The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 15

29 03 2008

Teaching School and Ben Gets His Driver’s License

My teaching job was a great deal of work. The teacher had given me a sketch of each week and had copied off enough lessons for six weeks. I then wrote out the specific plans each week and turned them into a supervisor. I had papers to grade each evening. I had a good incentive though as I knew my pay would almost triple after working for twenty consecutive days. To get this pay, I would have to work twenty consecutive days. If I missed one day, then I would have to begin all over.

Sugar, our new puppy, was just too small to leave roaming around the house. Lucy, the chow mix, loved to chew on little Sugar’s legs. I borrowed a large dog carrier from my brother. She had to stay in that carrier all day. It made me feel awful but I would have never forgiven myself if Lucy had hurt her. As it was-Sugar was always getting lost in our house. She only weighed three pounds at her first visit to the vet. Sugar begged to sleep under the covers with us each night. She wasn’t big enough to jump up on the bed. So I would pick her up and she would immediately get under the covers.

I came close to losing my twenty days as Sandy got sick at school and I had to leave to take her home. However, because I had been at school through the lunch hour-it was considered a full day. I was able to be at school the following day. I taught with three other teachers on a team. We worked together as a team on every little detail. Discipline especially was handled with a team plan. The ladies I taught with were veteran teachers-who had enough years to retire. It was a privilege to learn from them.

I was responsible for all of the grades. I even averaged the grades for the six week report cards. When I left, the teachers with whom I worked presented me with a gift of tulips. On my very last day at the job, I received a call from another principal asking me to start another long job for a teacher who was going to have a baby. I was so excited to get another steady job. It was to start around the middle of March and continue to the end of the school year.

I had about a month before I started that job. I received my final paycheck from the first big job. I bought our first brand new television and VCR. We had never had the money to buy anything brand new. I subscribed us to the Disney Channel. I especially enjoy watching ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and ANNE OF AVONLEA. We taped them and I always enjoyed watching those movies -especially when life got hard. They helped bring a great deal of joy into my life.

I had a few days off in between my big teaching jobs. However, the principals were beginning to know me and I enjoyed a wide variety of one day jobs. In between teaching, I took all of you to various activities. I began driving in l989 . I had wasted too much of my life being afraid of driving a car. Once I began driving, I wondered how I had ever survived always waiting for people to take me places.

Sandy was getting interested in running cross country. She was also deciding on her high school career choices. Sandy made the right decision to get a business major in high school. Ben didn’t like school but he loved to work. Besides his paper routes-he cut yards each spring and summer. Our street had many widows who loved having Ben to cut their yards or do other odd jobs. Ben had his eye on buying a car when he turned 16. He saved most of his money to that end.

My other teaching job was about to begin. Sugar had just started being big enough to take walks. So now I walked both Lucy and Sugar as much as I could. I didn’t have to lock her up in a cage for my second big job. I taught a special education class at another junior high. Again, there were many stacks of work sheets piled up for me. Again, I made the lesson plans and submitted them to the supervisor. I also made the bigger money after twenty days. That was the best spring we had enjoyed in many years. Each of you children were involved in good activities. Vera , you were enjoying many academic honors. Maria was becoming quite the star with her drama and speech competitions. We still had the paper routes to maintain. So after we all got home from school, we rolled the papers and got the routes delivered.

It was a wonderful summer. Ben turned 16 and got his driver’s licence. He bought an older Buick with his money. He gave his paper routes to you and Maria. Ben got a job at the WINN-DIXIE food store. I will always remember his having to dress in black pants, a white shirt and a little red vest. Ben still managed to elude us with his sneaking out of the house . I never could see how he managed going to school, working so many hours, and still having time to sneak around. At any rate-we were proud of him. Life had come to a sort of sweet fruition for our family. We were no longer living so hand to mouth any longer. Newer and more difficult problems were about to challenge us. Thankfully, at that point -I didn’t know it.





