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About Me

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Mother of three, one girl and two boys.


Floyd's Wife Delores

Floyd's Wife Delores
Holding me 1956

In the Beginning

In the Beginning
Floy,Mary Ann,Kathryn,Me,Mama,Daddy and Skippy


Little Rebels

Daddy and Butch

Daddy and Butch
1960 Rte 116

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December 18, 2009

Moving to Penn St Again August 2004

Kelvin was fitted for his “ankle bracelet” within two days upon arriving at the little house at 1004 s 20thst. He could venture as far as 100 ft from the house so he was able to mow the yard and was granted permission to look for work. He found a job at the plant in Gower working with cement. I turned in all the wages between the two of us to Social Services and they said I would not be able to continue with the Food Stamp program.
By the end of July when things were settling and the bills were being paid I got a letter from the landlord that he had sold the house and I had to be out by the end of the month.
Kelvin told me things would be fine as we started looking for houses in the paper. One Saturday when we were both off from work we did a double take and circled around to check out a house available for rent on Penn St. It had a nice rectangle shaped living room, carpeting, large kitchen, big bedroom and a small bedroom for Dakota. On the East side of the kitchen there was a small laundry room and a door leading to a large back yard and patio. The rent was 3 times what I was paying with housing. I stressed and stressed about the expense but Kelvin assured me with the extra money he was making and my salary we would be fine. He was paid every two weeks but the opposite weeks that I was being paid so we had two weeks of pay coming in every week. We told the landlord we would take it and asked how soon we could move in. He said as soon as we wanted. We had to pay the first and last month’s rent, half the deposit and sign a lease. We started moving as soon as we got back home.
I was so excited; it was such a nice little house! The walls in the kitchen were tongue and groove wood paneling and the counter went all the way around. I needed counter space so badly. All the rooms were carpeted including the small laundry room. The walls were white except for a couple of walls in the kitchen that had green leaf wallpaper in place of the paneling.
The yard was magnificent. It was huge but no fencing which Kelvin remedied with a few scraps of fence and posts so Lassie could be free to roam the whole thing. It was the first time she would be free of that cable in three years. The neighbor to the North of us and to the East of us had privacy fencing making the job so much easier; there were only a few areas that were open and needed closed off.
By October of that year, 2004, we applied for and got a new truck for Kelvin, a 2003 Ford Ranger. The payments were 406.00 a month so again I had to figure out how we were going to be able to pay the truck payment, rent and utilities, four charge cards I had before Kelvin came home. The house was insulated and came with a window air conditioner in the living room plus we purchased a small one for our bedroom and was much easier to heat and cool than the last one. In the winter time at the old house Dakota and I almost froze to death trying to keep warm. Dakota’s old bedroom had to be wrapped in plastic so I had him sleep with me when the temperature got below zero. Lassie stayed in the basement in the winter time there, I would get up in the mornings for work, let her out then put her back in until I got home. It was very warm down there and cozy. I knew she was getting older and had bouts with arthritis. At this new place there was only a crawl space under the house where the furnace resided and the door was off the ground about a foot and kept closed at all times. We still had her dog house which I had filled with blankets but it tended to leak. It had to be really poring down before she would resort to going inside. When the weather was too cold and the snow was getting deep we would let her inside the house with us. She was well house trained and just slept in front of the big screen television in the living room.
On Wednesdays Kelvin got paid and I had those days off so I would get up early and leave about 11:30 to go to Gower and pick up his check after he cashed it and kept a hundred dollars or so for him giving me the rest to put in the bank to pay bills. I would then get paid 10 days later the following week on Friday. Everything appeared to be manageable until Kelvin lost his job.

November 22, 2009

Kelvin Comes Home After Four Long Years 2004

After all the trips to Jefferson City and Tipton on Sundays, no matter the weather, Kelvin was scheduled to come home on Sunday, the 4th of March, 2004. Dakota and I made our last trip to Tipton to pick up his daddy. He had longed for his father to come home and Kelvin had vowed to be a changed man. Every Sunday when we were not down there he would call home to see how we were doing. He sent tapes of stories for Dakota to listen to on the tape player, even if he couldn’t be there to read to him this was his way to be able to read and bond with his son he had lost so much time with. Dakota was 9 ½ years old then. I had taken him to ball games and watched him play since he was 7. He had been in Boy Scouts for a year but there were just too many things that he needed a father for and I couldn’t continue taking him or help him with making a race car etc…
We got up early, about 4 AM that Sunday morning. I stopped at Speedy’s on Riverside road before leaving St Joe and heading East on 36 highway, to Chillicothe, then South on 65 to Sedalia then eventually Tipton. I liked the trip and the drive. I had my plastic bag of quarters for the vending machine, some pop to drink and a full tank of gas after leaving Speedy’s. It was a long drive. By going that direction instead of South through Kansas City I avoided traffic and the countryside was comforting. He pointed at the cows and a few horse and buggies that we met along the way as the Mennonites lived throughout the area. We traveled South past Marshall and other small towns, under the bridge and the South 435 traffic I had bypassed. The next town was Sedalia, home of the Missouri State Fair every year in August. Highway 65 had many crooks and turns, the traffic started to thicken now and the lanes spread out into four lanes of traffic. I stopped at a gas station at the intersection where I needed to turn East on 50 to go to Tipton to fill up the gas tank for the long drive back with Kelvin. Another 30 miles and we had arrived. Every time I had to remember the left turn off 50 highway in the middle of the small Missouri town that held my husband prisoner. Is it this one or is it down further? I consoled myself that this would be the last time I would have to remember that.
When I parked my car in the parking lot we got out and I had to try to control Dakota’s movements as he always tried to be the first one to cross the highway to the building where his father had been housed the last two years. The road was a busy one and there was a hill. I knew no car would be able to see a little boy darting across the wide two lane highway topping that hill. I had to lock the car, make sure I had my purse and the plastic bag containing the quarters and round up my son so he wouldn’t end up in a hospital (I didn’t know where there was one, Sedalia I’d guessed, thirty miles back West from where we’d come). We both got across safely enough. Once inside they said for us to wait there after using their “Magic Wand” over us. We sat in the chairs, there was a small waiting room, and they said they would send him out. We didn’t have to wait too long when we saw him carrying his sole possessions. He was dressed up in new clothes his Mother had sent him to go home, had a duffle bag of sorts and wearing a big grin on his face. He had lost so much weight, was tanned from mowing the “Yard” and running around the track several miles a day for exercise and something to do. He had read all the books they had in their library, had worked in the kitchen for a time, he was always a pretty good cook. Once he had everything done, papers signed, whatever was left to do, we headed for the parking lot. The first thing he wanted to do was go to the store in Tipton to buy some snacks. He hadn’t been in a real store for four years. He had always liked to shop, unlike most men. Going to Wal-Mart was a chore since once he was there he never wanted to leave until every aisle was searched from top to bottom, in case we ever had any money to buy anything we would know how much and where to get it. His mother had been putting money on his account there so when we left he had about a hundred or so dollars to spend. He was happy, easy going and best of all he was calm. We drove back the way we had come without a rise out of him. We talked and laughed. He didn’t complain about my driving or “Why did you go this way?” He was glad to be coming home at last.

November 12, 2009

Goodbye Aegis Hello USA 800 2003-2004

After work every day I would go to Jennifer’s house and open the gate to the pool. Eric and Jennifer and Dan, Eric’s biological father, had built a fence around the pool with four to five feet high of wooden board fencing. I had a Rubber Maid chest full of the pool supplies I needed to keep the pool running as well as chemicals to keep it clean. I had bought a vacuum and various other items. I liked to stand there and watch the water whoosh out of the out take and into the pool, sweeping any debris that floated to the top. The humming of the pump was soothing and the sound of the rushing, swirling water was comforting. When I had back washed and was tired of sweeping the bugs and any leaves that still lingered on the surface I closed the gate and headed back home.
In January of that year I was told that I had lost my job at Aegis Communications Group and was receiving unemployment checks every week. The amount of the checks were more or equal to my regular pay check and I enjoyed my time off. I searched for but didn’t find another Job until July. Jennifer had applied to USA 800, a local call center, and was assured I would be able to get on there too since it was the same type of business I had been doing for the last 3 ½ years at Aegis. Callers would call the center for ads they had seen or heard on the radio and television as well as newspapers and we would screen them, taking the information and passing it on to the company they had originally called, which were our clients. I barely passed the typing course but was good enough to get hired. I had just applied for an extension with unemployment for another 3 months and due to school starting in September opted to wait and apply again in October. On October 17th I reapplied and was hired. The building consisted of an aged old apartment building downtown on the fifth floor. There was an old elevator that quit working off and on. Breaks were only 10 minutes long, it took 3 minutes for the elevator to rise to the fifth floor leaving 7 minutes for a cigarette break, 3 of which you had to use waiting for the elevator to come down, pick you up and rise to the fifth floor again. Then of course you had to go to the bathroom in that time as well, be back on the phones and take your calls without being over the ten minutes allotted from the time you signed out. These calls were easier to handle than the ones I had taken at Aegis. We had a few clients, not many then, and when call volume would go down a mandatory go home list was assigned. I lived alone with a nine year old boy then so I would get mad when they would send me home. Sometimes there would be a “Go Home List” that wasn’t mandatory, if you had your name put on it then you could go home and wouldn’t be charged any points against you. Points accrued when you just left early on your own without “call volume” being the reason, if your child was sick, you were sick or for some other reason than “the list” you would accrue a ½ point for leaving before your scheduled time off. If you called in sick and used your sick time then you wouldn’t receive any points, but if you didn’t have enough “sick” time to cover your shift and were gone the whole day you would receive a whole point. When you received 10 points it was cause for termination. Jennifer and I caught onto this very quickly and whenever they asked who wants to be on “the list”, we knew what they were talking about and made sure our names were on there. I couldn’t go as often as she could. She had a husband who worked making good money at the plant in Atchison, Midwest Grain, so she left me there a lot to suffer out my shift when all I really wanted to do was go home or to the pool and watch the water swirl around. She’d leave five minutes after she got there sometimes if they called “the list” right after we started. While she was there, we’d laugh and talk about the calls we were taking, some of them were really funny but on Sunday mornings at 5A when we’d work from 5A-1:30P, the pranks and the perverts would come out and disgust us to no end.
In January of 2004 we moved into a new building off Mitchell St, Mitchell Woods as it was called. No elevators and everything was on ground level. We had a huge parking lot in the back that was level and easy to get to in the winter time. This lot was eventually widened and made bigger to extend even further to the east and as the company grew a new addition was added to the building. Jennifer didn’t get to see the improvements they made as she quit in April of 2004, one month after Kelvin got out of prison.

