Friday, January 13, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
The years between 1966 and 1976 were “my” years of growing up, experiencing some of the previously posted stories to many that I’ve either forgotten about or put away forever. Or, that I will talk about later…..
Everyone goes through this growing period whether it’s when going to college and finding your career, or falling in love and marrying at a later age, or through interactions with others. I seemed to have just learned life by going through it…. (life).
By 1976 I was in my 30’s, my children had hit their pre teen age years…. Time had simply passed by me, and all of a sudden I had reached the place in life where I was finally could just let it be….
The years at the rental store between ’71 & 76 were hard. I was at the rental store as they needed me to be. No one wanted to mess with an actual payroll, so my pay was a new freezer one year…. Once Dad took me down and bought me a new pair of cowboy boots once, and there were many different forms of payment thru the years…
Many days I just helped Dad at the front counter taking care of customers. Some days it was physical work, if a guy came in to rent a compressor and it was just him and his pickup, someone had to help load it. I unloaded, washed and cleaned up lawn mowers and tillers, and took care of truck and trailer rentals. If Dad wasn’t there, then the job was left to me. I probably did more damage to my back during those years than I realized….
Jim helped out when he could but he had a full time job and not a lot of spare time. With the kids being older there were school activities to attend and all of the normal running that parents of that age of child goes through. Our son was in sports, the girls were involved in many activities….there was always something….But it kept me going….
Following Mom’s death, I spent a good year in what I see now as an actual depression…That first set of holidays were tough… After we got through that I didn’t want to do anything other than what I had to…. My nature as usual was to find the strength to do what I had to do…. It just seemed that at age 33, I felt old….very old and tired.
Just a few months into that year, Dad sold the rental store and moved back to our home town where he retired and eventually married again.
Also, during that time the employees where Jim worked bought the shop from the owner… Jim had 7% of the business but it was run by the long term manager who owned the largest percentage of the business. Through the coming years through various guys moving on to other things, death, retirement, etc. our percentage of owernship eventually reached 25%. Jim continued on the big lathe, was in charge of ordering parts, dealing with customers, etc… For the first time we were making “enough” money, but with 3 kids entering high school there was never much left over.
We learned to snow ski during those years, participated as officers in our local Lions Club, took trips and were very involved with the kids. We could have been viewed as the typical American family….Jim turned 40 in 1980….. I threw him a surprise party and life was good… Things were going good at Jim’s shop and assumed that would be our retirement..
In 1978 I received a call from an acquaintance who ask if I would like to work as an office assistant at the business he was employed by a gas processing plant. There were 7 field guys all with CB radios’ that I had to relay messages to, I did all the reports from the plant, took care of whatever the boss needed, conducted safety programs, answered the phones… I was extremely busy but that’s what I needed.
Before we knew it – our son was starting college, the girls were both dating steady boyfriends. Life continued… all the usual up’s and down’s but with the love of family we went through it.
I remember 1982 well, as we bought our first “new” car…It was a Jeep Wagoneer… great for family trips. Being a business owner now helped a great deal in the expenses that were to come. The following year we had 3 kids in college, and both of the girls were married. Our son had completed two years at our local junior college and was on his way to an out of state college to get his Petroleum Engineering degree. The twin girls had both graduated high school and one chose to go to the local junior college for a business deg. and one chose to go in State for her 4 year nursing degree.
Things were going well at the shop – debt was low and the customer base was high…..
At times life becomes a blur, it was one of the fullest times of our lives… We also bought a used hitch camper, 8 ft. by 20 ft. Taking it to the mountains on weekends to get away and fish in the summer time with friends and family we enjoyed many wonderful trips with it and it was so much easier than a tent!
We did have two beautiful weddings….. the focus was on the wedding, not the reception….. It would have been laughed at by today’s standards…. Jane & Janet took the trip to Denver and chose a dress, I made hand made centerpieces, everything was wonderful….The first daughter was married in 1983 while she was in nursing college….. the second daughter was married in 1984 while in junior college, and the son was married in 1989 – working a ski lodge. You could not buy a job in petroleum engeneering at that time, the price of oil was going down, down, down……
This was a huge drop for us….. from 21 employees we went to the 3 original….. the shop just seemed to have shut down over night. No work was coming in all…… we took pay cuts one right after another……
I remember getting up one night and Jim was not in bed…. After looking for a while I wandered down to the basement and there he sit in the chair – by himself – just thinking, trying to come up with a way to save the shop….. money was very tight…..hardly enough to run on……It was a very sad time.
