Spring 1975 Early Background
Writing more and more about myself I came to feel in a very real sense I was putting me on
paper, drawing all the shattered, scattered pieces together in one space. The years of my life
reflected back to me in a real black and white tangible continuity, beginning order to a chaotic,
disconnected confusion, like I was collecting all the pieces that had been blown apart and now
putting them back together. It felt good. It seemed the thing to do and I allowed the urge to do it
to override my thoughts of “Maybe my mother was right about me after all! I’m not SUPPOSED
to spend this much time on MYSELF! How selfish!!”
Anecdotes, memories, experiences that besides giving background information, also illustrate
innate character traits that will help clarify how I could come to make the decisions I would make
in 1976, decisions that not only challenged the orthodox mental health profession, but also
challenged the very foundation of the rational, material world view of Western Civilization.
I was born longitude 092 degrees W latitude 30.00 degrees N, February 16, 1939, “about five or six
in the morning” CST. There’s a possibility I’m a double Aquarian. That month Freud became fatally ill.
Mama said when she was pregnant with me the doctor told Daddy that I HAD to be badly
deformed, a “monster,” because of the amount of water Mama drank. (He knew NOTHING of the
hereditary diabetes insipidus she had which caused her to drink 5 to 8 gallons of water a day.)
My father said nothing to my mother. The doctor and nurse came to our house out in the country
before dawn and worked by kerosene lamplight. Mama said Daddy sat with his head down wringing
his hands the whole time and wouldn’t look at me till the nurse said, “Oh, she’s perfect!” I’ve
wondered how much Daddy’s expectation affected how he looked at me and treated me.
After my father left for the Army in December of ’42 (WWII) Mama took me to the doctor to
find out what was wrong with me, why I didn’t play anymore and tended to stay by myself and I had
to take a really horrible iron tonic!!
(Till the day she died my mother vehemently insisted that
I was too young to be affected by my father’s departure.)
Once when my mother was going to see my father in camp in Colorado, she left us with her parents. My grandmother had a chifferobe that had a full length mirror down where I could see all of myself, the only place in my environment I could see all of myself. My mother told my grandmother to spank me if she caught me looking at myself in that mirror. That was a sin!
Sometime in October, 1944
I was 4 years and 8 months old. The day my paternal grandfather brought the telegram to my mother will be forever imprinted on my mind. I don’t know how traumatic it must have been for me. My father was gone. My mother laid in bed like she was dead for three days before she woke up. I wish I had written down what she said later (for years) about what she had experienced during that unconscious state. Now all I can remember is something about “a light” and her telling someone or someones, “No, I have to go back and take care of those kids,” after which she woke up. My maternal grandmother was there but she didn’t believe in hugging grandchildren.
After my father was killed we moved from Ringling, Oklahoma, to Wichita Falls, Texas. Dusk on Buchanan Street meant hiding behind the arborvitae that I can still smell with Gabriel Heatter’s voice that I can still hear coming through the open window just above me. When Mama went to work her parents lived with us and took care of my brother, sister and me. Mama bought me books of fuzzy paper dolls when I got blood poisoning in my foot (from a sticker that had not been removed). When I got parasites from walking barefoot in cow manure, burrowing under the skin on my foot, I had to be held down for ice to be sprayed on my foot. (I got those at my paternal grandparents’ place.) And I had high blood pressure, stomach trouble and rheumatism (that I can still remember some pain from) so my tonsils were yanked out. Mama bought a house back at Ringling. We moved back there before I started first grade.
Not long after that I was molested by my maternal grandfather while we were at their house. I didn’t tell anyone, just learned not to be alone with him. (Many, many years later I learned he had also molested two of my girl cousins.)
Through six years of grade school I had what the doctor called bronchial pneumonia twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer. While other kids my age were out playing I was reading everything I could get my hands on, listening to the radio, sewing, crocheting, knitting or making something, like the doll house I made from scrap lumber and scrap wallpaper when I was in third grade.
When our doctor came to school for a Rotary luncheon at lunch time when I was in fourth grade and saw me standing alone in the corner, like I did much of the time, he told my mother to bring me in. If I wasn’t anemic, he wouldn’t charge for the blood test. I wasn’t anemic.
