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Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

I think of that conversation often then over the past week, it seems to have come up several times. I suppose I should write about it and maybe that will release it.

I was talking to a new-ish friend the other day (on Facebook Messenger). We were kind of filling in our pasts as new friends do, catching up on things in our background. She asked me why I never remarried after my divorce. Why did I end up all alone at the age of 62?

Good question. The answer? I guess it was a choice. A choice that I didn’t realize I was making until it was too late. At the time of my divorce, I had three children, ages eleven, eight, and two. We didn’t live near relatives. I had a lot of friends but they were all married with their own family obligations so I had to rely on myself to take care of the every day needs of my children, as well as their long term needs.

And I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I had overheard years before. It was a conversation between my mother-in-law and my husband. We were visiting the in-laws and my mother-in-law asked my husband how his sister was doing. Was there anything new with her? We lived near his sister, about a four hour drive from my in-laws so we were often the go-between because we visited with them more often than she did. He told her that there wasn’t anything new with her. She was still working on her degree and taking care of her little girl. Then she asked about any new men. Was she dating anyone serious? They both went on talking about the “alphabet soup” that she dated. Apparently, in their eyes, she seemed to date a different person every few weeks, never staying with any one man for long. They kept referring to her dates as the alphabet soup and joking about the men. It was obvious to me that, in their eyes, it was a negative thing. They seemed to think that she was concentrating more on her dating than on her daughter.

I thought about it and it made a lasting impression on me. I’ve always been one to worry about what others say. I know that’s not important. I’ve learned it now but in those days, it was important. So when I divorced, I was determined to put my children and their needs ahead of any needs I might have. So I didn’t date. I kept busy with my children and when they were with their father on Wednesday nights and alternate weekends, I visited with friends from my kids’ elementary school. There was a group of us that were all divorced and we would get together at the home of one friend who was married. We would eat and drink and talk and her husband taught us to play poker one night. On weekends I just stayed at home, sleeping in and watching movies I couldn’t watch when the kids were home. Years later, I had a friend from college that would come over on Wednesday nights and I would cook dinner for him and we would talk and listen to music. He would stay the night and leave early the next morning so he could make it to work on time. Once in awhile, I would have alumni functions on weekends so I would attend those and sometimes cook for those. I got a reputation for being a good cook so I was the one that did all the cooking for our functions. I would always go alone and come home alone. I didn’t want anyone to say that I was dating an alphabet soup or that I was ignoring my children’s needs. They were my top priority. Anything I needed or wanted, came last.

And, if I am being honest about it, I was protecting myself from hurt. I had been severely broken, and profoundly hurt when my husband went straight from my house to his secretary’s. Yeah. I thought he was better than the stereotype but I was wrong. So I protected myself by not ever letting myself get involved with anyone. For a long time his leaving us made me question my judgement. How could I have been so wrong about him? And more importantly, how could I trust myself to be a good judge of anyone else?

And here I am. Twenty-six years later. Alone. No pets. No one here but me. Few friends and most of those are “virtual friends.”  No alphabet soup for me.

Some conversations stay with us for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

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I guess I will continue with the letter theme until I run out of letter stories!

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I was recruited to apply to Stanford University. I was a senior ad I had not yet figured out or even thought of where I would go. I figured I would go to the local state university but no one had told me anything about applying. So I hadn’t applied anywhere. Then in December I got the call to the counselor’s office to meet with the recruiter. I have written about it before. I will see if I can find it so I can link you. In any case, I reluctantly went to the meeting. I say reluctantly because I didn’t think I would ever get into a school like Stanford and even if I did, there would be no way for me to go because of the finances. I was guided to ask for waivers for the application deadline and the fee and I received both.

Once I applied, I got on their list and go a lot of mail from them. Most of the mail was from “Uncle Fred” who was actually Fred Hargadon, the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. He wrote about how decisions would be made and although the traditional date for admission notifications was April 15, that year (1974) he was making a promise. That promise was that we would all be notified by April 1! Yay! For applicants anxiously awaiting admission decisions, the two weeks would make a huge difference.

