Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A late Happy Father's Day to my dad

I have been having some problems with this site so here is a late tribute to a father who also had to be my mother. This picture was taken in Aug. 1984 at our church in Ohio. You can't tell but this 15 year old was madder than a hornet! I don't remember why but I do regret it whatever it was! It is a good thing God forgives us, huh? I need it when I look at this photo.
I haven't said much about my dad but he and I were really close before and after mom died. Did he do everything right? Nope. Name one parent that has. It was very hard for him from the beginning. He was an "out of wedlock" child from the 1920's (unheard of then and certainly you were scorned for that behavior!). He was enlisted into WWII and for that I am so very proud of him. He served in Goose Bay, Laborador in the Army Air corp. He could have served in the next city over and I would have been so proud. He took 5 years to get through high school but he made it! He always said he goofed off and had fun before he took any schoolwork seriously. He married in the late 40's (47 or 49?) to Joanne and they had two children in 1950 and 1951. Cheryl and David respectively. Joanne left him for a physician intern and she took the two kids to Cuba where the doc was from. He still paid child support for them even as they were out of the country and being pulled away from their father. He deeply loved his children and all children. He could go down to their level they just thought he was the funniest! He remarried in 1967 to my mother and of course I was born in 1969. He attempted to keep in contact with his children but they wanted nothing to do with him and are still that way to this day. I have a message for you Cheryl and David: YOU MISSED OUT ON A MAN WHO WENT TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO LOVE AND PROVIDE AND FIND YOU! My dad then went through the tragedy of losing his second wife to a tragic accident in 1980 and having a ten year old to raise alone. He always felt guilty for being behind the wheel that day as we drove to the bank. One day, as an adult, I told him that he was not responsible for my mother's death. I do not blame him and I didn't want him to blame himself anymore. (This is more painful to write than I thought it would be!) He missed his dear wife's funeral because he was in the hospital intensive care unit. I remember visiting him there after the funeral and he was just in the deepest physical and emotional pain I can recall. He said "It's gonna be okay kid, just you and I we have to stick together and we're going to make it" And from that day on, whenever I was troubled he would always say that we were going to stick together. And we did. He and I were lost that first year without mom. I can honestly say that! I attempted to cook and clean but I could never match her in that arena. She kept a sharp, neat house. We did erratic things that year too. Things that regular parents would shake their head at and wonder what the rationale was behind it. I don't understand it all at this age either but I do know that both of us were in incredible grief pain. Irrational things: taking me out of school for days on end so we could go on a trip to another state to see things we never saw before. Staying in a hotel in Covington, KY on the 17th floor on our way to a historic place. He made such a big deal about the fact that we could stay at the top and all the lights of the city shone in our room. Another: buying me every single animal on the shelf at a store at the mall. Stuffed animals. Like I needed more of those. But we did not adapt to this pain well, obviously we attempted to cover it and fill it with material things and esapist ways. I once saw a stuffed animal that was called a "Worry bird". I really did believe that a stuffed bird with big eyes could help me with all that I was worried about. I think that is why I have always had a strong faith. When others find ways to walk away from Jesus or fail to see that He is alive and has power to help us with so much, I cling. It has been the only hope that I have ever felt for all this pain. I can't explain the supernatural and some are turned off by dropping the "J" name but that's okay, I NEED it to not fall into depression or hopelessness. Okay, off the pulpit!
My dad thought he was doing the right thing on March 13, 1981 when he married Elaine Albright Lester. He was DEAD wrong. It was bad enough to have lost my mother but to have to deal with this woman and her children was deeply scarring. But that is not going to get wordage here in this blog. Not worth it. I wish her well and forgive her but I do not choose to give any time or energy to expounding on the past with her. They divorced in 1984. I lived with a youth pastor and his wife the summer of 84 to try and sort out my life. I was emotionally wrecked. Never an issue with drugs or alcohol to mask my pain. No...I just let it all hang out all the time. Not good either. Fall of 84 my dad and I got an apt together ( Elaine had helped herself to all the money my dad had and by their divorce we had no house either...not entirely her fault, I know my dad should have better protected us!). In short, I married young and I married opposite of my dad. My dad was passive and my husband is not. I love them both DEARLY. My dad passed away here in Michigan in Nov. 1996. It was a pain that I cannot describe. I loved my dad. I wanted to protect him from life. It should also have been the other way around. I know that. But it does not take away from the fact that he was my father. He did the best he knew how. He was a solider, a March of Dimes representitive in the 50's, a father to 3, an office guy, a maintainence worker at Oberlin college, a foster parent to Kenny (where are you?) in the 50's, a bastard child, a person who loved extravagantly, a Christian who grew deeper to God as time went on, a postive-the-glass-is-always-full person, a patient daddy, a fun grandpa, a husband to my mother, and a sweetheart to all who knew him.
This is for you daddy, I love you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

