked up a CD and said “You have to hear this. Take this with you, it’s my gift.”
“Thank you, Ursula, I can’t wait to hear it.” I looked at the CD and was thrilled to have it, anything from Italy was always a treat for me.
“He’s truly sensational, really gifted and the songs are so romantic you’ll melt all over!”
I looked down at the CD again and read the title, Romanza by Andrea Bocelli. “I’ve never heard of him before.”
“You’ll love this, he’s very well known in Italy, and around the world.”
“Thank you,” I said again. As I finished up my shopping and had five or six green olives marinated in vinegar and olive oil and Italian spices, Ursula and Albert both packed up my groceries into tall brown paper sacks then added twelve fresh Italian rolls, six Napoleon’s and six cannoli’s in a large pink pastry box. “No! I didn’t order the pastries,” I admonished.
“Shut up,” They both said and I laughed as they stuffed as many odds and ends into the bags that they could including a large box of my favorite Italian treat of vanilla nougat candies all individually wrapped in wafer paper then gold paper and then put into their beautiful tiny little boxes with pictures of famous Italian artwork on the outside. Albert and Ursula began walking out the back door with my groceries refusing to take my money, not wanting to even discuss or argue the fact that they had just packed at least $100.00 worth of meats, cheeses, wine, pastry, bread, olives, vegetables, canned tomatoes, fresh pasta, dried pasta, pastries, and even a CD, into the bags.
“Which one is yours?” Albert asked.
“The big black truck, I’ve got Kurt’s ride today,” I said as they both walked to the passenger side of the truck and opened the cab door to place the bags in the back seat.
“How can I thank you both for this? You’ve done too much, as always.”
“Just go with God and come back soon,” said Albert.
“Yes, don’t be such a stranger, come home more often we know you can’t get anything good to eat out there in that valley,” Ursula added.
“It’s true, Ursula, nothing compares to Sorrento’s.
“That’s what you always say but we never see you,” shouted Mama from the back screen door of the store. We laughed and Albert and Ursula told her to stop nagging me, scolding her to go home to take a nap. I walked around to the driver’s door and jumped up into the truck as Albert, Ursula, Junior and Mama all came round to say good-bye, ciao, go with God. While I slowly drove down the alley behind the store, I could see Mama in my rear view mirror crossing the alley, walking through the little gate of the back yard to their home. I crossed over the intersection of the alley and the little turn out street that put me onto Sepulveda Boulevard. I drove up to the 405 North on-ramp and gassed it as I merged into the far left lane for the long drive back to our Sherwood Forest home. I thought about Robert through every mile. He used to love these people and the store. We shopped at Sorrento’s together all through his childhood, this store and these people were a part of our mutual history. Father would drive us over for a sandwich and he would buy himself an entire one pound stick of pepperoni and stuff it up the inside of a large Italian roll, leaving both ends of the pepperoni sticking out of the roll. He could never wait until we arrived home for his little Italian snack, so he drove us home with one hand on the wheel as he fed himself the sandwich with the other. Robert and I would crack up in hysterical laughter while Father drove, then eat our Italian sandwiches with the white butcher paper wrapper spread across our laps, in-between jokes about the man who loved us both so much, as he did all of his four children and his two grandsons.
New Prairie Woman
Susie Rosso Wolf
Chapter Four, con't
With an exasperated sigh escaping her breath she rapidly shot out “Well, now his children love you and they are too young to understand all of this hate stuff and family feuding. Maybe the little girls are smarter than the adults. You should think about that, and listen to them.”
“The only thing I’m going to do is to figure out a way to let them down gently. I’ve got to come up with an excuse to give them, one that they'll believe.”
“Why? Just go and get it over with. I think you guys should do it. It’s a great opportunity to heal this sickness and to let love back into your family.”
“Oh Jo, I’m not ready for this, it’s taken me so long just to be able to sleep at night without waking up crying, I can’t just show up and see him like that. And he would be so uncomfortable too.”
“What does Brenda say about it?”
“Oh she’s all for it, of course. And I just bet you that she put the girls up to this.”
“I’ll bet she did too.”
“What does Kurt say?”
“He’s all for it too.”
“Oh, so you’re outvoted!”
“Yes, I am.”
“I know it’s hard for you to imagine seeing him, but I think it would be a healthy start to mending fences.”
“But I didn’t tear down the fence! He did this, and he’s made it clear he wants nothing to do with me. He’ll probably become irate in the airport and make a scene.”
“Not in front of his daughters, he wouldn’t do that would he?”
“I don’t know him anymore, so I can’t answer that. Perhaps I never really did know him.”
“Sounds to me like you’ve lost the love.”
“Can you blame me?”
“No, I can’t blame you for feeling no love toward him, but you have to think of the girls.”