Throughout all of this we hung on to a goal…… that of having our own business where we could run it our own way and not depend on others….. If it failed it would be our fault and no one elses…
At the time we had sold our home and rented a different one. It was a 5 bedroom, nice house….. The idea came to me, why don’t we put our furniture in storage, and move into a little shack…… Every night after work, we would go out and put shingles on the roof to tighten it….. we worked on it for months…. We hooked into a temporary elect. box, hooked up some cable tv, skirted the trailer with hay bales, set it beside another old shack where we could keep our freezer and proceded to move into it….. Talk about organization! I knew where everything was and we had a place for everyting…..
Living in a 12 x 20 trailer was not easy but it worked. The first week got very hot, so we fashioned an air conditioner that run thru a vent out the side…..it circulated air tho and that’s what we needed….
Winter was hard – the following Christmas it dropped to 32 deg.. below zero as we drove to our daughters that night for Christmas eve….
As time went on, Spring arrived and thing begin to look up. We were asked to come over to the area we wanted to be in to take over the existing shop in this area….. the owner was off to another venture and we were left in charge…. Jim at the shop and me keeping the books…..
This wenton for about a year and a half….. then we approached him to buy….. because they were busy at the time, he would not sell….. It was time for us to do it on our own.
We contacted a dealer and leased a lathe – doing everything on a shoe string budget…. Nothing came easy…. We workd day and night – 24/7 just to pay the phone bill….. we were getting there tho…..
Sheer determination took us through it…..
Our son was working in Indonseia at the time and he hated being so far from home….. he begged to come back and join us and we did need help….. One year later our son in law was working in Nygeria and he also wanted to come home. Both of them did and it was the best thing that ever happened to us……..
We all worked very hard to make it a success…then finally after about 7 years we begin to see daylight….. The banker finally told us we needed to take a break and do a vacation. We had not been away from here all that time.
And then after many “in’s and out” through the years, we really did have an empty nest…. J Jim and I settled into a routine……. We worked in the shop together and loved every minute of it….. from early in the morning until late at night….. After getting permission to move out the little trailer and move in a bigger one, We lived in a 50 x 20 ft. traier….. happy as larks. In 2001, The man we had bought the property from carried a loan and we were able to put a house on the property…… Life was good again…..
After building the business up as far as we could, we decided in 2006 to turn the business over to the kids… they deserved it – they worked every bit as hard as we had and it was theirs as much as ours……
Since then things have been going well…… Jim and travel a lot and feel free to go off and know that it’s left in good hands…….
Our daughter the nurse eventually divorced her first husband and has since married a wonderful doctor….. We have 5 beautiful grandchildren to dote over….. ages 24 & 24, 21 & 21, and a 17 still in high school….. They’re all great kids with no problems…..
We now run two shifts with around 21 employees.... they're all good hard working men and do their job well.... we try to treat them good..... I believe that what comes around goes around....
It's been a wonderful ride - hitting that goal of ours..... finally we've reached it......
So that’s pretty much the life of “us”….. tarzan and sweet thang……. (Jim and Mary).
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
This has not been an easy piece to write – emotions come to the surface as if they happened yesterday…. A situation that would be bad enough under normal circumstances, but with some controversy in her choice of treatment among “the family” this saga became a little more complicated. Because of It’s length I will post it in two parts….
My Mom’s “cancer life” could be described as Broadway play, expertly produced and directed from the beginning…. Looking back I watch it unfold, time and time again… I say that only because as I was in the middle of it, I feel like everything happened as it was meant to be….
During the years of her treatments, I went with her many times to Colorado Springs… driving her down or going to pick her up and bring her home, or sometimes when we as a family could get away, just to visit. There are many stories of driving in all sorts of weather from downpouring rain to raging snow blizzard, wonderful moments of time to visit with other….or sitting in the waiting room while she took yet another dose of radiation. She reminded me over and over again to just look around at the others who were there and to count our blessings…..