I thought I heard pride in Mama’s voice when she told people, “She acts older than her age.” And many times I heard, “They wouldn’t have done that if you’d had a daddy here to take up for you.”
Sometimes my brother, sister and I would talk about what would happen to us if anything happened to Mama – who we’d live with. We talked about the possibilities.
We could try to do almost anything we thought we were big enough to. I don’t remember my mother ever telling me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. I could buy all the crafts materials one store stocked, when I wanted. Mama would pay the bill.
Sometime when I was in early grade school we started being subjected to a can’t religion common to the Bible Belt, hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old something happened I never forgot though years went by I didn’t think about it. As I started between the east wall and the bed I was making, a thought whipped through my mind, immobilizing me, “God wants me to be a missionary.” So emphatic – so IS – for a second I stood there. That idea felt comfortable to me at that age so I simply finished making the bed. At that time I had a very limited concept of the word “missionary”…
Mama was the original “liberated” woman in some ways. I don’t think it ever occurred to her she might not be able to do something. My brother and sister can’t remember when she was OK but I can. Very extroverted, not intimidated by anyone, all the kids in town loved her. Though her education ended with ninth grade, I saw her help high school students with trigonometry. She could read it and figure it out. With no instructions, she made a butterfly costume for me that had a wire going around in front that, when pulled, made the wings flap. She taught herself to read music and play the piano. Though I only saw her do it a few times, Mama could draw. The ONLY things she read: The Bible when she studied the lesson in the Sunday school quarterly, one cookbook and a lot in the World Book Encyclopedias she bought when I was in 7th grade.
Only in a small town. Joe Fitzpatrick, who was in charge of the water department, told my mother she didn’t have to pay her water bill. “You’ve paid enough.” As long as he was in charge, our water was free.
When I was in 6th grade I looked at the picture of my brother’s fourth grade class. I could not believe that a teacher would allow a boy to be put on the front row in wet pants! The problem as I came to understand it was that he had not been circumcised and the skin kept trying to grow together. He could not empty his bladder so it just dripped all the time. My mother took him to a doctor once but it was not properly fixed. I don’t know how old he was when it was finally fixed but it was too late. We didn’t know it at the time but the backed up urine had destroyed 75% of his kidneys. We just knew he was kind of puny till he became a teen. We also knew if he drank too much soda he suffered. It was discovered when he started to get out of the navy when he was hospitalized with some kind of problem. Some years later he had a kidney transplant. After 11 years, that wore out and at the age of 68 he passed away from something that could so easily have been prevented. Heartbreaking!
While I’m on this subject. When my sister was in high school and the nurse came to school and checked eyesight, she sent a note home that my sister needed glasses. My mother said, “I have 20-20 vision and my kids have 20-20 vision” and refused to even take her to a doctor. The boy she was dating, whom she married later, took her to the doctor and paid for her glasses. My mother never reimbursed him.
During 7th grade I was a charter member of the Order of Rainbow for Girls (Eastern Star Masonic Order). I lasted three months. Besides being a waste of time as far as I could see, they didn’t DO anything, just had meetings and memorized words, I didn’t like what I saw when one girl got blackballed and rumors spread about her just because one girl didn’t like her, while another girl was accepted. I had heard plenty about the one that was accepted but she had a “friend” on the inside. It didn’t matter to me if they were the “elite;” I knew I was mixed up with the wrong bunch.
Mama almost died after a hysterectomy when I was in 9th grade. When she was in recovery the doctors called in the family and told us she was dying she was dehydrating so fast and they didn’t know why or how to stop it. They (and we) didn’t know she had hereditary diabetes insipidus and had started dehydrating while unconscious because they were giving her a normal amount of fluids. She woke up long enough to ask for water and after guzzling about three quarts of water she started getting all right. If she had not awakened she would have died. This surgery had followed three years of considerable problems and repeated hospitalizations. (As she was being prepared for brain surgery three years later after developing a seizure disorder from a cerebral hemorrhage she had when my father was killed in 1944, the doctors discovered she drank from 5 to 8 gallons of water a day depending on the season. It was from my maternal grandfather’s line, rare as a hereditary condition.)
