Memory Monday ~ My Family

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

My family started out like any other family, with a husband, a wife, and, eventually, two children.  My brother was born first, followed–almost nine years later–by me. I always wondered why my parents waited so long to have me.

7-30-2011 8;26;31 AM Bruce and Jackie

Mama and Daddy ~ before children (cir. 1944)

In the early days, daddy had a good job, as a salesman, while mama stayed at home and kept the house running.  Daddy loved to fish and hunt, and mama loved to shop.  They had a nice home, filled with nice things. They had a nice car. Life was good for them. However,  somewhere along the way, things began to go terribly wrong.

The disease of alcoholism runs deep in the families of both of my parents, unfortunately.  While neither of my parents drank alcohol during their early years, eventually, both succumbed and began to drink, socially.  My parents’ drinking quickly escalated, and began causing serious problems.

My early years of elementary school were marked by lots of drinking, fighting and family instability.  My brother, who was only in high school, at the time, was often the one who bore the wrath of our parents during their drinking binges. Many times he had to be responsible for my well-being, as well. We had no other family living near us; our closest relatives lived in the next state.  It was a bad family situation, to put it mildly.

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My big brother and me (cir. 1956)

Long story made short, spring of 1963 was the last time our family would all live together.  My maternal grandparents  were called, by a neighbor, to come and get me (before Family & Children’s Services could remove me from the home).  However, my brother stayed behind [in Florida] along with my parents. He tells me that he stayed with one friend or another, for a while.  At some point, he quit school, and got a job.  In the fall of 1963, my brother asked his [recently graduated] high school sweetheart to marry him, and she said “Yes”. Both were only seventeen, at the time.

Meanwhile, I lived with my grandparents for several months, until my parents eventually lost everything they owned, and decided to come to Georgia, too.  By the time my parents moved to Georgia, I had already begun fourth grade.  My parents also stayed with my grandparents, for a while, but, eventually, daddy got a job, and my parents found a place to live. I went to live with them again, and life started over.  However, our struggles were far from being behind us.

Once a family loses everything, it’s tough starting over.  My parents struggled, financially, for many years, living in rental houses, driving worn out vehicles, living paycheck to paycheck.  We moved four times in two years!  My parents continued struggling with alcoholism.  There would be periods of sobriety, followed by periods of heavy drinking.

Praise the Lord, my parents finally stayed sober from 1966 until 1972, during my formative teenage years!  During those years, we actually lived like a normal family.  It was during those years that I met and married my husband, Ed.

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My family ~ during ‘the best years’ (cir. 1969)

By the time Ed and I got married, my parents were back on their feet, financially.They were able to purchase a new car, and some new furniture.  A few months after Ed and I were married, they were able to purchase another home of their own.  For the first time, in ten years, they were able to actually call a home ‘theirs’ again!  I’d like to be able to end my story here, and say we all lived happily ever after, but things didn’t happen that way.

Not too long after purchasing their second home, my parents began to dabble with alcohol, once again.  (When I asked them why, they said it was because they were lonely after I married Ed and moved away.)  They started out drinking a beer or two, which eventually escalated back to heavy drinking again.  The pattern of binge drinking, followed by several weeks of sobriety became the pattern of their lives, once again. More times than not, hospitalization was required to get them ‘dried out’ and sober.  During their times of sobriety, my parents were much like other normal, loving parents, then, without warning, they’d start drinking again–and all hell would break loose!

My parents never lost everything again, but they sure came close; but for the grace of God, they surely would have.  Daddy had  insurance on their house mortgage, that stated it would pay off the mortgage, in case of disability.  That’s exactly what happened.

Strangely enough, alcohol wasn’t the culprit which finally destroyed my parents, in the end, prescription abuse was.  During the 80’s, their drinking had ceased, again, but what we didn’t realize, at the time, was the alcohol had been replaced by lots of nerve pills and pain killers.

Toward the end of the 80’s, both of my parents’ health declined suddenly and severely.  Their bodies simply gave out.  By the time the time daddy was sixty-three, he was disabled, and in a nursing home.  Before that, he spent four months in the hospital. Daddy died shortly after his 65th birthday.

At age sixty-two, my mother found herself in a bed, right beside daddy, at the nursing home.  (The two shared a room.)  Mama spent many months in the hospital, too, but much of mama’s hospital time was spent in a psychiatric unit.  She suffered from severe anxiety, as well as manic depression (now known as bipolar disorder).  Mama also suffered a heart attack and a stroke in the years leading up to her death, at age 70.  I had lost both parents by the time my 43rd birthday rolled around.

