Amelia died at the mental hospital; they held the funeral there and buried her there. That may well have been the best day of Anna’s life, all fourteen years of it. She insisted on looking at Amelia in the coffin and touched her face with one finger. She wanted to be absolutely sure that Amelia was dead. Wendell had given her the oddest look. Thinking back, she supposed she believed things would be different once Amelia was dead, but nothing changed. Perhaps she had thought they would change into a real father and daughter, just as once she had dreamed that Amelia would become sane, and become a mother, but nothing happened. They fell back into their old routine. The days came and went, the seasons rolled around.
Driving in the dark, the cold dark of December was bad enough, but driving to a funeral in the dark was worse, unless the worst thing was feeling nothing, or feeling empty, and then complete relief.
Wendell was dead. Amelia was dead. They were both dead now, and there was no grief. Anna didn’t feel the great surge of joy at Wendell’s death that she had felt at Amelia’s death. No, she just felt nothing.
Ten years ago, Amelia had died. Anna had tried hard not to let Wendell know how glad she was that Amelia was dead. He had looked so dazed and lost, but she was glad, and she couldn’t deny that she was glad because she was safe. He obviously was grief stricken and cried at the funeral. She did not. There were no tears for Amelia, but she would always remember Wendell crying. Anna had never seen him cry before.
– Gwen Campbell traveled rather extensively as a young girl from the years of 1937 to 1945. This story of her life and adventures covers many miles of the Southwest, Texas and Oklahoma even California.
In his youth, he was handsome. I’ve seen the pictures. He had the black hair and blue eyes that women find so captivating. He captivated and charmed Ida Leonora (his first wife) out of her youth, and into grief and despair and an early grave. She died in childbirth, delivering prematurely her ninth child. She died in travail and anguish with only her 14 year old daughter to help her in those last desperate hours. She was 36 years old. The newborn child was too premature, too tiny. It was too much to expect such a mite to live in 1915, but she did. They put her in a shoebox and put her in the oven, and she lived. How do you explain such a thing? She had strength, determination and tenacity.
Gwen Campbell traveled rather extensively as a young girl from the years of 1937 to 1945. This story of her life and adventures covers many miles of the Southwest, Texas and Oklahoma even California.
One day when we went to town, I was left out in the car. I don’t know whose car it was because all we ever had was a pickup. Anyway, a black mother had left her baby out in a baby buggy in front of the store. I went over and looked in, and that was the cutest little thing I ever saw. I got it out of the buggy and was trying to get it into the car, but it was squalling bloody murder. Both mothers came running out of the store. The baby’s mother rescued it. She told me, “You don’t have to take my baby. Some day you can have your own.” So that set up Plan A. I would be a mother.
(Notes from Alexis: We all wonder what hell may be like, I think Mom has found it.)
April 23. 1992
I sat down at the table with warm sunshine spilling onto me and the table, but Granny got up to eat, and I lit out for the computer room. I can’t take the belching, farting, groaning and grunting. That way may be my fate some day, but I can’t take it now.
Well. I’m sorry you weren’t here for the circus. You would have died laughing. I decided to fix up Mom’s trailer. Dad and I both hated the couch, so we were going to take it out. Sounds easy when you say it fast. We tried it every which-a-way, upsides down and backwards, – no way Jose’.
We finally found one way that was within a couple of inches, and decided if we took the trellis off it would go. Nope, but we gained – just 1” to go…! I even took the doorknob off. The post that supports the roof wouldn’t let the door open flat against the trailer as the door knob hit it.We took the knob off and with brute strength, and ignorance, was able to get it out. We put it on our sun porch, so now we have a hide-a-bed on the new sleeping porch.
We cleaned up the living room of her trailer (not mine, it is still a mess), and it is beautiful. I am going to get a sewing table and set up my sewing machine in her living room so I can sew up those three or four quilts I have cut out. Also, I’m going to clean out that rats nest that Dad has made of the barn. I hate it all junked up, and I’m going to do something about it.
