The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 4

20 12 2007

Chicken Pox, Car Troubles and a New Ministry

You grew to be the most teasing toddler. You know all to well the story of putting a tiny lightbulb in your nose. You used to pull antics like finding little objects on the floor–then you would look up at me and smile–then promptly put them into your mouth. You were the toddler that the health professionals had in mind when they warned parents to put everything under lock and key.

You also remember well the story of how you placed a shining blue key in an electric outlet. I think both of these incidents happened your second summer. I had to watch you more than any of my other children as you were always hurting yourself.

The fall of l981 brought chicken pox our way. Ben must have already had the virus but had not broken out yet.. I made brownies. All four of you licked the spoon and pan. A couple of days later Peter had a case of full fledged chicken pox. Within a couple of weeks each of you children succumbed.

That was my first adventure of having all of you sick at one time.. The news had just broken that children and teenagers were not to take aspirin for viruses because it caused “Reyes Syndromn.” For a few days each of you had a little mat in my room, so I could give you Tylenol and something to drink during the night. That was an extremely hard ordeal. As you started getting well, you picked at your sores. Even to this day, you pick at your healing sores.

You and Maria became such good playmates. You did everything together. I know you are familiar with the picture of you and Maria sitting in the toy chest.

The fall of l981 to May of l982 was also the year of our driving the now famous “Beulah” car. Our car had been parked because the transmission was dead. Our angels were watching over us– as we had taken our station wagon to Kentucky. After we arrived home the transmission went dead. In those days we had no credit cards but neither did we have any savings. So our friend, Don lent us his old black rusty chevy which my brother Phillip nicknamed, “Beulah.” It was held together with a chain. I was fairly naive about safety issues. I had to have been! Likewise, Dad was just as ignorant. But we felt like we had to have some kind of car to survive as a family. Under no circumstance today, would I ever knowingly ride around in such a car. (Poverty can have a devastating affect on our choices).

Now there is a story concerning the parked station wagon. We lived from paycheck to paycheck, simply surviving. As I mentioned earlier, we had no debt. However, we had no extra money either. Cars were always a terrible trial when they no longer worked. We had bought several “near goners” in our married years and drove them until they died.. We had just come to that point again in our lives. With no money available, we brain stormed for cash ideas. The only source of money that we could think of was to sell the sterling silver my mother had given me. We sold our six place setting for $600.00. Then we bought a l972 Plymouth station wagon. It didn’t last even a year. Those were painfully difficult days.

Dad had been on the second shift since November of l979. He felt like he wanted to have a day time job as Ben and Sandy would soon be in the first grade. He would be gone to work by the time they arrived home from school. We also had a dream of having a full time ministry. After all we were full time Bible college graduates. It seemed the proper direction to gravitate to. Our spiritual interests were in Norman Grubb’s writing. There was a ministry ,Union Life that published many of his articles. In fact, my brother Phillip, traveled the country with Norman as a faith missionary. The Lord abundantly provided for his family, so we thought we also could have a full time writing ministry. We had already started a monthly newsletter sharing our life in Christ. Again, we were naive and unprepared for such a step. In fact, the editor and owner of Union Life magazine was alarmed at our decision for dad to quit his secular job. He called us to encourage us to stay with secular work and do our writing as a sideline. Our families were alarmed but no one could change our minds.. Dad and I had made up our minds. Phillip told us later that he read the book ,The Power Of Positive Thinking because he was so shaken by our decision.

Dad quit his job in April of l982. By May, absolutely no money had come in for our ministry. Thus, we each took on part time jobs. We were hoping that this part time work would only be for a short time. A friend offered Art some work . Your dad helped this self employed handy man on various jobs. The first couple of weeks , dad earned a couple of hundred dollars. That along with the last of his paychecks from Atlantic Envelope paid our May house payment. It was a big payment for the early l980’s–almost $400.00 dollars. Not being able to pay the house payment, should have been a sign to us not to make such an unwise move in life. However, we lived with a type of false optimism. No one could tell us anything that would change our minds.