Another deep sigh escaped but this time it was from me, from my very soul, as we neared the end of our walk and passed by our neighbor’s house then walked the length of our yard. We stood outside our gate in the middle of Napa as we finished our conversation. Jo left, leaving me unsettled and confused. I truly didn’t know what to do about this situation. The answer would have to come from prayer. This was too big for me to deal with on my own. I walked back to the porch swing and sat down in my favorite spot. I opened my little book of Metaphysical Meditations and began to read the beautiful poems. Soon I was calm and relaxed so I turned my eyes up to God and began to meditate. I prayed for peace, for love, for understanding. I prayed for strength, for health, for courage. I prayed for guidance and wisdom, humility and balance. I prayed to the Blessed Virgin, to Divine Mother, to my mother and father. I just prayed and prayed for an answer to come to me. I needed to find the right answer, from within, to make the correct decision and to live with that decision no matter what the outcome would be.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Four, con't
There was a silence between us now, a pause in the conversation as we made our way up to Napa. Once I cleared my head a little, had a few moments to live with the news of her pending shoulder replacement, I stopped again and looked at her as a cloud began to cast a shadow across some bougainvillea vining over a back yard fence.
“God, Jo, I’m so sorry.”
“I know you are.”
“How can I help you with this?”
“I don’t think you can, just be my friend I guess.”
“I will always be your friend, Jo, always. When will you have the surgery?”
“I’m not sure yet I have to have some medical tests first then they’ll call me with a date.”
“How is Ralph taking the news?”
“He’s not surprised, but he has his own issues too,” she said as we continued to walk up Raymer to Encino.
“He has to have a knee replacement.”
“What? Remind me not to drink the water over there in that house! You guys are falling apart at the seams!”
“Now that we have my soap opera out of the way, what’s new with you?”
“I’m not sure I should tell you!”
“It can’t be that bad, how bad could it be?”
“Well, last weekend while you and Ralph were out gallivanting around with your RV club, Brenda picked up the girls and drove them over for a visit from Victorville.”
“Oh how nice, that must have been great.”
“It was Jo; they were so cute and sweet and extremely excited when they looked in the fridge and saw a huge bowl of fresh ripe strawberries! You should have heard their squeals of happiness and laughter!”
“So get to the punch line would ya? I can’t wait for you to give me a blow by blow, what happened?”
“Okay Jo, well, the girls announced to me that their “Daddy” is flying to the Ontario Airport next Friday night to meet Brenda who will have the girls with her so she can hand them off to Robert who will get back on another plane with Snowflake and Cricket so they can all fly to Montana for a visit during Spring break.”
“That’s sounds great, what’s wrong with that?”
“The problem is, when Snowflake and Cricket were telling us the story, they began to beg Kurt and I to drive to Ontaro to visit with them in the airport while they wait for “Daddy” so that Kurt and I can reunite with Robert.”
“Oh, now I see the problem, you should have said that in the first place!”
“Yeah, well it’s complicated and I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to hurt them or to disappoint them in any way but we can’t just show up and be there when he arrives from Montana.”
“Why can’t you?”
“What? There’s no way that’s going to happen.”
“Susie, answer the question, why can’t you do it?”
“Um, because he hates me and stuffed me into a trash can like garbage. Does that ring a bell?”
The roses were all coming back now, some stems were nearly two and three feet long with perfect buds just waiting for the right amount of sunshine to prompt them open. I waded through the muddy mulch while setting out the first food of the season after a deluge of Southern California down pours successfully drenched both gardens as I imagined the sweet scent of Black Magic, Brandy, First Prize, Double Delight, Granada, Angel Face, Mister Lincoln, Lynn Anderson, Rio Samba, Queen Elizabeth, Stainless Steel, Valencia, Whisper, Tiffany, and many more that would soon perfume my yard and home and I eagerly anticipated a growing season of lush and lavish results. While Jo’s husband, Ralph, was tending to her gardens as well, she sat in my porch swing as I worked and we chatted for hours. I loved talking with Jo, hearing her perspective and soaking in her wisdom. Although she was unable to use gardening tools because of her arthritis, she was very knowledgeable about growing roses and often gave me great advice. Gardening was something we shared, and roses were a real passion for us both.
As the rainy season was winding down, Jo and I began our daily walking routine again. We were both glad to get outside and take a long stretch of the legs. My knee of course was perpetually swollen and painful but I used a good rubbery type of pull-up brace around it which helped to keep it from wobbling around and gave it the support I needed to be able to hobble down the street. “How is your knee, Susie?”
“It’s there,” I answered, as we passed the big house on the corner of Shoshone and Raymer. “I mean, it’s all right to take walks on it and to do some light gardening work, but I don’t trust it and it hurts all the time. It’s a constant feeling of something not right in there, as if it’s about to fall off of my leg at any moment.”
“Oh, you need a knee replacement!”
“What? Are you kidding me? I’m not ready for something like that!”
“Well, from what you’re describing you are but I’ll bet the doctor says you’re too young. They don’t like to do them unless you’re dying, like me.” Her West Virginia accent bubbled up as she said this and I noted in my head how darling Jo was.
“Oh Jo! You aren’t dying! Good God Woman, you have a long life ahead of you!”
“I don’t think so Susie.”
“Now don’t be getting morose on me, stop it!”
