30 Years Together!

It seemed Charles found fault with me daily. I wondered often how I had managed to survive 50 years and beyond with my inability to do anything correctly. I knew in my heart I was not the wretched person my parents and subsequently my husband deemed me to be.

Nonetheless it was challenging at times to know what reality was or merely “their truth” My 29 years of counseling had enabled me to understand that I was not as flawed as I had been portrayed. However, my self-esteem was non-existent. I knew God had granted me with talents and abilities, but none which either my parents and now my husband or children believed I possessed.

Charles’ 29 years of instilling in me and our children that I was beneath him had taken a hold as authenticity. Why did I remain in this abuse? It would be years later that the regrets of my actions to remain would have a tight grasp on my life. Did I have missteps and make mistakes along the way? I most certainly did. I know I said/did things often which were not as Charles or others desired. However, I was eager and willing to offer a rapid and sincere apology and assurance not to repeat my actions.

Charles attended counseling sessions with me less than 2 dozen times in our entire marriage. He vowed he had no desire to spend his time and money with someone whom was telling him he was wrong. His sincere belief was that he had never said and/or done anything wrong, so there was no need to receive counseling.

The counselors frequently reminded me it was not marriage counseling when Charles refused to attend. Nonetheless I realized that if I remained in counseling, it would provide the tools to better cope with life’s situations. When my countless pleas for Charles to share his life’s interests with me failed, I realized I must seize each occasion for joy and peace in my life.

In addition to purchasing a harp and learning a new skill, I was also a PhD student at Oklahoma State University. When the opportunity arose for me to be an adjunct instructor at Oklahoma City University, I realized I would also be able to begin a long-awaited goal; to earn my doctorate and teach full-time. Without it I would never be permitted to be more than an adjunct instructor.

I also continued with my love of singing and vocal music, being a member of a large faith-based women’s choir. Additionally, I sang with the local community choir. Such opportunities provided me with not only increasing my knowledge and competencies, but also opened doors for new experiences. From the time I was a child, I believed God provided such times in our lives to enable us to grow as individuals.

March 1999 was one of the most memorable times of our entire marriage. On our 30th wedding anniversary, Charles took me out for not only a lovely gourmet dinner, but presented me the gift of a lifetime; an anniversary trip to England, which he had planned. For that evening and the next few days which followed, Charles was an entirely different husband; kind, loving and caring. Perhaps our marriage truly could turn around and we could begin to perceive what God intended as man and wife; to love one another.

Because it was tax season, our anniversary trip would be delayed until the summer, but the wait was worth every day and minute of anticipation. England was all and more than each of us had expected. We spent one week in London and the second week in the Cotswolds. I didn’t wish to come home. I could have remained there forever.

Our time there was filled with compassion and courtesy for one another, perhaps because we were experiencing new adventures. However, I wanted so earnestly to believe it was because Charles might truly love me. I knew the great love I had for him and I wanted only to grasp tightly these two weeks of benevolence for one another and never let it go.

Over time the contentment of the previous few months waned, and the conflicts returned to our marriage. We were still enjoying our infrequent times with our family and young grandson. The holidays also brought me a special joy when I could decorate our home, plan and prepare baking and meals for the family and holiday guests.

Charles and I each stayed busy with our careers, but it seemed his ability to become upset with me was as close as the lashes on my eyes. It had become a fearful way of living. As the discord increased, I queried Charles if we should part ways. I told him numerous times during our marriage that I knew for certain we were each very good people, but not good for one another. His threats never changed, “I will not give you a divorce. If you try to divorce me, I will make you pay and you will live to regret it.” I understood his words were sincere, but also as strong and fervent as his anger toward me.

Please continue to follow my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging in April 2016. It’s the emotional and physical pain and abuse of my life, but also of God’s healing.

What Is This?

As I came home from work one day, a dilapidated box void of gift wrapping or bag, was lying on the kitchen counter. It contained a pepper mill inscribed with the name of the resort where Charles had attended a business meeting he had just returned home from. Due to the condition of the package, I assumed it had been a gift to the attendees of the meeting and Charles had rapidly torn open the box, obliterating some of the box in the process.

When Charles walked into the kitchen, I asked if the mill had been gifted to him. As was his customary tone, in a loud and sarcastic voice he cited, “no, it is a gift for you. I bought it.” I sincerely thanked him and extended my appreciation. Not desiring to upset him further, I wondered why a gift would be presented in such a manner. The box had been ripped with a portion of the box removed. I had never delivered a gift to anyone in such a haphazard and slovenly manner, as I believed it would negate the message of concern for the recipient.

