Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thirty Two Down and Counting

Thirty-two years ago - 1976 -a year that has so many memories for me. Some are very, very good memories, important events in my life. Others, not so nice to think back on. I had hoped to include some photos from that year -and a few more recent ones too perhaps, but I see that I either have many of my old, old photos on floppy discs, which I can't access right now because my lovely A-drive isn't functioning. Wonderful, huh? The computer isn't even a year old, I've barely ever used the A-drive since I got this machine and now -nothing! Gonna have to get that replaced. Everyone says putting in a new floppy disc thing is a "walk in the park" -"a piece of cake" to do but then, I am sure as heck not "everyone" and finding one of the two in my family who do maybe have the capability of doing this (i.e. either son-in-law or my son) will be like pulling hens teeth to get either of them to sit down and try to install a new one for me.

But anyway -without any of the visual aids I had planned to use -here's my remembrances of why 1976 was a memorable year for me.

December of 1975 had not been the best month of that year. Lots of things falling apart and things coming up for the early part of 1976 that impacted on some of those events.

I was pregnant at that time with my third child -Amanda -who was due in early February. In early December, my clothes dryer quit functioning. We'd purchased it about a year earlier from Sears and had taken out one of those policies -like an insurance policy for repairs -from Sears when we bought it. So, I had called them for service. They told me their repairman was on vacation and couldn't come down to check it out for at least a week. Considering the end of November and early December in this area is basically a major holiday for about a two-three week period with hunting season for bear, buck deer, then doe season, I figured the repairman was probably out scouring the woods in search of a trophy buck or doe.

Because I was pregnant then though -big as a house too -and it was along haul to carry heavy baskets of clothes up to the car to go to the local laundromat, carry the clothes in and out once there and then, bringing them back home and unloading the car again, I really wasn't relishing the idea of lugging all that stuff around. Any woman reading this who has ever been pregnant can grasp the concept of this picture quite easily I'm sure. Add to that, I had my son who was almost 2 1/2 years old and my older daughter, who was eight at the time, to take with me too and it was a very unappealing predicament.

I explained this issue to the people at the local Sears office and they said they would try to get him to come in for this service call. He obliged, came down to the house, went down into the basement, monkeyed around a bit and while he was down there, I thought I heard water running. I checked all the spigots upstairs -nothing running there -so I figured I must have been hearing things.

A little while later, the repairman resurfaced and informed me that he had fixed my washer. Hmmm. Why was he messing with my washer when it was the dryer that was broken? I asked him about that and he simply replied, "Oh." and went back down to check the dryer. Shortly therafter, he returned to tell me the belt was broken on the dryer and he'd check to see if he had one on the truck but he didn't think he did. He checked. He didn't. So he told me he would order one and when it came in, they would call and notify me. Said I could pick it up and have my husband install the new belt because he claimed it was a dirt simple task to perform. Ok, I was willing to go along with that because after all, he was supposed to be on vacation ya know and he had come out to check all this for me.

About a week went by before Sears called and I went in to pick up the belt. I had my two-year-old son with me and this was about 10 days before Christmas then and the lines at the catalog store were long -very long! I remember I had to stand in line for close to an hour, all the while trying to keep a two-year-old occupied and out of mischief, while feeling really miserable as my back and legs were aching like toothache. But, finally I picked up the belt and brought it home. The next day, my husband -after a lot of prodding -went down to fix the dryer.

I don't remember how long he was down in the cellar working on this task but I do know the air was very, very blue there - had to be because I could hear him banging things, cursing with every other breath at least and finally, he stomped back upstairs, threw a couple of his tools on the kitchen table and told me to call that blankety-blank-blank-blank, no-good SOB at Sears and tell them to send the blankety-blank-blank repairman back down here to fix the dryer because HE (my husband) was an automobile mechanic, not a blankety-blank-blank electrician. And with that, he left for the local pub to do a little indulging ya know. (Knowing him then, he probably deliberately sabotaged the job because he was looking for an excuse to go have a beer and get out of the house, away from me, the kids, anything there!