A couple of things she said to me driving in the car are still as fresh in my memory as if she were sitting next to me right now….. There were special songs where she would reach over to turn up the radio, her thoughts on life and love, and her memories of childhood….As depressing as it could be, I loved our trips because we could spend time alone together…
Chemo was relatively new in those days for her type of cancer anyway, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “Standard” treatment for lymphoma was radiation on the new tumors when they appeared… Chemo was kept as the “last reserve” type of treatment and was totally and completely feared by anyone who had to go thru it in those days…..The day came when she had received all the radiation she could have and Chemo was the next treatment of choice….
It wasn’t until 1976 when she started on Chemotherapy….. If I remember right she had several treatments of Methotrexate. It was given intravenously. I’m thinking 4 to 6 in total…. She did not have a “port”…. I don’t remember her being given the option.
Along with this they also prescribed Leucorvorin as an antidote to lessen the effects of the Methotrexate. Leucorvorin was given as a shot and I was instructed by a nurse how to give it.Returning home after her treatment for a certain number of days I had to go to her house and give the shot.
Earlier in that last year Mom was hospitalized to have yet another procedure of some kind…. The day before surgery I was “summoned” to her room…. She had called the motel and just said she needed to talk to me with no one else around, I went immediately. Mom was in a zone I couldn’t quite enter. She gave me a piece of paper and a pen and told me to take notes that she had some things she wanted taken care of….. I did as I as told, puzzled. She needed to talk about if she died… She gave me instructions as to who would do her services, who she wanted to sing, etc…. what she wanted done with certain items, etc. When she was finished she simply said “I know I can trust you to complete all of this and make sure it’s done” I gathered my notes and left. I left like I arrived, feeling puzzled more than anything. I kept the notes she had made me take tucked away in my purse…
Throughout the 4 years of radiation and now facing chemo, “the family” which consisted of her Cousins, brother and sisters, questioned her decision to stick with conventional medicine.One of her cousin’s in Oklahoma had a son who was dealing with the same disease, a young man in his 30’s. His family had decided, due to some acquaintances of theirs, to take a different route and look outside of conventional medicine and into an unproven drug, a holistic type of treatment. They traveled to Mexico several times a year for checkup’s and to purchase of “Laetrile” a drug that many in the 70’s bought into.
The history of Laetrile can be traced back to the mid 1800’s becoming better known by Laetrile’s grandfather in the early 1900’s you can read the entire history of the drug on this website:http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/laetrile.html
Studied by Dr. Ernst T. Krebs Sr., and his son Ernst Jr. so called the father of laetrile, begin to market this as an anti cancer medicine around 1940….. Dr. Ernesto Contreras, MD of Tijuana Mexico, entered the picture in about 1960. The “Laetrile Movement” ran out of steam following a Supreme Court ruling.Anyone considering an alternative form of cancer treatment should read this drug’s history….
Mom stuck with her doctors in Colorado Springs, even as many in “the family” encouraged her to try the other route.
Later in that year, (1976) following one of her treatments, I went over that afernoon to check on her and she was in bed, …She was in a great deal of pain. I wasn’t sure what to do for her, I needed help as well as her. I called Dad who was at work, he suggested I call her local doctor. I did, he was out of town, his replacement was no help. Mom refused to be hospitalized there.Dad’s brother who lived in town and had a small plane offered to fly her she and I to Colorado Springs the following day….. Dad had to stay and take care of the business, it was their only livelihood and they needed the income….Someone needed to be with her…. I was designated Mom’s caretaker while he handled the store…..
She told to me then that her “cousin” had called and offered to send one of us to Mexico, pay for the plane flights provide a place to stay and pay for the drug. Mom said “What we’re doing now does not seem to be working and if it would make “the family” happy, I am not against giving it a try”… and that Dad agreed. Could you make the trip she asked?
I talked with Jim about it that night and we both agreed that I just needed to do whatever needed to be done in order to support her and Dad and help where I could….. Jim said he could handle the kids and things at home and help Dad as he could however long the trip took.
I was given instructions to call the cousin and do whatever he said. It was decided that as soon as we got her to Colorado Springs and got her settled, I would leave from that airport, meet the cousin’s son’s wife Jan, who would be on the plane from Oklahoma, and we would travel together to their “connections” in California who would keep us at their home and transport us to where I would meet with the infamous “Dr. Contreras” in Tijuana.