My Dad, part 1

29 03 2008

I could easily  have led a charmed life –if my dad had known more about delayed gratification–but it was not to be. However,  I had a very good start in life. My Dad was an engineer for the Ford Motor company in Detroit.  He and my mother were both natives of Kentucky.  During World War II Dad was stationed at Camp Campbell which is now Fort Campbell.  He met my mother at a picnic.  She was a school teacher at one of the elementary schools.  It was a whirlwind romance.  Dad never had to go over seas because of an injury to his knee when he was a teenager.  When the war ended my parents first went to Dayton, Ohio.  Then Dad became a student at the Ford Motor Institute in Lansing, Michigan.  Although I’m sure my dad must have had some benefits from the GI bill which provided education to those who had been in the military– he also received the benefit of financial help from my mother teaching school.

By l949   my dad was established with a good job.  Phillip, my oldest brother was born that year.  I came along in April of 1952.  My mother kept a box of all the cards and ribbons she received from  my baby shower gifts.  I still have that box and in fact I  looked through it again–just last week.  Dad was a big executive and was a man who liked to spend his money.  Two more brothers arrived not far behind my birth.  By the time I was four years old–I had keyed into the fact that we had nice things and lived in a nice neighborhood.  In fact, we moved up to an even finer neighborhood by the time I was five years. old.  I have a clear memory of moving into a large home in an upscale neighborhood.  My father bought my mother a whole new set of dining room furniture.  The curtains were made by someone who specialized in that area.  They were very heavy and ornate.  I liked to hide behind them and eat jam.  In my child’s mind–I thought no one knew what I was doing but it is a family joke even to this day.

Mom didn’t have to teach school anymore.  She was the queen of her lovely home.  We had a rose garden and all the nice things that well to do people have.  I remember our new station wagon in l957.  The evening my Dad brought it home–we went to the drive- in theater.  I remember falling asleep in the back of the car.  I also remember the sensation of being wrapped up in some warm blankets. 

Dad wasn’t satisfied to just drive a practical station wagon.  I can recall his renting a fancy white convertible one Sunday afternoon.  We had a Sunday drive and ended up having dinner in a fancy restaurant.  Dad liked to be a part of the neighborhood theater group.  There was a playhouse in the suburb just for such occasions.  Dad was always the host like person.  We have many picture books of his days of helping with theater productions.  He always liked to be important.  He wanted others to see him as important. 

I think much of that has to do with his having grown up as a share croppers son.  Dad was the oldest of seven children.  His father was very strict and according to my dad–was almost brutal to him.  Dad had to work out in the tobacco fields each summer all day long.    Dad always resented his growing up years.  He was determined that he would not be stuck in a little Kentucky town.  It certainly seemed like he was living his dreams.

My parents entertained a great deal.  They had about four other couples whom they socialized with. They loved playing the card game, bridge.  When it was time for the group to meet at our home–we were all put to bed early.  That didn’t stop us children.  We would sit at the top of the stairs and peek in on the party.  I also have vivid memories of visiting the other homes.  If it was an evening event–all of the children of the various couples would be taken into one room.  We would eat our supper in that room and play until it was time to go home.

Life was  not always so filled with fun and exciting events.   I remember waking up one morning to find my mother’s face covered with bruises.  She told us that she had taken a fall.  I never got my mother to admit that my father hurt her.  But I have always believed that my mother was the victim of spouse abuse.  Other strange things began happening.  I was no longer allowed to get ice cream from the ice cream truck.  I was so jealous of my best girlfriend who lived across the street because  she always got ice cream each summer afternoon.  Moreover, I had to give up my pearl necklace that had been a gift from my parents.  My Dad made me give my pearls to my best girlfriend on her birthday.  I knew in my small heart that paradise had vanished.  I played with my dolls in my upstairs bedroom and shuddered with fear that my parents would get a divorce.  My nights were filled with fear. I would cry and beg my mother to come comfort me.  Life was not going to get any better –as I was soon to find out.

God Bless each of You!