November 02, 2009

The 18 Ft Pool 2002

In the spring of 2002 I sold enough long distance service to choose from the various prizes they had for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ECT... I asked Jennifer which prize I should ask for and she said the 18 ft above ground pool with all accessories including an inflatable shark, beach ball and assorted beach towels. She said we could set it up in her back yard as she owned her own property while I was renting.
I was working one day when Sonya, the head of the communications group in the St Joseph area sat down beside and listened in on the call. She said she thought it was very good. I asked her about the prizes and when they would be given out. I told her I knew I had sold more long distance service than anyone at that time and I wanted the pool. She said she would consult with my supervisor, she told them to release the pool to me and that I could take it home that day. On my lunch break I called Jennifer and she had her husband, Eric, and his father, Dan, come by in the van and try to load it that day after work. The pools, the ladder, liner, were packed in a large box but the shark, beach ball and towels were loose and the shark was huge and inflated! We had a time trying to deflate it. It refused to go down easy. After awhile it bent enough to fit it in the back with the kids.
We dropped off the towels and shark at my house then took the big box over to Jennifer’s. We opened the box and took out the instructions. There were so many instructions and parts, rims, walls and the liner. Dan and Eric couldn’t rap their minds around the work that was involved. First they needed to dig out a level area; Jenny had told them where she wanted it, in the big back yard below the fenced small yard. This was the most level ground; they got the measuring tape and the shovels, the rake, and a level for exact precision. This took several weekends, and then came the sand and the leveling process began again.
By the first of July, 2 months after I had notified them the pool was up and ready to fill.
The pump and filter was made in one piece and fit on the side of the pool. It was virtually worthless and the algae began to grow. It was impossible to keep clean. I bought different types of algaecide, large 3 inch tablets of chorine and a vacuum. This was starting to run into large amounts of money which I wasn’t used to spending. Jenny and Eric helped out with the cost and I decided to call some pool places to see if I could get a used sand filter as we had had on the farm with the 24ft above ground. I called a place on St Joe Ave and a man said he had a used Jacuzzi sand filter that would be able to handle all the water and that I would need a pump he had just rebuilt. The sand filter was 120.00 and he would sell me the pump for 90.00. This was a great savings as we had priced new ones which cost more than a new pool. He came over and installed the set for free and I asked about a skimmer which he said he could order a new one for 35.00. He didn’t charge me anything for the installation. By the middle of August the water was sparkling clean. On September 1st Eric decided it was time to shut it down even though the weather was still in the nineties. We didn’t want to wait until it got cold to do it of course but it looked so good and I had waited all summer to see the clean clear water it was heartbreaking. I came over after work every day to check the pH and chlorine levels, back wash the filter and mostly stare at the water surging out across and around the pool. Finally I relented and switched the filter to Winterize and watched the water flow out of an old fire hose and down across the yard into a drainage ditch. I had bought a cover, between the three of us and the kids we were able to tie it down for the upcoming seasons.
By spring of 2003 I reluctantly began to unfold the cover and had to gasp at the ugly black water beneath. Limbs and leaves covered the top and had torn open a hole in the cover allowing the leaves and debris from the fall and winter to clutter throughout the pool. I started sweeping the water with a pool net which had an extension pole attached, stirring and filtering and back washing. I added shock treatment, tested the chlorine level and made the necessary adjustments. We filled the pool to the brim once the dark water started to fade to a pea green hue, started the filter and prayed a lot! By mid June it was ready.

October 10, 2009

Our Trip to Las Vegas 2002

In 2002 I had won the trip to Las Vegas by selling more long distance than anyone else. Jennifer and I went to East Hills Mall to the travel agency to pick up our tickets. We were flying Southwest Airlines and picked out a motel with the least expense. I had won 500.00 and Jennifer helped with the expense for the rest. The 500.00 paid for the air fare and the motel. I notified Aegis Communications Group that the time best for the both of us would be Friday the 11th of September. I arranged to have that day, the weekend, and the following Monday off, the day after we got back from the trip.
We arrived late Friday night with the time change and checked into our motel room. It had two twin beds, a small bathroom and a phone. There was a huge window but nothing to see but other motel rooms and the parking lot which we took a shuttle bus to and from the main hotel and the motel room. We called the guys back home to let them know we had arrived and were unpacking. I turned the TV on and watched the news and weather. It was going to be hot, hot, and hot in the 100’s. I noticed there was a pool but hadn’t brought a bathing suit since the travel agency had said she didn’t think there would be a pool.
We did a lot of walking to and from the main hotel and played a few slot machines.
We went to bed early on Friday thinking we would get a good night’s sleep then start walking the strip on Saturday.
We walked and walked from one hotel to the other. We hit all the big hotels; MGM was way down the southern end of the strip. It cost 2.00 every time we took a bus but sometimes if it was the same bus we took down the strip the bus driver would take us back without charging us. It was starting to get expensive so we decided to walk most of the time. Jennifer started getting blisters on her feet so we exchanged shoes. My feet didn’t hurt but my legs and my back was aching I could hardly stand. One hotel we went into I won 15.00 and put that money back into the machine but Jennifer who was sitting right beside me won 90.00! We used that money to ride the bus and eat on.
We decided to eat at the Rain Forest Café. It was so beautiful with wild animated animals, trees and a waterfall. The ceiling was decorated with stars and the moon. The food was expensive so we ordered a specialty platter for one and decided to share. It was 50.00 for that one platter, plus desert and the specialty glasses for our drinks we got to keep, they were 5.00 apiece. We bought souvenirs from the MGM gift shop for everyone.
The highlight of the weekend was the Legends. An Elvis Presley imitator plus other celebrity imitators performed. We sat at a table and had our drinks on the balcony. After the show we met “Elvis” and had our pictures taken with him. He was from Lee’s Summit Missouri and said he couldn’t believe we were from St Joseph so close to his hometown.
We wanted to see the aquarium with huge sharks at Mandalay which was inexpensive. It was enormous. It was like being under the ocean with glass all around, large sea turtles as well as the sharks, tropical saltwater fish, it was magnificent! It made all the aches and pains and blisters all seem worthwhile.
We visited New York and took pictures of the Statue of Liberty, rode the train ride at Excalibur and Caesar’s Palace. We saw a man on a bicycle who was taking passengers down the strip in a cart he pulled behind him. We got in and had him take us a few blocks so we wouldn’t have to walk so far. It always felt so good to sit down! It would be freezing inside the hotels but when you stepped outside the heat would knock you back so that you had to find another hotel to cool off and play the slots again.
On Sunday we were packing for home. We took the shuttle back to the main building and waited for the shuttle to take us back to the airport. I had 20.00 left and was a little sad that I didn’t win big. We had such a good time just the two of us. When we arrived back home I took the 20.00 and went to the River Boat in St Joseph on Monday and doubled it! I ran straight to the bank to keep myself from putting it back into the machines!

October 01, 2009

A Home of My Own 2001

I had filled out an application at Housing Authority and was waiting in line for that to be approved. By the end of September I had received my approval in the mail. All I had to do now was find a house that they would approve of and a landlord that would accept. A two bedroom house for Dakota and me the limit was 425.00 for the rent. Anything over that would not be approved by housing. I looked in the paper every day with the help of my daughter. I saved my money so that when I did find a place I would have the first and last month’s rent and a deposit.
When I got home from work one day she notified me that she had found a house on south 20th street. It took us a while to find the house. The landlord was sitting in the kitchen with a pile of applications to go through. His son was outside painting the house white. It was a quaint old one story with a full basement, a front porch, a deck attached in back overlooking a wide spreading back yard. There was a hedge row surrounding the north side of the back yard and a short hedge in the front separating the street from the small front yard leading to the front porch.
I remembered the front porch swing Kelvin had bought me for my birthday one year that Jennifer had at her house. I thought about flowers and where I would plant them. This house would be mine, all mine. I filled out the paper work and talked to the man sitting in a chair in the large kitchen. I told him it would be just Dakota and I living there and how housing worked. In a few days Jennifer told me that he had called and the house was mine if I still wanted it. I couldn’t believe with all the applicants, with housing stipulating their rules that I had been chosen. Now all I needed was to pay the storage bill and get my stuff back home where it belonged. There was a stove already there, a gas stove, I had an electric counter top stove that I wanted to use but he said he wasn’t doing the wiring for 220 in the kitchen. I would have to use the small gas stove already existing. There wasn’t much counter space so I shoved the electric up against the existing counter on the north side of the kitchen for the extra space. I had a washer but needed a dryer; he had a dryer but no washer so that worked out for both of us. There was no fencing to keep Lassie inside the yard except for the hedge but on the East side to the driveway there was no hedge and on the South side there was a house with a family of kids, dogs, Rottweiler’s, at least four big ones and no fence in between. I bought a cable about a hundred feet and staked Lassie out in the middle.
There was a small shed in the back close to the driveway in the southeast corner with no door. There I stored the Sears Craftsman lawn mower, the weed eater and other various tools used for gardening. It wasn’t long the weed eater and hoe, a shovel went missing. I put the lawn mower under the deck and put the remaining tools in the basement. The lawn mower quit working so I had to go to the new Wal-Mart on North Belt that had just recently opened its doors and bought a refurbished, small red one. Easy enough for me to start and push myself. I no longer had Kelvin to care for the yard any longer. In the Spring I bought flowers, Petunias mostly, and planted those in the front of the front porch and the tulips I had planted the fall I moved in 2001 were starting to sprout up. I bought rose bushes to plant in the back yard. They refused to bloom and died shortly thereafter.
The cast iron lawn furniture I had had since I lived with Charles on the farm when Clyde was renting the trailer from us, (he had bought it for me instead of paying the rent one month as I had asked him to, it was the same price) I put on the deck, put an umbrella through the hole in the table and sat out there, ate breakfast, and watched Lassie play as much as she could to the extent of the cable. Dakota would throw a soccer ball high into the air and she would jump up and bat it with her nose. I felt so sorry that she had to be cabled but she wouldn’t voluntarily stay in the yard otherwise.
I worked hard at selling long distance for AT&T and won prizes. We had a contest in the spring of 2002 to see who could sell the most service. The winner would win a trip to Las Vegas! We had a map on the wall with little pegs representing our airplanes. So many sales equaled so many miles and the one to get to Las Vegas first won. I left everyone back in Denver and was in Las Vegas first so I won the trip for two taking Jennifer with me.