Mom had a rough night and my uncle came to the folks house the next morning to take us to our local airport…. Dad came home to help and we loaded her in the car, he set in the front seat, Mom was bedded down in the back seat and I crotched down on the back floorboard to be next to her….. I’ll never forget as we pulled away from the house she ask for help to raise up for what I now know was to take one last look. We got her loaded on the plane, Dad & brother nearly carrying her, and before I knew it we were in the air headed for the Colorado Springs airport…. My uncle had rented a car, he and I got her loaded in that…. Finally we got her to the hospital where they took over…
I had went thru this day completely “blanked out”…. Everything I did seemed automatic…. But my mind was numbed.
Mom was in desperate need of help….. the hospital personnel got pain relief started quickly and put in a call to her doctor.The uncle left Mom and I there, I was on the phone with Dad constantly calling with any news or he calling me to make sure we were doing ok. I just stayed by her side and slept in the hospital that night. None of us realized how bad she was, only she knew. The doctor came in the next morning and simply said it seemed that things had blown up on them and there was not a lot they could do but keep her comfortable.
I called my sis and ask if there was any way she could come and help….or take over the store so Dad could come…. I felt so alone. She and Dad agreed that he needed to be at the store and it would be better if my brother in law could drive Sis to the springs, help us get settled in a motel and put some organization to this whole ordeal. Everything had happened so quickly….. I ask myself what was happening.
Sis arrived we found an old motel not far from the hospitsl.….Dad drove down just a couple of days later. He left their car with us, and his brother flew him back home. Everything was finally falling into a routine. Sis and I would get up early in the mornings and set with her through the day at the hospital.When Dad came which was as often as he could, we would leave and take a break while he was there with her, Mom was not doing any better slipping in and out of consciousness. within a couple of days Dad suggested I call the “cousin”….
With one phone call the plans were made, “the family” was happy that we were accepting their offer. Sis took me to the airport then returned to stay with Mom. Dad and I visited with the doctor before I left…. We told him I was going to Mexico for other medications…. The doctor told us he understood that there were no other options left and if it was him he might do the same thing. I picked the ticket up at the airport where it was waiting on me, boarded the plane and was escorted to first class and seated beside my 2nd cousin’s wife Jan. I was glad to see a familiar face but I was scared to death…. She assured me at once that she had done this many times before, their connections were wonderful people who would take care of us, and we would be fine…I felt that all I could do is go along with the next direction….. I questioned many times where the strength would come from.....
Please continue to "older post" for part II
Soon we were landing at at the airport in San Diego. The family’s connections were there to pick us up. They were an American couple, a man and his wife, indeed very nice, and welcoming.
We drove many miles thru low sagebrush over rough hilly roads… I had no idea where I was at….or where I was going. To this day I could not tell you where I was. I was just a passenger traveling thru time, worrying about Mom, Dad, Jim and my kids.
Reaching their home I was shown my room, taken out to supper and was told that arrangements had been made to see Dr. Contreras at the clinic in Tijuana Mexico the next day…. I don’t believe I shut my eyes all night….
After we arrived in Tijuana at the clinic, I was led inside to a waiting room, and eventually into a large, beautiful office. Dr. Contreras soon came in, Jan was with me. Introductions were made and in very broken English he ask me questions about my Mother…. After further conversation he then said “You have waited too long, I can not help her”. He then picked up his telephone and spoke to someone else, hung up, wrote the name and telephone number of another doctor on a slip of paper…. He said this man has a new drug, it is a good drug, I think he can help you.
Jan took the paper and we went to another area of the clinic where she picked up another supply of Laetrile for her husband.
Back to the car, our connection’s called the 2nd doctor’s number and we were off on another journey, we were driving to the town of “Tecate”. I remember as we pulled into town there was a guard station with a man in it, he was holding a machine gun… we stopped, a few words were exchanged, directions were given and we went to another clinic, this one not so large or so nice.
I went into this doctor’s office by myself. I repeated the conversation I’d had with the first doctor. This doctor told me his drug could save her… The name of the drug was “Tekirena”. One week’s supply cost the same as the Latril, $500. I excused myself, went back out to the car, and explained the situation. The male connection came back into the office with me, a few words were exchanged in Mexican street language, and we left, headed back to our connection’s house…. Again we stopped at a little restaurant for a bite to eat. I remember the dirt floor, two ladies making tortilla’s by hand, and the best Mexican food I had ever eaten in my life.