If I wanted to let another know I thought enough of them to purchase a gift, I offered it with the appearance of stating, “I care about you.” Over the years I have reflected on Charles’ attitude and manner in bestowing this gift and often wondered if there was a convert message to me, “here is a token gift, but you are not worthy of receiving it with care.” Additionally, why the extremely unkind manner in telling me it was a gift?

January 1998 began with a bundle of delight; our 1st grandchild; a grandson was born January 14, 1998. This would have to be a wonderful year when there was a new baby in the family. I also turned 50 and realized that skills I desired to learn would need to be sooner than later. One of these was learning to play the harp.

I flew to a harp store in Chicago to try out different harps. I then obtained a harp teacher and I was ready to begin. When Charles asked me what I desired as a gift for my 50th birthday, I noted, I would love to have a harp. “No way”, he cited. “ A harp can’t be worn or seen by others. I want you to have a piece of jewelry.” He wanted to purchase the bracelet he had promised me 5 years earlier, but never fulfilled. Why now over 5 years later? Also, why would this birthday gift be what he desired for me, instead of what I desired?

I had saved money for several years to purchase a harp, but how I would have loved to receive it from my husband. For many years which followed, other adult, women, harp students would share about their husbands purchasing their harps. They were not only as gifts of love, but also as gifts of support toward their wives. My heart was always gripped with envy.

Charles’ gifts to me frequently had an ulterior motive; so that persons would see his success. He selected a bracelet and I was to be content with it. No, it was never my choice, but his. I wore the bracelet only a couple of times for it symbolized to me his continual control of my heart and life.

As the months passed and life remained status quo, there were the occasional business trips which were extended to pleasure trips. For a few days we might enjoy our time together, but occasionally even the trips were fraught with arguments and unkind words. Could there never be a time in our lives when we could have even a few weeks of joy with one another?

As had happened several years prior while residing in FL again there was what should have been an inconsequential incident, but Charles opted to make it a great conflict. Because we had a two-story house and due to medical issues with my knees, it was customary that I would place items on the steps to be taken upstairs during one of my second story trips.

One night Charles deliberately chose not to turn on the lights as he was descending the stairs and he stepped on a ceramic soap dish for the guest bath, breaking it and missing a step as he did. As he had done in FL, he screeched out in anger as to why I had been stupid enough to place a dish on the stairs? He knew placing items on the stairs was customary. Why had he chosen not to turn on the lights so he could see if there was something on the stairs?

As was routine with Charles, he deemed his actions totally my fault. I queried him often if he spent his days thinking up ways to make false accusations against me? Of course this prompted only a greater anger from him. However, I wondered frequently why he never accepted blame for any of his errors? I felt I spent more time in our marriage apologizing to him for things I had said/done than I did for praising him.

Please continue to follow me on my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging in April 2016. It’s my life filled with the emotional and physical pain of abuse and betrayal, but also of God’s blessings and healing.

Our Family Is Growing

By the end of 1996, our lives were settling into a routine back in Edmond, OK, the town we initially moved to twenty years prior. We had the impending December wedding of our son and soon to be “daughter”. After less than 2 months of being unemployed, Charles had been offered a new career position as the Tax Director for Deloitte Touche in Oklahoma City. I had begun my own dietetic consulting practice while still doing adjunct teaching for a couple of the local universities.

I was optimistic once again that “perhaps” Charles would come to love me. He had what he desired now; a prestigious career. I learned within days of our wedding in 1969 that when Chuck was discontent in his career, he was discontent with me. It seemed I was the one to blame for anything negative in his life, as I was the one whom was the closest to him.

As I have previously shared, there were indeed good days, but more often than not, days of much disappointment and sorrow that our marriage and family were not what God intended. My desire for intimacy from Charles was ever present, as such times were infrequent. When intimacy was a component of Charles’ calendar, it was brief and rote. He displayed no true feelings of love or concern for me. Unlike many empty nest couples, our marriage was not one that was experiencing the freedom of time and money to enjoy interests of life together.

Charles continued to work unnecessarily long hours at the office, while I fulfilled my tasks as an employee, wife, chef, maid and gardener. I now wore an additional hat; that of a designer and planner for our new home. Charles requested that I select paint colors, hardware, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, appliances, etc., all the required essentials for building a house.

Even though a new house would be nice, I knew it would never offer what I so greatly desired; a man that loved me. The previous pleas from me toward Charles of healing our relationship fell upon deaf and uncaring ears. He was content with the dysfunction, while I remained steadfastly heart broken. I cared nothing about a new house, if only I could have had a husband whom cherished me as greatly as I did him.