So I waited. April 1 rolled around and there was no letter! I was sure I had not been accepted and that was why there had been no letter! Then on April 2 there was a “thin envelope” from Uncle Fred with what has since been called “the oops letter.” He explained and apologized. He started the letter with the word “oops” immediately following the salutation. It seemed that they had mailed out all of the decision letters in time for April 1 delivery but the post office had just notified him that the huge bundle had been misplaced and had not gone out. So they frantically scrambled to send them all out again! He promised we would get them within a day or two as they were working day and night to reproduce them. (Remember that this was in the days of typing letters out, not just printing from a computer file! The letters had to be re-typed and signed personally by Fred Hargadon. I think that year there were about fifteen thousand applicants that had to be notified! They were working round the clock!)

Sure enough, by April 5, I got my “big, thick envelope” with acceptance notification and financial aid grants info and room mates selection information and all those other papers they sent!

That snafu kind of haunted Fred Hargadon and he when it was spoken of, it was always referred to as “the oops letter.” I kept my copy of the oops letter for many years but I think now it has been lost due to too many moves! But I remember it well and it always brings a smile to my face!

Have you a letter you remember from your past? Tell us about it!

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And a peek at the exterior of Memorial Church.

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My nephew almost died last week. He’s still in the hospital but he’s much better and should be going home in another three or so days. He presented with what appeared to be an ear infection but turned out to be viral meningitis. Had they not drained the fluid around his brain when they did, he would have died within just a few hours, according to the doctors. Pretty scary.

I spoke to my sister-in-law earlier today and she was frustrated because they wouldn’t let her visit him because of the fear of the flu and her age. She’s in her seventies and not in the best of health so if she were to contract the flu, it could be fatal. We’re having such a bad strain of it this year that it’s not a good idea to tempt the fates. She said she felt like having him walk to one of the windows where she could see him from outside, just so she would have the satisfaction of seeing him for herself. That’s what mamas need.

It reminded me of when that same sister-in-law was in the hospital with the birth of my second niece (from that brother’s side). My first niece was staying with us. I was in high school. My sister-in-law wanted to see her but the hospital didn’t allow children, not even siblings, in to visit. So we did the next best thing. My brother and I drove my niece to the hospital. He went up to my sister-in-law’s room and wheeled her to the window where she could see the car we were in. Then I pulled her out and held her up so her mommy could see her and pointed out her mommy to her. There were tears on both ends but they got to see one another and luckily it was only a couple of days before they were all together in the same room, at home.

Those are the little things that we forget about until years later when they come flying back into our memories. Little things. Little things that mean so much at the time. Little memories, but so important.

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[NOTE: This is the story about the night I was born. The words the mother speaks to the baby at the end are the words I spoke to my daughters at their births. And yes, my parents really are named María and José, although they both use their middle names because they feel their names are too common. I have heard the story over and over again over the past 60 years. My mother swears it was 11:52 PM but my birth certificate says I was born at 11:19 PM. In any case, I was my mom’s Christmas baby!]

María lay in bed exhausted, yet unable to sleep. She’d had an endless day and had just finished putting out the gifts for her four children. Tomorrow would be filled with joy and much activity. The kids were sure to waken by seven, anxious to open their gifts and play with their new toys. There would be lots of cooking to do, too.

Just a week ago things had looked quite bleak. They didn’t have much money and her heart had ached at the thought of disappointing her children on Christmas. Somehow, José, her husband, had managed to work a few days and had brought her enough money for groceries and a couple of modest gifts for each of the children. They had even gotten a small tree to decorate.

He had come through and María appreciated it. It allowed her to push back the memories of all the times he’d come home late, drunk, and smelling of dime store cologne.

María thought about her life. They lived in a tiny two room house with no heat and no indoor bathroom. They were far from town. The car was always either broken or out of gas. Her husband worked in the fields during the season and at odd jobs in the winter. Her children never had new clothes. She had to accept old clothes from her neighbors and her comadre’s. María’s beautiful little girl had to wear boys’ clothes. Her boys needed shoes that didn’t fall off their feet when they ran so they wouldn’t fall and get hurt. She was very familiar with the second-hand stores where José took her to shop when the boxes of clothes from her comadre didn’t fill all of their needs.

She had given birth four times in five years and was now nine months pregnant with their fifth child. She wondered how many more times she’d give birth before José tired of her and left her alone or ended up dead on the highway on his way home from the cantina he always managed to visit, even when he said they could afford nothing else.

Sometimes things were alright. José could be thoughtful and attentive if he wanted to be. He loved playing with his children. He even helped María with the housework when he wasn’t working. He had taught María how to cook when they had married. José was a hard worker and always managed to provide his family with what they needed.

María loved her children. Sometimes they were all that kept her going. They needed her. They loved her. She loved to see their happy faces and feel their sticky kisses and tight hugs. She liked being able to console them when they were hurt and crying.

María thought about the baby inside of her that made it impossible for her to find a comfortable position. She hoped this one would be another girl. When her first child had been born, she had wished for a girl, only to get a boy. She had cried but soon she loved him so much that she had wished for sons when she had become pregnant for the second, third, and fourth times. When God gave her a daughter for her fourth child, she had cried with disappointment, only to grow to love her so quickly that now her wish for a second daughter made her smile as she rubbed her swollen belly.

She wondered what the future had to offer this innocent child. María feared that perhaps it was a sin to bring children into the world when she and José had so little to offer them. Her exhaustion finally gave way to sleep, as the infant inside of her womb settled down also.

The next morning the children woke their parents asking eagerly if they could go open their gifts. They were happy with what Santo Clos had brought them. They were not used to getting toys or new clothes. The boys had each gotten gun sets–belts, holsters, guns, and even tin badges. José’s boss had given him a small cowboy hat for one of the boys and María had found a couple of bandanas at the segunda. They had also managed to get their hands on three tricycles for the boys. José had worked on them late at night, fixing and painting them to look like new.

Their little daughter was busy playing with her life-like baby doll that had moving eyes, hair, and drank from a bottle. María’s comadre had sewn a small brown bear for her. The last trip they had made to the segunda had provided them with toy dishes for the little girl and a warm coat of red velvet.

After opening the gifts, the children had breakfast. Their mother had fixed huevos con chorizo and fresh tortillas. While she cleaned up after breakfast, María turned on the radio. She tuned to her favorite station. The announcer was excitedly bragging about how his wife had given birth to a baby daughter shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve. She thought to herself how wonderful it would be to give birth on Christmas day!

When she finished with the dishes, she sat by the tree to watch the children at play. It was cold and damp outside so they had to stay indoors. María looked at the tree. They had only a few glass ornaments on it. They were painted shiny, bright colors with dainty designs that looked and felt like fuzzy snowflakes. María could see her reflection in them. She had cut a silver star out of an old pie plate. The plain, simple star now stood guard on top of the little tree. María hoped that maybe next year they would be able to get some colored electric lights like her comadre had on her tree.

All day she waited for the pains to begin. She couldn’t believe how crazy it was that she was actually looking forward to the pains that she had dreaded so much the other times. She felt that there was something special about this child and certainly it was God’s blessing to have a baby born on Christmas day and so she was almost eager to feel the pain that would threaten to tear her apart from the inside out. She dozed for a while, as the children played and she listened to the gentle rain falling outside.

Later that afternoon María was wakened by the thunder outside, crackling loudly. It had begun to rain violently. The house was dark. The wind was deafening as it threatened to blow the tiny house away. The rain fell as if being poured directly over them from a pitcher. The sky had darkened prematurely.

The children were scared. They gathered near their mother. The radio announcer reported that many roads had been closed and that the reservoir was threatening to overflow. At this, María turned down the volume and went into the bedroom to tell José. She was frightened. Their house was just about a half mile from the reservoir. If it overflowed, their small house would be washed away. It was time to load up the car and get as far away as they could. They had friends in town. Their compadres were sure to let them stay for a night or two.