Remembering

22 03 2008

Sunshine has been in abundance the past several days.  We did have almost four inches of rain this past Wednesday.  The spring rains cause the river that runs through our county to swell.  Any more rain–and we would have had some flooding.  It is amazing how the weather of this month has had many themes–snowstorms, near tornadoes and minor flooding.  However, today the daffodils are in   abundance and  the tulip trees are blooming.  My little plum trees are blossoming.  Jim and I enjoyed walking our dogs last evening and this morning.  There is a sense of beauty and harmony during this Easter weekend.

There was no school yesterday in our county.  Vera and I decided to take John and Alex ( my grandsons ) to visit Maria in the country.  They had not been to her home since last summer.  I have only made one visit since my surgery in December.  The boys were so excited to visit.  We didn’t know that Kirk ( Maria’s husband) was on his way home, too.

Kirk arrived about twenty minutes after we did.  John and Alex were overwhelmed with joy to see Kirk.  They also knew that Kirk would probably take them for a ride in his truck.  Just a few weeks ago–it looked like the end of Kirk and Maria’s trucking business.  The boys were at my home when Maria came by the house to tell us what was going on.  It was a cold, grey day.  Maria’s face was streaked with signs that she had been crying a great deal.  She began crying again as we talked that afternoon.  They boys picked up on the entire story.  In fact, the next day John reminded me that Kirk would have to get a different job.  It was an extremely heart breaking day.

Maria had to face her own battle this winter of wondering if she had cancer.  It was devastating to us all to learn that she had a growth appear on a mammogram.  We pushed her to find out more.  That involved more doctor’s visits and more tests.  I sat with her as she agonized about how she would pay for all the tests because of a lack of health insurance.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago–she was freed of her worry.  Evidently, she only had  a cyst.  It had dissolved on it’s own. 

I ‘m remembering also that my life took a very different course last fall.  I never dreamed that I would become a cancer patient.  I’ve had a wonderful winter of recovering because Vera has been here to help me.  Her job as a teacher in a private school came to an end. She saw it an opportunity to help us. Even though I’ve not been bedridden or terribly sick–emotionally– I’ve needed her support.  She has grown through this experience of living at home again.  Soon, she will be leaving the nest in her own way.  I don’t think she has plans of moving out of our home.  However, it is time for her to get employment once again.  She is looking at the possibility of being an adjunct professor at our community college.  It will mean that we have less time to do fun things together. However, it is time for her to teach once again.  One of her richest experiences has been to learn that she loves genealogy and music.  I taught her piano as a child.  She became to busy with school activities to ever pursue piano through high school.  Now she is taking piano from me once again. And she is making great progress.

How marvelous it was to be out in the country with Kirk and Maria yesterday.  For awhile at least–the burdens have lifted for them.  Kirk seems very sure that he will be able to keep his trucking business.  His spirits seemed good yesterday.  He enjoyed entertaining the boys.  They took a long ride in his truck.  Later, he put Alex in a wheel barrel and whisked him all over the yard.  John could have had a turn but was a bit afraid.   We found a beautiful male cardinal that had died.  His little body was perfect.  Maria’s dog is known to attack the birds but this bird died from another cause.  Maria wrapped up the little bird and dug a grave.  We said a few prayers and sang the doxology.  We named the little bird,”Ben”. 

What a wonderful day we had with Kirk and Maria.  My prayer for them is for their health to be good and their business to thrive.  But also, for their spiritual roots to continue to grow very deeply. 

I continue on my own journey of making decisions about my health.  I’ve had to visit my surgeon nearly every week since my surgery because I still have fluid that builds up from the mastectomy.  Each week–he probes me about making a choice to have my other breast removed.  Some of my friends think that he has only money as his motive.  I have never gotten that impression from him.  He seems genuinely concerned that I am a third generation breast cancer patient.  My cancer doctor, on the other hand, feels like that getting an exam every three months will be suffice for any risk involved with my heredity.  So this theme is still a haunting one.  I will continue to study about breast cancer, take all of my supplements and pray.  That is all that I can handle right now.  My human psychology is much too tender right now to make a final decision.

So Spring is here.  New hopes and dreams are enveloping most everyone’s heart.  I hope and pray that your dreams come true.  As an Orthodox Christian, my Easter isn’t until the end of April.  But for all of my friends celebrating Easter tomorrow–have a great day!