Andrea and Timothy continued with their careers and were as content as any young married couple. Soon Christopher and Kristina would join the ranks of newlyweds as he began law school. The December wedding was lovely and each of us welcomed a new year; 1997 with anticipation of delightful jubilation.

1997 also held wonders and lamentations. I had a large and joyous 50th birthday celebration for Charles in February, only days after we learned that we would be grandparents later that year. Chris and Kristina were rather shocked to learn of their unexpected blessing, but also elated. They realized this would complicate Chris’ time and finances to complete his juris doctorate, but both Chris and Kristina realized children are one of God’s greatest gifts.

By late spring we learned we would have another grandchild in early 1998. Andrea and Timothy were also expecting their first child. I was thrilled with the news of two additions to our Woods’ family, but also hopeful this too would bring a greater desire to Charles’ heart to not only love me, but to embrace our family.

Sadness gripped our hearts in July when Kristina suffered from pre-eclampsia and gave birth to a tiny, precious, stillborn baby boy. It was a sorrowful day for all of us. This precious child would have been both Charles’ and Christopher’s namesake, but he was now with the Lord.

By late summer of 1997 we moved into our new house. A new house can never negate the “old” battles. Just weeks upon moving into our home the physical abuse from Charles intensified. He returned to shoving me into closets, pinning me against walls and slamming me onto the floor. He had now added another element; dragging me from bed while sound asleep.

I would cry out to him in deep sorrow and agony. Why Charles why are you doing this to me? His answers never changed. “I want you to listen to me.” I would always repeat the same reply, I can hear just fine. My ears work well, but why push me and shove me to make me listen to you?” I would also continue to call him, Clyde Hamer, which enraged him more greatly. Charles understand exactly what I meant as my father had been extremely, physically abusive. Charles didn’t wish to be compared to my dad, but his abuse was a constant reminder of the many years I had suffered at the hands of my father.

The holidays were difficult as Chris and Kristina chose not to spend any of their holiday with us. Andrea and Timothy’s holiday commitments were now with Timothy’s large family, as well as with just Charles and me. Given the fact our family was small and distant toward one another, Andrea’s preference was to spend most of her holiday with the Maltz’s.

My Hamer family didn’t celebrate Christmas as a family. Charles’ Mom resided in a long-term care facility after the loss of his father the previous year. Thus, the holidays were a reminder to me of the continued demise of our family.

Please continue to follow my on my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging in April 2016. It’s my life filled with the emotional and physical pain of abuse and betrayal, but also of God’s healing.

The Bombing

1995 was very routine and boring following the previous two years of a wedding, move to a new city and state, new jobs and Christian’s troubling illness and surgery. There were however the occasions for travel. When Chuck had business meetings, I would become travel agent and tour guide to plan extensions of his trips to allow us exploration and experiencing the locale of his meetings.

We attempted to see our children and other family several times a year, even with the distance between us. Their visits to see us were infrequent, but always welcomed. FL was a large and diverse state, so I embraced opportunities to share the culture and environment of our new home. Routine also were the continuous battles of our marriage. As I remained in counseling while Chuck refused to participate, I was reminded that his behavior was surreal. No one remains at their office 6-7 hours after others had concluded their day. Even Chuck’s colleagues noticed his odd behavior and cited to me there was nothing to do at the office until such early hours of the following day.

As Chuck continued to deny any immoral behavior on his behalf, I endeavored to trust him. My queries were frequent, “Chuck, why won’t you come home for dinner and to share our evenings together?” His reply was constant, “I just have much work to complete.” Those statements would also prove false repeatedly, as his colleagues noted there was no work to be performed per his claims.

As the battles increased and Chuck’s refusal to give me his time, attention or affection, I again filed for divorce. Yet again, Chuck vowed he would change, stating he realized he should give me and our marriage more of his attention. As had happened previously, I withdrew the divorce petition, earnestly believing he desired to keep the marriage as much as I. Within months, our lives were as they had been; arguing and conflicts. Yet I continued to hope and pray, God would heal his calloused and indifferent heart toward me.

1996 would be another eventful year. In the spring of 1996 one of my recurring health issues had become so intense it required surgery at Cleveland Clinic; with the same physician as had operated on Christian less than two years prior. As I awakened from my surgery, still unable to be totally audible and cohesive with my conversation, I noted Chuck was extremely upset. I was able to comprehend that Oklahoma City; his birthplace and city which he loved so dearly had been the target of a terrorist attack. There had been a bombing at the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City with great loss of life and injuries to hundreds of people.