José came into the room and listened briefly to the radio reports. He told her to gather their things and get the kids into the car. They would go into town for the night. When they were all in the car, José could not get it started. He got out and tried everything he knew to try to get the old car going. Nothing worked.

The children, sensing danger, cried softly and obeyed every order given them by their parents. They seemed to know instinctively that their cooperation was an absolute necessity. Even the youngest acted like an angel.

After some time of futilely trying to start the car, José began walking the half mile to the nearest neighbors to get help. When he arrived, there was no one there. He continued to walk toward the road to look for help for his family. It was very difficult to walk against the oppressive rain and wind which seemed to be concentrating their joint efforts on keeping him from reaching the highway.

As José neared the main highway, he could make out flashing lights. He quickened his step and waved his arms, even though he knew they couldn’t see him. It was about nine o’clock and the night was black, except for the lights that flashed from the highway. Finally, as José reached the road, a Highway Patrolman spotted him.

“What are you doing out here? It’s very dangerous. We’ve evacuated the place and have road blocks to keep people out of the area. How did you get back into the restricted area?” asked the Patrolman.

“I live back there. No one evacuated us. We heard the reports on the radio and tried to get out but our car won’t start. My family is stuck back there. We need help,” answered José.

“Your family? We thought we had everyone out of there. How many people are back there? How far? Where exactly are they? Are there any others still back in there, besides your family?” quizzed the Patrolman rapidly.

“It’s about three miles back. Right up against the dam. My wife and four kids are out there. I didn’t see anyone else on my way out here,” explained José.

The Patrolman sent two cars back to get the family and some of their belongings. José rode along in the lead car to show them the way.

When they got to the house, they found the car empty. Inside the house, the only light was the flicker of a candle. When they entered, they found María in hard labor, the children gathered around her with wide, frightened eyes.

One of the Patrolmen took a single look at thescene and started to give orders. “Officer Taylor, help me get this woman into my car. I’ll take her directly to County Hospital. You can stay here with this man and help him get the children to safety, then you can bring him to County.”

They quickly and carefully carried María into the car and rushed inside the house to get the kids without waiting for the first car to drive away.

An hour later, José rushed into the Obstetrics Ward at County Hospital to ask about his wife. “She’s in labor. She’s not quite ready to deliver. You can wait downstairs. I’ll call down when there’s any word,” instructed the pretty nurse with a sympathetic smile on her face.

In the Delivery Room, María gasped for air. “Please Doctor, you have to help me deliver my baby now. It’s almost midnight. My baby has to be born before midnight. Please help my baby come now. What time is it? What time is it?”

“It’s about 11:30 María. Don’t be in such a hurry. This baby will come when it’s ready. I can’t do anything about it. Relax. It’s almost here. On the next contraction, push as hard as you can!” the young intern smiled at María reassuringly.

After pushing through three or four more contractions, María felt the baby being born. She heard the strong crying. The doctor gladly announced “It’s a girl, María! You have a beautiful, healthy baby girl!”

“What time is it?” asked María. “Did I make it? Is she a Christmas baby?”

“It’s 11:52. You made it! You have a Christmas baby! Congratulations, María.” The intern smiled as he continued to examine both mother and baby. “Why was it so important to have a Christmas baby anyway, María?”

“Because this baby is special. She is my gift to the world. She’s going to be a very special person,” beamed María as she put her arms out to take her baby.

Later, when she was in the ward, after José had come in to see her and the 5 pound little girl María held in her arms, María spoke to her daughter with complete adoration: “You are my hope for the future. You are a gift. A gift to me…to our family…a gift to all the world. You will bring good things into this world. I know you will be a special daughter. You bring me hope that out of the darkness of my life, something beautiful will come. Joyful, beautiful, and wonderful things will follow you wherever you go and everyone you touch will be blessed with your joy. You are my joy today, tomorrow, and always.”

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Just me and my mom, around May,1956.

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Re-posting an old favorite:

One of my fondest Christmas memories is also one of the saddest.  It happened in 1978, the year I got married.

My mother lived in Long Beach, California and my husband and I lived in Santa Monica.  His parents lived in Mexicali, Baja California, which is about a four or so hour drive from where my mom lived.  I had never missed a Christmas at home.  It was very important to me that I not miss being home, not just for my sake but for my mother’s.  I knew she wanted me to be home.  So we consulted with everyone and figured out a plan where my husband and I would drive to Mexicali a few days before Christmas.  We would have an early Christmas lunch after opening presents with his family, then we would leave there and come across the border by one in the afternoon or so.  We would then drive to Long Beach and be there for a late Christmas dinner and opening presents with my family.

We were staying on the U.S. side of the border, in Calexico, at my husband’s grandmother’s house while we were down there.  On Christmas Eve when it was time for bed, I couldn’t sleep.  I talked for hours and hours.  My husband heard about every one of my Christmases that night.  I think I was nervous about being with my new family (I had just met them two months previously and had not spent much time with them) and also nervous about the timing of the drive to my mom’s house.  I didn’t want anything to go wrong that would keep us from spending a part of the holiday with my family.  They were all waiting for us, including a number of nieces and nephews who weren’t going to open presents until we got there. So I went on and on about Christmas and about birthday cakes (my birthday is on Christmas).  I think I recalled every single gift I had gotten in my 22 years!  Finally, I let him fall asleep at what was probably about three in the morning.   I stayed awake after he fell asleep.

The next day, everything on his family’s end of the planning went well.  By nine we were finished opening presents and our lunch was being prepared.  We ate by noon and even though I offered to stay and help with the clean up, we were ushered out of there so we wouldn’t be late getting to my mother’s house.

To get on the road, we had to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.  The road we took to get from my in-law’s to the border, was the fastest route.  It had businesses on one side and a very high fence on the other side, which served as the division between the third world country and the richest country in the world (at least in those days).  As the road approaches the border, the last mile or two, the fence is just a cyclone fence and you can see right through it, (at least in 1978 you could; I’m not sure what it’s like now).  We slowed as the road ahead of us narrowed from four lanes to the two border patrol booths that were open.  It was not a long wait but to me, it was way too long.  Because there was little traffic that day, there were no cars between us and the cyclone fence, giving us full view of the “dividing line.”  As I sat there, I looked over and watched as families congregated at the fence, exchanging gifts through the openings in the cyclone fence.  Once I realized what it was that they were doing, the excitement I felt about being on my way home left me along with my breath.  For what seemed like forever, I couldn’t breathe.  I was riveted to the scene before me.  There were mothers and their children passing crudely wrapped gifts from one side of the fence to the other.  On both sides of the fence, people were smiling and chatting as they exchanged Christmas gifts.  It seemed to be normal to them, and I’m sure it was.

I was struck by the fact that these families could not embrace or pass any gift bigger than three or so inches to the other side.  The families’ economic differences were clear.  The ones on the Mexico side of the fence were very poorly clad, especially for what was a crisp December day with the promise of rain in the sky.  The ones on the U.S. side were better dressed and wore shoes and coats appropriate for the weather.  The families although together, were very far apart in many ways.  Before I knew it, I was crying.  My chattiness was gone and we drove home to my mother’s house in almost complete silence.  When we arrived, being there with my family, in the same piece of earth, was more special than it had ever been.  I could hug them and kiss them and hold them near to me.

That was the Christmas in which I left my childhood innocence behind in many ways.

 

For a lighter Christmas Story, click on the link:

Baby Jesus Bridge

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The morning of my appointment the skies were clear and the snow was all but gone. I had made the appointment for 3 in the afternoon. The drive was supposed to be only about an hour. I’m the forever early type of person and figured I would allow myself time to drive there then sit and have something to eat and maybe stop in at a used bookstore I had read about. The plan was to get there and relax until my appointment time then head back down the hill to my Ashland motel and then head for home on Wednesday. That was the plan anyway.

In the motel, the last thing I did was finish watching a news report about a California family that was missing after leaving and heading south back to the bay area. It was believed they had taken a bad road and were now missing for more than a day. I left the motel and headed for the tire store to buy chains for the car. They sold me cables and I made sure there were instructions. The clerk even walked me through it. I didn’t need them but I was trying to be cautious because I didn’t know what the weather was like up the mountain. It was about 10 am or so. Off I went into the wild blue yonder! So I thought.

I only got about fifteen minutes away before it started to snow. And it came on heavily. About five miles later, it was obvious that I needed the cables on the tires. I found a chain up area with several other vehicles stopped. I tried to figure out how to put the cables on but I wasn’t able to do it so I went up to someone putting them on their truck and asked for help. The man came over and put them on for me. However, he did show me that there was a longish part that should be cut off with wire cutters but he didn’t have any so he had just wrapped it around part of the cable on the tire. I thanked him and off I went. The going was very slow. I didn’t mind it. It gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the mountain in the snow. The tall evergreens on either side of the road, covered in snow, were amazing. It was like driving through a snowy tree tunnel. For awhile I was right behind a snow plow. That wasn’t too bad as long as I kept far enough back so I didn’t get all of the snow blow back, or whatever you call that!

Then I came to a crossroad and wondered. That was the road I was supposed to take off on to cut twenty minutes off of my trip. Or so I thought. I debated a bit because everyone was going the other way. But the only directions I had were to take that road. So I did. Big mistake.

After only about a mile, the snow accumulation was such that the road was only wide enough for one car. Not one in each direction. Just one car. I could not even figure out how to turn around and go back. I would have had to put the car in reverse and go back. I was following the GPS and it showed there were a few side roads nearby and I thought maybe I could turn around there. I forged on. It was still beautiful yet I was  beginning to feel like there might be something unbeknownst up ahead. However, I really didn’t have a choice but to go on. As I passed the roads shown on the GPS, I couldn’t see any roads. All I saw was snow all around me.

Then I started to hear something that sounded like scraping on the car and I thought I might have caught a tree branch under the car. I stopped, put my four way flashers on (although I hadn’t seen a car for a long time) and got out to investigate. I saw that the extra wire from the tire cables had come unwound from the cable and was scraping on the inside of the front driver’s fender. I tried to wrap it back around the cable but I had no gloves and my frozen hands got cut. I got back in the car and went on. No choice but to do that. The scraping continued and unfortunately I didn’t think anything would happen so I went on. I really didn’t have a choice. I had a cell phone with me and thought maybe I could call auto club but there was no signal. The GPS showed nothing anywhere near me. I had to go on.

I went through, at about 15 mph, that road and finally got to the main road. Just as I merged onto the main highway, I felt and saw something fly by and hit the side of the car. I pulled over right away. I got out and found a huge hole in the side of the car. It was the fender that the wire had been scraping against. The scraping had caused it to wear away and the whole thing flew off. I saw the piece a way behind the car. I walked over and picked it up and put it in the trunk. I knew I was only about five miles from the doctor’s office so I went on, figuring I could find some help there. As I drove into the small town, VERY small town of Chiloquin, I realized everything was closed. I made it to the doctor’s office about thirty minutes before my appointment. The supposed-to-be-drive of one hour had taken over four and a half hours of time and about one hundred per cent of my nerves and stamina. From the waiting room, I was able to use the office phone to call Avis only to be told they could do nothing for me until “the day after tomorrow” and suggested I call my own auto club to see what they could do for me. I called auto club but they said they couldn’t help until the morning. They suggested I find a motel for the night and they would get to me first thing in the morning.

I saw the doctor. He took extra time with me because it had been so long since I had seen a doctor for anything. I agreed to wait while he saw other patients so he could spend that extra time for me. I had nowhere to go anyway so I waited. It was a good wait. They kept me entertained, bringing me magazines and a snack (I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch). When all was said and done, the doctor had stocked me up with about six months worth of sample packages of three of the prescriptions he wrote for me. He knew I had no insurance and one of the medications was not available in generic form and was over $150 for one month. We had a long, long talk. He asked about the kids and I was able to fill him in on the little kids who were now grown, two of them out of the house. I showed him pictures of them. He had his staff try to find me a motel nearby but everyone was completely full. They found the nearest to be in Klamath Falls, about twenty miles away. So off I went. By this time, it was about 6:30.  About seven or so miles later, remember I was only going about twenty or so miles per hour because of the road conditions, I heard and felt another loud noise and the car came to almost a complete stop on its own. I stopped it completely and wandered out to see what was going on. By then, it had been dark for several hours and it was quite a bit colder. Upon investigation, I found the problem. The tire cable on the front passenger side had snapped and wound itself around the axle. I wasn’t going any place. The car was just not going to go any place. I tried to call auto club but for about a half hour I couldn’t get a signal.

Finally, I was able to get a weak signal and I called auto club. The problem was then that I couldn’t tell them where I was because I didn’t know the area and the snow banks were so high that I could not see any signs. I could only tell them the road I was on and where I had come from and where I was headed, oh and that I had passed the casino. That gave them enough info to come try to find me, after the tow driver finished another job. By this time, the battery on the cell phone was almost dead but I wanted to talk to my kids. I had the feeling that I was going to end up lost like that family I had heard about just before I left my motel room in Ashland that morning, which seemed like days, not hours. I called one daughter and couldn’t reach her. My son didn’t answer either. I did manage to get in touch with my oldest daughter and, trying not to alarm her, gave her a short recap of what was going on. I hung up to preserve the phone battery in case I had to call auto club again. I still had not eaten all day and it was close to 8. I had a banana in the car and a can of Diet Coke. Both were frozen solid so that was no help.

Eventually, I got a call from auto club saying that the tow driver couldn’t find me. They patched the call through to the driver who was a local and I was able to repeat where I had been and where I was headed and the road. He thought he knew where I was. Yay! Finally, he found me! He ended up having to tow me into Klamath Falls and leave me and the car there. He had more cars to go rescue. He said he’d be back at 8 the next morning to take me and the car to Ashland.

Finally safe, I fell apart in my room. I put the thermostat on full blast and although the room warmed right up, I could not warm up. I was freezing from the inside out. It had been -3 degrees out there and my hoodie and cheapo boots couldn’t cut it. I called room service and had them bring me food and coffee. They were no longer doing room service and wanted me to come to the restaurant but I just didn’t have the energy to calm myself, stop shaking, and go to get my food. So they made an exception and brought me my food and a whole, big, pot of coffee.

All along, while I was out in the elements, I found it ironic that I had finally gotten myself out of my depression and made moves to improve my health and here I could die out there. It had been a long day of trying not to think of the worst but still having it just at the back of my mind. And at times, I was sure I was going to die. I also found out that the road I had taken off of the main highway was a seasonal road. It is only used in the summer months. That’s why I never met up with another car the whole time I was out there.

I was so shaken up that instead of driving back to Santa Rosa the next day, I wasn’t able to shake the feeling and I ended up staying until Saturday morning, four days later than I had planned. I didn’t leave my motel room in all that time, in fact, I didn’t get out of bed except to take warming showers several times a day.The woman who owned the hotel had become sort of a friend because I had stayed there a number of times. She kept checking on me and brought me food and warm beverages. In fact, they charged me a very reduced rate for those extra days.

That was my first exposure to driving in the snow. I think that probably tells you why, when it snows, I don’t even think of leaving the house.

We’re still very icy here. Wednesday’s snow has not melted because we haven’t gotten any higer than 31 degrees. In fact, we are supposed to break a record in the overnight hours (I’m writing this at almost 1 in the morning on Saturday)…to about 17 degrees. Saturday afternoon, more snow! I’m not going out in it. Not a chance.

