Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A British Invasion

 Ava, age 8, made special signs to welcome our friend, Kay, from the UK.  The Normanator got into the act,  as well! The signs read "You bet your BUM we're happy to see you"...Yes, Ma'am!" and "Welcome Home, Kay!"

We are "making nice" for our English friend to arrive on this side of the pond!  She'll stay in our guest room for about  three weeks!

We never meant to strike up a friendship with someone so far away...

We crawled out of bed at 1:30 AM to deliver the 150 papers on our route.  We had finished our route by 6 AM, thankfully, and could slip between the warm covers to catch a nap before beginning Act II of a chilly March day.

I had just settled in when the phone rang.  I raced to answer it and what I heard from the other end of the line was loud wailing in a strong British accent:  "I CAHN'T GET MAH-RRIED!  "I CAHN'T GET MAH-RRIED!

The awareness of what was happening washed over me.  Anita, a good friend of ours, was visiting at the prison and met a charming, gregarious young woman from England.  They exchanged stories and contact information.  Anita suggested that I "friend" Kay on Facebook, which I did.  I suggested that the 3 of us should have coffee when she came stateside and gave her our phone number.  I did not know  the details when all that wailing and crying came over the phone about why her wedding to Gary Frazier could not happen but I knew we HAD to help somehow.

On that fateful spring day this British traveler had landed at the airport in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The cab ride some 40+ miles to Beatrice, Nebraska, where arrangements had been made for her motel, had tapped  out her resources!  Because of the cost of the cab fare from Lincoln to Beatrice, she had no money, no way to pay for her stay and she was 35 miles away from the man she was to marry at the Tecumseh State Correctional Facility.  She was desperate and terribly afraid.

I said to her, "Kay, don't worry about a thing.  Norm and I will be there in half an hour!"

We pulled on clothes as quickly as we could.  We had to hurry because we had to make the 35 mile trip, collect our damsel in distress and return home in time to drive the neighbor girls to school!

When we pulled into the motel we could see Kay in the doorway.  She was so cute in her pink suit.  She looked almost as if she were pouting.  I opened the front door and invited her to put her luggage into the trunk of our car.  She looked at us as if she may cry and said, "NO ONE in England would DO this."  She probably worried that she had been connected to a couple who specialized in serial murders.  She may have thought we offered to help her so we could rob her or some other heinous thing.  In any case, she was at our mercy and fastened her seat belt for what she must surely have been concerned could be a roller coaster ride!

She chattered in her delightful English accent all the way to Tecumseh.  Norm could not understand one word but I listen faster than Norm and I was getting the  gist of the story.  We told her that the marriage between Kay Pilkington and Gary Frazier WOULD take place, because we would do whatever it took to get her to the "church" (aka prison) on time!

We showed her to our guest room, fixed her some breakfast and brewed fresh coffee.   Coffee for Kay is like oxygen to the rest of us.  She refers to coffee as "a brew" and we have learned to lay in a good supply of coffee  and cream for her visits!

Kay personified a beautiful bride.  She was positively fetching in the lovely simple dress she chose.  

On March 17, 2012 Kay Pilkington and Gary Frazier were pronounced man and wife by a clergy arranged .We were not allowed to attend these nuptials because we do not have visiting privileges for Gary and we are not on his telephone list.

As I recall, she stayed for a week.  We made sure Mrs. Frazier had meals and transportation and anything else she may have needed.  She did come to the conclusion that we intended her no harm and in fact we might even be considered to be decent human beings!

That same fall,  Kay returned, knowing that she could stay with us again sans the added expense of lodging. She knew she could enjoy all the comforts of our home and that I'd prepare a hot water bottle for her ailing back.  She could depend on having nutritious food served on her visiting schedule.  We had introduced her to those who sit in our circle and this darling new friend was embraced by everyone wherever she went in our little town.

You are no doubt keenly aware that globe trotting is not a low cost endeavor.  In order to finance Kay's travels she sold their love story to some English papers, who paid a handsome sum for the details of their romance and marriage.  Not only that, she managed to win a small lottery!  Kay gave up smoking, sacrificed her automobile and cuts back on every thing possible in order to save for travel to the States!

To ease her travels somewhat she has left some of her "bits" in the guest closet.  There is a shelf in the bathroom and she has "commandeered" a drawer or two in a dresser.  We refer to our guest room now as "Kay's room" and she is convinced that anyone else who sleeps there in her absence should pay HER a stipend!  Over the years we have had a great many laughs, some mighty good food and we have made some delightful memories with our dear friend...she really feels like family to us.

There is an ample supply of coffee and cream on hand; Kay's room has fresh linen as well as clean windows and curtains...and we have made plans for activities we hope will please her no end.

We are ready for a British Invasion!

Connie Baum

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