Praise the Lord, my brother and I both married wonderful people, and have lived good, happy, and prosperous adult lives! My brother and his wife recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary!  They weren’t able to have a biological child, but they were blessed to be able to adopt a newborn baby girl shortly after they both turned 30.  They are now the grandparents of three!

Ed and I have been happily married for 42 years.  We were blessed to be able to have three children, a daughter, and two sons.  We are now the grandparents of four precious little ones!

My brother and I sometimes marvel at how blessed we’ve been throughout our adult lives.  We may have gotten off to a rough start in life, but God richly blessed us both with great spouses!  In case you’re wondering…neither of us has any desire to drink alcohol.

**I’m linking my story up for Memory Monday @ Retired-Not-Tired.

Published in: on November 10, 2014 at 12:08 am  Comments (10)  

Saying Goodbye Is Always Hard…

If you are a  long-time reader here, you know that I have more than an abundance of pets!  That’s because have a soft spot in my heart for most animals.  Back in 2004, I tried to rescue all of the homeless animals at the local animal shelter–and then some!  At one point, we owned 21 cats, 5 dogs, 2 rabbits, a hamster, and a parakeet!  Our pet food bills were quite shocking in those days, and Ed was just about ready to jump ship.

Fast-forward nearly nine years later, and here we are–aging folks, left with aging pets!  Ed and I have already said “good-bye” to several of “our dependents” over the past several years.  These days we’re left with only 13 cats, 2 dogs, a parakeet and 6 chickens.  I’m not sure of the age of “Tweety”, our parakeet, since he, too, is a “rescue”, but I’ve had him for over 8 years.  He has to be living on borrowed time.

Several of our pets were older when I adopted them, so some passed away after a relatively short time.  Some of our younger pets developed  illnesses which cut their lives short, as well.  Such is the life of a pet owner.  Throughout the years, the area surrounding our home has become a virtual pet cemetery, with an assortment of  occupants.

No matter how many pets we lose, it never gets any easier.  After the initial shock of losing a pet has worn off, I always try to concentrate on all of the good days we had together, and the joy we brought each other. However, this doesn’t help to fill the empty void that losing a pet creates–even when many are still left!

Honey Bun

Honey Bun

A while back, I wrote about our struggles with our pet rabbit, Honey Bun.  Honey Bun  had been with me for over eight years.  I’m not sure how old he was when I got him, but he was already big.

Near the end, Honey Bun eventually became paralyzed in his hind legs, and remained that way until his death, about 2 months later.  We did the best we could by Honey Bun, but we were relieved (for him) when he took his last breath–the day before Ed’s 63rd birthday.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss that old brown rabbit, especially when I visit the carrot patch!


Eugene’s the gray cat, who’s looking at the camera

We lost one of our cats, named Eugene, to cancer, last year, too.  Eugene struggled with eating for a long time because the growth affected his throat.  We tried to make sure he had some soft food to eat, and let nature take its course.

In his final days, Eugene found a hiding place so he could be alone, but Ed found him, and took food to him.  Then Eugene found another hiding place, which Ed wasn’t able to find.  We assumed he’d gone off and died, as cats often do.

For several days Ed worried about Eugene, and said he just wanted to be able to give him a “proper burial”.  Then, one day I went out to the cat cafe'( a structure Ed built to feed the cats on), and lo and behold, there lay Eugene, dead, underneath it.  He was nestled among some junk that had been stored there.   (Eugene had been dead for a day or two, which is how I managed to spot him.)  Eugene had come home to die, and in doing so,  granted Ed his wish to give him a “proper burial”.


Ethan (in younger years)

2013 isn’t looking so good for our old hound dog, Ethan.  He was one of a litter of 10 puppies that were dropped off at the shelter, along with their mother.  Each puppy was named after a cast member of the reality show “Survivor”, hence the name “Ethan”.

Ethan is about to celebrate his ninth birthday, but he suffers from a variety of issues, and is not in good health.  We’re not positive, but we suspect he, too, may be a victim of some kind of cancer.  A couple of weeks ago, Ethan was really sick, and I just knew the end was near for Ethan.  After a day or two, he rallied and is still with us.

