The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 3

5 12 2007

MY DAD RETURNS TO MY LIFE, A LONG HARD WINTER AND SANDY HAS A ROUGH TIME IN KINDERGARTEN

In January of l980, my brother David, found out from one of dad’s brothers where we could write him. He had a mail drop in New York, but he traveled all over the country doing contract work as an engineer. Not only had my dad abandoned our family, but he also made himself scarce to his mom , dad, and all of his siblings. For some reason, he started writing his brother, Robert. Thanks to uncle Robert, we finally found our dad.

Each of us wrote dad lengthy letters. However, his letters back to us were devoid of explanations of why he left. He just wrote chatty letters about his work and his interests. (He never was comfortable in discussing the lost years and always kept each of us at a comfortable distance).

Nevertheless, we were all very excited. I tried to explain this good news to Ben and Sandy. All along, I had told them that I had a father who had walked out on our family when I was a child, and that my mother was a very physically sick person. They had the usual childhood questions about their grandmother and grandfather who were not available.

All winters were very hard on our family. We never had a winter free of illness. One after the other of you, began having a case of strep throat, ear infections, etc. Furthermore, fuel bills were high ,which cut further into our grocery money. Your Dad and I had to help each other stay positive.

We made the choice in March of l980 to leave Briarwood Presbyterian Church and start attending a home Bible study on Sunday evenings. We craved a more personal atmosphere with other Christians, which a big church often can’t provide. (Looking back, I can see that was a huge step backwards for us. From that point until l999–we were on and off with our feelings about the established church.).

We had a “honeymoon” season with the house church. Each family took turns hosting. We had the Bible study at our home your first birthday. I can still picture you in a little pink dress, sitting on the grass in the backyard.

In late August, Ben and Sandy, started kindergarten at McElwain Baptist. Ben was in the five year old program and Sandy was in the four year old program. They had never been to any kind of daycare, so their first few days were very difficult. Sandy, especially, was shy. She never did adjust to the fall term of kindergarten.. Ben made a special little friend (Christian) who became a real buddy.

Yes, Sandy had great difficulty adjusting to her four year old kindergarten. For the greater part, , she stood in a corner. To our relief , there was another K4 teacher, who was very maternal, who agreed to take Sandy in her class after Christmas. I know Sandy was miserable that first term of kindergarten.

Since Dad worked the 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. shift, we all had the morning together. Between doing necessary chores, Dad and I would ride our “rusty” bikes with you and Maria.. We had infant carriers for both bikes. We rode all over the neighborhood. You both seemed to enjoy the bike rides a great deal.

From the time you turned one, great mischief came out in your actions. The summer of 1980, you would stand up in your crib and rock the bed. You also climbed out of your crib a time or two. So by the time you were 14 months old, we had to put you in a youth bed. That was your bed for many years.

Another incident that I remember of your being 14 months old ,was you falling down a steep driveway while we were browsing at a garage sale. You scrapped your little nose. I did find the cutest little pair of red shoes for you at that sale. The next day, I dressed you up in the cutest little red dress and put those little shoes on your feet. What a “doll” you were.

The Bible study had some families that had no patience with small children. We were devastated that they made such an issue of their lack of patience, that we finally had to leave that group. Another family with small children ended up leaving also. Together we decided to visit a small church that had a Bible college student as their pastor. You didn’t like being in a nursery at all. You cried and cried! You seem to have a memory of receiving a hair piece that was shaped like a lamb. That is amazing to me that you remember that –since you were so small.

Since Dad worked in the evenings, I tried to get you and Maria to bed by 7:00p.m. , so I could read to Ben and Sandy.. You just wouldn’t sleep and would waddle out to the living room, just grinning from ear to ear. You never would settle down until everyone went to bed. Moreover, you were always the first to wake up. When the spring came, you were the first to get up in the morning. We tried everything we knew to encourage you to sleep longer, even putting blankets over the windows.

As I write, I get frustrated because I realize that I forgot to write about my friend Betty.

We became friends when I was pregnant with you. Betty and her little girl liked to take walks with us in the evenings. . Soon she began visiting our home with her little daughter.. Her husband was an intern at the University of Alabama , in Birmingham, and she was alone a great deal. We talked for hours while watching all the children. This was a very positive part of my pregnancy. After your birth, she cooked our family some wonderful meals. When you were a month old, they left Birmingham. He husband was finally a full fledged doctor and they moved to the East. I really missed Betty. As long as we lived in Birmingham, there was never another friend quite as special as she was.

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