My sister and I nearly wore the furniture out rearranging it in our house. It never seemed to disturb my mother, even when my sister and I sawed the chest of drawers in half so we had equal height drawers and took the vanity apart so we had two end tables and could use the mirror in another place.
When I was about 15 I had a girlfriend who lived across the street and down the alley. Part of the alley was covered in what we call “goatheads,” huge stickers with barbs. Going to her house barefoot one day I was confronted with this barrier to her back yard. Standing there, wondering how I was going to get across, I recalled what I’d heard my mother say many times, “Run across real fast, you won’t get any that way.” I did. I got so many barbs deeply embedded in my feet I had to be helped home. My mother never stopped laughing as she picked the stickers out of my feet.
“You mean you believed me? I thought you knew better than that. Everybody knows that you’re going to get stickers if you run through them, and these are in good! How could you believe that…”
10th grade geometry class: I was slack in getting my every night geometry homework done what with all the activities I was involved in. Geometry was at the bottom of my list. I watched every morning before class started, as other students huddled around the 2 girls that had done the HW to copy theirs before the teacher got there. And I just watched, refusing to copy their work. One of the students copying would become Salutatorian for our graduating class. I got a D for the year but it was my D. (Only D I made in high school.) Which is sad because I understood geometry when I had seen no reason for algebra.
By the time I was 16 I knew if I ever went into medicine, it would be psychiatry or neurology, fascinating fields to me, with a leaning toward psychiatry. Pretty remote possibilities for a young girl in rural southern Oklahoma. In fact, even thinking about it was pretty far out in left field.
The boyfriend I’d had moved away and I felt like it nearly broke my heart. When I was a Junior, a Senior boy started trying to get me to go out with him. He kept on and kept on till finally I did. We wound up going steady. And at some point I started realizing he was a real pathological liar.
Written January 12, 2019 about 2 things I did during this time never told to anyone, even Jess, and have never written about it. I think I realized even then
they were so pathological, so sick. One event was brought on by being “stood up”
on a Saturday night by my boyfriend. Just no show or call. It was dark and I
started walking, kept walking, dirt roads, walking around a section of land
west of town. I was on the third leg of section when the first car appeared.
I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone so I laid down on the ground and
pretended to be unconscious. It was a man and woman who saw me and stopped.
Didn’t get out but, unknown to me then, went home and called the sheriff.
Soon another car appeared; it was the sheriff. Again, I had laid down on
the ground and pretended to be unconscious. He picked me up and put me in
the car and took me to town to the doctor who examined me. They contacted
my mother who came to get me. If she asked questions, I don’t remember it.
The other incident occurred after we had had some kind of problem when we
were gathering at the auditorium at the high school. I was walking towards
the entry doors when I saw my boyfriend sitting and laughing with another girl.
I acted like I fainted right there. I pretended to stay unconscious. A coach
picked me up, put me in a car and took me home a block away. I don’t remember
how long I pretended to be unconscious but it was at least till I was home.
That happened in probably 1956. I’m writing this in 2019. I guess they
were brought on by rejection. Because of my strict religious upbringing,
allowing him to use me for sex caused me to have a lot of stress and guilt.
I had even written a long letter to Norman Vincent Peale that I burned. This
is the only time in my life I’ve put those events into words. So I had layers
and layers of disturbance. And my family could only see my anger.
Mama decided to finish high school in September of my Senior year in ’56, attending classes at my school everyday. On Saturdays she was cleaning house for $.75 an hour. I was selling tickets at the movie theatre one Saturday afternoon two weeks after school started when the woman Mama was cleaning house for called. Mama had had some kind of “fainting spell.” Though I was 17, since I was the oldest, it was up to me to decide what to do with her. She was walking, talking and laughing, but since she was not making decisions I knew she needed to be taken care of. I decided she should go to the hospital where the doctor diagnosed a heart attack. That was the beginning. Later I learned there was an 18 hour period that was a blank to her. After that first time I could tell by looking at her eyes if “something” in her was going to remember. Called home from school by a neighbor in November who had found her unconscious, I called an ambulance and rode with her to the hospital where the same doctor said all he could find was a part heart attack. Sometime that fall, I really don’t remember why, I decided there was a possibility Mama had a brain tumor, the only resource I had being the World Book Encyclopedia.