September 25, 2009

Dakota Gets a Taste of Baseball 2001-2004

I was just remembering a day back in 2001 when my little 7 year old brought a friend home from school who asked me, "Is Dakota going to sign up for baseball this Summer?" I asked how would I sign him up and he said he got a slip at school to sign him up and it cost 55.00 to register him. I thought, "I'm rich, just got my income tax refund", I actually had 55.00 to blow on the kid.
We headed for the Church up the hill where they were taking registrations. They told us he would be on a team called "The Little Rebels", so I paid the man. On our way to get a glove, bat, ball, socks and shoes! They gave us a hat, and a shirt.
After the first few practices I thought he needs a new bat, yea, yea, that's his problem so went and bought a real cool, titanium bat, one the ball could make a real "zing" when he hit it out of the ball park!
He did hit it hard and got a few RBI's and a HR or two! Course the pitcher was a skinny mechanical robot thing that was set to throw slow balls. He laughed, I cried, everybody was happy!
One day I was sitting in the bleachers, our team was in the outfield. The ball was hit, up, up it went high over everyone's head and blam! It landed in the hands of one of our own little boys' glove! I shouted, "Way to go! What a catch!" A woman turned around and looked back at me and said, "That was your boy!" My son? Dakota? Dakota Blake?"
I jumped off the bleachers ran to the coach who was laughing so hard because we were ahead at this point, probably 28-5 or something, and I asked, "Was that Dakota that caught that ball?" He nodded, "Yea, good job!"
Still not believing my ears when the inning was over I asked Dakota while we were on our way to the concession stand to get a "suicide", that's a drink where all the drinks they had were mixed together in one cup. He said, “Yes, that was me!” My heart was bigger than the Grinch's when it grew and grew, well you know the story.
K-ball was so much fun, for me that is, that year. They only lost 3 games went to play for the championship and lost, sadly. It took 2 whole games. That’s how many you had to lose to be out of the championship game.
They played until August that year! Rain or shine we were there! I cried when it was over and couldn't wait until next year! Next year came and he was a little less enthused about being in summer baseball. We registered, 60.00 this time. Bought the gloves the socks, the bat glove etc… the game was over by June.
The next year I had to practically carry him to the games. He stood like a little weenie holding his legs together, hoping for ball four so he could walk to base. He knew if he got on, he could run the bases. The pitching machine was gone and the little pitchers couldn't hit the side of a barn, missing their mark by an arm or a leg, thigh etc… Starting to think he needed a bigger titanium bat!
One day his father actually showed up to one of the games and called me at home to say "Our son just got a home run!" Really! I can't believe I missed it! He had hit an in the ball park home run by tapping the ball, bunt, about 3 inches off the plate. The Ump cried, “Fair Ball!” He ran to first. He ran to second. The pitcher couldn't find it! The catcher couldn't find it. They finally found it, threw it to first! Dakota was on second and heading for third! He slid into home and won the game’s ball that day!

September 17, 2009

September 11th, 2001

On 09/11/2001, Monday morning, I was getting ready for the Communications Group
I worked for, taking calls for companies, mostly a large credit card firm, helping customers make their credit card payments. I had never worked on a computer before and hadn’t taken a typing course since the age of 15. When I was hired in June of 2000 the girl working behind the desk in Human Resources told me to apply in a small room, not much bigger than a broom closet. The only thing I saw was a desk with a menacing-looking computer. I had taken the written application and they wanted to see how fast I could type. I went back to the Human Resources desk and told the girl, not much older than a teenager, that the only thing I saw was a computer and I didn’t know anything about computers and didn’t know where to start. She said she would set it up for me and said, “There, it is all ready for you just start typing the best you can in the allotted time. When you are finished I will check your time and let you know how well you did.” It took time away for errors. It was a story about a little girl who lived in Kansas with her Aunt and Uncle and her little dog Toto. When all was said and done I had typed 12 words a minute after subtracting the errors I had made. I was unfamiliar with the keyboard and wanted to slide the carriage over, but there was no carriage to slide. I was ready to walk out and never come back. To my surprise she said that didn’t matter for the work intended and I had a training session the following Thursday after I passed the drug screening. I was hired.
On this day 09/11/2001 I was rushing around getting ready for work. The Television set had the news as I always watched Good Morning America. They were going on and on about bombs and the Twin Towers. I paid little attention. I had to get Dakota ready for school and take him there. He was in the first grade at Hall Elementary. He had gone to Pre School for two years since his birthday was in October, whatever age you were the first day of September, even though he would turn six in October, he had to wait the following year when he was six in September to attend first grade. On the way to school he talked over and over about the bombing of the Towers in New York. I thought they were talking about the previous attempt some years before on the basement of the Towers so thought it being old news didn’t listen as carefully as I would have. In the car the radio blared constantly about the bombing and more information to come. I listened all the way to work and wished I had paid more attention when it was on TV.
Jenny had made the room as comfortable as she could, knew how I liked to tape my soap opera and Regis and Kelly during the daytime while I was at work. Everything I had owned was in a storage locker on the North Belt Highway. She set the VCR up and even had a small television set, twin bed and a night table for me and the things I liked to put there at night, a roll of toilet paper for blowing my nose, my nose spray and an alarm clock.
When I would get home at 5:30 I would rewind my shows and watch them, keeping to myself and out of the way as much as possible. It was crowded but comfortable. Her father-in-law, Dan, had been sleeping there but relinquished the room for me and stayed in a camper trailer in the back yard. Her son and daughter, Domenic and Kaitlyn stayed together in the same bedroom as they were under the age of five years.
I liked my new job it was so easy once I got the hang of where the letters were again on the keyboard. We mostly used the 10 key pads anyway so I didn’t have to use the letters much. When E mail became popular though, we had to start getting their e mail addresses too and boy, talking about hunt and peck! I was soon pecking with the best of them, using one finger on one hand and two on the other. I’d get some serious looks from teenagers who had typing and computers in high school. I was almost fifty years old and it had been a long time since I had sat in Daddy’s old Plymouth and typed out my stories on my most prized possession, the blue portable that Daddy had bought me for my birthday so many years ago. I cried and Daddy cried too. He had to go to bed to keep anyone from seeing him cry. He’d never want anyone to see him cry. I had never gotten anything for my birthday or Christmas that I had wanted because of the expense and never expected to get that typewriter. He had bought it in a second hand store in St Joseph when we lived on Johnson’s place a year before his death.

September 08, 2009

Dakota Takes A Fall 1999-2001

One day when Chuck and I were in the living room listening to the stereo, Chuck was practicing his Karaoke performance for Karaoke night at the bar, we heard screaming and yelling coming from the basement. We rushed to see what had happened and Dakota was covered with blood. His father had been asleep on the cot that Chuck usually slept on, when he was awakened by Dakota screaming. He had fallen off the last three steps leading to the basement as there was no railing there at the time and hit his head on the raised concrete surrounding the floor jack. Head wounds bleed easily and his head was gushing. Kelvin couldn’t stand the sight of the blood and told us to take him to the hospital in my convertible. Chuck held him while I drove out of the garage. Dakota was starting to feel a little better and fondling the dashboard and poor Chuck’s hair, covering everything he touched with the red gooey coagulation.
When we got to the emergency room the receptionist/nurse asked us, “Can I help you?”
Dakota and Chuck looked like the videos from the Vietnam War we used to see on the television screen from the sixties. They had dried blood in their hair, on their clothes but Dakota was certainly the worst and it was obvious he was the patient. I just looked at her staring blankly back at me as if I hadn’t just brought in a victim from the Vietnam War and said, “He fell down the steps and hit his head, he needs stitches.” I tried not to scream at her. She said the Doctor wanted to put staples in his head instead. Dakota, by this time, was playing and getting drinks at the water fountain to the other patient’s horror and just plain being his naughty self, getting into places he shouldn’t be and having us, mostly Chuck, chasing him down the hall. He had long gotten over the pain of his fall and the bleeding had stopped. He still had a long gash in his head and would still need those staples. The problem now was how do we hold him still long enough for the Doctor to do it?
By the Grace of the Almighty the staples were in and we could breathe a sigh of relief. I told the Doctor I was still a nurse according to the State of Missouri and instead of bringing him back to have the staples removed I could remove them myself as I had many times in other patients at the hospital. They gave me a staple remover and pretty much said “Go for it”.
About a week later when I was sure the site was healed I had Chuck hold him and I proceeded to remove the staples. The first few came out easily enough but the last two were deep and uncooperative. After enduring the screams of my little son and the grunts and groans of my older son I finally got them out. A railing for the stair case was added after that episode.
One morning at 5A Kelvin came in and woke me to tell me he was moving in with David. Alone again and on the prowl for happiness I couldn’t find.
By spring of 2000 he confessed to me he had been dealing and selling drugs again and wanted to keep me out of it and safe by moving out. He spent the whole summer at David’s house before the DSF came and put him in jail. I knew I needed a job so I applied for a Customer Representative answering phones at Aegis Communications Group. By September the 8th of 2000 the court decided Kelvin needed shock treatment and sent him to prison for 12 years.
I had too many bills to pay and not enough money to pay them all. 7.50 an hour was the starting pay. I had the rent and the utilities to pay, credit card bills I had had since I worked at the hospital and my car payment to GMAC. Not counting full coverage car insurance. We had spent his paycheck, the savings, and my last check, all of Dakota’s change and money we had put in an old milk jug that Kelvin had promised him we were going to use to take him to Disney World, all to try and pay his way out of jail just to find out it was only for a few weeks of freedom before he went to prison anyway. I struggled all year to pay the bills and keep up the payments. In the winter between 2000 and 2001 I started to pay half the rent to pay the gas bills at the same time. By July 2001 the landlord decided that wasn’t going to fly and told me I would have to move out.
I borrowed the money for my gas bill from my mother-in-law, about 500.00 which she gave me with no questions asked. I rented a storage unit for my furniture and moved in with Jennifer and her family on September 8th 2001.

