Saying goodbye to my first best friend forever

Mary Fulford Green
Mary Fulford Green

Who is your first best friend? I just submitted the obituary for Jerry Guthrie Cross. She was my first best friend.  She is a first cousin – at one time I had 43 of them; I was the 15th and she was the 16th grandchild of William Thomas and Sallie Adams Fulford – the first family in Cortez.

I do not remember our crawling and taking first steps together at our grandparents house, but I do remember the years afterwards.

In Cortez, one of the best activities was swimming in Sarasota Bay – all day every day – or taking a boat over to a little island and out to the kitchen to pick up scallops. Our grandpa had his leg amputated in 1926 so he had a lot of time to spend with us. He roasted little black conch on the shore and cut out the meat for us to eat. He taught us how to round up fiddler crabs.

Once, Jerry and I decided to open up a bakery under the big net camp on the shore. We were selling mud cakes. Yes, Grandpa bought some with real money. We closed shop and were off to the grocery store to buy candy that we did not share with our siblings.

Along with Cousin Mabel Adams Hipp, we sat together in the Sunday morning Bible class taught by Floy Taylor Bell. Every Sunday we ate dinner together, alternating houses. On Saturdays, we waited for the ice cream man in his little truck. My dad treated all of us to the ice cream. All grieved when the man killed himself and his little dog.

When The War came, we sold war bonds and walked to Bradenton Beach to roll bandages for the Red Cross. Every day we waited at the post office for Mr. Ditmus with our letters from the over 66 men and women who served in WWII from little Cortez. We wrote to all of our cousins and to some special ones too.

I visited Jerry when her first child was born. She attended my wedding at the old Cortez church of Christ building. She’s the one who told me I was pretty – I never thought of myself as pretty… I thought she was. When our youngest sons were about six years old they visited the Greens in Tallahassee and these two cousins had fun together.

In 1936, when Grandma Sallie died, we two lined up with the other granddaughters to take the flowers from the hearse to the grave in the Palma Sola cemetery. We had watched our grandpa as he said goodbye to her. In 1939, we said goodbye to grandpa again at that cemetery. We would forever miss seeing him sitting in the first seat, second row, at the Cortez church of Christ services every Sunday.

In 1977 a voice on my telephone said, “Mary. Mama is dying.” I was so shocked I didn’t recognize her voice. I thought it might be my sister calling me. It was not my sister but my first best friend. I rushed to the hospital and sat with her and her sweet mother until death came. That was the first such experience for us.

Jerry’s severe asthma led her to move to Arizona. She remembered birthdays to all of us via e-mail. Talking had to be with her special telephone. Jerry loved Cortez and wished that she could live here. She loved all of us. She left this world a week after my 90th birthday and three months before hers.

If I could ask, she would reply that yes she remembers the songs we sang, including that one saying we shall meet on that shore in the sweet by and by. There is a saying. “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I couldn’t have but one best friend forever. Thanks, Jerry, for being mine.

– Dr. Mary Fulford Green

Jeraldine ‘Jerry’ Guthrie Cross

Jeraldine “Jerry” Guthrie Cross, 89, native of Cortez and longtime resident of Tombstone, Ariz., died Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

She was preceded in death by husbands, Robert Shiver and Robert Cross; sister, Barbara Holmes; and brothers, Maurice Guthrie and Ralph Scalzo.

Jerry was born Oct. 6, 1925 to J.O. and Grace Fulford Guthrie, the granddaughter of William T. and Sallie Adams Fulford.

A loving mother, grandmother and aunt, she will be deeply missed, especially by her dog, Mimi.

She is survived by sons Paul and Robert Shiver of Efizida, Ariz.; daughter Verna Maldordo of Roswell, N.M.; brother, J.O. “Junie” Guthrie (Betty) of Cortez; grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Private services were held Aug. 7 in Arizona.