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When I lived in southern California, I had a wonderful doctor. Dr. Cohen was our family doctor. He had been my doctor until he switched to family medicine and we all started seeing him. I loved going there. Once, when one of the kids was sick but not too sick, I just wasn’t sure about taking them in but I wasn’t comfortable doing nothing so I called his office and talked to the nurse. After conferring with the doctor, she told me to bring them in. When I got there, Dr. Cohen said that his staff had a standing order that if I called, get my kids in right away because I was not one of the mothers that ran to the doctor for any little cut, scrape, or cough. That made me feel good! Then there was the time that I sat in the waiting room for over an hour past my appointment time. He told the staff not to collect my deductible because my time was just as precious as his and he didn’t want me to have to pay for just sitting. Not many doctors do that!

In any case, he sold his practice and moved to Oregon around 1999. After that, I struggled with other doctors in the building. For those that don’t know, there are certain experiences in my past that make it very difficult for me to trust new people. It makes it very difficult to start a new doctor. I have a very difficult time having to disrobe at the doctor’s office, let alone letting them examine me. Then in 2002, I lost my health insurance so I didn’t see any doctors. That was bad because I am diabetic so my diabetes went untreated for years. I got over some other problems and moved to northern California in 2004. Finally, I got to thinking about finding Dr. Cohen. I got online and searched and finally found him. I called his office to make sure it was him and it was! He was practicing in a small town near Klamath Falls. I started working to save money to go see him then I made an appointment. It was crazy to drive fourteen hours to see a doctor but I knew that I had to because I wasn’t going to see a doctor otherwise. So the Monday after Thanksgiving, I rented a car from a friend who  had an Avis franchise and agreed to rent a car to me without a credit card. And I was off to Oregon!

The trip started out on a bad note. Although I had checked traffic and weather before leaving, when I got to Redding, the radio was reporting that there was a storm headed for southern Oregon. I hadn’t prepared for that so I didn’t even have a coat. I stopped in at a K-Mart in Redding and bought a hoodie. I didn’t have a lot of money with me and I had to save what I had for the motel I was staying in for a couple of nights, before and after my doctor visit. So that’s all I had. A hoodie, some cheapo non-weatherized boots, and myself. No gloves. No scarf. No hat. But for this California girl who had not been in the snow previously, it didn’t really grab my attention and off I headed for Oregon.

Then, as I was about five miles away from my gas stop in Yreka, I saw a CHP car coming fast from the other direction and I figured he was after someone. That’s when I realized that I had not checked my speed in a while. I was going 97 mph! Wow! He was after me! Sure enough, I got a speeding ticket and a lecture. The guy was nice though and wrote me up for going 85 so I could qualify for online traffic school. So that was something but if you have ever been pullled over by the police, you probably know that it leaves you shaky and breathless and maybe disoriented. So I stopped in Yreka and sat in the car for awhile then got out and went to Denny’s for coffee so I could just settle my nerves a bit. I didn’t want to stay too long because I had the Siskiyou summit to head over and that is always dicey. With the weather turning worse by the minute, I didn’t have too much time to settle my nerves before heading toward my destination for the night, Ashland.

By the time I got up to the summit the weather had really changed. It was not only pitch black out but there were snow flurries and then snow all over the road. The big semi trucks were keeping the speed down to about 25 mph. Just as I got almost down the mountains, I could see the Oregon State Patrol behind me. Not after me this time. They had closed the road behind me. I was the last car through. I got  into Ashland and warmed up in my motel room and relaxed a bit. There was no snow there yet. After an hour or so, I looked out the window and realized it was snowing. I was so excited! I hadn’t ever seen it snow!. So I got bundled up (in my hoodie and cheap boots) and headed outside. I took a walk in the fresh snow. It was beautiful. There was no one out, even though it wasn’t very late (about 9 pm).It was calm. It was silent except for the sound of my feet crunching the freshly fallen snow. It was beautiful. I was only out for about ten minutes then I went back inside. The next day I was heading for Klamath Falls so I settled in for the night, watching a bit of TV and working on my NaNoWriMo novel.

That’s the set up. Come back for part 2 and read about Corina against the life threatening elements.

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