August 30, 2009

Mischievous Dakota 1997-1998

When Dakota was two and a half years old his father picked him up and placed him inside the Blazer to go to wherever he went those days. I was outside on the patio getting ready to put the leashes on the dogs for one of our many walks to the park on 10th street. He started the truck and remembered he’d left his billfold in the house and slammed the door on the vehicle and went inside unbeknownst to me as I had my own agenda with the dogs. I had bought a little Shiatsu puppy from a breeder in Osborn after mourning the loss of the Pomeranian, Foxy who was never found after our trip to California. With our work schedules I was unable to potty train him properly so as he got bigger I had started leaving him outside in the fenced yard with Lassie. His name was Scruffy due to the long shaggy multicolored, buff and brown spotted hair all over his body. I looked up in time to see the truck lurch forward and head down the hill straight into the neighbor’s teal green Geo. The car was an exact replica of the one I had traded for the red Chevrolet convertible. I used to admire it from the window and missed my Geo Storm.
I stood wondering why he headed straight for the car as it seemed to be on purpose. I looked up and shaded my eyes with my hand to get a better view when I saw Kelvin come out of the garage with his mouth hanging open and knew immediately that Dakota had sent the car rolling down the street heading for Penn St.
The Blazer was pinned against the side of the Geo on the driver’s side heading South from 14th St. Kelvin ran to the truck to check on Dakota as did I. Dakota was crouched in the back floor board crying and waving his arms, sure that his Daddy was going to do him bodily harm as I was as well. Instead he told him to not to be afraid he was going to get him out of there. The neighbors came out of the house on the corner to see what the crash was about. The driver’s side of the Geo Storm was pushed in and the door wouldn’t open. Kelvin managed to separate the two vehicles. It was a young woman’s car who, like me, had adored her car but seemed to take the accident in stride and was very cooperative and understanding. The motor vehicle department sent Dakota a letter and said his license was suspended for 60 days! We got a laugh about that one since Dakota was only two and wondered if that would hurt his chances of getting a drivers license when he was sixteen.
There were other times that were trying with Dakota. He would run to the neighbor’s house on Penn street and play with the kids at an apartment building there. He had a Nintendo at home and discovered the phenomena was rampant in other kid’s homes as well. He was pretty good at it at the age of three . It was difficult for an adult to beat him.
There were times when we would turn our backs and he’d be gone. Kelvin would panic and call the police who would comb the area in their police cars, up and down alleys, every parking lot.
One day I was walking down the street two blocks over from our house looking in every yard and alley. There was no sign of him. I headed back home to find him in his father’s arms talking to a policeman who had found him in the lot a couple of blocks South surrounded by a high fence and guarded by a big German Shepherd. He said he was in there after climbing over the fence and playing with the big dog. He would climb trees and fences like he was born to a family of orangutans.
One day in the summer when he was 4 years old he disappeared and even the police couldn’t find him. I knocked on doors and walked and walked, Kelvin drove around and around the area. The police also drove around. No one had seen him. I finally stayed inside the house in case he were to come back on his own. I walked from window to window and door to door. It was a big house. It had three entry ways, one on the South side of the living room, one on the East side of the living room and one leading from the kitchen to the patio and the back yard on the North side. The last time I peeked out of the back door on the North side as a police car pulled up and the man said, “Isn’t that your boy there?” I looked and sure enough there was Dakota standing on the patio. I asked, “ Where did you find him?” He said “He came out of the play house.” He had been in the back yard the whole time, hiding.

August 23, 2009

Bullet Gets a New Home 1999

When the court said Kelvin had to get a job so he could have his child support debited from his check we lost the Social Security Disability that I had automatically deposited into the checking account. I was earning between 200.00 and 400.00 on my own with Care Givers and had to pay the bills with that. That money only came in every two weeks. Kelvin got a job working for Defenbaugh Industries in Johnson County Ks. He got up at 4AM, picked up his friend David, the second husband of Kelvin’s first wife and soon to be ex-husband. They were the best of friends and together they drove the long distance to work every day. David was the driver and Kelvin was the helper, the man who hung onto the side of the truck. They drove all over the Kansas City area picking up trash in residential areas. They worked until they got done, sometimes coming home in the middle of the day. They were paid by job so the pay was the same and he earned a weekly paycheck. Before coming home on Fridays he would stop at the bank and deposit an amount into the checking account minus the amount he needed for gas and lunches for the week.
When I got the news about Care Givers and the lost wages there, in January of 1999, I stopped looking for work as a nurse and decided to be a stay at home Mom for Dakota. I had lost so much of his early years when working for the hospital and with no references now for nursing I was at my wits end on what kind of job I could get now. The only job experience I had was nursing.
The boarder in Savannah had raised his rates for the stable I had been keeping Bullet, my horse, from 75.00 a month to 100.00 a month. Kelvin’s Cousin Kyle had a farm south of Faucett Missouri and asked us to put the horse there free of charge. We had to fence off the property with hot wire or portable fencing. There was a large barn and a free flowing creek running through the property from an underground spring, that meant no more breaking ice in the winter time as it never froze too hard that the horse couldn’t break it with his hooves himself. I had a lot of experience with fence building from years past, knew what to buy and we started right away. When the fence was up and the battery was installed I contacted Mr. Duncan and he put Bullet in the trailer and hauled him for me for a fee of 20.00. We unloaded Bullet at the next farm’s driveway where the barn was after receiving permission. I kept the tack, saddle, bridle, halter, brushes and blankets in the barn as well. I kept up the vaccinations and gave them myself now but it was hard to find a Ferrier for his feet. Kelvin knew a bull rider from Oklahoma who could keep his hooves filed but he was always on the rodeo circuit and very hard to find. When he did come around he would take his pointed cowboy boots and kick Bullet in the stomach if he flinched just a little. I always held the halter and talked to him to keep him calm. That only made the cowboy angrier because he said I had babied the horse too much and that was making it hard for anyone to do any work on him. I hadn’t had any complaints before. In the winter time we bought hay from neighboring farms and piled it in the Blazer about 10 bales at a time. We would have to go as far as Savannah to get hay as farmers, again, were not keen on parting with their hay. Every year they would say it’s going to be a hard winter and they needed the hay for their cattle just in case. No matter how warm the previous winter had been or the forecast for the present year it was “going to be a hard winter!” Past experience told me they were probably right but what would we do without hay?
In the summertime the lush green pasture at Kyle’s farm was a treat he hadn’t been used to since Mr. Duncan had several horses boarding there and green grass was far and in between. He had fed hay most of the summer and small amounts of grain. Bullet was always slim and trim, not skinny, but the saddle would stay on after a couple of tries. Now he was in Horse Heaven and became so fat and greasy the saddle slipped around and riding was near impossible. Every few minutes I would have to get off and retighten the saddle, walk him around, retighten again, ride for a few minutes and do it all over again.
In August of 1999 I placed the horse in the St Joseph paper and sold him at a loss of 500.00.

August 17, 2009

An Old Blacktop Road 1998

I usually worked from 2P until 10P when I was sent to this location. On this particular day I worked the day shift. At lunch time when everyone else was in the cafeteria I stayed on the floor waiting on new meds from the pharmacy to come for a new patient I had admitted. While waiting for the delivery another patient was out of Oxygen, her cylinder was empty and I was unsure how to take the top off and replace it on the new tank. After rolling the old tank to the storeroom and wheeling the new cylinder on the dolly we set the tank up and exchanged the top. I reset the gauge for the order for Oxygen flow just as the delivery of meds came. I had to count the medications and sign for them, start an IV on the new patient, which I hadn’t done in 7 years. The other LPN who came in to take over my shift at 3 P helped and together we got the line in her vein. The aide that was helping with the Oxygen had the tank ready and I finished my charting and gave report to the LPN. I drove home in the daytime for once. The sun was shining and I could see the winding turns on the old blacktop road. It was wintertime and the old route had no street lamps, the ditches were steep on both sides. One day they had assigned me to work back at the usual time of 2P-10P on New Year’s Eve. There was a lot of ice on the roads, the snow fell leaving 8 inches of the white slippery stuff everywhere. The newspaper headlines showed a car coming off interstate 29 to Northbound 169, sliding in a ditch and other such wrecks all over the city. I called Caregivers and said I wouldn’t work that evening because of the snow and ice. I didn’t want to try to make it to Stanberry, 50 miles away, on that blacktop road, and then try to make it home in the dark. We didn’t have cell phones and I wasn’t sure if Kelvin would come to rescue me that late at night when he always got up at 4A to go to work in Johnson County Kansas for Defenbaugh’s Trash Service. He went to bed at 7:30 in the evening and stayed there until he had to go to work the next morning. I worked PRN and that meant as needed. I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to unless I needed the hours. If you didn’t go to work when they found work for you too many times then they would give jobs to other LPN’s who would. It was hard for them to find LPN’s to go to Stanberry because of the distance. On Monday I got a call from Caregivers telling me I was fired because I had an aide set up the Oxygen tank for the patient while I was busy with the delivery man from the pharmacy. It was against their policy for aides to remove the top paraphernalia on the old tank and place it on the new tank. The patient just wanted her Oxygen and was happy when the supply of Oxygen came flowing through the lines continuously as ordered. The aide and I had congratulated ourselves on a job well done! I found out later that the aide, being afraid they would fire her, had told administration that she had told me it was against policy, and that she wasn’t supposed to do it. The nurse was the only one that could. I believe it was the long trip on New Year’s Eve on an old slick black top Road I refused to travel that cold snowy night that was my downfall.

