My laurel advisor had challenged us. Right away I knew it would be difficult. She had challenged us on becoming a friend to one of the “not ‘in class'”. What would my friends think? I would never hear the end of this one. I decided to take the challenge and give it a try. I already had someone picked out, Mary Ann. She’s from one of those groups of people who migrated to the U.S. for freedom who didn’t have much money. Actually, where she came from, Russia, she and her family were from the upper, upper class. But to cross over here, her family had to sell all their things. Now they had a bad time trying to make it. Her father was out of work for a while, but then decided to go back to school, so they’re putting all the money away for him.
Mary Ann was one of the quiet ones. She was also very smart. I mean, very! She was always to class on time, and did all her homework in class, or during lunch. I’ve always, well, everyone, has had an interest in her. All you could get out of her was a simple “hi” or “hello” and the prettiest smile you’ve ever seen. She would always have her head down but on occasion she would lift it, so she wouldn’t bump into anything.
Monday I saw her coming to school. I walked up to her and said hi. She just sorta gave a little smile. I started talking to her since we had a while before the bell. She was always early. I had trouble on my english homework so I asked her if she could help me with it. She gave a silent yes. Right then I thought I might be able to get her to open up. She helped me with my work and we had just a minute left. I started asking her questions.
“How do you like the U.S.?” There was a couple seconds of silence then she said, “It’s all right. I think I could live here.”
“I thought you did live here.”
“No, we’re only here until next year.”
“Oh.” Just then the bell rang. She started to get up.
“Say,” I started. “Can I talk to you later? Maybe during lunch or after school?” She shrugged and said, “I’ll see.” Then we went to our classes.
Lunch came around. I started looking for her. I got worried because it wasn’t like her to be missing. She’s always been where you could see her. I decided to go to the office and find out who her last teacher was.
“Yes, could I help you?”
“I need some information on a girl that goes here. Mary Ann Joworsky.”
“Oh yes. She had to go to the hospital.”
“Something about her father.”
I got in my car and rushed over. I saw Mary Ann and supposedly her mother. She was tiny and frail with black hair up in a scarf. She couldn’t speak any english. I went over to Mary Ann.
She looked startled to see me there.
“What are you doing here?,” she asked.
” I was looking for you at lunch and couldn’t find you. I wanted to talk so I could get to know you better. What are you doing here?”
“My father had a terrible stroke.” Her mother finally looked over and motioned Mary Ann over to her. She must’ve asked who I was because Mary Ann asked me my name.
“Debbie. Debbie Brooks.” She told her mother my name. They talked a little then Mary Ann came over to me.
“My mother wants to know why you’re here.”
“I heard about your father so I decided to come on over here. I want to become your friend.”
“I don’t need any. I don’t need any. They betray you. They make you feel low. I don’t need one.”
“I’m not like that.”
“How do you expect me to believe that?” She had me stumped. I didn’t know. I was still amazed to hear her talking. I decided I had to say something.
“I honestly don’t know. I think I should let you know that much.”
“You’re an honest person. I’ve never known one.”
“Well now you do.”
We sat down and just waited. The nurse came out and told Mary Ann that she was sorry. She looked as though she was very sincere. Mary Ann looked as though she was going to explode. “You better tell your mother,” I said.
“Yes, I better. She’s not gonna take it very well. She may even ignore it, or me.” She stood looking at her mother. In a way, I think her mother knew. She got up and started walking away.
“Here, I’ll take you home.”
“What about school?” Mary Ann asked with a concerned voice.
“Don’t worry about that. You two need to get home.”
I took them home. Their house was small and looked as though it had been abandoned. I went home and told my mother all about it.
“Do you think we could get some of the members to help out?” I asked my mom with hope.
“I don’t know. We could ask Bishop Larson if you csn make an announcement during sacrament meeting.”
“All right.” My hopes had soared somewhat. For the rest of the year I helped Mary Ann with her school work. She started to slip after that Monday at the hospital. I would pick her up from school, her mother took the little money they had and started looking for work, and take her home. I made that announcement at sacrament and some of the members would go over and help out with the yard, house, and dinner. By the end of the first month, there was a “dent” in the work that needed to be done. They were also given clothes that were decent that the church members were gonna get rid of anyway. Some of my friends even helped out with financial problems.
During all this, Mary (she started letting me call her that) and her mother were asking questions (her mother started to learn English) about the church. They were given the Book of Mormon and were taking the discussions. By the end of the year, the house looked like a regular house, Mary’s mother mother, Sanga, had a decent job — and was expecting a promotion with a raise — and became members of the church. Mary also opened up and now was hard to keep quiet. Everyone at school knew her and she knew everyone at school. She graduated from high school and started going to a local college. She was majoring in interior design, I went off to school to major in fashion design. We would both write back and forth until I found out she was going to be married in the Los Angeles temple. I couldn’t expect her to keep up with her wedding and writing me at the same time. I was the maid of honor. We both went on our honeymons (she wanted to wait for me to get married) and came home, both found some nice homes on the same street and we both found out we were pregnant together. Now you know Mary as “Aunt Mary.”
“Boy, that was a terrific story mama. Tell it to us again.”
“All right. My laurel advisor had challenged us…..”
(Did you read Hunk?)