The one poem I wrote in high school (We were required to write a sonnet to graduate from high school at that time.) I never convinced my English teacher that I wrote it. He said my mother did. When he required a paper about a “dream house” he said, “I don’t think you could have drawn these plans. I bet your mother drew them for you.” (By the end of the year, a school board member that my mother worked for and was always showing him things I had done, built a house based on those plans.) He was the same temperamental drama teacher who made an example out of me by kicking me out of speech class during my Senior year – Me – THE star speech and drama student of our school. I was the only person who stood up to him on some of his inexcusable behavior. I had personally witnessed him kick a student down a flight of stairs, throw books and kick desks around in the classroom. I had finally had it with his SEVERE EMOTIONAL ABUSE of one student.
The year before I had won four Who’s Who awards, been Best Actress and had been one of six in the state selected for Oklahoma All-State Drama Cast
but during my Senior year I was a disaster waiting to happen. By the end of January I had withdrawn considerably and though it had been a hard decision I decided what I would become. My band, drama, music and home economics teachers all wanted to help me get a scholarship in their respective field. I had been disappointed when we took aptitude tests and instead of the counselor telling me what I should go into said, “You can do anything you want.” I loved designing clothes, had been since I was 8 or 9, had studied dress design through a correspondence course during my Sophomore year in spite of my active involvement in church AND school activities. By February I had an appointment with a design school in New York City and was working on learning how to get plane reservations.
In early February, shortly after making the appointment, I was late getting ready to go to school again. Walking by the table where my mother and paternal grandmother sat drinking coffee, I saw my mother’s head draw back, her eyes roll back, her body stiffen out and she slid right out of her chair. Her body being racked by muscle spasms, she was making terrible noises trying to breathe it sounded like and her face was turning very red. Remembering her talking about how sore her tongue had been after her last “black-outs” I ran to get a tablespoon and held it upside down in her mouth as saliva began to run from the corners of her mouth.
While I was doing that my grandmother had kneeled on Mama’s other side, was holding and rubbing Mama’s arm the best she could considering she was still recuperating from a recent stroke that had affected one side of her. By this time Mama had turned blue and her skin felt clammy. My grandmother would look at Mama and gasp, “My God…my God..she’s dying..” With tears streaming down her face she’d look up toward the ceiling and plead, “Oh, God, don’t let her die…don’t let her die…” over and over, back and forth. It looked to me like she might very well be dying, too, but I had sense enough to know what I was watching and I didn’t have to be told, doctor or no doctor. I kept wondering what I was going to do if my grandmother had another stroke on me. I sure would have my hands full…
When it was discovered at the University of Oklahoma Medical School a few weeks later my mother needed brain surgery, something folded in me. I knew we would not have the money for my plans. There was not one soul to ever hug me and say, “Everything will be all right,” not one soul to ever say, “If you need anything let me know.” It was sometime while Mother was in the hospital I got pregnant. (The only human touch in my life which was the ONLY thing I got out of sex..)
There is no way to describe how I felt when I discovered I was pregnant and not married or the way I felt when I had to tell my mother after he left town the day we were to be married or the way I felt when my mother made him marry me. It would only be in far away retrospect I would allow myself to realize that the intense attention of my boyfriend for over a year, joining my church and buying me an engagement ring were simply part of his strategy for getting another notch on his bedpost from one of the most challenging virgins in town.
Now I can look back and see that even more of me went into hiding, taking refuge at deeper levels, like the wounded animal that holds up in a cave till the wounds are healed…
It may have been in June or July during a time Mama was in the hospital again, he was at our house with me and knocked me down, giving me a black eye; I don’t remember why. I was 4 or 5 months pregnant. He called his brother: they took me to their house where his mother was and wouldn’t let me out till my eye was better.