August 12, 2009

Kelvin and Oxygen Tanks 1998

In September of 1998, Kelvin got news that his step-father was in the hospital and was dying. The bone cancer had spread to his brain. They wanted to gather the family together so his family had purchased tickets for the plane ride back to Sacramento for him. He was to pick them up at the airport. He gathered his bags and was gone.
When he came back the relationship was strained even more and I stayed in the kitchen most of the time and Kelvin had set up cots in the basement for him and Chuck on opposite sides. Kelvin’s bed was next to the door leading to the outside and outside that door was a vestibule and steps leading straight up to the street. I slept in the big waterbed alone in the large bedroom. He came and went as he pleased sometimes staying out all night. One morning I couldn’t sleep. It was 6 AM and he wasn’t home yet. Soon I heard his Chevy Blazer pulling up to the curb outside the basement door. I went to yell at him and saw that he had been drinking which was no surprise. All his “buddies” had gotten back together again and he was on a down hill spiral.
One morning about 2AM I awoke to yelling and started to the basement to see what was going on. Upon entering the stairs I could hear and man and a woman’s voice so I started down and yelled, “What is going on here?” I could see a half naked girl and her boyfriend was wailing away at Kelvin on the bed who made no attempt to fight back and appeared to still be sleeping. He was using an old broom handle and was putting large red whelps all over Kelvin’s back. When I asked again what was he doing he said he came down the steps to the vestibule and opened the door to the basement and caught her, his girlfriend, in bed with Kelvin. Kelvin appeared to be asleep and only groaned when the broom handle slapped against his back repetitively. She constantly sang her song of nothing happened and continued to put her blouse back on. I told them to both leave and never come back and told “Linda” never to call him again. When they finally left and I could get Kelvin awake long enough to talk, he said he didn’t do anything and was asleep and too drunk to do anything anyway. She had come down the steps from outside and let herself in. I’m sure he unlocked the door for her because I had checked that the door was locked when I went to bed at midnight, Kelvin was already home and said he was going to sleep. Chuck said he didn’t know anything and had been asleep on the other side when she came through the door. He said he didn’t see anything and didn’t hear anything until her boyfriend, who had followed her there from the bar, came in and started yelling and looking for something to beat Kelvin.
They never called or came over anymore. The boyfriend kept leaving messages all over town that he was going to kill Kelvin and ended with a Malta Cocktail thrown at the motorcycle I had bought and on a different occasion set the roof of the Blazer on fire, inspiring a police cruiser to stop and wake us up one night to let us know his truck was on fire. The motorcycle was almost destroyed but he paid someone he knew to repaint and replace the wiring. It was as good as new. The police was able to put out the fire on his truck’s roof.
After the death of Emily, Caregiver’s had me back in nursing homes to work. Every nursing home had a different policy on what to do so every time I moved to a different home I had to get used to new policies and what was acceptable in which nursing home.
When I had worked those six years at Heartland we had respiratory therapy to come in and change-out the Oxygen tanks. We had some but little training on the big tanks in nursing school almost 10 years before but we as nurses had the nurses’ aides switch the tanks when they became empty or we called respiratory therapy. Mostly the patients that needed Oxygen were on Oxygen concentrators that used the room air and never had to be replaced just the amount of liters adjusted to doctor’s orders. Only the nurses could adjust the amount of Oxygen. In nursing homes they rarely used concentrators and we dealt with the large steel cylinders. One day I was sent to Stanberry which is about 50 miles to the north of Saint Joseph, on a long, winding hilly black top, North Route 169.

August 10, 2009

A New Beginning 1993

The next two weeks were spent going to work, picking Kelvin up after work and going home to my trailer in Wathena. One evening after dropping Kelvin off at his apartment, I was sitting at the nurse's station getting ready for the evening's med pass, when a panicked Kelvin came off the elevator, stating," My apartment building burned last night and all my things are ruined!" His downstairs neighbor had been drinking and had gone to bed with a lit cigarette. The upstairs apartment above him, Kelvin's apartment, was smoke damaged. The fire had been contained in the closet where Kelvin had kept memorabilia such as pictures and letters from his mother. His clothes hanging in the closet were stained with water and the strong odor of smoke lingered on them, including his shirt he had gotten from his cousin Kyle, who had been in the Navy. Kyle had sent him a shirt from Singapore. It was a white shirt with blue Asian style designs on it and he was especially fond of that shirt. We had it cleaned and it was good as new. The firemen had gotten there quickly but deemed the apartment building uninhabitable. He had to find another place to live.
I didn't want to leave him hanging since he had no place to live, his family lived in Sacramento, California, so I told him he could live with me until he could find some place else to hang his shirt, so to speak. He thought about living with Kyle, now out of the service and settled with a new wife who was pregnant with their first child. I was hesitant in getting involved again so soon after the "fiasco" with Bill.
He never moved out and I liked having someone to come home to after work. He filled my head with tales of horror stories that were reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, action adventure. I should have listened and realized the things he was telling me were true, life experiences. I dismissed everything as I would after watching a television program, I could always turn off the set and go back to my real life and never think of it again, but this was a life he had lived.
He had a dog named Crusher. Crusher was a Pit Bull. He would only listen to Kelvin. He was a fighter and hated cats. He said he loved Pizza and would go crazy when Kelvin would show him a Pizza box. Kelvin took Crusher with him everywhere he went. One day he took Crusher outside, not having a fence around the yard and knowing his hatred for cats and other dogs, people etc, he had him tied up in the yard with a strong chain or cable. It was Summer time and in the summer in Missouri and Kansas the heat index can quickly get over 100 degrees and the humidity was thick as a blanket on a cold winter's night. It was 10:00 in the mornig when he put Crusher outside. The phone rang in the house. He ran inside to answer it. It was a buddy wanting to reminisce about the goings on of the previous night. He said he was on the phone for about 45 minutes. Off the phone, finally, he went back outside to get Crusher. It was already getting excruciatingly hot, Crusher was used to being in the house with air conditioning. He found his dog lying on the ground, barely breathing. He rushed him to the veterinarian's office. Crusher had died of heat prostration. The vet said because he was used to air conditioning, the period of exposure to the heat was more than he could bear. It was a long time before Kelvin could wrap his mind around the death of his best friend. He knew others who left their dogs outside all year round. They had gotten used to the gradual rise in temperatures or the sudden drop to below zero weather in the Winter time that the Midwest experienced. I had always kept Pebbles in the house when it was too hot or too cold. Our other dogs and cats were usually kept outside, Charles wouldn't allow them inside, but they had access to barns or sheds, trees that provided adequate shade. Kelvin lived in the city where it was hotter than the country, the heat from the buildings, pavement and cement kept the temperature at least ten degrees hotter or more.
In January of 1993 Lee ann, who lived in the trailer park by the Belt Highway, told us about the trailer in the park that was a double wide. It was very nice inside and out. There was barely a yard. It was 375.00 a month. I didn't know how I was going to pay that high of rent when the rent I was paying for the "cardboard" box I was living in was 175.00 a month, uncertain every month how I was going to come up with that. Kelvin said his disability check would start coming in March. We could use that to pay the rent and all I had to pay would be the utilities. It had central airconditioning, and a good furnace for the Winter. It was insulated and very warm.
While I was at work I got a call from Kelvin who said the move was done, and I just had to go to the new trailer when I got off work. It was so pretty. It still had the new trailer smell, new cabinets. A built in washer and dryer. No more laundromats for me!
In the Spring we bought roses and gladiolas for the scant yard. Kelvin built a fence around it for Pebbles.He spent his days planting the roses. We watched the flowers grow and bloom. A man he knew that lived in the trailer court worked for a construction company and helped Kelvin build a deck leading up to the front door. I bought a swing and he hung it on the deck for me.
In March he asked me to marry him one night, lying in the bed after love making. I questioned his sincerity of the matter due to the timing of the proposal. He said he felt as if I had saved his life the night of the apartment fire. If I hadn't taken him home to be with me, he would have been asleep in the bed. He couldn't go to bars anymore or get into any trouble due to his parole. The firemen said if he had been home he would have died of smoke inhalation. He said he loved me and didn't want to live without me ever.

August 06, 2009


Whenever I needed to haul anything, I just put the top down and away I went. I bought the table and chairs at a second hand store called Charlie’s on South 6th St. Kelvin had the Blazer and what I couldn’t haul in my convertible he picked up in his Chevy Blazer. The new house was starting to look like home.
I passed my test at Care Givers and started to work right away. In September of 1997 I was assigned to care for a baby named Emily. She had been born in June and spent the first few months of her life at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. She needed tube feedings and to be catheterized every day. She was hooked up to a heart monitor. She had been born with Spinal Bifida. She had to be monitored carefully, at times she would turn blue and pass out. Although she was 3 months old she looked and weighed as a newborn. I’d take her out of the crib and place her in the swing. She liked the swing and would smile, then she would turn blue and pass out. I would simply pick her up and jostle her a little, this would bring her out of it but if she was a little slow coming to then I would have to give her mouth to mouth and put her on Oxygen.
As the months went by she got bigger and smiled more. She had toys and music players in her crib and liked to look at those. She slept a lot so while she was sleeping I cleaned the house and did the dishes; I even cleaned the microwave oven. I did mounds of laundry to keep busy while Mrs. Greene visited her mother in Savannah. My director of nursing said I didn’t have to do anything but watch the baby but to help out the mother I might want to straighten up the place while Emily was sleeping. I charted in a notebook and turned that in to Caregivers at the end of the week. I made phone calls to the Doctor’s office and gave her medications through her feeding tube. She had blonde hair and big blue eyes and a smile that lit up the room. One evening after work Mrs. Greene called me and said she, Emily, was having difficulty breathing and had made an appointment for her to see the Doctor at 1:00 PM the next day, Monday, August 16th, 1998. I was supposed to meet her at the hospital at 1:00 PM then stay at her house while she took the other children to the school for enrollment. They had been home schooled up to this point but thought they were well enough behaved now they could be trusted to attend a public school. They had bought a two story house, much like the one they were renting in Fillmore, but this house was in Mound City, just a few miles north of Fillmore. After all, the oldest hadn’t tried to burn the house down for at least a year now. He was fascinated with matches and had climbed the steps to the attic to try out his skills.
I had gotten up that morning on the 16th of August 1998 as I was used to getting up early to go to the house in Fillmore which was about 20 miles North of Saint Joseph where I lived. I got a phone call from Caregivers telling me not to go to Fillmore that day as the baby had died at 6 AM that morning. In the mornings she always had hard time breathing and the monitor would go off, then she would need suctioning. She would turn pink and ready for the day of tube feedings and catheterizations, suctioning etc… That morning when the mother went to the bedside she was dark blue and didn’t wake up or turn pink again. It always took about an hour for the ambulance to get there from Savannah even though Savannah was only 10 miles away.
I felt sick. I kept thinking I had to go and suction her out, a treatment of putting a tube
through her nose and suctioning off the phlegm and then inside her mouth, inside the tracheotomy until she was breathing easily again. Care Givers said, “No” not to go up there and disturb the family at this time. So I stayed home and thought of Emily’s little face and the musical toy she had clamped to her crib. I thought of her big blue eyes and blond hair and her sweet perfect little smile. The Doctors had said it was a miracle that she lived to be 1 year and two months old. They had thought she would never make it at all. Caregivers and Children’s Mercy had commended the family and the “nurse” who had taken such good care of the baby that would never walk or talk or smile ever again.