I called Sears, explained the situation and they said the repairman was on vacation. What? Still? Again? Gee, I wanted a job like that with vacation time like that. But, again they said they would see if maybe he would consider coming in to make the repair. A day later, he showed up with another belt, fixed the dryer and told me my husband had simply put the belt on backwards and of course, as soon as he hit the start button, it immediately snapped the new belt!

It was that kind of things that were the prelude to 1976 for me. Maybe it was an omen of things yet to come -only they would be worse, much worse.

At that time in my life, I was doing home party sales - for a clothing group - and on January 11th, I was at a home about 10-12 miles from here doing a demonstration. A lady who was present at that "party" was part of one of the couples my husband and I were very good friends with at that time and at the start of the party, she had asked me what was going on in the little village nearby where we lived. She said when she'd come by this one house there were police cars and ambulances all around it. I had no clue so she had called her mother who worked at the hospital about 10 miles from there and asked her if she knew what was going on.

The news she got was terrible, absolutely terrible. The house was occupied by a young couple and the man of the house was my neighbors two-doors over's son. A young guy I'd known all my life, terrific person, just one of the nicest guys you'd ever hope to meet and it was then I learned he had taken his own life. Thirty-two years later, his family still doesn't really know what set off this suicide.

I remember that night when I got home, I saw the lights were still on in my Mom's house - that would be this one where I live now. (My ex and I had built a home next door to my Mom.) I went in and told her what had happened. She and I sat up that night talking about this young man, so much promise; how much we both remembered of him. My mom felt about him almost like he was a son since she was there, cared for his mother, for him when he was born -at home, a mere 28 years earlier. And the question that passed between us, over and over, was simply "Why?"

Two days later, the evening of the viewing for our neighbor's son, another close friend of mine called to tell me of another tragedy that had just struck our little area. One of the guys from our high school graduating class -who lived about a mile down the road from the neighbor's son's home -had also just shot and killed himself earlier that day. Two suicides within two days and less than two miles apart! For our little township, with only five of six very small villages within it, these actions left virtually every one around here shell-shocked, to say the least.

To back up slightly to the day after my former neighbor took his life, I had taken upon myself to go to every house along our street to ask the neighbors if the would like to contribute to flowers for our neighbor's son. My Mom objected strenuously to my doing that because I was pregnant and she didn't feel it was a good thing for me to be doing plus the fact it was winter and it had not been a 'nice" winter either. The ground was snow-covered and under the snow, ice -solid ice -from some ice storms we'd had that had never melted. She felt for me to go traipsing around our street, up and down the hillside to houses, over sidewalks and walkways that were slicker than all get out was just asking for trouble. But I insisted this was something in my heart, I HAD to do that.

That evening, when I finished up collecting for flowers, as I started down through our yard, don't you just know my foot hit a patch of ice and I flew up in the air and came down on my back (thankfully) but I landed with such a thud -yes, it was really "earth-shaking" -that my Mom heard or "felt" the vibrations as did my husband, each in their own houses, watching tv! I figure it had to be all the extra weight I was carrying around at that time that was enough to make the timbers of both houses vibrate that way!

February rolled around and on the sixth of February, I started having contractions. I called the doctor and he said as soon as they got down to five minutes apart, to call him back and for us to head to the hospital. I called my husband -at whatever pub he was visiting at that time -told him he'd probably better come home, which surprisingly enough, he did that. And after about two hours, maybe three, the contractions just quit. Needless to say, he wasn't too happy that I had interrupted his Saturday night festivities. I wasn't all that impressed either as I was at that point then when you just want this all over and done with.

Over the next four days, I had more bouts with the contractions. They would start, get a little intense, get almost down to five minute intervals and then stop.

On February 10th, I got one of those wild and crazy ideas about cleaning my house. Started scrubbing everything and anything -did the living room and kitchen walls, vacuumed like crazy and even sprayed the oven with oven cleaner to let it sit overnight and I would wipe it down, clean it out in the morning. I went to bed and forgot all about the oven.

About 4:30 in the morning of February 11th, I awoke again with the contractions. Got up and went to the bathroom and when I went back to our bedroom I woke my husband to tell him this time, I knew it was for real and we had best get moving. I called my Mom next door to tell her we needed her to come over and stay with the two other children while Frank and I got ready to leave for the hospital. He made a pot of coffee, fixed his big thermos and filled it with the fresh hot coffee to take with him to make sure he had something to sip on. And off we went.