June 17th, 1967. A second marriage for Helen and for Gordon. I don't really have any decent wedding pictures nor do I know much about their wedding day. I just know that I am glad they met at church. Though they only shared 13 years together...they were a very good example of what love in a marriage is. Today would have been year 39...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Last Christmas picture: Dec. 1979

Seated in the black dress is my mother, Helen. Seated in the chair is my paternal grandmother, Mildred. Standing behind the chair is my Uncle Richard. Seated on the arm, holding me is my Aunt Barbara. My mother looks absolutely awful. Let's see...in Jan '79 my grandmother, Mildred lost her husband to lung cancer, my mother lost her father in March '79 and she was apparently either very depressed or tired or both in this picture. My grandmother Mildred passed away in 1993 and my aunt and uncle are still living in Ohio. We all look pitiful. This was about 10 days before mom died. I hate having this as a last picture. The pants I am wearing in the photo will not go beyond 10 days either as they were ripped in the accident and cut off in the ER after.

Sea World in Ohio

Yeah here we are with our fake Addida's shoes circa summer 1979. The last summer I spent with my mother. I am the babe with the knee high blue socks on. The other girl is a friend from my grandparents neighborhood, Vicky Frantz. Last I heard she was married with 3 kids, an RN and living in Elyria still. I don't recall feeling overly fuzzy about this picture. We had a good time but I remember a small chasm beginning between my mother and I. The normal "I am heading for adolescence chasm". But still wanting her to be my mom too. Could have also been the fact that there were the rumblings of unhappiness within her: my mother lost her father in March 1979. So in this picture she was starting to really be depressed. It shows in her appearance. She always dressed to the nine's but in this picture she is wearing my dad's tee shirt. Good or bad...it was still my last summer with her and if I could climb into the photo I would just HUG her one more time.

Three females, three generations and one '66 Buick

Taken in the driveway of 239 Pasedena in Elyria, OH in 1969. Here are the stats behind this one: my grandmother, Louise, in the darker dress loses her life in this car less than a year after this picture is taken in 1970. She is killed in Missouri with my mother at the wheel and me in the car. My mother, in pink, is killed 10 years later again, in an auto accident, this time in Ohio. Again, I am in the car. So...in 1990, I'm pregnant with MY daughter and it took A LOT of faithful and patient church women to convince, pray for and minister over me to assure me this was not going to be MY fate 10 years after my mother's. And you know what? It wasn't. I relied on Jeremiah 29:11: I know the plans I have for you. Plans for good and not for disaster. Plans to give you a FUTURE and a HOPE..."

Where are these kids now?

Yeah, I would love to know that. Fat chance I'm sure. I wanted to this post this on the last entry but for some reason it didn't work so here it is. Our Brownie picture. This picture was taken on Courtland St. One house from the end. Our troop leader's house. The girls holding the flag are left to right : Erika (?) and Stephanie Atkinson. I am in the top row flanked by a girl named Judy(?) and Angie Yearly. I am also in my SWEET lookin' pink pantsuit. Polyester of course. Carla is behind the flag (second from your right) in a yellow dress, brown hair and the goofiest smile! Okay back to mom blogging. Thanks for your indulgence....

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Wooden Shoe know it!

