Childhood Friends

Childhood Friends United

Marcus grew up on a cattle ranch in rural southern Oregon back in the 1930s. There were a handful of boys his age within a fifty-mile radius of his home, but he hadn’t bonded with any of them. At eight years old, he absorbed himself in books, schoolwork, endless chores, and taxidermy. He had an impressive collection of preserved rodents and various unfortunate small animals that tried to eat his chickens.

Marcus was thrilled when he learned a family with an eight-year-old girl was moving into the old Parker place about two miles down the road.

Marcus sweetly persisted friendship with Bette, a red headed rambunctious freckled tomboy who wanted nothing to do with him. He brought her flowers, homemade jams, poetry, and of course books. She called him a “Good deed doing bookworm.” It took nearly the entire summer, but he finally won her over when he presented her with his prized giant mummified toad that was certain to have magical powers if rubbed the right way.

They became inseparable. They were the best of friends for over ten glorious adventure filled years. It was the worst day of Marcus’s life when Bette went away to college in the fall of 1948, on his eighteenth birthday. They wrote each other letters for a year or two. They each got on with their lives and their connection was lost.

Marcus stayed in southern Oregon, eventually married, had five boys, and continued to work the ranch with his sons until his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s at the age of eighty-five. His family couldn’t care for him anymore, so they moved him into a locked dementia facility. Within a week of his arrival he was sat at a table with a woman he seemed to instantly recognize. Marcus hadn’t spoken for weeks, but on this day, in a calm hoarse whisper, he muttered, “Bette? Is that you?” This woman gazed silently into his eyes for a good minute before slowly putting her hand on the table. He tenderly took it, and hasn’t said a word since.

It was Bette. She too had developed Alzheimer’s. Her family wanted her closer so they moved her back to southern Oregon. Bette and Marcus were reunited after sixty-six years of separation. They are now inseparable, again.

To purchase my book of hospice portraits and stories, please visit:

With each book purchase, a hospice family receives a complimentary hand portrait. Thank you for your support, Mary.

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