 God bless each of you!





From Generation to Generation

19 03 2008

There is a beautiful historic graveyard in our county that my mother is buried in along with others of her family. I’ve never had an interest in visiting graveyards. In fact, I’ve only visited my mother’s grave one time  —  shortly after moving to Kentucky.  Clearly, I thought that people who visited grave yards on a regular basis were a bit crazy. I especially never could understand why people decorated their ancestor’s graves.

Over the past two years my heart has opened up more to respecting those who have gone on before us. I owe that new thinking to my Orthodox faith. There are many documented stories of miracles happening to those who have visited a saint’s grave or had exposure to a relic of a saint. Thus, my interest has grown in visiting my ancestor’s graves. (Although by know means have my ancestors been declared saints.)

Vera and I took the plunge a couple of weeks ago to visit this cemetery. I knew where my mother’s brother and his family were buried. Thus, we went to visit their graves first. My aunt had taken me to visit  her family grave plots on one occasion before she died . She showed me the graves of her husband, my blood uncle, and their son.   I was able to remember where the graves were because they were close to a small chapel. However, my mind was blank about where my mother was buried.

A truck came along with some maintenance workers. They took us to a little building where all the records were kept. This building is always locked and if they had not come along–we wouldn’t have been able to find my mother’s grave. After we were given the records, we followed them in our car to mother’s grave. It was a family site where my mother, her mother and father and some other relatives were buried. I only recognized one name “Buck” (my grandfather’s brother) because I had heard stories about him. There were other names: Julian, Eliza and Louisa. I knew the Julian probably was my grandfather’s father –because my grandfather named one of his sons -Julian.

We went back a week later and noticed a large ornate tombstone with the family name. My mind could not recollect having heard about this man. He was buried a short distance away from the other graves.   The only reason why we saw this grave was because we drove into the cemetery from the south gate. I was standing there looking at the grave and wishing that I could talk to our county historian. I happened to look up and there he was just about six feet away from where I was standing. I yelled out: Prof. T, can you come here and help me?”Prof. T had taught me European and American history at our community college. He also knew my family very well. He couldn’t recall who this person was but he told us to take down all of the information on the graves and go to the library where all the newspapers were on micro film.  He also noted the little American flag on the Confederate emblem that had been placed by the grave. Prof.  T  said that a Confederate soldier would never have believed in the union of the states and thus it was an insult for someone to have placed the American flag on the grave.  (By the way, I’m not real happy to know my great uncle  and my great grandfather were Confederate soldiers.) Later that evening I was browsing through our local newspaper and saw that Prof T was the subject of a nice article. I found out that one of his hobbies is to ride around this cemetery and visit his friends who have departed.

Vera immediately found a helpful website: www. Ancestry.com.(There is a cost to access the records.) She found out that Julian was my great grandfather. Louisa was his first wife. They had five children together. Louisa died when she was just 39 years old. Four years later, Julian married Eliza . They had two sons and two daughters.  Never once did I ever hear my grandmother talk about her husband having two sisters.  I felt upset with grandmother for not sharing about the entire family. One of their sons, Leslie, is my grandfather. The grave that we had wondered about belongs to Julian’s brother, John. Julian and John both fought as Confederate soldiers in the civil war. They lived in Virginia. After the war, they migrated to Kentucky.  Vera was able to tap into someone’s family history work and found over two hundred years of our family tree.We have pages and pages of information that would have taken years to compile by the old method of gathering records.

We were also particularly interested in my maternal grandmother’s Irish heritage. We knew that her mother’s maiden name was Irish. Yesterday, Vera found out that my great grandmother’s  father came over from Ireland during the potato famine that nearly wiped out that country in the 1840’s.  I vaguely knew that the potato  famine had something to do with my maternal grandmother.Vera has narrowed down the names of 8 boats that my great great grandfather could have sailed on. She hopes to  pinpoint the exact boat he sailed to America on in the next few days.