The doctors at University Hospital in Oklahoma City said Mama had had some kind of head trauma, they didn’t know what, but she had had a brain hemorrhage at some time in the past and scar tissue had formed.
(Did she have an aneurysm when she laid at home unconscious for
three days when she received the news of my father’s death?)
After seven hours of surgery on the left temporal lobe in August,’57, Mama was slightly aphasic that gradually improved. However, the surgery did not “cure” the epilepsy though she didn’t have seizures for about a year. After about a year she started having seizures again. Between the dilantin and increased pheno barb, it was reduced to mainly petit mal seizures that gradually increased in strength over the years with only occasional grand mal seizures. (Since 1982 I have not witnessed any type of seizure. That year she had an experience labeled schizophrenic by the medical profession and the family. She insisted then and continued to insist she had a religious xperience, describing it in the limited vocabulary of her limited religious background. Everyone simply ignored her.)
That August just before my mother’s surgery, I was living in Oklahoma City with my husband, expecting my first child in November. After I had gone to the store where he worked, my husband said, “Don’t come back to the store. Women in your condition embarrass me. ”
(Mother would be diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic in the fall of ’63, a few months
after I moved to Oregon and Melliril was added to her daily intake of prescribed drugs.)
November 28, 1957 Thanksgiving Day
My husband and I were separated when I had my first baby, a beautiful girl. The hospital had a policy of not giving anything to mothers to dry up their breasts if they weren’t going to nurse. They let nature take its course, which meant suffer through it. They taped my breasts that were starting to fill with two strips of 3 inch wide adhesive tape. My breasts kept filling, became red, hot, lumpy and extremely painful and it was extending out past the tape. So. They decided to take the tape off and put a binder on me. As they started to pull the well stuck tape from my swollen, inflamed breasts, they had me grip the bars at the head of the bed as tears ran down my face and I gritted my teeth and never made a sound.
We had a little red-headed nurses’ aide. I never called anyone a bitch in my life but that’s what she was. She gave enemas, the only procedure if the patient had not had a BM within three days since they didn’t believe in stool softeners, either. Well, I decided that red-headed bitch wasn’t going to give me an enema. She didn’t but I had a breakdown in my stitches as a result of straining and had to spend 19 days in the hospital. 120 miles from home, it might as well have been the moon. I was 18.
An off and on marriage for about a year, while we were living at Chickasha he hit me in the mouth causing me to get two stitches. That was because he didn’t believe me when I told him his sister had given me $3 that I had used to buy an ironing board to iron his white shirts on. We finally got a divorce.
(He is currently in a penal institution in Oklahoma doing life – for murder- and has been since 1981..) (Released – mid 2019.)
A year after graduating from high school I started college with financial assistance from the War Orphans’ Educational Assistance Act of 1956 passed by Congress. (I was the first person to use this at this college.) During summer school the next year I became pregnant from what they now call “date rape,” (Ironically, if I had not fought so hard I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. He couldn’t control me and use a condom at the same time.) I dropped out of college and had my baby in the spring of ’60.
But I didn’t know that person looking at me from the mirror. She was a stranger.
I started back to college, fall ’60, with two babies, met Jack and discovered what sex was all about for the first time. True to form I got pregnant so he did his duty and married me. Though I’d married twice, I had never been married because a man simply loved ME enough to marry me.
We had a son, Jack, Jr., July 10, 1961.
Jack took us to Mountain Lake on July 4. Sitting on the ground on a quilt, I noticed an insect crawling across the quilt.
“Is that a tick?” I asked.
“Yah, that’s a tick,” Jack answered.
“…It has a spot on its back…Is that the kind that causes Rocky Mt. spotted fever?” I jokingly asked.