The roads were fairly clear but with a thaw here and there and then temperatures dropping sharply at night, there was always the risk of that lovely "black ice" on the highway and as we drove along to the hospital, my pains were getting closer and harder and I asked him if he couldn't please pick up the pace a bit. I've never known him to turn down the idea of driving a little faster before but he snapped at me when I suggested this saying, "Do you want to have this baby in the hospital or in the G-D, frigging ditch someplace?" Ok, given those options, I figured maybe we'd be best served to take our chances and drive a trifle slowly then.

By the time we got to the hospital it was 6 a.m. In the admitting office, the pains were really intensifying by then and the woman on duty, sensing this, called the Obstetric department and asked that they send someone down -IMMEDIATELY - with a wheel chair for me. Within a minute or two, the nurse showed up, had me in the chair and whizzing me off upstairs.

At about 6:25 that morning, my daughter, Amanda, was born! Weighing in at a whopping 5 pounds 13 ounces (yes, I am being sarcastic about the weight) and measuring only 18 inches in length, she even beat the doctor with her fast arrival. He was just running up the back steps to the delivery room as she entered into the world.

When I had both my two older children, they had shown me each of those babies in the delivery room. But, when Mandy was born, I didn't see her till close to 10 a.m. Her Dad saw her before I did and he came to my room, crying, telling me how beautiful she was.

When I did finally see her, she was so tiny -compared to the other two kids - a bit redder too and all I could think was oh my, she looks like a little rodent of some type there - so darned tiny you know.

When I came home from the hospital with her, three days later, my Mom came over to the house to inspect her new granddaughter. I had Mandy laying on the sofa and was going to change her when Mom made the comment to me that she was so small you darned near needed a magnifying glass to find her ass! I had to agree with her because this kid's behind almost seemed to be non-existant, it was so smal.

And now, thirty two years later, some things have hardly changed. Mandy's older sister decided a great nickname for her little sister -who is not only "little" to her in the sense of being nine years younger than Carrie, but she is also still "little" - just a slip of a thing and Carrie says since Mandy still has no butt, she deserves to be called "lizard butt."

Oh the endearing names siblings often give each other!

But anyway, that's the story of the chain of events - omens maybe -that preceded my youngest daughter, youngest child's birth.

Today, she is as said above, slim- very slim! She has a lot of her dad's temperment too - quick to anger, she can fire up in a flash, express her anger and then, generally, she is over it. She's not one to hold grudges - in that respect, she is much more like me. When she does get angry though, if you happen to pay attention to her eyes, you can see the anger rising as her blue eyes seem to turn almost blackish in color and they can pierce right through you -or so it appears. (She gets that from her Dad!)

She's often very inclined to enjoying being silly, has a very good sense of humor, quick wit along with also being much like her two siblings, she is also a very sweet, extremely sentimental young lady. Mandy's a hard-worker too -knows how to move and has long, slim legs than can transport her quickly -very quickly - as she does her work, still in the food service industry.

Mandy has always been the one who has loved children - all children -and watching her with her two little ones here, she really is a very loving, caring parent. She's the one of my kids who loves to get cards to send to anyone and everyone for birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, anniverary, sympathy -any occasion.

She's been here with me, for me during all my health problems over the past five years - keeping track of my appointments as well as her own and then her children's as well. She's put up with me when I've been at some of the lowest points of my life during those times as well. And, though I know when things have gotten difficult -with me - she's growled and complained a time or two -or five hundred or so to her siblings about how cantankerous her old Mom is, she's still here, putting up with me, day after day!

Can't ask for more than that can I, from a daughter? And it's nice to think if I make it several more years, she'll still be here with me, being her goofy little self along the way!

This picture, taken about two years ago of my older grandson, Alex and Mandy, when they were clowning around - the normal for both of them - together in the kitchen.

This is Mandy, taken about four years ago and is one of my favorite photos of my baby, with her first baby, my little Princess Maya.

Isn't this just a beautiful picture though?

Mandy has it in a 12 x 16 frame, on the back wall of the living room. and I just love it.