Now back a bit to my grandfather’s family.  They are definitely of English ancestry.  And Kentucky has only been the home of this line of ancestors since after the Civil war.  I had mentioned that one of my grandfather’s brothers was also buried in the family plot.  “Buck” died when he was just 33 years old.  We do have the original obituary of  Buck.  He worked in a drug store down town and was well loved.  The obituary gave a detailed account of how he didn’t turn up to work on a Monday.  It gave information about doctors trying to revive him.  Lastly, it told of his fellow merchants downtown being sad about his death.  It was an intriguing obituary.

At any rate –a new hobby has started for Vera. Eventually, she hopes to get all sides of our family tree completed. Thus far, on my mother’s side of the family-I know we have a strong British and Irish heritage. I’m figuring that I’m at least 1/16 Irish. I get a laugh out of those who think I’m Irish anyway because of my dyed red hair.

We hope to visit our ancestors now on a regular basis. I want to eventually decorate their graves. It looks like the hobby of genealogy is here to stay. So “top of the morning to each of you” and happy spring!

God bless each of you!





The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 14

15 03 2008

LYNN’S MOTHER RETURNS , I TRY A NEW JOB, and LUCY AND SUGAR(THE DOGS)

As Christmas vacation was coming to an end, I knew that Lynn could not go back to school legally while living in my home. I have never been one to purposely withhold information. My mother and grandmother drilled in me the need to be honest. They also taught me that all kinds of unexpected things can happen and one does not need to be thrust into a situation where one might end up introuble with the law. Thus, I decided to file a complaint against Lynn’s mother at the court house. Since her mother could not be found, I ended up in court seeking temporary custody of Lynn. A social worker had to come and inspect my home and find out information about our family. Jim and I were granted temporary custody of Lynn.

During that time-teaching jobs were scarce again. There was a customer service opening at the print shop where Jim worked. I asked if I could apply. Jim’s boss let me work for a couple of weeks on a trial basis. All of the sudden so many calamities on the home front kept happening. Lynn fell down the stairs one afternoon and I had to take her to the doctor. Thankfully , she was just bruised up. You Vera, developed a very high fever. I asked you to try to stay home alone and you begged me not to go to work. I checked on you several times during the day. However, when I arrived home you had a fever of l04 degrees. Immediately, I took you to the doctor. The diagnosis was strep throat. With no back up baby sitters, I realized that a full time job would never work in my situation. I wondered then and I still wonder how the working poor make it with both mom and dad working. We just never had much of a support system going with relatives and friends.

The teaching jobs began to pick up. I liked subbing because I was often at a school with one or more of my children. When school was out, I helped fold all of the newspapers-then out the door you children went to deliver them. Those were busy days for all of us.

Lynn’s mother finally returned around Valentine’s day. I had to go back to court with Lynn. Her mother also had to go to the court hearing. I’m still amazed how quickly the court gave Lynn back to her mother. I was so angry at the court system. Lynn’s family continued to move from one rental home to another. The dysfunction in their family life was terrible. Lynn always seemed to want something better with her life. She was a fighter. Today she is an incredibly wonderful mother to her two children. She is happily married and one of the most creative young women I know.

Maria started using her talent for drama in a serious manner. She became involved with the speech team at her junior high school. As a seventh grader she won awards for her presentation of Alfred Noyes’ THE HIGHWAY MAN. Her redention was spellbinding. I can still see her with her long brown hair and her little petite figure belting that poem out with a great deal of passion. Those were the kinds of moments that gave us all a break from the mundane problems of life.

One hot July morning of l990, we woke up to find a little black chow mix pup on our sideporch. Sandy who was recovering from surgery on her wrist-begged us to let this little puppy be a part of our lives. I had never had a dog in my life. However, we let “Lucy” stay. She became very special to me. I began taking Lucy on long walks-especially if I had a bad day dealing with you children. Ben began climbing out of his upstairs window at night to sneak out of the house. We could never catch him. I tried staying awake and listening-but he was very clever. He would climb out on the roof and climb down the porch rails. Then he would sneak back in the house the same way. Lucy and I walked off a great deal of frustration about Ben.