Well, Dad went back to work on the 13th, and what a hassle. First off the computers are Reynolds & Reynolds and totally different from ADP he was used to, not one thing the same. Then there are seven or eight different lines of cars, and he didn’t know six of them. Then they don’t have parts books; it is all on the computers. The same computers he doesn’t know, right?
They were so busy that nobody had time to train him. Just threw him in, sink or swim. Then on top of everything else they set him to returning parts. They have about $30,000 worth of obsolete parts that have never been returned. Now these are not all neat and tidy on shelves. Parts thrown into boxes, so he has to dig through and fish them out, clean them up, and box them, then get the computer to print out a return slip (if he can).
Boy, that first week he nearly died. Then on Friday his boss had time to work with him, and teach him at least how to get in and out of some of the main functions. Now he has decided he can learn it, and he feels a lot better. There for that first week he wasn’t sure. He also sees that he will certainly be earning his wages.
Speaking of computers. Comptalk finally figured out the reason Calcastar & Formsort wouldn’t work. It seems that they were set with a top memory of 512K max so when I upgraded to 640K I went out of their range. Well, weird things do happen!
After walking around the problem of how to replace my data programs, I realized that sorting is one of the things I do really well. When I was a child, we called it ‘filing,’ so I just put them into Wordstar and got on with life. No problem.
Of course, I had lost a week and a half, all told, so I was way behind with my work. During the time off is when I conceived “the plan” to use Mom’s trailer as my rec room. Spending a day or two with her is like hell. At least Hell won’t come as any surprise when I get there -I’m all prepped.
I’m nearly through with “Shipwreck John” I have another five days indexing. Indexing makes me cross and cranky, so I am trying to think of fun things to do. Wait! Wait, I’m thinking!
Today a genealogy-computer friend is coming over, and I am going to show her how to set up her program to do Genealogy. Oh, and I’m cooking rhubarb in the crock pot. Maybe I need some yarn and a knitting project.
Well, it seems I do nothing but bellyache, and I am sick and tired of bellyaching, but like all addicts I won’t stop it until I can replace it with something better.
I have found a new author. Ann Orysdalei, ‘Faint Heart Never Kissed a Pig,’ which I haven’t read because I can’t find it. And ‘Pearls Before Swine’ which is a tad hard to get into, because she is British, but persevere because her stories are just delightful.
Well, Cheerio and all that rot.
Notes from Alexis: I love her “process” for writing a book, and you will love her new hobbies.
Jan 22, 1992
I woke up this morning and thought: I have to tell Lex to stop drinking wine. When I was 25, I had to give up all alcoholic beverages because they gave me such horrendous headaches. I have never liked beer or wine, but I did drink cocktails now and then, but it got to the point where I was having my hangover fifteen minutes after I had my drink.
The thing about wine is it is all chemicals. There may have been a time (back in Ceasar’s day) when wine was made from grapes, but no more. Now it is all chemicals, as I found out when I tried making my own. We watched a program that told all about it and boy; it was enough to scare the pants off you. My advice is to keep off the wine for a month and see if the headaches stop (but, of course, keep up your other programs). Headaches can, and often are caused by more than one thing and sometimes the mix just becomes too much.
I keep checking on S.F. and her new “Gallery” opening. Dad heard this guy on the radio, who is the photographer that is going to open the gallery with her. I drove by to see it. All her files of index cards had been moved out, and there were a ladder and some buckets. Two weeks later, ditto. She gets all this great media attention, but then doesn’t know what to do with it, and nothing ever comes of her endeavors (notice I didn’t say efforts). Not that I think there has ever been a plan or purpose to anything she does.
I haven’t been able to work on “Shipwreck John” for a week, I will go in today and work on him. I have discovered I have an MO (modus operandi). First, I have to have a name. This is just a working name, and I am perfectly happy and prepared to change it later if it doesn’t fit, which I did with Henry.
Next, I have to do a cover, which I am also prepared to change. Nevertheless – ‘Hello’, there has to be a cover. Now there is a real ‘sure nuff’ book that merely needs to be written and put between the covers. This was true with all my books. It’s as if I have to have something concrete to hold in my hand before I can believe there is a book in the future. I read about writers who write every word in their head before they touch pen to paper or finger to key. Not me. I only have to have a name and cover, and I’m off and running.