Six days later on July 10, his first birthday, my son got sick. Three days later he was diagnosed as having spotted fever. At Crippled Children’s Hospital at Oklahoma City they discovered that had caused meningoccal meningitis, the doctors being sure a tick bite had caused the spotted fever. Everyone who had been in direct contact with him had to take sulpha drug. In a coma for three days, he was in a room with only a crib. We had to wear gowns, couldn’t touch anything and had to stand a distance of at least two feet from him. Here was my baby, in a coma, his arms tied to the sides of the crib, an IV in a blood vessel in his head, so swollen I couldn’t tell he had wrists or ankles and – I couldn’t touch…
Twelve days later I carried him out like a newborn. He could not even hold his head up. Before we left the pediatrician said, “We can’t tell now if there’s damage to his brain. He may be fine, then again…If, someday, for example, he’s in second grade and starts having problems learning, don’t wonder why…”
(In the back of my mind when I took him for an evaluation in ’76. It wasn’t till he was about
13 years old and I saw he could function enough to live independently that I felt
THAT knot in my stomach disappear. And not one soul knew I lived with that.)
The doctor said that if any of my other two kids got sick, bring them up there immediately. My middle child was 2 1/2 and started running a little fever. I took her to Oklahoma City. They put her in the room next to Jack’s. She was already potty trained but they put diapers on her and wouldn’t let her use the bathroom. They did a spinal tap and we had to wait three days. It also was an isolation unit which meant I could not stay with her. She would stand in the crib crying, reaching her arms out to me and calling “Moma” as tears were running down her face and I was not allowed to pick her up. I could stand in the hall and see both babies. I think my daughter had a little 7-up and half a piece of bread the whole three days. I did stay with friends in OKC so I could go to the hospital more. I don’t know if she ever got over the trauma of those three days.
56 years later I can’t read this without crying. I don’t know how I did it.
About six weeks before he had meningitis, I had had a miscarriage.
By the time my third daughter was born that year I knew something was wrong with my son. I felt time had stopped. With no communication to speak of, limited to pantomime, my son was more like a little wild animal than anything else. I got books on psychology, trying to find some way to control him. If I didn’t want him to do something, I had to hold him; any form of punishment or correction had no effect whatsoever. He grabbed a wasp; it stung him. A few weeks later he picked up a bumblebee. It stung him on his hand causing his arm to swell to his elbow, yet he continued trying to catch them! Something in my head kept telling me, “That’s not normal!” (He was four years old before he learned to leave the bees alone.) He was into something CONSTANTLY!! My mother and mother-in-law insinuatingly said, “Well. MY kids never ran from ME but ONCE.” They were lucky. They never had one like him. My relatives pooh-poohed the idea he might not be hearing good.
“Oh, he’s just smart enough to act like that so he doesn’t have to mind.” But I’m thinking, “But he doesn’t respond to ‘Do you want some ice cream?'” or “Do you want some candy?'”
When he was four, we discovered he had a severe hearing loss, 80 db, possibly caused by meningitis, but other etiology possible.
After 18 months on birth control pills I was a nervous wreck, becoming more and more depressed and unbelievably irritable for progressively longer periods of time before my monthly periods, so much so that I scared myself and a doctor put me in a mental hospital for two weeks. They did a lot of tests, couldn’t find anything wrong though I fainted once and continued the pill. While I was in the hospital my son had scarlet fever, two weeks after being inoculated for hard measles. (He had hard measles about a year later.) Dr. Co. refused to refill the prescription for the pills after I came home, saying, “I don’t know what all your problems are but the pills are definitely part of it.” It took about three months to wear off the effects of the pill. When Dr. Co. gave me an IUD he showed it to me and said something about, “Usually, blah, blah…” I jokingly responded with “Don’t talk to me about usually. I come from a long line of losers.” Eighteen months later I would remember that.
That eighteen months on birth control pills had been the only time up to that point that I was completely free from painful ovulation since I was 16. Some months I suffered more than others; at times suffering excruciating pain.
Over the years I became aware of other changes around ovulation. “Restless” was the word I used to describe how I became, like a pacing, caged lioness. It took about 15 years for me to become aware I took more “chances,” seemed to have an over abundance of physical energy, wanted to be active, “on the move.” The few women I’ve spoken to about it have never been aware of such things.