August 01, 2009

Moving Out 1997

We had been looking for a place to live since the landlord said his wife was going to evict us. Kelvin asked me to check out a house on South 14th St. It was a big house on the corner with a fenced in yard however, it was small but the dog, Lassie, a collie I had bought Kelvin after he sold Chief, the bulldog, was used to a small area and it was probably bigger than the small yard at the trailer court. We also had a tiny Pomeranian who used to dig her way out of the fence at the trailer court when finally, the day we were to live for California; someone kept her and didn’t bring her back.
We boarded the plane in December 1996 and headed for Sacramento. We stayed with his sister, Michelle, her boyfriend Larry and Michelle’s two children, Doug and Lindsay. We were there until after Christmas. They had an extra bedroom which did not have a vent so it was cold and the weather was rainy with a temperature at night and most days of 32 degrees, so much for sunny California. I kept in touch with Jennifer who stayed at the trailer for us and a neighbor watched Lassie. I asked if there was any sign of Foxy, the Pomeranian, and the answer was no. They even checked with the dog pound who said since the dog was a Pomeranian and teacup size she was probably stolen.
The landlord at the house on South 14th St said the place should be ready when we got home in January. He was completely remodeling the house, putting in new cabinets, paint etc… I told him I was going to be working at Caregivers Home Care Services when I got back and that Kelvin would be receiving a disability check which I had directly deposited into the bank account so I could pay the rent myself with that. There would be no more of the “cashing the check first and spending what he wanted” before paying the rent as he had done in the past. We settled on a rent amount of 410.00 a month. The house had one huge bedroom and a small bedroom for Dakota. The bathroom, which was remodeled, was large and was between the two bedrooms. The kitchen was narrow with new cabinets and counter tops. My stove was electric and he designed two twenty wiring to accommodate but said we would need a gas dryer on the back porch because he wasn’t paying to rewire that.
When we came home from California the house wasn’t ready yet so we continued to stay at the trailer until February of 1997. We moved into the big newly remodeled house. The dining area was between the kitchen and the living room. It was huge. We were no longer cramped and the china cabinet with all our precious memorabilia from over the years was placed on the south wall. I had sold my piano to an RN at Heartland Hospital in the summer of 1995; we had gone to World’s of Fun, an amusement park in Kansas City, there we had our annual picnic for employees of the hospital. She decided to buy it for 500.00 and picked it up the following the weekend. I was surprised when we got to the new place and there was an old upright piano there that the previous tenants had left. The landlord said we could keep it or get rid of it at our discretion. I decided to keep it and called a piano tuner to check it out. He said it would probably need too much work. I went to Lanham Music and bought another piano, a spinet, and put it on layaway there. The piano tuner said he would buy the old piano for 100.00 and came to pick it up when I was able to get the new one out of layaway. The new piano cost a little less than a 1000.00. Kelvin helped me with the last two payments. I was ecstatic when the van with my new piano came. I had it put in the dining room along with the dining room table and six chairs I had bought at a second hand furniture store.
I had traded the red Geo for a teal green geo Storm 2+2 coup, 5 speeds on the floor, sports car in 1994. When Dakota was born we had a hard time getting the car seat and baby strapped in. It was a hatchback and Kelvin got frustrated trying to get the car seat through the back hatch and strapping it in. It wasn’t meant for a car seat. I traded that one in for the convertible, red, automatic 1992 Chevrolet. I bought this car in the spring of 1996 from the same dealership in Platte City. They washed it and waxed it and had it looking like new when I went to sign the papers. I wasn’t real certain I wanted to trade my sports car but when they showed me how they had detailed it and it looked like new, only 35000 miles I decided to sign.

July 25, 2009

Beavis and Chief 1994

Backtracking a couple of years to 1994, In the Spring of 1994 I bought Kelvin an English Bull Dog puppy. He saw an add in the paper that a lady was selling these dogs, show dogs, champion bloodlines, north of Savannah, MO. We went to see these puppies and I raked and scraped together the 600.00 for the asking price. It was a cute little fat puppy that Kelvin named Chief after the KC Chiefs. In the Summer of 1994 we had a family reunion at Donald’s house. Everyone came. We brought Chief with us since we didn’t have a “dog sitter” and couldn’t leave him at home for very long without taking him outside. Kelvin had fenced in the small yard but we were afraid someone would open the gate and he would get out or someone would steal such an expensive dog, so we took him with us. I was a little afraid of what Donald would say, but it turned out that he loved the dog and wanted one just like him. Everyone oohed and ahhed over the puppy, he was really cute. It wasn’t long that he grew up and took on the characteristics of his parents which were big and ugly. He slobbered all over everything and had a deep gruff sounding bark. We decided to take Chief and Pebbles to Bluff Woods to walk along the trails there, climbing steep hills, over the creeks and higher. Pebbles ran around like a crazy little dog while Chief was fat and lazy trying to keep up with us while Pebbles chasing squirrels and rabbits, never seemed to tire. On the way back down the trail Chief fell over and lolled his tongue out of the side of his mouth and couldn’t go on. Kelvin picked up the 70 or so pound dog and tried to carry him the rest of the way. I told him we needed to get him to the little waterfall where we could put him in the water to cool him off. He was afraid he was going to die as Crusher, the pit bull had years before. We got to the pool of water and Kelvin bathed him in the cool water. He seemed to perk up a bit but he carried him to the car just the same.
We finally got Pebbles to calm down and get in the car. Chief was fine after that but he had a bad habit of chasing cats, mine and others in the neighborhood. I told Kelvin I wouldn’t stand for that. He would have to do something. The neighbors next door had a full Persian cat that had had kittens and gave us one, a fluffy yellow and white one with a typical pugged face. He named him Beavis. We paid 50.00 for him and I didn’t want Chief chasing Beavis all over the trailer court and into the path of a fast moving car. Beavis had the habit of not using the litter box and I got tired of that too, made him stay outside except to come in and eat.
One day a man from Amazonia came and wanted to know if Kelvin would sell the dog. I didn’t think there was anyway he would give up Chief but I went into the bedroom where Kelvin was taking a nap and asked him. He said he needed the money for child support and yes he would sell him for the 600.00 I had paid for him in the first place. He didn’t come out to say goodbye he just laid in bed with tears in his eyes.
Later a lady I worked with at the hospital said she knew the man who had bought Chief and said he ran a puppy mill. Chief would spend the rest of his days in a small cage grinding out puppies. Kelvin was furious, I was too. I had never thought Kelvin would ever sell that dog! The man had come over twice to ask us to sell him. Kelvin had turned him down the first time and said there was “no way” he would sell his best friend. Vallie was still young then, she and Shelby would come over on weekends, put a leash on him and he would drag them all over the court chasing cats. They fell many times as he was too big and heavy for them to control.
One day Kelvin came inside and said the neighbor on the right side of us said he heard two big dogs growling and fighting with a cat that morning. The neighbor said he knew it was Beavis. The two dogs, the culprits in the melee, was a Doberman and a German Shepherd. We had had Beavis’s toenails removed on his front feet because he was to be a house cat so his defenses were limited. We had gotten him neutered when he was 7 or 8 months old. That was supposed to stop his urination in the house, after 3 weeks he started it up again and that was why we put him out. Kelvin found the remaining sections of Beavis’s body and buried them at the salvage yard where Kelvin had been working for the Baldwins.

July 19, 2009

Unemployment! Here I come again!

When we arrived home the weather was chilly and the winter snow was starting to melt. I got my schedule for my new nursing job at the nursing facility in Wathena, Kansas. I had applied for my temporary Kansas license. I had three months that I could work there before I had to start gathering nursing credits to receive a permanent license. The credits were expensive and I would have to take a week or so off without pay to travel back and forth to Topeka. Sometimes they had classes in Falls City, Nebraska that would work for Kansas but I jut couldn’t afford to take the time off and pay for the credits. I decided to work there until my license expired and find work in Missouri, in Missouri the credits weren’t necessary as long as you attended In-Service meetings which the institution you worked for paid for and they were held during the daytime, I usually worked evenings so I had to come in during the daytime to attend the meetings or on my evening off. They would be held just one day a month.
At the end of my 3 month temporary stay in Wathena I had applied back at Citadel where I had worked when I first graduated nursing school. The administration had a new name but the facility was still Citadel.
In the Fall of 1996 we learned that Kelvin’s step-dad, Larry Higdon, had been diagnosed with Prostrate Cancer and it had spread to his bones and Lymph glands. The Doctors said this may be his last Christmas and wanted all the family to come to California to visit for the last time. Kelvin’s family wanted us to come to stay for the whole month of December. I didn’t know how I would be able to get that much time off but decided to check with the Administrator’s wife to see how much personal time I could take under the circumstances. I hadn’t been there but a few months so I knew it couldn’t be much. With much trepidation and dread I eased my way to the office at the end of the shift before I went home for the day. I worked the day shift there as I had always wanted to, the day shift seemed to be able to do more things, any parties etc were usually held during the day and the other shifts were always left out of pot luck dinners for the staff etc..
I waited for another person to leave the office and went in. I had my coat and my purse in my hands, sat down in one of the chairs. Before I could say anything she told me I was fired because the VA had sent a van to pick up a patient to take to the VA hospital in Kansas City and when they sent him home instead of back in the van the way he had come they sent him home in a cab. He, of course, didn’t want to go to the nursing home, he wanted to go to his home where he had lived with his daughter and granddaughter. The granddaughter was in school and not at home and his daughter was working in Cameron. He walked up the sidewalk to the granddaughter’s school and sat in the Principal’s office waiting for the granddaughter to get out of school and take him home and let him in the house which was locked. The granddaughter called her mother who called us at the nursing facility and wanted to know why her father was out wandering the streets when he was supposed to be at the home? I was outside on break, they came and got me since I was his nurse for that day. I spoke with the daughter and explained that we didn’t have anything to do with his taking the cab home instead of taking the van. We had sent him in the van, he should have been sent back in the van. She agreed with me that it didn’t appear to be our fault it was the VA’s fault and talked as if someone was going to be sued. She, however was nice to me and was glad I had answered her questions. Mr. Fox the administrator was upset and afraid of a pending lawsuit. I tried to explain that the daughter didn’t blame us, but he was mad and upset enough that he wanted someone fired over it and since I had been his nurse for that day he decided it would be me. I explained to Mrs. Fox, how was it my fault that the VA sent the man home in a cab instead of the van? I had sent him in a van etc… Anyway I definitely got the time off I needed.