So, therefore, there is a “Shipwreck John” but no Dorsett or McGuffin yet, (but getting close), because I haven’t taken the major step of the name and cover. Still too much research.
I now have a hobby. A hobby being something that never can be turned into a business, right? I collect. What I collect has doubled in the past week. I now collect two things. First, I started off with purse wallets, and as you know I have a nice collection. You only saw half of them because at the time I was a closet collector, but now they are out in the open in a box.
My second collection, which I have only just now recognized, is moisture absorbers. You get them in every bottle of pills, and they come in all sizes and shapes. But what to do with them? They lay around on counters and in drawers, and there is the thought underneath; ‘Maybe I should keep them’?
I see things clearly now. A museum of moisture absorbers! Someday in the future, it will attract tourists who will come from all over the universe. Well, that isn’t too far-fetched right, if people would go to see a giant stuffed mouse, why not moisture absorbers? Of course the purse wallets may also be in the same class, however, I keep thinking someday I may actually use one, so there is that to consider. Are they really a hobby or the embryo of a business? Worry and fret. Nothing in this life has been ever simple.
Well, I got all my stuff out of the drawers and into the shoebox to get ready for taxes and that’s step one. Step two is to list everything on a sheet of paper. Step three is working with the form. I am particularly eager to get some money back because Dad gets more disillusioned with his job every day. J. had nothing good to say about J. T. (the new boss and owner of Honda-Chevrolet dealership) right from day one. But I reserved an opinion until I had met him, which I did at the Xmas party. He made me no convert. He is a slippery eel. He will look you right in the eye and with great sincerity say, I don’t lie. All the time the hair on your neck is standing up. Last night Dad said he was going to start actively looking for another job. It takes him a while to get moving, and he won’t make a move until he is sure, but then he never looks back. So we’ll see.
Well, granny is her usual self. I have had some revelations that I will tell you in person as they are l-o-n-g stories, but anyway, it has helped me cope with the situation.
My chest is feeling better, but I only have half-day strength, while having full-day jobs. About the only way I can manage is to just lie down. Fortunately, I can do that, but I want to get with the program, have things to do.
Well, sweetheart must close as ‘Shipwreck John’ is calling.
Notes from Alexis: Grandma is back home after a heart attack, and everyone seems to find ways to put up with each other, in a rather funny, sad, way.
July 11, 1991
Well, further news from the battlefield. I sincerely meant to call, but then I found that almost impossible, so am writing instead.
Mom came home from the hospital a week ago, and now has settled in on our couch forever. Dad got a bonus, so we went right down and got another recliner. Our idea is that we could take out the couch in her trailer, and put in the old recliner, and then she would have a comfortable place to sit in her trailer.
Meanwhile, we brought in a new one and set it beside the old one, and put the exercycle in my office, where I like it very much. I can quit working when I get tired and tense, and go over and ride for a few minutes.
I made the mistake of telling Mom that the old chair was hers, and we would put it in her trailer when she went home. She refused to sit in it at all because she never plans to go home. She did eventually sit in it a couple of times and the dramatics would have won her an Oscar. It was obviously so horribly uncomfortable, so painful for her, that only a monster would have forced her to suffer in it. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad.
The first week was very hard because she takes medicine at all hours of the day and night. I had to be awake at 10 & midnight to give them to her, and I was so tired I wanted to go to bed at 8pm, so I had to set the alarm. Dad gets up at six every morning and gives her that dose. Since then, thank heavens, she has taken charge of her medicine, and I can go on to bed and get some rest. She sits up most of the night reading and sleeps most of the days, which suits me fine. Speaking of medicine, the first batch cost $208 which almost gave me a heart attack.