Returning to their home, we rested and visited, then about 11:00 p.m. we drove to I know not where… It was a large parking lot full of cars behind a warehouse. We parked and set for a few minutes. Two rows over was a car that flashed his lights twice. Jan gave me a paper sack, I was told to get out and hand it to a man who would hand me a paper sack in return. What I had in my paper sack was the $500.
We met half way, the exchange was made, I went back to our car and slumped over in the back seat…. I was drained of everything….all energy, physically and emotionally. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move, I could not acknowledge my own presence. Jan took the bag and looked in it and showed me about 10 small viles, plus a piece of paper with dosage instructions written on it. There were two more flashes of the head lights and the other car left. We returned to our connection’s home, and I slept fitfully out of total exhaustion. I was more tired that I’d ever been in my life.
The next morning very early, my orders were to put all of my luggage on the back floor where it was obvious with the “drugs” laying at the bottom of my purse with everything else piled on top of them. I was told to smile like a tourist and act natural… We had no problems crossing the border and the guards did not look twice. Waved on through, I was then taken to the airport…. I was told not to be concerned about the drugs, the airport would probably not even check my purse…and they didn’t. Jan was staying another day so I was dropped off and I was on my own….
Standing in line waiting to board, my heart was beating fast and loud enough I could hear it and wondered if others could. On the plane I was seated beside a little girl about 5 years old. She told me she was going to see her Daddy in Colorado…. As the plane took off she reached over and took hold of my hand. Little did she know that she was giving me as much comfort as she hoped to receive from me…. I kept assuring her “we” would be ok and to just hang on.
Returning to Colorado Springs, Dad was there to pick me up at the airport. He took me to the motel to reorganize. I told he and sis my story – Mom was still hanging in there but she was failing fast…. I visited her that evening for just a while - I was so tired, sleep was no problem.
Dad went back home the next day and I studied the instructions and begin to give Mom her new medicines. Other than the Leucorvorin, I had never given a shot in my life. I had went to the local drugstore that morning and bought some diabetes shot.
The Director of this production was giving me every move, every emotion, guiding me through each step…. Instructing when to be brave, when to let down, when to cry and when to smile for other’s sake….
.The shots were to be given twice a day… x number of cc’s each. We followed the doctors orders… Her door was closed, sis held back the covers, watched the door, and held Mom’s hand while I gave the injections. Finishing, I would go out of her room and just set and shake for about 30 minutes to calm myself down. Her kidney’s had stopped at this point and she was very close to death. 24 hours after the first injections her kidneys started again… Was this reason for more hope?
Again, Dad returned on the weekend, I had given Mom shots for about 3 or 4 days…. The doctor called a meeting with us… Dad, Sis & Myself. He told us, you can not continue with your medicines, that we were all losing ground as each was fighting the other…. He said “It is your choice but I think you should give up, she is not going to make it.” I told Dad I just could not go on and keep injecting her, it was too hard on me….. Dad and Sis agreed, it was time we stopped.
I remember there was a ledge by the window, a huge window wall looking out towards the majestic Pike’s Peak, just to the west of the hospital…. I set on the ledge and stared at the mountains and sobbed…. My heart was hanging bloody and torn outside my body… it would not ease it’s torture on me…. I was totally raw and wished I could go out the window I was setting beside….
Dad spent another day or two – my memory fails me at this time, but after he left Sis and I pretty much moved into the hospital with Mom spending night and day….
Approximately 3 weeks after I had taken her to the hospital, in the late evening of Thursday, September 2nd, 1976 she passed away…We called Dad the minute it was confirmed by the nurse. There are some moments in your life too private to share, but finally she was without pain and at peace.
Sis and I set with her body until the mortuary arrived, we returned to the motel late that night, we couldn’t sleep so we packed, made the three hour drive for home about 2:00 in the morning.
I dropped sis off at her house, went to Dad’s, we set for few moments and cried together then I drove to my house. It was about 6:00 a.m….. I took a shower, got the kids off to school and the day passed. There were phone calls to make, plans to be made, Dad to be looked after, a trip to take her back to Kansas and a long list of painful emotions to deal with… somehow we survived it all. My Dad’s brother got all the necessary permits and flew Mom’s body and Dad back…Old friends met them at the airport along with the mortuary. Sis & family and I and my family took the minister and drove back…. We stayed at Mom’s sister’s house…. Returning home after the services, life resumed, but I couldn’t…. there were the holidays to get through….. Where could I ever find the strength.....