July 11, 2009

We Attend a Luau 1996

Kelvin had spoken to his mother on the phone about the situation. I had no job and he was doing odd jobs at a salvage yard for a friend of his on K Highway. She said she would send us the money while we were in Hawaii. Keith, Karen and Kelvin wanted to spend the money so we could go to a Luau in Hawaii before we left for home. I thought we should take the money and run with it to Missouri and deposit it immediately in the bank account. Everyone, of course, thought I was being selfish, including me but I was under a lot of stress. How were we supposed to pay our bills when we got back? Kelvin hadn’t paid the rent and we didn’t know how long the landlord would put up with that before setting us out on our ears. I had the utilities and the regular bills to pay, plus gasoline and groceries. He was supposed to pay the rent with his money. It had been a couple of months before I realized he wasn’t paying the rent, I think I found out when he actually told me he hadn’t been taking the check he was getting for disability up to the landlord’s office as he had been. He had bought an old van that wouldn’t run half the time just because his ”friends” in the trailer court needed money to buy, God only knew what. So we were out 200.00 that should have helped with the rent for another vehicle we couldn’t afford to buy tags for.
I relented and we spent the 125.00 she sent us to go to a luau. The parking lot was crowded. We found a place to park, Ray, Keith and Karen’s son, named after the rich uncle with the mansion looking outwards towards the volcano, Diamond Head, again agreed to watch Dakota. We sat at one of the long tables provided for the evening meal, which consisted of a roast pig that had been lowered into the ground with ceremony and cooked on hot coals and buried several hours earlier. We got there in time to see them raise the pig out of the hole and carry it on poles to the big tent where it would be cut up and the meat shredded to feed the tourists that had come to watch the native dancers on the stage made of grass and bamboo. They were dressed in the native costumes of Hula skirts and leas with bands of multicolored flowers adorning their foreheads and above one ear. The men had no shirts on but they too had leas around their necks and a large multicolored cloth around their waists. They sang and played ukuleles and talked of Don Ho. One of the foods that was prepared was poi. It was purple and slimy and had no taste whatsoever. It was, to put it bluntly, nasty stuff! I left the poi on my paper plate. The paper plates they had given us were so thin you could practically see through them. I got up to get another plate of the better food, the barbecued shredded pork and fruit. When I got back a strong breeze grabbed the plate of poi and whisked it away into the face of a fellow patron across the table from me. Karen laughed as did everyone else, including the patron who received the tropical slime. I was mortified and so apologetic that they laughed even more. I was not accustomed, yet, to the constant wind blowing and had not laid anything on it to keep it from blowing away. We laughed and had such a good time. It was one of the rare occasions when I was able to relax and be myself a little bit. Kelvin was being good for once. The tension of knowing anything could set him off was eased some but I was always on my guard to be embarrassed at any moment. He was good at embarrassing me along with anyone within earshot of his tirades.
The music was good, the costumes and dancing were colorful amid the many Tiki torches placed on stage. Now that was the Hawaii I had heard about on television and in magazines. We took pictures of the many statues standing guard in Waikiki, as well as bridges and the ocean front, the beautiful blue waters at the beach and of each other. By March 1st we were ready to head for the airport and greet the snowy and cold conditions of a Missouri winter.

July 08, 2009

Our Vaction in Hawaii 1996

Nine hours later we were arriving at the Honolulu airport. Cheers and applause from the passengers arose when the pilot announced our arrival. Looking out the window I could see dark clouds and rain hitting the window. The ocean was obscured due to the weather and I knew this was a sign. I couldn’t believe it was raining on what I thought would be a sunny paradise. The images of blue water and palm trees were replaced by dark, windy and chilly conditions. After instructions were given to the passengers who wanted to stay on the plane to be taken to other islands, we were allowed to disembark.
Kelvin was still in a “drunken” snit and unapproachable. He haphazardly grabbed the bags from the over head compartment, I grabbed the diaper bag and my purse from under my feet and held the baby the best I could. The airport was crowded with people going and coming from unknown destinations from all over the world. I hadn’t met his brother and sister-in-law so I didn’t know who to look for and it wasn’t advisable to ask Kelvin. He said, “Here they are!” Showing his best side as he always did in front of other people so they would think he was the nicest guy in the world, when in private in front of me he showed a totally different side.
They met us with leis that were made from live flowers, very pretty colors of pink, blue and purple. They hung them around our necks and headed for the luggage conveyer for the rest of our bags.
We crowded into the car and off we went to their house. They lived on a nice suburban Ave, I couldn’t pronounce the name, or the city south of Honolulu. There were palm trees and flowers, even tomato plants with fat red tomatoes growing in neighbor’s yards, along with Hibiscus plants six feet high or more. It was so unusual to see in February where at home that time of year there was snow and ice and very cold weather. I foolishly complained about the rain and the cloudy weather and was shot down immediately by his brother, Keith, and Kelvin of course. “You’ve come during the rainy season!” In my head I thought there would be blue skies and warm weather, isn’t that why people took vacations in Hawaii for the weather?
It wasn’t long though, the sun came out and after a couple of days the 80 degree temperatures were back. I always hated the wind. It blew my hair and made it hard for me to breathe, so the tropical gusts that blew in Hawaii always chased me back inside. I wondered how in the world I was supposed to enjoy this place if I can’t stay outside longer than a minute.
We unpacked our bags in one of the boy’s rooms where we would be staying. They wanted to show us around the island on the weekend when Keith didn’t have to work. He worked for his uncle, Ray, who owned and operated a construction company there. He had fallen in love with the island in the early 1960’s when he had been stationed there in the Navy. Higdon Construction was born during that time. Most of the houses on Oahu had been built by his construction company and was deemed a millionaire. He had bought a single lot and built a new house, mansion really, with a “For Sale” sign of over 3 million dollars. He had a pool, three car garage, maybe four, a huge open kitchen, large dining area, living area with a white grand piano. Upstairs wound around to empty into a large bedroom, walk in closet and huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub.
The side of the “house”, facing Diamond Head, was a large patio that wrapped around to the driveway over looking the pool. This is where he barbecued huge steaks and ribs for the lot of us. Keith and the boys got into the pool, I had brought my suit but the temperature was only 50 degrees and I decided there was no way I was getting into that water. Dakota got in with Keith holding him. We had a good time, laughed about the extravagance of the whole thing. I know my eyes had to be as wide as they could get. I had only seen places like that in magazines describing movie stars homes. I couldn’t seem to get enough pictures of it.
We ate in the dining room on a very long expensive looking table under the light of a magnificent chandelier. I was terrified, Dakota was onerous as usual, and Kelvin was again on his best behavior. When we left we agreed to go out to a fine restaurant before we left for Missouri. Ray, of course, paid for everything. Karen, Keith’s wife, had told me not to be shy about ordering what ever I wanted, and reminded me that Ray was loaded and it wouldn’t be out of the question if I wanted say, steak and lobster. Which was what I had wanted, and couldn’t wait for it to be served. When Charles and I were married every year starting with the eighth year anniversary we went to Red Lobster and I always ordered the steak and lobster tail. It was always so good and expensive we could only do it on our anniversary once a year. I stuffed as much of the crustacean in my face as I could, not know how long it would be before I could taste that succulent meat again.
We stayed for three weeks with Karen and Keith and her two boys. I had walked almost every day to the Wal-Mart store to get more film and the pictures developed. I stayed to myself, feeling out of place with strangers. I spent a lot of the time in the bedroom ready to go home. Kelvin on the other hand spent his time with Keith going out to bars and carousing around with his cousins he hadn’t seen in a decade or more, which would have been understandable but he wasn’t supposed to be going to bars and drinking. He was mean and hateful when he drank and I was trying to “change” his ways so he wouldn’t have to go back to prison and leave me with all the bills and a child to raise alone. He was embarrassing and rude but of course only to me. He never let anyone else see that side so no one understood why I was afraid, or why I hated him going out and having his so-called, good time. I knew I would be the one who would have to pay for it in the end.
One day Karen took us to the zoo at Waikiki. I loved the zoo and was the animal nut I had always been. During that excursion we stopped at a nearby park to rest. Karen told me to look at a lady, she appeared somewhat well to do but she was keen on studying a nearby trash can. Karen said, “Look at her; she is going to eat that!” Sure enough I looked and the lady had picked up a half eaten ice cream cone that was in the can and started to eat it. Karen said she saw a lot of that, all the time in Hawaii. I had only seen things like that on television on police dramas about New York City and other big cities. Even though I knew it happened I hadn’t actually seen anyone eat out of a trash can before. When Charles and I first got married we had gone dumpster shopping for furniture and stuff people had thrown away, clean it up and use it for ourselves, you’d be amazed at the items people would throw away, but we never ate anything out of them!!
On the way home from the zoo and park Kelvin started to have one of his anxiety attacks that I had seen often but he wouldn’t let anyone see. Now Karen was driving and he was riding in the back seat with Dakota strapped in the car seat she had borrowed from one of her friends. Dakota hated being strapped in a car seat and from the first day home from the hospital he always had a fit when he had to be strapped into one. He would cry and whine and Kelvin would get angrier and angrier and between the both of them, being trapped in a car, with Kelvin bellowing obscenities and threatening to kill all of us at the same time, the baby first, then me or vice versa. Karen just kept driving in silence. I was embarrassed as he got louder and louder and so did Dakota. The rampage went on and on until we finally got back to Karen’s house. She said later, she had no idea Kelvin was like that. I told her he was always like that around me.
He and Keith went out and got drunk and didn’t come home until after 3:00 in the morning. I was closed up in the bedroom with Dakota, no one to talk to, feeling homesick. Karen had left me to go out with one of her friends. They had begged us to come to Hawaii to visit and that they would watch the baby so we could go out and enjoy ourselves, the only time we had a baby sitter was when one of her boys was told to watch him while we went to dinner with Ray and his wife Dolores, the time when I ordered lobster. Dakota was showing signs of a cold and the teenage boy who was watching him about died when he had to wipe his little nose. He said, “I will never watch him again, he has slime coming out of every part of him!”
We finished up our vacation by going to one of the nice beaches there. It was like a post card. My eyes couldn’t believe the beauty of the volcanic rocks and formations, and the bluest water I’d ever seen except on TV and magazines. The ever present wind was blowing as we set up the picnic table with all the good stuff you bring on picnics. Kelvin and the boys had boogie boards they bravely shoved into the ten foot waves, paddled out and rode back in on their stomachs. The sand would blow so hard it would rip the skin off of your legs, stinging and burning as it went. Dakota wanted so badly to be near his father he tried to walk out onto the hot sand and would get only halfway when a big gust of wind would blow and the sand would start its blasting. I’d run out and get him, put him on the grass on a blanket under one of the strange and twisted trees they had there. I couldn’t believe I was wearing a swim suit and sun glasses in February, the temperature was over 80 degrees. When Kelvin finally came back to the beach he would lie down and Dakota would crawl over him with no fear of retribution. I knew if I did that or even said anything to him he would tell me to “Let him the f--- alone!” So I always did, gladly.

