I thought about everything we had been through the last twenty years.
The constant fighting, knock down drag out fights, meaning I was the one being knocked down and dragged out. When we lived on north 5th St when Jenny was 1 ½ years old I walked to the social services office and showed them the huge black and purple bruise on my thigh and begged them to give me a place to live for me and my daughter. The bruise on my face had almost healed. They said we had to be separated for at least a year before they would consider helping me. I had no place to go. Mama and Kathryn wouldn’t take me in as we had Kathryn, when Marvin had kicked her out I had said, “Sure, you’re my sister, you can come and stay with us.” No questions asked, but when I needed a place to stay, I was told “Go back to your husband.” Everyone sided with Charles, even though I had the bruises to prove it. I hated that he had taken me away from my home, even though I had made it clear on that day, September 17th 1971 that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married. I was getting “cold feet”. We had fought on that day too. I felt like he dragged me up the sidewalk to Leslie’s car where he and Della were waiting to take us to the court house. I had said almost every day of our married life, “I want to go home!”
I came in from the pool and stood in the kitchen. I looked around at the dark, musty, earth home that couldn’t be made into anything it was not. With all the money on new walls and ceiling fans and even the fireplace we had built with the rock we had brought back with us from our vacation across country. Each rock had a story to tell. This is the place where we saw this or that. This is a part of the slate that I slipped on in South Dakota, leaving a five inch scar on my buttocks. It was a massive fireplace. Each rock was a different hue of gold, black slate and yellow limestone, and sparkly silver granite. The chimney was at least 5 feet across and climbed through the ceiling, through the attic and sprouting through the shingled roof to the outside, to show everyone who passed by that we had a big fine fireplace inside. I did love that fireplace. It wouldn’t work. We bought an Earth Stove insert and only then were we able to have a fire to heat the house in winter. We didn’t have a furnace. The fireplace still looked magnificent even with the gold and black stove hidden inside its massive jaws.
I told Floy Mae when she over before I told Charles. I think I was waiting for someone to talk me out of it. No one did. The more I thought of the years and now the massacre of the cats, even when he knew how I felt about hunting and killing helpless animals. To kill for food was one thing but to kill those cats when they didn’t do anything to anybody was more than I could take.
Charles came into the kitchen while I stood there with tears and anger on my face knowing I was going to tell him for the hundredth time that I wanted a divorce and actually mean it this time. He just said, “Not that again!” I had seen a commercial on television about sending off for the paperwork to a lawyer in KC. They’d send the paperwork for fifty dollars and you fill out the papers yourself. Then put them before a judge to sign. The divorce could not be contested. All parties had to agree. I signed the papers and Charles signed. Chuck would stay with his father and continue his routine of catching the bus and going to school. I wanted the transition to be as painless as possible. His father hollered for Chuck to come in and tried to humiliate me in front of our son. “You know what your mother is going to do? She’s divorcing us!” Chuck just said “Why?” He went on and on about how STUPID I was which he always did. That’s why I went to Nursing School to prove to everyone, especially him, that I knew I wasn’t stupid. I got the best grades, honor roll, working at the hospital, not as an aide this time but as the aide’s boss, the nurse at the desk. Helping Doctors with treatments, orders, admitting patients, discharging patients, pharmacy orders etc... Not counting the med passes and lives I had saved through Heimlich maneuvers, calling RN’s from other floors when Doctors wouldn’t listen to me when I knew a patient needed to go to the ER. That patient would have died that day. Other nurses asked me how I knew what to do, how I knew to call an RN to assess the patient and talk to the Doctor. They said they wouldn’t have thought of that. They said they would have gone with the Doctor’s order he gave in the first place. The orders over the phone were that the patient had a cold. He sent me to the pharmacy to get a bottle of robitussin. When I got back the patient was worse, her blood pressure was high and she had pink mucous coming out of her mouth. I had called the Doctor twice already and gave him the vitals, told him I thought it was a pneumothorax but he just said, “Why are you getting so worked up over a simple cold?” That’s when I picked up the phone and called for RN support to confirm what I already knew. The RN said to get the Doctor back on the phone; she didn’t care if I’d already called him twice or ten times. The patient was going into respiratory distress and she was going to die if we didn’t admit her to Heartland Hospital East. I called again and he was more than a little perturbed but I told him to talk to the RN in Charge. She handed the phone back to me and said, “Alright, I guess we’ll have to admit!” I filled out the forms and called for an ambulance. He called back about an hour later and said she was doing fine and they were bringing her back. Charting, charting, charting…
Our divorce was final on December 17th 1991. I had left the property to him and in return he would allow the swimming pool to remain where it was. We would have an amicable divorce. I could still come and see Chuck whenever I wanted and I would continue to keep the pool clean.
I told Clyde he had to move out of the trailer I was going to move in and fix it up. That way I would still be on the property but out of the way with my own driveway and my own light bill. Charles agreed to help me but instead he almost burned the place down installing an electric heating system that ran along the base of the wall. The plug shorted out. Ronnie and Floy Mae were there in the house. Ronnie shouted, “Hey! The trailer’s on fire!” Big billowing flames were shooting out of the west window facing the driveway. Somehow they got it out. I was stubborn and continued to stay there until it got too cold. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay there without any heat. I decided to look elsewhere for a place to live off the property.
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