And here, this is a small collage of sorts, of pictures of Mandy and Bill, on their wedding day.
The top picture is, from left to right, Bill (the groom), my son Clayton, who was the best man and the usher, Shawn McCracken, a good friend of Bill's.

The middle picture is -from left to right, my older daughter, Carrie, who was a bridesmaid, Mandy and her best friend, Jen Lamb, who was her matron of honor.

And the bottom picture shows the entire wedding party -Carrie, Jen, Mandy, Bill, Clate and Shawn.

And that's all for today folks. If I ever find the box of old photos of mine and get them scanned in, I'll do some posts of the kids when they were younger, much younger.

So to my daughter, my baby (she's the only one of my kids who still gets that label too -"Baby"), here's wishing you a very, very Happy 32nd Birthday and may you have many, many more!


terri said...

Your Mandy sounds like she turned out to be a fighter with a heart of gold!

Vic, the Cariboo Ponderer said...

It must nice to have a daughter that is your friend also.

Paula said...

Great post. I really enjoyed it, and your Mandy is just beautiful! Happy Birthday to her!

Sandi McBride said...

Oh my Lord I've been in flashback hell...1976...I remember it well...had a 2year old and 3 yearold...both wild tail boys...hubby was overseas for most of it, everything we owned was in transit...again...had a love/hate relationship with the Navy...loved the man, not the job...egads...I'm getting a headache now...but tell Mandy happy birthday and many more...lucky you, a daughter!

Dianne said...

Happy Happy Birthday Mandy! She is beautiful.

My feet were swelling up in empathy Jeni when I read about you standing in line for an hour - pregnant and with a 2 yr old by your side.

I lived in a 4 story walk-up when I was pregnant!

And I could so picture you making the rounds to collect for your neighbor - you're a good soul.

I tagged you for a fun little meme - seems so silly in the face of such a beautiful post - but I thought you might like it.

Dottie said...

Couldn't help but get a bit teary eyed reading such kind words about your daughter and how much you appreciate her. You are both very lucky. I know my mom would probably say very similar things about me. Thanks for sharing and of course, Happy Birthday Mandy!

Minnesotablue said...

What a great post. Daughters can be a great source of comfort can't they. And Happy Birthday to Mandy.

Kathryn said...

That is a fabulous story. Thank you for sharing it with us.
And thank you for visiting and commenting at my blog. I really appreciate it. It is nice to meet you!

Smalltown RN said...

what a wonderful post Jeni....your daughter sounds so lovely....and is beautiful...I can see why you love that photo of her....and why is it that it's the doctor who is the last one to arrive at delivery time? I am glad things turned out well and that you got your healthy baby...and she has grown into such a wonderful caring her mom by the sounds of it....I mean really girl....walking out in the winter preganant as you were collecting money for flowers....that is truly a caring individual and I am proud to be able to call you my friend....cheers.....

TomCat said...

It seems like husbands have not changed in the interim. teaching you gals to get someone else to do it first is an art. ;-)

On the floppies, if your A drive stays out of commission for long, you can take them to a data service and for a fee, they will transfer all your images to a CD. I don't know it they will be reasonable, so ask how much.

the mother of this lot said...

Wow, I found some similarities in that story! First, we have obviously been married to the same man!

I always cleaned my house from top to bottom the minute the pains started - I thought if I ied in labour I didn't want anyone thinking I lived in an untidy house!

And one of my daughters has a birthday tomorrow - 12th! She was a mad dash to the hospital as well!

Looks like we might have a lot in common!

the mother of this lot said...

That was meant to say 'died in labour'! (Cheap keyboard)!

fermicat said...

You've got a real knack for telling stories. This was a good one.

Keith said...


Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I enjoyed reading it. Great photos too.


Singing Owl said...

Lovely! The picture is indeed beautiful too, and so are you! I enlarged the wedding pics to check it out. :-)

I guess I wasn't surprised that your husband became your exhusband. :-(

And my back was aching in a descriptive!

Suldog said...

My goodness! That certainly was an eventful time. Two suicides within four days? How horrible. Births, washing machine... excuse me, dryer repairs. Very busy, eh? All of it gets us where we are now, though, so...