July 06, 2009

Hawaii! Here We Come! 1996

In February of 1996 my severance check consisted of a check for 1300 or so dollars for every hour worked. His brother and sister-in-law had been trying to get us to fly out to Hawaii to see them, of course we wanted to, but who could afford the trip? My daughter Jennifer worked at TWA in Kansas City at the time and she said she could get us tickets for nearly nothing, 50.00 for the two of us each to fly and Dakota could fly free. After making arrangements to have a job when I got back home we started making plans to go to Hawaii. They lived on the island of Oahu not far from the Honolulu airport. They would meet us at the airport and take us to their house where we would stay for three weeks. I brought 500.00 of the money with us and Jenny and Eric, her husband, would stay at our trailer and watch the pets while we were gone.
On February 21st we headed out. We were all excited and anxious for the trip of a life time. Kelvin was in a bad mood as he was most often these days. Anything could set him off. He’d started drinking with his new found friends in the court and had stopped paying the rent and used his money for other things we surely didn’t need. Jennifer had warned us to behave and act civilized on the plane because whatever we did reflected on her since we were using tickets that she had used her discount on, thus representing TWA. We had lots of bags, the baby, the diaper bag, my purse and I was expected to carry it all. If I asked him to help me with the bags he would go into a sudden rage. He did that a lot over nothing in particular except it afforded him his way whenever he wanted something. His drinking and drug abuse came back with a vengeance and nothing I could do or say could talk him out of it. Everything was my fault. His friends were right and I was wrong. Whenever he was with his friends he laughed and showed them courtesies that he never showed me. I was supposed to be the one he loved and had saved his life when the apartment burned and he had to live me in the trailer in Wathena. If I hadn’t met him where would he have gone? He had no friends as long as he wasn’t drinking or selling Marijuana. As soon as he started up again then he had friends coming out of the woodwork. I stood between him and the elements that he thought made him happy at the time and he resented me for it.
While waiting in the airport for the flight to board, women and children were supposed to get on first. I looked around and Kelvin was no where to be seen. The attendant kept looking at me while I was struggling with all the bags and the baby and I told her I was waiting for my husband. She said they were getting ready to board so he’d better hurry up. I tried to put the baby in my arms, carry the carry “on’s” with everything we would need to keep the 1 and a half year old content during the nine hour flight, my purse, the diaper bag all in my arms while looking around nervously for Kelvin. I knew he was somewhere and I was afraid he was in the bar. Knowing how he was when he was drinking I hoped I was wrong; it would be a long flight.
He finally showed up with a bad attitude and the enormous chip he carried nowadays on his shoulder. Giving me a dirty look he sauntered on the plane bare handed. We found seats together but he didn’t want to sit with me because he knew if he did he wouldn’t be able to drink the whiskey he had planned to order on the flight. He sat behind me in a middle aisle just behind me.
I sat with a black young man who had come from New York and was in the Navy, on his way to be stationed at Pearl Harbor. He played with Dakota who was being exceptionally good, trying to look at a picture book I had brought for him. He held up the picture book and looked directly at the Service Man and said clearly, “D’wanto read to me?” I was flabbergasted and the service man laughed and read to him for a little while. He said that he didn’t like Hawaii because it was too hot there. I couldn’t wait to be hot in Hawaii, the winters, especially in February, were brutal in Missouri. He said it hadn’t been his first time and always dreaded the trip, he had a wife back in New York and I think he said he had a child at home too that he would miss terribly. When Dakota said his first sentence on the plane I tried to get Kelvin’s attention to tell him his son had spoken his first full sentence but he just snarled back at me, telling me he didn’t care and to leave him alone. He was nursing a glass of Jack Daniels at the time and he and Jack didn’t want to be disturbed.

June 28, 2009

Goodbye Nursing Career 1996

We took report and I started my rounds with the medicine cart. As soon as I finished we prepared for supper trays, putting in the necessary nurse’s notes etc. By evening rounds it was time to pass the meds again. When I got to the patient’s room, the sitter who was hired by the cousin to watch over the patient when we, the nurses and aides, were helping with other patients, asked for the patient’s evening narcotic along with her other medicines. We had had a meeting the week before when the new Director of Nursing had taken over the duties of Scotty, the former and now retired director. She had laid out the new rules for sitters. They would no longer be giving the meds to the patients anymore unless they were a qualified Med Tech or LPN. We had to give the meds directly to the patients now and the Doctor had said this particular patient was receiving too many narcotics and her liver would start to fail. We had to only give those narcotics when she said she was in a lot of pain and nothing else seemed to work. I went into the room and asked the patient herself if she was in a lot of pain and she sat straight up and said, “Not really”. The sitter was so insistent that I knew she had Tylenol ordered, and had it on her MAR page for several years so I gave her a couple of Tylenol. The sitter was so angry that I did not give her, the sitter, and the drugs to give the patient that she said she wasn’t giving the rest of her medicines again and that I could just give them from now on. I told her about the meeting and reminded her that she would not be allowed to give the medicines to the patient anymore due to the rules set up by the new Director. I gave the meds and continued my med pass to the rest of the patients. She had called the Cousin of the patient and angrily told her that I would not give the narcotic to the patient as she, the sitter, had asked for and the cousin went ballistic. She said she was going to report me to the new Director of Nursing. I didn’t know this that night and didn’t find out about it until the next day when I was getting ready to go to work. I received a call from the Director’s office to come to her office before reporting for work. I had no idea why. When I went to her office I knocked on the door and pasted a smile on my face, knowing this couldn’t be good. She said to “Come in and sit down.” I nervously waited to hear what could possibly be wrong; after all I had done nothing I knew of to require such a meeting. She said she had received a call from the cousin, guardian for the patient, and wondered why I hadn’t given the prescribed narcotic to the patient when the sitter had asked for it? I reminded her of the orders she herself had given only a week before and what the Doctor of the patient had said about not giving the PRN drug unless she absolutely needed it. I told her that the patient herself had said she wasn’t in that much pain and I also told her LPN that sits with her in the daytime had said she hardly gives her any narcotics when she works. I told her of the many instances when the evening sitter had asked for the patients narcotic only to find out she had been given the narcotic only an hour and a half before that by the daytime nurse. She was only ordered the drug PRN, as needed, and the order was for every 4-6 hours between them. I also told her of the suspicions that we, the nurses, had that the sitter herself was taking the medication or selling it on the street. Every nurse that worked with that sitter had said that. Nonetheless, she said I was suspended for four days without pay. I didn’t know what I was going to do for the missed money since I could barely miss one day without it causing a hardship unless it was a sick day that was paid.
On the day I was scheduled to go back to work the Director called me again and told me to come into the office before my scheduled shift. I thought “What now?” I hadn’t been there for four days what could I have possibly done this time? I was scheduled to go to the conference room on the first floor where the business offices were. There I saw a long table and other administrators sitting around it passing papers and talking amongst them. I nervously looked around at everybody who smiled at me as I sat down. The nursing director, whom did not smile came out and said I was discharged for giving the Tylenol to that particular patient and another patient, whose husband was a doctor and was present at the time of the incident and who told me to give the drug along with her other medicines to help her sleep better since he was staying the night in her room, otherwise she screamed all night and he was a busy Doctor and had to get up early the next morning to make rounds. Her actual Doctor had given us orders to do what ever her husband wanted and had an order in the nurse’s notes to that effect. I even called him to verify that it was, “Okay”, made all the notes in the chart to that effect but “They still didn’t think it was right”. The extra drug, which she had in her list of PRN’s on the MAR they felt, was contradictory to her scheduled drugs that were also given. I explained that her husband whom was authorized by her general Doctor to be able to add extra medications if he felt the need was in her best interest, said it was “okay” and that he just wanted her to be comfortable. He knew she was dying. Nothing I said seemed to matter. I started to cry and plead for my job that I had had there for almost six years. It was February eighth and on April 16th 1996 I would have been there for 6 years. I was coming up for evaluation and a raise. They had told us for the last six months that they didn’t know how the change from West to East hospital was going to affect the staff since there were 16 LPN’s and only 12 LPN jobs available. We had to reapply for the jobs we already had and we knew something was going to have to give. Many RN’s who had offices on the first floor and had been there for over 25 years had lost their jobs as well as their jobs had been done away with. These were Registered Nurses who were looking to retire in five years after 30 years of service. They were left with no benefits, no pension plans and no credit union where they had their savings invested. They needed to lose some nurses for the “Heartland in the 21st Century” plan that didn’t include certain jobs that were done away with; kitchen staff and housekeeping all took the cuts. We didn’t really believe the nurses’ would be cut as well. It was rumored any errors charted in the MAR would be dealt with harshly.
I went home crying so hard I couldn’t see to drive. Kelvin was sitting the couch and wondering what happened. “Why was I back?” One look at my face told him what had happened. We both wondered what we were going to do. The mark on my nursing record would simply say “discharged for medication errors” not “gave 2 Tylenol while following orders given previously by the Director of Nursing herself” or “while following Dr’s orders etc…etc..”
I didn’t know how I was going to be able to find another nursing job with that on my record and I knew I would have to list them as a reference. I applied for Caregivers, a Home Care service that hired out nurses on a PRN, as needed, basis to go into the homes of the elderly that wanted to be at home for their care and not live the rest of their lives in a nursing home. I also applied to a nursing home in Wathena Kansas, I had applied there when I first graduated from Nursing school but they were rude and didn’t pay as much as the Citadel where I had worked until April of 1990. My Kansas License was a temporary one for three months. After that I would have to go to In-service meetings for my credits every year. I would have to go as far away as Topeka, Falls City, pay for it myself, it was expensive, and be able to take the time off from work without pay. I decided I could use the temporary license until I could find a nursing job in Missouri, where all of that was not required.

Family Reunion 1961

Family Reunion 1961
All 13 of Us Together


Denton Ks 1977

Chuck and Jenny 1983

Chuck and Jenny 1983


Graduation Day 1991

Our Wedding Picture 1993

Our Wedding Picture 1993
A New Beginning

Dakota 1995

Dakota 1995



Chief and Beavis

Chief and Beavis
Playing when Chief was a Puppy


Darlene and Bullet