But anyway, I am tired of bellyaching. I have always said all she ever wanted to be was a kangaroo in her mother’s pouch, and now she is one. She is happy as a lark. She’s here in the house, waited on hand and foot. Couldn’t be happier. Hence, too, is happier. It has been so funny. He really does take care of her—-follows her to the bathroom and sits outside the door until she comes out, and sleeps all day and night with her. The two of them are good company for each other, and he takes a lot of the guff off of me, I’m sure.
One of the things that has bothered me the most is the oxygen. She qualified to have Medicare pay for oxygen, so they sent out a compressor for the house and a portable tank for the car. The compressor sounds like a refrigerator that runs all the time, only about four times louder. Most of the time I’m out of the room and can’t hear it.But if I sit in the front room and try not to listen to it, I have to turn up the TV three or four notches. You can probably hear our TV a quarter of a mile away.
She also qualified for the visiting nurses, and they have been out two or three times a week. Mostly it is just a farce, but it makes her feel better and it’s free, so I just count it as keeping three awfully nice ladies gainfully employed.
Rehab turned out to be even more ridiculous than I had expected. R. from Rehab scheduled me for a session and she explained about the heart and the medicines, the names of all of them, and what they were for, on and on, and on. Then we got a 15 minute video showing happy people walking and having barbecues after heart attacks. Then she scheduled another session, which was a repeat of the first with a 2nd video, and would you believe a third session! I was fit to be tied.
When Mom came home the nurse set out a schedule of all the medicines and times. I numbered them and put the numbers on the bottles. She takes No. 1 and No. 4 at such and such a time, etc. and that’s all any of us need to know.
We can’t go to a drug store and buy the medicine without a prescription, and you can imagine what we would be told if we called up the docs and said she needs some Lasix or Captopril, so it’s all garbage. But then every time the nurses come out they go through the whole song and dance, minus the videos until Mom made some comment. The nurse was a young gal about your caliber, that is sharp, and she said, “I see you are about maxed out on meds.” Since then, Mom has shown them her paintings, and her rock collection, and everybody’s happy.
I have been able to get back to the computer and the books, but going out to do research has proved difficult, as has shopping. It doesn’t seem a good idea to leave her more than an hour or two until she has been cleared by the docs. So I have been going at night when Dad is here, which is hard for me, because I don’t function too well at night.
The big problem is there isn’t always someone up at the Family History Center at night, during the summer. Mainly because most people have other things to do, and they have a hard time getting librarians lined up. Which would be fine, only I ordered three films BHA (before heart attack) and I need to read them before the time is up, or I will have to pay extra.
If it isn’t one thing it is another, right? Speaking of that how’s the job situation? I do hope your business and the job hunt all works out Ok, as I’m sure it will, but meanwhile back at the ranch. Right!
The reason humans are the dominant animal is because we are so adaptable. I can’t get over how quickly I adjusted, especially once I could get back to the books. I am still tired, but each day I feel a little better. Those books have certainly saved my sanity.
Little J. came out and spent the night and day, and got to see Grandma. We know how worried he has been. We explained about the heart, and this and that, – whatever an 8-year-old can take in, and we think he feels better.
She goes into her wounded quail act whenever she thinks someone is looking, but hops around pretty frisky whenever she thinks no one is watching. Little J. got to see that too, and gave me a look that told worlds. Dad has been listening to me bitch for five years, but hadn’t believed me, but now he sees her more and knows the score.
We have been eating like kings out of the neighbor’s garden because none of them will touch veggies that their Dad grows. I look at that household and I tell you the truth, I would keep the wounded quail, rather than move over there. There is an old saying: “If all the world’s troubles were hung on a tree and we could have our choice, we would end up choosing our own.” So true. I have a lot to be thankful for, and so far I don’t have more than I can handle. If that day comes, perhaps a solution will present itself.
Thanks again for coming down. You were a tonic and just the support I needed. Dad is really good with her, but he doesn’t always say the things that need to be said. Sometimes just getting to talk is vital, and I don’t think men understand that. My, I feel better already, just by dumping the garbage on you. From now on the messages will be, “Same old thing, as long as the situation holds steady. Write when you get some time and energy, and I’ll do the same.