These days, Ethan spends most of his time basking in the sunshine on cooler days, or resting in the shade on the warmer days.  Ethan LOVES to eat, and for the moment, his appetite is still good.  He knows exactly what time supper is supposed to be served, and he will loudly remind us if we run late!  Ethan is a bit lazy, and has always laid down to eat his food.  The day Ethan starts refusing to eat, we’ll go ahead and get the shovel ready.  It will take quite a hole to accommodate that dog!

Shakespeare once wrote, “Parting is such sweet sorrow…”, but, in my opinion, there is nothing “sweet” about parting through death.  It’s the unfortunate downside of loving something– or someone.  Saying goodbye is always so darn hard!

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 10:08 am  Comments (6)  
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Things You Probably Never Wanted To Know…

It’s time for Friday Follow,  and–if I am lucky–I may have a few new people hop by, so I will tell you a few things about myself.  If you already know these things, just pretend that I am just another old person repeating herself…again.  Actually, you won’t have to pretend..

I have been married to the same man, Ed,  for nearly 38 years.  We met way back in 1969, just after he had joined the army.  I was just about to turn 15 years old.  I’d already been dating for an entire year by then.  Yes, I know what you are probably thinking…I think the same thing now.  My hubby-to-be served his time in the army while I finished high school.  We were married 3 weeks after he got out of the service and I graduated from high school.  I was 17, and he was 22.

We were married almost 6 years before we had our first child, a daughter.  We were in hurry to get married, but not in a hurry to start a family.  Would you believe me if I said we had a 5 year honeymoon?  I didn’t think so… Our three children were born approximately 3 years apart.  I couldn’t stand the thought of having two babies in diapers at the same time…All of our children’s names begin with Br…Brandy, Brett, and Brad.

My husband is a “do it yourself” kind of guy, and he built both of our houses himself–with very little help.  We lived in our first home for about 30 years.  By then, the entire house needed to be re-floored.  It was a three bedroom, 2 bath house with a lot of furniture and stuff packed in it–about 30 years worth…  We decided it would be easier for us to build another house next-door, so we did.  Just call us a little crazy… 

My husband is the director of radiology at a local hospital.  He went to x-ray school while he was in the army, and has been a radiology director for approximately 31 years.  Ed knows a little bit about A LOT of things concerning x-rays and medicine in general.  He would have made a great doctor…  He’s hoping to retire…one day.

I worked in radiology as a receptionist for about 3 years, early in our marriage, then quit to stay home and raise our family.  Fourteen years later I returned to work as a first-grade paraprofessional.  I loved my job, and worked with the same teacher for 15 years.  When the teacher transferred to another job, I tried working with a new teacher– young enough to be my daughter.  Things didn’t work out, and I had to quit the job that I loved so much.  After quitting, I became a nanny for twin baby girls for two years.  I call that period of my life “Adventures in Babysitting”.

In 2006, our daughter, Brandy, gave birth to a baby girl.  It was a high risk pregnancy, and she was on bed rest nearly the entire time.  After two hospital stays, and a lot of prayers, Madison Elizabeth joined our family in October.  Just over 2 years later, our oldest son’s wife gave birth to a little boy, Caden Wesley.  Being a grandmother is so much fun!  I truly feel blessed.  Grandparenting is all of the fun, without all of the work!!!These days I spend my time at home doing whatever I feel like doing, and enjoying those two adorable grandkids. 

Our entire family lives on the same 30 acre farm, so we can see each other every day if we choose to.  We can actually see each other’s houses.   Our daughter lives next-door in our old house(she and her husband remodeled it).  Our oldest son, Brett, and his family live just down the road, and our youngest son, Brad, who is 24, and still single, lives on the family farm with his 88-year-old grandmother–we call them the “odd couple”…no, I’m just kidding… We’re very grateful to Brad for doing that for his grandmother.

My newest hobby has become blogging.  I began this blog  just over a year ago.  I wanted to write stories about my past, and record them for my family.  I enjoyed blogging so much, that I started a second blog which is dedicated to my grandchildren.  I love to have giveaways, and I am actually having one for the next two weeks. 

I am giving away this cute little patriotic wind chime in honor of Memorial Day.  All you have to do to have a chance to win  is choose a number between 1 and 100.  Whoever comes closest to the winning number selected by will win.  If two or more people pick the winning number, the first one choosing it will win.  This giveaway will end next Sunday night, May 23, at midnight.  The winner will be notified on Monday, May 24.  Good luck!

Thanks to MiddayEscapades, HeartsMakeFamilies, and One2Try for hosting Friday Follow.

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 12:51 am  Comments (7)