“I can’t help it Susie, I just feel like I’m dying.” Suddenly, I stopped walking and looked at her. I paused for a moment before I spoke.
“Jo, what’s wrong?”
“I’m just saying I don’t feel well that’s all.”
“Are you keeping something from me? When was the last time you were at the doctors?”
“What did he say?”
“He didn’t say much only that I need to have a shoulder replacement.” I let out a big deep sigh then felt my eyes begin to fill with tears. How could this poor woman endure another surgery? Will they eventually have to replace every joint in her body? I didn’t know what to say to her so I just took her little crippled hand in mine and held it gently for a moment then brought it up to my lips to kiss. Poor, dear Jo, such a sweet and loving person who gives so much of herself to all of her many friends and family, who devotes her every waking moments to her husband and children and her granddaughter. Why did she have to suffer this way?
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Three, con't
Although my body was screaming and yelling at me in pain from the lousy uncomfortable night, we both showered and dressed and then went out for brunch at a local restaurant. It was fun having a gal pal day, laughing and joking with her. This was what I had missed, my friend, the woman I had so much in common with and could tell all of my secrets to. It felt great to be friends again. We laughed so hard my face hurt and I’m sure hers did too. After our meal we drove to some thrift stores and a special little shop that sold darling hand crafted gifts. I fell in love with a twenty inch tall porcelain doll that had long brown hair and was holding onto a stick of cotton candy. The moment I saw her, I had to have her. She reminded me of those days on the Santa Monica Pier, riding the carousel while eating my cotton candy and waving at Father as he watched the ride go round and round. I was so happy I had found this doll and I sat her in Zippy’s passenger seat on the long drove home. I looked down at her and smiled every so often as I made my way back to Northridge. It had been a good trip to Sun City, other than the sleeping difficulty and dealing with Brenda’s smoking habit. But all in all, I was happy that I went to see her new home and to spend some time with her. Our long conversations were filled with memories made over the course of our lives together. We both tried to steer clear of the Robert issue, although I did enjoy hearing about his new life in Montana. But I refrained from talking about his continued excommunication of his aunt and uncle. I simply wasn’t in the mood to psychoanalyze the matter, and I think the visit was better without the painful reminder of his rejection. But as I drove home, it struck me how happy and excited Brenda seemed to be now that Robert had moved away to build a new and better life. She was filled with an energy I hadn’t seen in her for a very long time. Brenda was sold on Montana; she loved her time there and wanted to return. But how could she do it? Would she leave Mr. White, again, to live with her son? Would she give up this lovely home and peaceful life out in the desert for an opportunity to live with her son and his girlfriend and kids in a place where temperatures can drop to minus forty degrees in the winter? And would I ever see her again if she left California? These questions and more floated through my head as Zippy carried me back to the San Fernando Valley.
New Prairie Woman Susie Rosso Wolf Chapter Three, con't
It was December 18th, 2002 when I sat up in my overstuffed rocking chair with a blanket wrapped around my head and body. I was resting my eyes when I felt a presence in the room. I opened them to see Curtis, our roommate and partner in ownership of our home for many years, standing over me. “What are you doing?” I asked him.
“I’m watching you.”
“Because I’m worried about you, you don’t seem to be breathing very well and it’s late, you should be in bed.”
“I can’t go to bed, I can’t breathe lying down.”
“You need to go to the doctor tomorrow.”
“I know, Curtis, I will.”
“Good. Can I bum a smoke?”
I looked down at the coffee table where my pack of Marlboro Lights was sitting with a lighter on top of them. I barely lifted my hand to point at them and said, “Take them. Get them away from me. Go ahead and smoke the entire pack, I don’t care. Just take them away because I’m never going to smoke again.”
“Yeah, right,” he said with a sarcastic chuckle.”
“I mean it Curtis, I’ll never put one of those dirty rotten things to my lips ever again. Take them away from my sight and from this moment on, there will be no more smoking allowed in this house or anywhere near me.”
“You really mean it?”
“Yes, I really mean it.” I didn’t have the energy for this conversation so I shut my eyes and tuned myself out now. I listened as he walked in front of my chair and picked up the pack of cigarettes. I heard the door to the den open and could hear his footsteps land on the brick front porch landing, and then the door clicked as he shut it behind him. The sound of the lighter triggering underneath his thumb traveled into the den through the open windows. Within an instant I could smell the smoke and was shocked and disappointed that he hadn’t taken me seriously. After his cigarette, Curtis came back into the house, said goodnight in a whisper, and then walked down the hall to his bedroom. It amazed me, how he too, was addicted beyond reason. Here was a person not twenty feet from him only separated by a wall and door, who is very obviously sick and suffering with shortness of breath, and yet, at three in the morning, he needed to smoke. We were all like that. Every one of us was so addicted that in the middle of the night our bodies woke us up with the desire for nicotine. And that’s exactly what Brenda was doing; she was answering the call of that desire. I understood, but it pained me now, as three Hail Mary’s were said on my envisioned rosary as I attempted, once again, to fall asleep.