Jack talked to the psychiatrist while I was in the hospital and started raving about me going back to college, not later, right then, completely out of character for him. I enrolled the summer of ’66 at Portland State, picking up where I had left off in Oklahoma, close to Junior level. Before I completed my work for a BS, I decided to become a teacher of the deaf and was accepted into a graduate program and got a federal grant. That December things were taken out of my hands again. I was pregnant in spite of the IUD. For a tubal ligation to be done immediately after delivery I had to write a letter to a committee for them to approve the procedure.
April 1968 To the Committee Members:
…There are four main reasons at present for desiring tubal ligation: Daughter, 10, Daughter, 8, Son, 6 and Daughter who will be 4 in June. At the time of this writing I am five months pregnant and it is due August 18. However, there are other reasons: economic, physical, physiological and psychological.
…When I think of what it will cost to rear and educate five children at even an acceptable standard…! Our son is hearing handicapped which of itself necessitates additional time and expense above that required for normal children…
…The two years prior to last December have been particularly enjoyable and rewarding. Since I felt free from the fear of pregnancy, I felt I could actually plan. I went back to school and completed a B.S. in speech and theatre arts at Portland State. My children will see me get my degree in June. Last June, with the aid of a federal grant, I entered a fifth year training program for teachers of the deaf at Oregon College of Education. I commuted 130 miles a day till March when my advisor and I decided I should wait until next winter to do ten weeks of student teaching, all I lack for national certification. That and 12 hours of education classes must be completed for my master’s so I resent not being in control of my life. I still have a certain resiliency, determination and optimism that have withstood the wear and tear of the last few years but at what point does this dissolve into hopelessness, pessimism and despair?
If the main purpose of life is procreation as some people believe, our duty doesn’t stop with the arrival into this world of another human being. If more care, time and thought isn’t given to the finished product, man may well destroy faster than we can create. The creation of a human begins at the moment of conception but does not stop at the moment of birth. The potential is there but what he is exposed to will largely determine what becomes of it. And we are responsible for most of this exposure. The end product – the human mind, the essence of life or God – or whatever you will.
My oldest daughter was selected from our district as a Junior Rose Festival Princess for the 1968 Rose Festival in Portland, quite an event. (From almost 250 girls that tried out in our district.) My mother and sister flew out. Since I had completed my work at the end of the previous summer, I graduated from Portland State with a B.S. in Speech and Theatre Arts that June.
That was all finished before I really started having complications. With a marginal placenta, I required some hospitalization. I was supposed to stay in bed. We hired a high school girl to come after school to help. On a Sunday, Jack’s day off, nothing to do him but for me to go out and walk around in the yard looking at the flowers with him. Before morning I was in labor.
Jonathan David came on July 9, 6 weeks early, weighed two pounds, 12 ounces, had breathing difficulties and lived 12 hours, dying about 10:30 that night.
“Do you want me to come in now?” Jack asked on the phone.
“No, that’s all right, you don’t have to do that,” I answered. If he had to ask……
The next morning he didn’t come to the hospital till his boss told him he belonged at the hospital with me, not at work.
This was before they started letting the mother hold her dead baby so I never touched him…. The only picture of him I have is in my head, looking at him through the glass, across the room. He was so tiny. But I thought from that distance he looked a lot like Jack, Jr…..
Postponed at birth because of complications the baby was having, the tubal ligation became major surgery the next day.
“There were four blood vessels in the umbilical cord,” the doctor said. “There’s supposed to be three. When there’s two, we know definitely there’s brain damage. We don’t know what it means when there’s four.”
We got ready to go to the cemetery for a graveside service. My aunt, uncle and cousin were waiting in their car in front of our house. As Jack and I reached the bottom of the steps I started to break down. Jack grabbed my elbow and said “Get ahold of yourself!” So I did. At the cemetery, I wanted some flowers from the spray on Jonathan David’s little casket.
“No, you don’t need them!” Jack stated. So I didn’t get any. And I have regretted it ever since.
Though I was a walking disaster, I completed my student teaching in the fall, five weeks at Salem and five weeks in Portland. I could not understand how a loss that was not in my control like that could so affect my “self confidence.” The tubal ligation caused a “shock” reaction from my body and it was only after some therapeutic procedures that I started monthly periods again, 8 months after the surgery.