Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Maria Lemley A Friend of Mine image
     Maria and I met when we were in grade school and became friends. I’m not sure when it began, but I started to go over to her house every Friday to just hangout. Jan, her Mom was always so nice to spend time with us to make sure we had fun. I do recall a moment when we were in Maria’s backyard, something was wrong with her electric wheelchair; it kept going around in circles. Here was Jan trying to reach for the switch while chasing the wheelchair around. While this was going on, we were laughing so hard that we all were crying. Of course Jan had to call someone to fix it, so that gave us time to calm down. After time went by, Maria and I started going to the movies. I remember a time when we were deciding which movie we wanted to see. It was the movie Road House because we both had a crush on Patrick Swayz. I’ll be honest, I had a crush on Sam Eliot also, so I didn’t care what it was about, I just knew there were two good looking guys and we both came out with big grins on our faces.
When Maria and her family decided to move to Colorado. Jan threw a farewell party for Maria’s classroom. I wasn’t too happy about it. So when Jan later on tried to find a picture to put in a locket for me, she couldn’t find one picture without me crying. So we both had a picture with me crying and probably thinking this girl’s crazy.
When Maria and her family moved back to Bakersfield when Maria graduated from high school. She began going to Bakersfield College, which is where I found out that she was back in town. I remember that she needed some help with math, I’m not really sure why I got the job especially when I’m not great with math. Maria and her Mom gave me a chance. I would go to her house and try to figure out how to explain math when I wasn't that good myself. It did help me, she had a math program on her computer and it helped me more than I helped her. To completely understand the situation, Maria had cerebral palsy and one of the effects was not having the ability to communicate, so she had a board on her tray with the alphabet, so that she could spell out the words that she needed to use so she could get what she needed and wanted. This was before we had communication devices, if they were really low technology. Not like today that now you’re able to have a communication device practically in your back pocket. It’s not quite as simple for Maria and I because of our CP, but at least you get the point. Going back to what I was going to say. I believe it was around the same time. Maria and I were waiting for our bus to go back to her house. I noticed that she was looking at me with a look of concern on her face. I had explained that I would give the driver five minutes more, then I would go call the Get-A-Lift to see what time they would be there. I just didn’t want to leave and they came while I was in the office they would be driving in. Oftentimes, I would go to call to see where they were, while I was calling, they would come and go. After we got to her house, I had learned that Maria wasn’t really happy with me. She thought I was mad at her. And I said “no not at all”. I am sorry that you felt that way. Of course after we talked, we went and studied our math.
I do remember a time when Maria’s parents went out of town. Jan and John asked my Mom to come sit with Maria for the weekend so that they would feel comfortable for them and Maria as well. Of course I went with my Mom. We all had fun except when Maria had to use the bathroom, so Mom took her to help Maria into the bathroom. Somehow, Mom had Maria end up in Mom’s lap. I was in the doorway waiting for them to finish, so when it happened we all started laughing. Here was Mom holding Maria and trying not to laugh so she tried to pick her up so she could reposition Maria to lift her back up to sit her on the toilet which all was successful . I often wondered if Maria was thinking “these girls are crazy”!
John and Jan bought a three wheeler, we used to have a big field in the back of our property. So they came over to try it out and to give me a ride. I believe John took the bike for a ride first so he would know what to expect. He came back to put me on the bike with him, he tied a soft robe to put around us so I would not fall when he was driving. Of course, when you’re going up and down in a field that was full of dirt roads and has lots of bumpy hills that others had ridden before. And having a great time. You don’t expect to tip over backwards. John fell on his back, I fell on him. So he had to untie us so he could get the bike back up right, once he did that and got me back on the bike, we headed back to the house. Other than the fall, I had a blast. Another time was when John and Jan took Maria and me to Las Vegas. I’m not sure what the reason was, but I felt lucky to be invited to go along, which I was so elated about going with Maria. Since there were two of us in wheelchairs, each of them took one of us to play in the casino. Jan took Maria to play slots and John took me to play black jack, it was so much fun. Thinking back now, I’m pretty sure we went in November, because on the way home, Jan was reading to us the ballot so we all understood what we were voted for.
I was saddened to find out that Maria had cancer. Sometimes I wonder why things like cancer or other illnesses would take someone like that who already had a life that was difficult, but I suppose that’s up to God and what you believe in. Life is so precious and short. That is one thing about Facebook that I do appropriate, which is people can keep informed with what's going on with each other without being too worried about not infringing on their privacy. I would check Facebook on a daily basis so that I could keep up to date with what was happening with Maria and everyone around her. I knew it would be so hard on her parents. Jan would put pictures up on Facebook, especially the one with her looking up at her Dad, which was so sweet. It was too hard for me to hold back the tears.
My Mom asked me if I would like for her to take me to the funeral, I looked at my Mom to say that I don’t think I could. I realize out of respect, I probably should have gone; it’s just I’m not good at going to funeral’s. The day of the funeral, I was looking around to see what was on television and I came across the mini-series of north and south. I knew that Maria loved that series, so when I watched it all, I thought to myself, this one's for you!