As I began crying, the nurse was trying to assure me I would be fine. She never truly understood, my distress was over the events on the news. My tears were not because I was concerned about my recovery. Additionally, when she did understand the tears, it was of no importance to her. Oklahoma City was half a continent away from south FL and she knew none of those people. She continued to tell me to calm down. However, with Chuck’s significant stress and the realization of the loss of lives and damage, I realized there would be people we knew impacted by such a cruel and inhumane act toward others.

As I spent the next few weeks recovering from my surgery, Chuck was informed, he would be dismissed as the tax director for his company. He and his superior had been involved in conflicts for months prior to his notice of termination.

Chuck now believed he had more validity in becoming angry at me. Whenever his days at the office didn’t go well, I always realized I would the “target” when he arrived home. Now Chuck’s anger was more intense than any during our 27-year marriage. I felt as though I were a punching bag which had not only been pounded to a pulp, but also totally deflated. It was taking a toll on my health but with the uncertainty of our future, I knew I must remain at Chuck’s side. Always present was the fact also of my unyielding love and devotion to him.

By mid-summer we were preparing to sell our FL home. Chuck was provided a generous severance package including an outplacement office and staff. Thus, his few weeks of unemployment was not a financial burden to us, as we relocated back to OK. The only harm endured in this termination was Chuck’s pride. He would harbor the anger of this broken relationship for years to come.

During the interim of our departure from FL and return to OK, a tragedy had touched the hearts and lives of our family. The young lady whom Christian had dated for three years in high school and whom we all believed would be our “daughter” was killed in an automobile accident while attending college in another state. Not only was Christian devastated, but so too were all of us. We loved Tiffany and she in turn loved each of us. She was beautiful inside and out and a joy for all whom knew her.

Please continue to follow me on my autobiographical journey, which I began blogging on April 2016. It’s my life filled with the emotional and physical pain of abuse and betrayal, but also of God’s healing.

A Medical Detour

During the pending divorce of 1994, Chuck appeared sincere with his tears, but how quickly his tears evaporated, and the neglect and abuse returned. Shoving me against walls or into closets, while I would cry out and plead for him to cease fell on deaf ears.

When I proclaimed, he was abusive, he was unyielding that it was necessary to “push me around” so I would listen to him. Hysterically, I always proclaimed that my ears worked fine and if he would just converse with me, I would be able to “hear” more clearly.

Now I reflect on those incredibly abusive and demoralizing events and wonder how I could have endured such abuse for as long as I did. I so earnestly believed God would heal Chuck’s heart toward me. He would always proclaim he didn’t want a divorce and he would fight to keep me from divorcing him. I was naïve enough to believe it was because he truly loved me. However, 26 years later I would realize it was solely for financial reasons; not because of love.

The more he pushed me from his life and refused all forms of physical and emotional interaction with me, I should have realized he had no love for me. The cliché of “love is blind” was evidenced throughout my marriage to Chuck. I loved him so deeply but from the on-set our marriage was what he deemed countless times, a necessity. He touted he believed he had to marry to be successful in his career.

I was the “free maid” for maintaining his home, running his errands and completing assigned tasks. Even though he spent the duration of our marriage complaining my salary and career were inferior to his, he commanded how I would spend my income. I pleaded to spend time with me, whether for an event or merely time alone with the two of us. Sometimes he obliged, but the majority of the time, he chose to remain at home alone or to retreat to his office (or now I have to believe whomever was in his life at the time).

There were occasional happy times in our marriage of travel, hosting parties and events in our home, visiting with our children or other family, etc. There were even times we would watch a television movie and each cry when we realized our love and marriage was similar to the characters portrayed before us.

It was often I would go to him, hugging him and reminding him of our lives and the blessings we possessed. Also, I frequently reminded Chuck that we had much to lose if we could not make our marriage work. He would just stare at me and walk away. I never imagined his heart and mine were not on the same page. From his words to me years later, he was planning and scheming even then as to how and when he could rid himself of me. No matter what reprieve we had from the arguing and bitterness, reality quickly returned with the discord in our lives.

Christian counseling remained a routine component of my life. It began within the first two weeks of our marriage and over 25 years later, I continued in counseling in an attempt to become a better wife to Chuck and a better mother to our children. I also understood that if I chose to remain married to Chuck, I had to learn to cope with and endure his harsh, abusive and controlling ways.

