Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Happy Birthday, Rozena!


My forever friend, Cathy, was in town this weekend for her mother’s birthday. I was so thrilled, because that meant I got to spend a little bit of time with her, too.

I wanted to share my first memory of Cathy. I remember going to their house once and riding their horse. I think her name was Roxanne. She was a very gentle horse.

But the reason I remember that day was that even though we were fairly young, and both Cathy and her sister, Linda, took turns riding with me, they both insisted that I stay in the saddle the entire time. They’d take turns riding “in the rumble seat” as my dad used to call it, but insisted I stay on the entire time.

Even though we couldn’t have been more than five or six at most, I was amazed by their unselfishness. No one had to tell them to do it, at least while I was there, and no one had to stand by to make sure they did.

I’m not sure how they became so unselfish at such a young age, but both of these girls grew into women who still make each person they meet feel as if they’re genuinely glad to see them.

This is Cathy, chatting with one of her relatives. Isn’t she beautiful? My camera didn’t come close to picking up her beautiful hair color.

When I was little, I saw a girl who’d bleached her hair to get it that color, and Cathy has it naturally. She wore her hair in braids until we went into junior high. Maybe this color is the reward for her diligence. 🙂

This is Rozena on the left (happy birthday!) Linda in the middle, and Cathy on the right.

They lived several miles out of town, and didn’t come to town everyday in the summer like most kids. Instead, they learned things like knitting, crocheting and embroidery. By the time we were in high school, Cathy had a hope chest to envy! I have a feeling her sister did, too.

Makes me wonder if she still has anything that she made during those years. I’ll have to ask her sometime.

Like most people, many of Rozena’s friends wishing her happy birthday are also relatives. Here she has her arm around her brother. Happily, being from the same Small Town World, I know some of those relatives and friends, although we didn’t grow up in the same church.

BTW: I loved the outfit Cathy’s mom had on. To be 85 years old, hat woman knows how to dress!!!

Cathy married right after she graduated from college with a degree in education. She lived in the south, then moved to Colorado and taught in Denver for a while. Sometime during all that, she got more education and had a couple of children.

They all moved out to the western part of Colorado and Cathy started teaching in the college there.

I’m going to tell you about our wondful Small World. I wasn’t there and I might get the particulars wrong, but bear with me.

One day at the beginning of a semester, Cathy introduced herself to one of her new classes. “My name is Mrs. Barkley, and this class is —-. I’m from Cleveland, Oklahoma . . . ”

A pretty blond girl, whose mother was secretary for the math department so she already knew Cathy, spoke up. “Are you really from Cleveland, Oklahoma?”

I imagine Cathy chuckled. “Yes. It’s near Tulsa.”

“Do you know any Spesses in Cleveland?” the blonde persisted.

“I sure do. Growing up, my best friend was Susan Spess.” Cathy answered. “Do you know them?”

“Yeah, I do. Susan’s my first cousin.”

I have to tell you–when I count my blessings, Cathy is one of the people I thank God for putting in my life. She’s a forever friend, a gift from God and a joy forever.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Rozena!

  1. It’s true – Cathy is an amazing woman. I often wonder what her life was like before Colorado, which is all the time I knew her. Happy b-day Grandma!

    • And you have amazing taste, Jimmy. 🙂

      • Hi my name is Chris Dean. I live in De Beque, CO. I agree with Jim-Cathy is an amazing woman. We were neighbors for quite a few years and our kids grew up together. Cathy and I would haul kids and horses to horseshows, rodeos and gymkhanas. She and I would spend countless hours together riding our horses. She was a 4-H leader to both of my daughters. She has given so much to me and my family. It was a sad day in my life when they relocated to Loma, CO. A small farming area that is 50 miles away. Cathy is my best friend and will always hold a special place in my heart. I miss her alot and we get together when we can. She is a strong lady and can overcome anything. I am very proud of her on her accomplishments. She has been an excellent role model for my family. She and Jim raised two very nice kids. They have accomplishments of their own, thanks to having such great parents. I love you Cathy!! Happy Birthday Rozena- you raised a great daughter.

        • Chris,
          What a sweet tribute to our friend. Cathy is all those things you mentioned and a beautiful Christian woman. When we were in school, no matter what everyone else was doing, I knew when I took a Christian stand, she’d be right there beside me.
          When my mom died and I got mountains of cards with trite sayings, I got a letter from Cathy. She talked about all the great times and wonderful memories with my mom and family.
          And knowing that you hold her in high regard tells me we would be very good friends, too!
          Thank you for dropping by my Small Town World. I hope you’ll visit again.

  2. Susan, like you, I feel Cathy is a “forever friend”, too. I am so proud she is in my life, too. Smart, funny, (your’re right), unselfish, thoughtful, and always willing to help…. I could go on. I count my blessings and she is tops on the list!

    • Diane,
      You’re very lucky to have Cathy in your life. I call her my Forever Friend because I don’t remember a time before I knew her, loved her and was loved by her.
      I think I understand why you call her a forever friend–because once you love Cathy, you love her forever.
      We’re both so very lucky to have her in our lives!

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

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