From the Pews: Mary Westrick

Written by Dale Buchanan

“Mary had a little lamb and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.”

“When I was three years old and living in a small house behind my maternal grandparent’s home, I had a little lamb. Grandpa raised young animals to market size. It so happened that a pregnant ewe gave birth to twins. Multiple births are not common among sheep and often the mother rejects one of the lambs. My lamb was one of those rejected ones and kicked aside by the mother. My mom was an animal lover and adopted the wee little lamb and bottle fed it until it was strong enough to fend for itself. Along the way, that lamb became my pet and followed me everywhere I went. I think she actually thought she was a dog. 

One morning I heard a scratching at the kitchen door which was half open. I called out, ‘Come in, doggie.”  I immediately heard the click-clack of the lamb’s cloven hooves across the kitchen floor. I made a beeline to the kitchen and heard mother’s frantic calls. Needless to say, Mary’s little lamb was not house broken and left pellets everywhere with my mother in hot pursuit. Eventually that errant lamb was captured and tied under the shade of an orange tree. Exhausted from her adventure the naughty little lamb fell fast asleep with me asleep beside her.

The above story is precious to me because, like the little lamb, I am a chosen child. This is to say, I was adopted. I was born in L.A. When I was six weeks old mom and dad drove from Dinuba to L.A. where they chose me to be their child. We were a family. Their family was my family. I belonged.

I have always been shy. With no siblings I had no playmates. Even now I only feel comfortable with well-known acquaintances and friends. I suppose my shyness also has something to do with my constant moving as a child. We lived in Dinuba four years—first in the country by my maternal grandparents and then with my paternal grandparents in a two-story house in town just across the street from a park. I could go by myself across the street to the playground or to the old brick library in the park where I happily read picture books. I liked living in town but I liked the country best with animals for playmates.

Mother was a homebody and a wonderful cook. When her health failed, I was grown up with medical training and I took care of her. The truth is, I was a daddy’s girl. 😊 One of my favorite memories revolves around dad’s job as a real estate agent. The company he worked for was constructing a subdivision and one of his jobs was to go out on Saturdays and Sundays and put up signs advertising the lots available for sale. It was a great bonding time for father and daughter. I was twelve years old and Dad taught me to drive a stick-shift. I tooled around the vacant lots in the pickup truck when Dad was busy with customers. Truly good old days!

From four to fourteen years of age, the three of us were constantly on the move. I count among our stops:  Dinuba, Boise, Fresno, and Bakersfield—some more than once. While I was in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades we stayed in Bakersfield and my parents tried to choose a brother for me but that never materialized. Then it was on the road again.

We made our final return to Fresno when I was fourteen. Seventh and eight grades I was at Scandinavian Junior High and ninth grade found me at Hamilton Junior High. I graduated from Fresno High School in the class of 1965.

I liked high school. I made a best friend who is still my best friend. I fell in love and six months out of high school found us married. This relationship did not work out so well. We were way to young. I had to grow up fast. I found myself with two small children and one big one. My husband never grew up and we called it quits. Another marriage was equally disastrous resulting in another divorce and another child to raise alone.

Thirty years ago, I sold my house in southeast Fresno and bought another one in the Fruit and McKinley area where I am still happily at home. In 1987 I became a licensed Certified Nursing Assistant. My profession spans from nursing homes to one-on-one home care which I still do. My family has expanded in recent years to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On a typical Tuesday night, you might find me feeding my beloved cat, reading a not-so-thick science fiction novel, coloring in an adult coloring book, and listening to country and western music. For seven years I took country dance lessons dressed up in cowboy boots, a fluffy-sleeved blouse, and a skirt I made myself. I like to sew.

I have a long history at the Big Red Church. My grandparents and parents were members. Cousins Penny Peterson and Lester Leas are active members. I worked for years in the church nursery, drove the church van to pick up members for Sunday services, and helped in the church office. 

Today my hopes and dreams are to stay healthy and spend time with my grandchildren. I love babies. I love to go fishing and camping, and I love to sit in the corner and observe. 

I am known as the crazy old cat woman, and I love that!”

Comments(2)

  1. Garner says

    “Mary had a little lamb. I love getting one of your wonderful smiles on Sunday mornings. That is the beginning of my worship experience that
    I treasure.
    It’s fleece was white as snow.
    Everywhere Mary went,
    The Lamb was sure to go.”

  2. Deanna says

    I love your “lamb” story, Mary. I am so glad you are part of our church family.

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