In June of 1992 my family had a reunion at Sugar Lake. Sugar Lake was a small community on the Missouri side of the river south of Atchison Ks. There were cabins and RV's on both sides of the paved road leading to the lake. The family was set up at the park. All kinds of food were displayed on the picnic tables; Kathryn and Audrey, Mary Ann and her new husband David, Clyde and Floy Mae, Donald, Bobby and all their children and their children. Some of the nieces and nephews and Chuck as well were swimming in the roped off section of the lake. Bill and I were there. I had a hard time convincing him to come but he seemed to have a good time swimming with the family and eating and getting to know everyone. I was wearing a one piece bathing suit that showed off my figure. My long blond hair was tied up in a clip leaving a small pony tail. Bill and I went in the cold water and I was freezing but I laughed harder and smiled more than I had in years.
Donald thought it was disgraceful that a newly divorced, 39 year old, could act and dress so outlandishly. The water being cold and my breasts were standing at attention, the only parts of my new-found body that hadn't lost weight. I was high on love and having the best time of my life since I was a teenager. Thelma and Robert were there too but as far as I know there was no comment from them.
Floy Mae and Ronnie suggested that Bill and I show them the area of Bluff Woods that we had told them about, the Pine Tree and the rope so Bill and I jumped in my little red Geo and showed them the way to Bluff Woods. We took the long path around. Floy Mae wanted to see the little water fall I had told them about. When we finally got to the bridge, Floy Mae climbed down the bank on the north side and made her way to the little pool of water and sat down. There were some silvery minnows as well as tadpoles and frogs she was commenting on while Bill and I and Ronnie watched from the bridge. We were laughing at her and smiling and kissing before we rescued her from the muddy bed and headed for the hilltop to the grand old tree. She was out of breath by the time we got there not realizing how high the climb was and how much farther we had to go. Once there we showed her the view down below of the traffic, cars looking like ants scurrying along the roadway gathering food for the winter. The old Pine tree standing there proudly as it must have for a hundred years waiting for our return. I showed her the initials Bill had carved in the dead tree along the path to the rope. One big push and it would have toppled over.
Sadly we headed back down and parted ways in the parking lot. When we got back into town we headed for Wathena so I could change my clothes. Off and on over that summer I had talked about "staying together forever" just as the carving on the tree said but Bill assured me in no uncertain terms was he ever getting married. He was so afraid I was going to get pregnant, even though I assured him I was on the "pill" and I had no intentions of getting pregnant again, not at my age! I was suddenly free of those ties and hardships and I never wanted to look back again. Every so often I would hint about us getting married. Tempers flared often about that and other issues that were so petty. We found ourselves arguing more and more. He didn't like to go shopping as most males don't but he liked to fish. Ever since I was a child, Mama and Daddy would take me fishing with them. I had to be sooo quiet and not run along the banks, “It will scare the fish!" I had to sit for hours on the sandy shore and watched ants as they tried to climb up my legs and I was constantly swiping at the flies. The smell of rotten fish that other fishermen had left on the banks, some gutted and others just left there to die, and the cleaning and gutting I had to help with, did not make me a huge fan of fishing.
He'd insist and so not to make him mad I'd go and try to sit quietly but after fifteen minutes I couldn't stand to watch him sit there not getting a bite when he could be holding me and paying attention to me. He’d usually relent and we'd go home. Chuck would come with us sometimes but he couldn't sit still either.
On Friday nights at the hospital when I was getting ready to go home from work he'd call me and tell me where to meet him, usually at the bar where we’d met, or at a friend’s house. I was very possessive and jealous and sometimes it would be at a friend's house that was female. She was married and had several kids but he had told me when he was growing up he'd had a big crush on her. He'd play with the kids, but when it came down to acknowledging that I had two children, although Jenny was nineteen and Chuck was twelve, he acted as if he didn't like children and always had an excuse why we couldn't go places together as a group. Bill liked his alcohol and his "smokes" and he knew I didn't approve of his drinking and smoking, especially around my children. We fought all the time about that. His father is an alcoholic but had been sober for many years and continued to go to AA meetings. As a nurse I knew the gene was inherited and told him so, but he emphatically denied he was an alcoholic. Isn’t that the first sign? I also had a little toy poodle I had "inherited" from the divorce and he hated "poodles" too. His name was "Pebbles".He was a little white poodle and I kept him groomed myself. When Charles and I moved to the small house in Troy after the big two story house on Pottawattamie road, when Jenny was 10 and Chuck was 6, 1983, I placed an ad in the Troy newspaper that I would clip poodles for 10.00. I had been clipping Nicole for years and Lucky too, we always needed the extra money so I figured I might as well get paid for it. I also taught piano lessons as fast as I was taught by Lois. I had a few students that came every week but when we moved to Highland people stopped coming. I had one student who was getting pretty good at it and I feared he was better than the teacher but his mother said she was having a hard time getting him to practice. His brother on the other hand would not practice at all and wouldn't try that hard. They just wanted to get the lesson over with and go home to play. I knew the feeling, I had a hard time getting Jenny to practice too and when her first recital was over piano playing was ended for her. Charles and I fought constantly about making her practice, he thought she shouldn't have to if she didn't want to, I on the other hand thought she would thank me later in life. I finally gave up and stopped teaching and going to lessons myself. When you are alone in a matter it's hard to fight against so many, and as I said everyone always agreed with Charles.
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