The director yelled “cut” and the curtains came down.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Through all of the Harry and Mary drama, Joyce and Cary remained our close friends…. When I was keeping the 4 little girls, Joyce would help out in emergencies or any way she could…. One day shortly after Mary left, the kids were all outside playing when I heard a scream… Refusing to wear shoes, the little one had gotten a thorn in her foot….. Long and buried deep, it had to be taken out but she would let no one touch it… Out of all the girls, this had been the hardest on her, she was too little to have been left without a mama…. I tried everything I could to get her to lay still while I poked and prodded with a needle – nothing would work. I called Joyce for help. She came over, we laid the little girl on our kitchen table, the rest of the kids standing right there watching… Joyce’s 3, my 3, and her 3 sisters….all of them crying for her. Joyce held her down while I finally got the damn thorn dug clear and pulled out with tweezers…. Surgery over, filled to the brim with iodine and covered with a clean bandaid, Joyce and I had passed another crisis together….
About 1975, Cary got a chance to go to work for a large company in Lakeland, Florida. Always anxious to get back down south closer to his roots, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. With many tears & memories we helped them pack a u-haul truck and told them goodbye. There will be more stories about Joyce & Cary in the chapters to come.
As another part of my life, separate from everything and everyone else, I had gotten a real job in about 1970. Other than cleaning house for our next door neighbor when I was a kid, and the responsibility of running the trucks for Jim’s Dad’s trucking company, I had never worked but I seen no reason I couldn’t handle it.
I had to lie to get the job, but I was hired. It was for the local radio station, who needed a bookkeeper. I told them I had kept books for the trucking company, (which I had not). I knew nothing about keeping books, it was all I could do to keep our little checkbook which never had anything in it….. This job was before the age of computers so I had to deal with a big old desk sized, double entry ledger by hand. I had to enter all checks for ads and debits, which included doing payroll. Along with keeping the books, I had to “run traffic”… meaning that I scheduled commercials for the announcers, and I transcribed the incoming API news every morning that came in over the wire or received over the phone as a recording…. Once in a while I was asked to do a commercial…. The boss liked my voice.
Soon, (within about 3 months), it became apparent I was not a bookkeeper… I was called into the office and relieved of my duties, thank God, because I hated it. The boss liked me though, so he offered me my own radio show if I could sell it to the local businesses to pay for it. I didn’t see anything hard about selling, so nothing ahead scared me. I had to find a way to increase our income.
I sold the show with no problem to a couple of local advertisers, wrote my own Ad copy and named my show – “A Moment with Mary” - a 15 minute segment every morning at 9:45 before the 10:00 news. I discussed mostly home keeping issues, entertaining, children, some recipes, decorating, and read small bits of unusual stories off the wire that didn’t make the main news. It always went too fast! Along with my show I announced local parades, and did extra commercials, receiving extra pay when I had a chance to perform.
Because a new bookkeeper had been hired in the office to replace me, plus all the DJ booths being full, I was relegated to work from home most of the time…. I had to drive out to the station about every day to pick up new copy, or help with traffic if the office girl got behind, or to write copy of my own, but this arrangement allowed me stay at home with the kids most of the time and not have to pay a babysitter to be with them. I loved the freedom of being able to fit everything in on my own time schedule. The only timed commitment was the 15 minutes I was actually on the air. My show was actually delivered over the airwaves from my telephone at home. The kids were put outside in the summer with the instructions “not to kill each other”. In the winter I had already taken them to school before the show started. The arrangement worked well, I loved it, I had regular listeners and fans who wrote nice letters to me and it was so great to have an extra paycheck.
Looking back I can’t believe how active my life was, I was on the go all the time, loving and learning every minute of it.
After about 3 years our station was sold to another company, a lot of changes were made, most of our announcers were laid off, our station manager (my boss) was fired, and my little show was canceled. It was sad to do my last show…..