Don, our friend, offered Dad an equal split of pay on a big job. He estimated that Dad would earn about $400.00 dollars. Somehow Don never got paid for that job. So we got no money either. This family was so embarrassed by this , that they soon dropped out of our lives. We had been used to their company, especially on Sunday evenings. Nearly every Sunday night they came over for coffee. The had three children . Each of you had such a great time playing. Now we had no money. Moreover, we had no friends to visit with.

Life goes on. The little church we were attending merged with another church. We met a gracious older lady by the name of Alice. Alice insisted on driving by to take our family to church. She adored each of you children. Every time we published a newsletter she gave us $25.00.

Finances was always the foremost thought on our minds. I’ve already written how we managed to pay May’s house payment. However, now it was June and we had absolutely no money. Again, we brain stormed and decided to sell the fine china Mother had given to us. We received $270.00 for the china. A wonderful surprise came in the mail. Two dear ladies from Kentucky , each sent us gifts of $l00.00. That made our house payment with a little leftover for food. We scraped by with the simplest of foods. Another wonderful thing happened.. A mother of two young children, who had gotten a part time job two nights a week , offered me a babysitting job. I took care of her children all that summer. Dad began to mow lawns in the neighborhood. These small jobs paid for ultilities and modest food for the month of June.

It was a hot wretched summer. Our air conditioning unit went bad. Different people took some pity on us. One couple bought us a ceiling fan for our living room in exchange for Dad installing several ceiling fans in their home. Sherry also made each of you girls a beautiful dress that summer. Another couple invited us to a July 4th weekend at a campground area. They had a pretty cake baked for you, Vera.. You were so terrified of the fire works. Later that month , they gave each of you girls pretty bedspreads. You especially loved your little ballerina bedspread.

Different folks gave us vegetables from their gardens. I tried to keep flour, oil, eggs, split peas, macaroni and cheese mixes, peanut butter, powdered milk, sugar, Kool-aid, coffee and tea in the house. I started baking four loaves of bread at one time. Even though not one of you complained about the food, I could see the longing in your eyes for a little more variety. Once during that summer, we splurged and bought some store bought cakes. We were so excited to have such a treat. Another friend who was an insurance underwriter shared a leftover platter of meat and cheese from a work related buffet. We were delighted to have some different type of food.

The summer of l982 was also when we met little Matthew’s family. As a back up thought, Dad had brought home a large bookcase that had been torn out of a home that Dad had worked on with Don. We placed it on the street with a sale sign. We wanted to get $20.00 for it. Matthew’s family drove by and decided to buy the bookcase. Matthew’s mom, Patty needed a baby sitter. Matthew and Sandy were the same age. So Matthew became a regular at our home. Sometimes he was with us during the day. Other times, he was with us in the evenings along with the other children I cared for. Matthew also started first grade along with Ben and Sandy. Sandy and Matthew were great friends. Ben didn’t pay much attention to Matthew. He just kept on building his tree house–ignoring Matthew.

In July of l982, Dad’s sister and her children came to visit us. Daniel, her husband, was a Greyhound bus driver, so Elizabeth got to travel free. She gave us $25.00 dollars for groceries which we needed. That week your cousin , Beth, enjoyed playing with all the children that came to our home. Paul, Elizabeth’s son was just a baby. Charles, a friend, had dropped by some old blankets. Elizabeth spent the week taking the electric wires out of them.

Dad continued his yard jobs . I still had my babysitting jobs. Patty became a good friend to me, as Matthew spent more time with us. Another couple who we met through Union Life Ministries started sharing their groceries with us. She was a great cook and would bring over half of what she cooked. So that long summer which had some very discouraging times also had times of real miracles. Looking back on that summer, I would have to say that many angels stood by our family.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: