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Hear That Whistle Blow V - Katie Learns About Death

Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.

Katie has made her first best friend. Her friend and her friend's dad live with the grandparents who Katie is close with, too.

Being friends now for many months and feeling like this is like her family too it is very shocking and hard on Katie to lose one of them in a horrible accident.

She shares that experience as it felt to just a child about to turn six.

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A New Life

This was such a long and beautiful street that Katie lived on. It was called Pine Street but all the pines were in the distance. Up close were beautiful flowers and flowering trees all summer.

In her yard was her first experience with sweet peas. They ran the whole length of the front fence but they were fuller on one end and Katie crawled in and mashed everything flat for a floor. She had a house of flowers and she could hide from her little brothers and well, just everyone. It was so beautiful and smelled so good. The flowering vine even kept out the rain it was so thick.

It was so big she could almost stand up and she could easily sit down with room around her. She had no toys in there because all she had were dolls and she never liked dolls. She had taken care of real babies so dolls were nothing now, but she couldn't hurt anyone's feelings. She just said thank you and no one noticed she never played with them.

Katie had a friend on each end of this street so she got to look at everyone else's pretty sweet peas and flowers too, besides the wild ones growing along the road in empty lots and the woods at the very end. She was really not supposed to go to the very end where the woods were but sometimes she just had to go look at the flowers that climbed the trees. There were pines and flowers here and they made such a pretty picture that Katie could snap it in her mind and look at it at night going to sleep, from memory.

Katie could still see her friend’s house from here near the woods, so she knew she was safe but she still only stayed a minute or so. Just long enough to soak it all in and slide her bare feet in the hot sand or pine needles. There were rocks along the road and sometimes if she was running late and had to hurry home she would stump a big toe and that really did hurt!

The flesh more than once got a big nick in it and would swell, bleed and sting horribly. Of course, she never told her mom, so she just held a cold cloth on them after she bathed, while her mom was busy with the little brothers. She always got her bath first so her long hair would dry before bedtime. It got bleached every summer playing in the sun. Her brothers had blonde hair too.

Her mom fussed because Katie always got sand and pine needles in her hair and she wanted to know how she did it, but Katie just didn't know, she didn't do it on purpose because she sure hated getting her tangles pulled out! The stumped toes always healed and she never cried about getting hurt. She was no sissy. Besides, if her mom saw them she would pour alcohol on and boy that would hurt worse than anything!

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First Best Friend

At the other end of the street where the main highway was and the school bus would be stopping for them soon, Katie had a friend who lived with her grandparents. She was a little bit spoiled but Katie loved to go there. Her grandparents were very good to her and she spent nights sometimes and her friend and she would go to the basement often and sneak into the pickled cabbage or corn. It was better than dill pickles, even, of which there were plenty.

This friend and her dad lived here and her mother lived only a few miles away and had two other little girls that were her half sisters. Katie knew she shouldn’t ask nosy questions but she tried her best to understand such a strange thing. She really never did. She knew this friend’s mother had to like the other little girls the best, why else would she give her little girl away? This friend was pretty bossy sometimes, to make even Katie a little mad and her grandmother scolded her if she caught her talking mean to Katie; so maybe that was why her mommy didn't want her.

It was the only thing that made sense. She would only stay with her mom a few hours now and then so probably that was all her mother could take. She would never keep her all night. Katie went with her a couple of times. She still did not have a clue as to why this was the way it was. The mother and sisters always seemed very nice.

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Death Has Such Sorrow

It was a very sad experience for Katie while she lived here and stayed with this friend. Oh, she had lots of fun and the grandmother would even dress them both in dresses that looked alike but different colors and that was really fun.

While Katie was there one day though a neighbor came over and gave these grandparents some really horrible news about their son. He would not be coming home from work, or even ever again. He had been killed at work. This friend couldn’t live with her mother and now her daddy was dead.

Katie had known death from somewhere before but was too young to really remember it. She knew it was really bad and sad and she had seen someone in a box that she didn’t really know but she didn’t want to look or even be there near death. She really liked this friend’s daddy. He was so young and handsome and always laughed and was fun when she saw him.

He teased Katie and treated her as good as his own daughter. This was special for Katie since she rarely saw her own dad with him going to work being gone all day and night. Then with him sleeping really late hours he was too tired to joke and play most times, unless it was a holiday.

She really had come to love this friend's father very much in just these few months.

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Strings of the Heart

Everyone was crying and so shocked of course that one minute all was happiness and the next minute a father and son was gone from this world forever. It was an accident in the mines, something that could well have happened to Katie's own father had he not found a new job. Katie could not help but think of that.

Katie left quietly and of course no one even noticed her leaving and she was glad because she had no words to say to them. Her mom knew and liked these old people too so she would be really sad. It was such a sorrowful feeling walking home and thinking how this young daddy was just all of a sudden gone. Katie would never forget this day.

Somehow there was a chill of fear in Katie even though she knew he would never hurt her and then she couldn't help but look up to see if she just might see him, because of course he was up there somewhere now.

It reminded her of the feeling of that train whistle blowing before she moved here, a feeling that something was trying to tell her things in a future she knew she could never understand. When that whistle blew it pulled her heart in an ache and now she had that very same feeling.


© 2017 Jackie Lynnley

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