B. J. Baldridge passed this morning. I only knew her for a short time, a few years. Other citizens of Beaver could tell you a lot about B. J., I can only tell you what I know.
She walked down Hwy. 187 from her house to the Beaver Bridge twice daily. Always with a dog. Depended upon which year, which dog.
She wore a great sunhat and looked as though she belonged in one of those fancy eastern outdoor magazines. From things I have heard, she was a driving force in our little town, as was her husband, long gone.
We never spoke of much, plants, dogs, the weather. I inherited a house along her route a few years ago. It took B. J. awhile to warm up to me. Understandable. But then she would stop to sit on the porch, come in and use the facilities, get a bit of water for the current dog, and drink a bit of tea.
When I told her to stop by for whatever reason, she looked at me and said, "I stop by for the laughter." I took that as a compliment, because I always teased her and tried to have a funny story to share.
When I would ask her how she was, she would smile that lovely ironic smile and say, "I want this to be over." And I understood, because B.J. had started down that long dark road of forgetfulness, confusion and non-comprehension.
The last time I saw her was just a few weeks ago, before the final break in her psyche. I had lost another good friend from whom I had inherited my Beaver home. I had been given the gift of roses from that good lady's home to take and replant at Beaver. I had just finished the rosebed that morning.
B.J. came walking by and we talked about the roses. I told her to stop by each day and talk to them and then they would make it through the winter. She laughed and said, "I better just pray over them!"
That was her. Wicked and quick humor. Class. Love of laughter. Smart.
I will celebrate her every time I walk by the rose garden in the Beaver Park. I will see her coming over the hill, down the highway. We will miss you, B.J.
Your friend, Penny