About the same time, which would have been around 1971, another surprise change in our lives happened. My Dad had been laid off from the company he had worked for his whole life…. He had pumped some old wells, sold and sharpened farm disc’s, worked security for an underground missile company, but as with so many others in that area, our home on the creek and small town failed to provide a living…..
Missing Jim and I and their grandchildren, when a chance to buy a rental business came up in the same town we had moved to, they decided to purchase the business and move out there. I loved having them close again! No longer at the radio station, it allowed me to help with their business… The lessons I learned there could fill a book about dealing with public in a “rental” store…. Dad was in all his glory, he loved maintaining the small equipment, and actually did pretty well dealing with the public when he had to. My Mom was the *star* at the front counter though…. The customers loved her…. She was so good with them calming their nerves when they had to use a sander for the first time, or reassuring them that they could use the garden tiller. I remember one time a customer was renting a little disc sander to refinish a table. He ask her how long the sandpaper would last, and without a beat Mom replied “until it wears out”. The customer left happy. Returning it a few days later very proud of himself for accomplishing something he didn’t think he could do!
What Mom did not do well was handle the bookkeeping! She had never done state sales tax forms before…. Or been a business owner with all it’s demands…. Even though I had very little experience myself, I had learned enough at the radio station to get us by. And then………
Not feeling well, and having a lump appear on her clavicle; in 1972 my Mother was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma….
Those who have been through it know what I mean when I say the lights went out in the world when we received the call that confirmed the diagnoses. Nothing else mattered at that moment, everything stopped.
Both her doctors in Kansas (who removed the original lump) and her general physician in Colorado told Mom that “Penrose” in Colorado Springs had the best treatment center in a 5 state area …. Referrals were made there and an appointment was soon set for her to meet the oncologists and other specialists that would be directing her treatments for the next five years.
As some other tumors were discovered, Radiation was the treatment of choice. Mom had to move to Colorado Springs, rent an apartment, and received the treatments for 6 to 8 weeks at a time. It was about a 3 hour drive from home. Dad took her down and got her settled and stayed with her as long as he could……I ran the rental store when he spent time with her.
We took turns during the next 5 years visiting her, being with her as much as possible, and trying to carry on at home as well….We each had small reel tape recorders that we could send messages back and forth. We all missed her so much and it was hard on her being there alone, but Dad missed her the most…..
Many stories came from those days, and a lot of heart ache, but somehow we made the best of it and everyone did what they needed to do. If I ever need a boost of bravery for my own sake, I can look back and gain inspiration from she went through then…. As the last chapter unfolds in the winter of 1976, it’s hard to this day to even write about. To be continued when I am able…..
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Post Edit: I didn't like calling these brief stories what I did, so since I own the blog I can change anything I want. Thus:.....It will be Tarzan Time!
There are times I have a thought enter my mind that really belongs to no story but it’s a notion, a reflection, or maybe just a feeling or short story I need to write or want to share with the reader. These are not long essays as many of my posts are. From here on they will be called a “Tarzan Time”. It may be an update on my condition, or something that relates to what I’m doing at any particular moment…..
October 30th, 2011….Today’s Tarzan Time is to rejoice how good I am feeling! This last treatment on the 21st was a rough one and really put me down for a while.
Then yesterday I woke up full of energy and enjoyed getting some things accomplished. I started about noon putting together a huge pot of homemade Vegetable/Beef soup, adding everything editable I had in the house. I chopped long beautiful carrots, stalks of celery, big yellow fall onions, browned and caramelized luscious chunks of rich beef, frozen tomatoes & green peppers from our garden, a package of frozen mixed veggies and Brussels sprouts, and about 6 cups of bite sized chopped fresh out of the field, Colorado golden potatoes. all seasoned with spices & herbs…. The house was filled with a wonderful aroma as it simmered together throughout the afternoon.
Cooled down and left to enhance flavors through the night, I’m warming it up today and have invited company for dinner. The table is set on a warm golden cloth with the big soup pot in the center with green and gold bowls resting on plates at each setting. The silverware is wrapped in fall colored striped cotton napkins setting across the top of the bowls. I will fix a cheese plate and some bowls of sweet & dill pickles to nibble on, along with a big round loaf of “rosemary” infused warm bread. We’re having hot from the oven Apple Crisp for dessert, topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream…
Life really can’t get any better than a casual homemade dinner with people you love…