On Christmas of l990, one of our little neighbor girls brought us a little beagle mix pup. She had found this pup in the snow. She was only as big as my hand. We decided to keep her also. “Sugar” was her name. There was snow on the ground that year. I was happy because I knew that I had been promised a six week job after Christmas to work for a teacher who was going to have a hysterectomy. There was a new sense of hope in my heart.





Ecology—-Preserving God’s Earth

12 03 2008

I first became aware of the issues of ecology when I was a freshman in college. It was a hot topic. Conversation in the hallways and in the library almost always turned to the topic of ecology. Thirty eight years have passed since those days. However, the seeds of those conversations have always stayed with me.

As a young mother, I didn’t have the money to buy fancy groceries. Thus, ecology was involuntarily a part of my life. I used to look at folks with their grocery carts filled to the fullest capacity. All kinds of convenience foods packaged in fancy boxes. Glass jars full of fruit, spaghetti sauce, apple sauce etc. Moreover, I couldn’t afford to buy disposable diapers and I often envied the mothers who had their carts full of the big packages of disposable diapers. In those days, I never directly thought of ecology. I thought only of what I wish I could afford.

As our income increased– I found that I became one of the people with a full grocery cart-often with convenience foods. When my children were in high school, we started ordering pizza quite often. The delivery person would give us our pizza which was in large cardboard containers. I just threw them out. I always did have a tinge of guilt. The only thing I didn’t throw out as our prosperity grew were aluminum cans. That was where I took baby steps with ecology. With four teenagers, I never felt I was prosperous enough to throw away the money that I could get from them. Jim placed a large container at his plant for people to throw their aluminum cans in. When it was filled he took it to our recycling plant and got some good money. Often, we ordered more pizza with that money. Thus, more cardboard boxes went to the landfill.

Since I’ve become an Orthodox Christian, I have grown in my sensitivity to preserving the earth. We truly believe that God has all people to watch over and preserve the earth’s natural resources. Our family has taken steps to more green living as our awareness grows. Last spring, I made the choice to clean mostly with vinegar and baking soda. I have a spray bottle that I fill with 3/4 full of vinegar and the rest of the bottle is filled with Blue Dawn Dish soap. This makes an excellent all purpose cleaner. Then I use an old dish detergent bottle and fill it with half vinegar, half water and just a few drops of the Blue Dawn . This is what I use for light cleaning. I clean my plastic table covering with this solution. I do keep a can of Comet cleanser to use if anyone has had a stomach virus or flu. That is the only time I use a disinfectant.

I don’t buy many convenience foods. However, it is amazing how much cardboard, plastic, and glass one can accumulate just by minimal shopping. We do eat a great deal of cereal and occasionally I like to buy canned fruit in a jar. I thought I was doing well with my ecology efforts but when Vera moved home-she chided me for throwing my cereal boxes away. So now I smash all of my boxes and place them in a bigger box. I have a box or a bag for all of my plastics, and a box for my glass jarsand aluminum products. Every two weeks they are taken to a recycling center. It is at times an inconvenience but I think of the bigger issue involved-saving the earth. My son , Ben, gets all of my plastic peanut butter jars. He uses them to put all of this little things like nails and screws. He just can’t get enough of those plastic jars.

We also try to limit the use of paper products. For about a year-I used only cloth napkins. However, now I use the paper towels that come in the choose a size rolls. I try not to over use paper towels. However, with my grandsons visiting quite a bit-paper towels are just handier. We rarely use paper plates. I run my dishwasher every two days. I’m conservative with washing clothes. There are many clothing items that can be aired out and worn a second time.

I’m not an expert in ecology. I have much to learn. However, I still hear the whispers in my ear of those conversations that I had with other students many years ago. What about you? What do you do to save God’s earth?

May God bless each of you!





