The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 2

26 11 2007

CHAPTER 2

A Family Reunion in Kentucky and Your First Christmas

You were so healthy after your eye healed. You only had one more serious incident during your first year that resulted from our family reunion in Kentucky. We spent the first few days of November with Uncle Phillip and Aunt Teresa.. Here are the background events for why we could even take this trip to Kentucky. I have a reputation of having almost a sixth sense about events. All during my pregnancy with you, I felt very insecure about Dad’s job. No sooner than we were finished with your eye surgeries , Dad lost his job at Cornerstone Ministries. This job had provided insurance coverage for your birth and subsequent eye surgeries.

I wasn’t surprised that Dad lost his job. There had been a great deal of warning signs. I was actually relieved that the ax fell. Now we could get on to the next step of our lives. They paid Dad a month of severance pay. So we decided very spontaneously to take our trip. We never got to take trips ,so there was a feel of excitement and merriment in our household. I spent the entire day washing our clothes and packing. We arrived in Kentucky around 9:00 p.m., November the first of l979.

It turned out to be a wonderful family reunion. Uncle David and Aunt Lisa also arrived with their children. Their family consisted of Elizabeth, who was almost four and little James, who was born just two months after you were.. Lastly, Uncle Brad arrived.. He was living in Clarksville and was a student at Austin Peay State University . We would pick Mother up at the nursing home to visit with all of us. We had a wonderful pancake breakfast and a great hamburger grill as part of the festivities. Mother was so delighted to be with us all. Such an event was never to happen again in her lifetime. Maria was so funny because she was still so attached to her bottle. She would lie on Uncle Phillips’s den floor carpet and just happily drink her bottle

Back to the family reunion events. Phillip and Teresa heated their home with a wood burning stove in those days. We all slept in the their guest bedroom , which didn’t get much of that heat. By the time we arrived back in Birmingham, we had two very sick baby girls .Maria battled with one of her terrible ear infections. You had pneumonia! Your temperature rose to 104 degrees. You gasped for breath. You came very close to being hospitalized. We got you on antibiotics early enough to prevent your being put in the hospital.

By December, you were a healthy, cuddly, five month old . I no longer put your pumpkin seat in the playpen. Instead, you sat in your little seat on the carpet, just watching, smiling and laughing at everyone. I still had to keep a close eye on you, as your nature as always been to be fearless.

Maria had to have a tumor removed from her mouth Christmas Eve day.(The growth was non cancerous). We had lived through a great many trials in just your first six months of life. That was a peaceful Christmas and each of you children seemed to appreciate the few little gifts we could afford.

Just before the severance pay was gone, Dad got a job at The Atlantic Envelope Co. A friend had referred him to check on this job. It paid $ 7.00 an hour and once again we had health insurance. Dad also received a profit sharing check each quarter.

We still had to count every penny with six people to feed. Likewise, the insurance wasn’t like the co- pay plans of today. We had to pay the entire fee for a doctor visit and there were no prescription plans. Insurance in those days was for the hospital only. So we still had many visits to the doctor. In those days, we had no credit card bills. We lived without debt, but we also fought to survive. It took so much planning and forethought . I really battled with depression about money on a daily basis. Very plain, simple food was all we could afford. A box of cereal or a package of lunch meat was out of the question. Oatmeal, potatoes , eggs, macaroni and Cheese, beans, canned items, peanut butter and a little hamburger meat for a treat were our mainstays.

As you have already noticed, your story has to be blended into the story of our entire family. Keep in mind as we close out l979, that my father was still as good as dead to me. I had not seen him since I was a girl of eight years old. At our family reunion , the four of us adult children talked about what it would be like to hear from our Dad. We wondered if he was still alive. Little did we know that our father was soon to enter our lives.

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