This picture was taken in May 1960 in Holland, Michigan. Well before this little author was conceived, let alone thought of! The thing that is kinda cool is that in this picture, my house was already built and she was about 15-20 minutes away from where I live now. I want to tell her that I live here now! I want to tell her how droll the whole Holland Dutch Festival stuff is to us now after 12 years. I want to ask her what she is doing at that ridiculous touristy trap of a place in the picture!! There are more pictures in this group but I chose this one specifically because of the wooden shoes she has stepped into. When we lived in the house in Ohio, I would occasionally venture up to the atic with her to retrieve things or look at things. I can still see the attic and how it looked in my head. My old changing table, clothes hanging in plastic zipped bags for a different season, a projector and slides, insulation sticking out, a cedar chest, christmas items-you get the picture. I also remember some unpainted, unstained real hand carved wooden shoes. I would try them on and they would fit fairly well. I still have them I believe. They were a size 5-6, very small for my big feet! I would clod around the attic with these on. Years later I loathe a pair of these things because we are inudated with living in "mini netherlands" as there is a huge Dutch community here. So...when my mother planted her feet...I too planted them long after she was gone...34 years later.
Some memories about my best friend (still today!) that grew up with me on Bell Ave. This picture of her is from Junior high: 1982. Carla lived about 6 houses down from me. She had a big brother and as the seventies moved on two more brothers after her. We had a blast. We would play Charlies Angels (I was always the Jaclyn Smith character) and she was the Kate Jackson character. We would play kick the can with Doug Kasubinski (where is he at now?), Brian Meyer (married and still living on that street!), Carla, me and her big brother Mike. I would NOT want to go home to pee so occasionally when I wouldnt make it to a bush in Frances yard I would pee my pants. EWWW! But you can't chide me for dedication to the game! We would do kickball and army. Mike always wanted me to be HIS nurse. Took me years but I figured it out why he always played DOCTOR to the war wounded! Mike was cool though. When I would spend the night he would come in the kitchen and Carla and I would be playing "Restaurant" (pretty imaginative title, eh?) and he would just start cracking jokes. He would have us laughing so hard I would be in tears! He was a great brother to Carla too. Except when we would be in the basement playing and he and Doug would shut the lights out and the door on us. We froze and just started SCREAMING. Because the furnace down there was one of those big honkin' multi-armed things from the 20's! They would throw snowballs at Carla's upstairs bedroom window to scare us after we were asleep. Another thing was we had this constant battle going on with kids one street over: The Courtland kids we call them. They lived on Courtland St hence the name. One time they came over to menace us verbally and my mom came running down the street (still embarassed by this!) with A BALL BAT! She was not playin'! Today, I do not remember the reason we had issues with them. Carla and I were in Brownies together. We wanted to win a $30.00 prize for a talent show we were having. Some old brownie leader (prob dead or in a home!) has a movie of us at this talent show. Anyway, Carla's parents had Elvis and Beatle albums so we picked "I wanna hold your hand". I had no idea who the Beatles were since I was always relegated to 40's swing music from my WWII generation parents. So we did our thing with me dancing all over the place, gettin' my grove on larger than life and here is meek Carla. Just barely moving her sweet little feet. But we won over the others and split the cash. It was great. And to completely top off this blog writing I will end with the campfire favorite of how I tried to win friends and ended up making enemies! EVERYBODY and I mean everybody (kids on the block that is) always hung out at Carla's house to play. It was just a migration center for fun in the 70's when we were growing up. One day I got a real good offense going that no one wanted to come and play at my house. Here's my two theories on that: one, I was probably the biggest pain to my playmates as I was a spoiled, lippy, only child..sorry guys! Two, my mother drank bottles of beer. No other mother on the street (openly of course) drank beer. She would be sitting out in the hot sun having a cold beer right on the front porch. SO, I had a brainiac idea to INFLUENCE friends to come over. I found some chocolate in foil in the refrigerator and gladly gave it out to my friends: the Kasubinski's, Meyer's, Lyon's, Stump's etc. Later that afternoon people started stopping over all right. Even parents! Wow, it worked! Except that my mom was getting upset and giving me looks that would kill. Then she explained to me that I was in trouble for giving EX-LAX to the kids in the hood. I didn't know it was EX LAX. Of course now they don't make it with a box and silver foil covering it but in the 70's I thought it would make everything come out alright!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Never really thought about this before...

But my mother engaged in sports. The other day I pulled out some photos for this blog and it had been so long since I had seen these pix that I was amazed. It was like opening a new box of cereal and tasting it for the first time...okay that was a ridiculous example. The pix seemed new to me. I looked at things I hadn't seen before, I studied the fish that my mother caught, the bowling trophy (above), the very well dressed woman in the pictures and it was like I was looking at this stuff brand new. Yes, its been THAT long.
I dont know who these women are in this picture. Mom is third from the right in black dress and heels. She really dressed well. He life and mine are SO different. I hate dressing up, just hate it. I am not girly-girl. Could care less if my nails are done! The amazing thing that I see in those photos are a woman who lived a whole entire 42 years before being a MOTHER. She travelled, bowled, fished, worked, shopped and then she became the person I knew. The person I knew was probably depressed. I have come to that realization. Here is the situation which I think led her to become depressed. Spring of 1970 we (mom, dad, me and my mother's mother-Louise) were all travelling back from Colorado (?) and a car hit us. I don't recall all the details but the one thing I do remember that all of my kid life (0-10), I was told by my mother's family that I was the one who pulled the keys from the ignition (14 month olds just didn't get buckled up in those days!) and caused the car behind us to rear end us, thus killing Grandma Louise. Amazing that I believed that malarkey for years. When I was a teen I began to reason that I would not have been PHYSICALLY able to manuever keys from a 1966 Buick! Anyhow, my mother was at the wheel and was forever also blamed for killing her mother. What a crock! So she drank to forget. She didn't dress up much. She didn't care the longer my life went and the shorter her life went. Here is my fantasy scenario setup if I could have talked to her at my age now and hers then. (I know, but just bear with me!). "Mom, there is no way you could have known that car was going to hit ours. Please do not take responsibility for an accident you could not have prevented! Your mother knew you adored her. There is hope mom, help too for you.You are forgiven, all you have to do is ask the Lord to heal your heart and he will. It will be in HIS timing, not yours but he is in the business of taking pain and wiping it clean. How can I be of help to you mom? You can cry, it's okay..." But instead she lived with this major guilt hanging over her head. Back about 15 yrs ago, I saw her uncle. He was a hard hearted mean man and he mentioned to me that I killed my grandmother. I was pregnant with Heather at the time and it was all I could do not to deck him with my large gut! I told him I would not be receiving that blame and guilt and that he could not "do me that way". He has since died and I still reel at the thought of that horrible comment. Okay, enough digressing!