The Story of Vera and Her Family, chapter 13

8 03 2008

Teenagers and Unoffical Foster Children

Teenagers are always a challenge–even in the best of circumstances.  It is a time of physical changes in the body and a time of charting the waters to new kinds of freedom.  Ben had changed so much in just one year.  He had the voice of a man at age 14, and he was already shaving his face.  Sandy, at 13, looked like a full grown woman.  In fact, we shared clothes.  I was extremely slim at the time.  Sometimes, we battled over who would wear a cute outfit for the day.  That was very immature on my part.  I just could not believe that Sandy and I were the same height and weight.  It was unbelievable.

Ben felt the full impact of being the only son in the family.  Since his eleventh birthday, he had accused your Dad and I of showing favortism to you girls.  At the time, I didn’t want to believe that.  After all, he had his own room and many freedoms.  However, looking backwards–I can now say, that for my part–I don’t think I gave him the attention he needed.

Ben never liked school.  Even though he tested well and made good grades–school was a challenge.  He hated sitting in a desk all day.  He wanted to be on the move. Furthermore, he was always creating something with his hands.  His teachers never sent any bad reports home.  Nevertheless, at home Ben couldn’t handle any noise and confusion.  We walked on eggshells , wondering when he would exhibit anger again. 

Ben did have a close friendship with a boy named Tim.  Tim came from a very bad family life.  Thanksfully, his parents let him spend a great deal of time at our home.  On the days that I didn’t teach–I baked a great deal.  Tim loved my chocolate chip cookies and my pumpkin bread.  He also ate many peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.  He told us that his family never bought peanut butter and jelly.  I couldn’t imagine that a child could grow up in America without those foods. 

Sandy, had a friend named Lynn.  Lynn was the oldest of four children.  Her mother was a single parent.  They lived in our neighborhood.  Sandy and Lynn were inseparatable.  (Today, they are still very close friends.)  Lynn had quite a flare for wearing clothes.  She wanted to grow up to become a fashion designer.  Ben didn’t like Lynn  and threw his lunch tray at her one day.  The principal called telling me what Ben had done.  That was one of the few times Ben did get in trouble at school.

Vera, you had a bad start to the new year of l989.  You had some kind of skin problem that just wouldn’t go away.  The pediatrician thought it was scabies.  I took great offense at that because I kept a clean home.  We had to put a lotion on you that dried your skin up terribly.  I went through our home –washing all of the blankets and sheets.  Your skin continued to fire up with sores. Again, our doctor wanted you to use some more of that lotion.  Finally, he referred us to a dermatologist.  The dermatologist did a skin scrape and said that there was no sign of scabies.  He felt like your condition all along was severely dry skin.  He prescribed a regiment of oils and lotions to heal your skin.  Within a week, your skin was back to normal.

Maria  had always been known as the family drama queen.  When she was small–all was well.  However, Ben really reacted to Maria’s drama.  The two just didn’t get along at all.  I had to keep them separated as much as possible.  Ben began finding other types of neighborhood jobs.  His energy level was so high.  After school he delieverd his paper routes.  (Sandy had given her route to Ben)  and then he mowed yards in our neighborhood.  This kept Maria away from him to a great extent.

Ben and Sandy were both in the eighth grade.  I had kept Ben in Kindergarten an extra year.  That probably was not the wisest decision because he never liked competing with Sandy .  However, they did share some of the same friends.  I remember the fall of l989 as being the year when many of the 8th graders came over to visit.  One of the guys named Chris–was over at our home most every evening.  He, too, liked my chocolate chip cookies.  That was a fun fall.

As the year came to a close, I was not getting enough teaching jobs.  Things were very tough for us again financially. There was very little money for Christmas.  I always hated the strain of Christmas.  It was hard enough when you children were small.  However, now that we had teenagers–Christmas was excruciating!

We had another surprise!  On Christmas day, Lynn’s mother came by to ask us if we would keep Lynn for two weeks because she was going to go to trucking school.  She had Lynn with her.  Of course , we couldn’t say no.  Lynn’s mother had aparently found homes for her other children.  Lynn fell right into our family patterns.  Ben still didn’t care much for her.  We had to keep them separated as much as possible.  We thought it that Lynn’s mother never called.  The two weeks had gone by.  Lynn’s mother never returned……….