Counseling was also tool to allow me to help myself. It was not a mode of helping others. I had overcome the trauma of the maltreatment at the hands of my excessively abusive parents, so I contemplated almost daily if I could learn to sustain Chuck’s punitive treatment and attitude toward me. My love for Chuck was so great that my faith was God would heal Chuck’s heart toward me. Little did I know in 1994 that 19 years later, not following through with the divorce would be a sorrow I endured every day of my life.

The summer of 1994 would be another milestone for our family. When we picked Christian up at the airport, he was gaunt and extremely pale. He noted he didn’t feel well, but as a dietitian I knew immediately this was far more than the stress of being a college student. I knew he was not metabolizing his dietary intake. His inability to consume even a few bites of his meal without nausea and vomiting was alarming.

Within days of his arrival we made an appointment to see a physician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ft. Lauderdale. Christian was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s; a disease of the gastrointestinal tract. The doctor concluded Christian required immediate surgery. The remainder of his summer vacation was spent recuperating from the surgery with enough strength to return to his classes in the fall.

Unable to drive back to OK, Chuck drove Christian’s car to the University of Oklahoma with a very weakened Christian in tow. The fall semester was a challenge for Christian, but he endured and by December 1994, he felt like the son we knew prior to his diagnosis and illness. He would be a Crohn’s patient for the remainder of his life, as it would alter his lifestyle, but would not be terminal if well maintained.

Events such as this reminded me that I didn’t want to be single. I wanted to be with Chuck and our children when such life experiences occurred. I merely continued to hope and pray that Chuck would come to love and desire me as his wife and partner.

Please continue my autobiographical journey which I began blogging in April 2016.

Marie’s Special Day

As I stood barefoot, the carpet felt like clouds. It seemed as though I were in a trance, in spite of the reality I now experienced. My daughter, Marie and I had planned this moment for years.

Now, as I beheld the magnificence of her before me, I reminisced over the first excited conversation about this day. I beheld her beauty as she stood in front of me. I knew she had indeed made the right decision. The dress was positively the finest choice. For a fleeting second, I saw my blonde, green-eyed infant in the hospital; the curly haired toddler of 2; the giggly grade schooler of eight, the prissy high schooler of sixteen; and now my beautiful daughter of twenty-one. Where had the years gone?

I had prayed so diligently for a baby, wondering if the Lord would ever bless Chuck and me with a family. Our years of trying to become pregnant and then receiving the gifts from God of Marie and her brother, Christian had passed so quickly. I wiped the mascara-drenched tears from my eyes before they left indelible drops on her gown.

Less than a year previously, Marie had run into the house, crying hysterically that the “love of her life” had just bid her farewell. I held her tightly, wiping the tears from her rosy cheeks, telling her then she would find someone to love.

I had lost my first love and felt I too was doomed to remain single for all eternity. I kissed Marie’s forehead and told her that anyone as beautiful as she would not spend the remainder of her life without a man of her dreams.

Less than two months later she again ran into our kitchen, as I prepared dinner, but this time jubilantly. Marie shared she had indeed found a new love; he was truly “the one.” I reminded her of my promise. Without a doubt, her prayers and mine had been answered. She believed she had found her unblemished mate. Wedding plans were made briskly.

As I now stood in our church parlor, nothing would transform the pride I felt for Marie at this moment. Years earlier when Chuck and I had planned our wedding, it was small and unpretentious. As poor college students who could barely afford our tuition, the financial burden of our wedding mandated it was simple. Marie didn’t wear a homemade gown, as I had done. The simple cake and punch reception of our wedding 24 years prior, was now replaced with an extravagant reception of an elaborate array of food.

In less than an hour Marie would be Mrs. Thomas Maltz, not only our daughter, but now a wife. I had waited twenty-one years for this day. Marie’s final preparations were made to take that long walk down the aisle. One last detail must be administered.

Not only had our wedding been modest, but likewise my first wedding ring. It was a diminutive ring, but I knew one “from Chuck’s heart.” After graduation from college, when Chuck was established in his career, I received a new wedding ring as an anniversary gift.

I saved the diamonds from my original wedding ring, mounting them in a necklace. I knew that someday, I would give it to our daughter on her wedding day, a token of the love her daddy and I had shared on ours.

I opened the green velvet box that had been in my dresser drawer for over 15 years. I placed the glistening diamonds around her neck and hugged her as I kissed her angelic cheeks. She stood alone in the doorway awaiting her daddy to give her away and asked, “Do I look okay, Mommy?” I could not restrain the tears as I replied, “You are beautiful.”

As she walked down the aisle, she could not restrain the tears. Mine fell in the bride’s parlor; now hers fell as she would no longer be our “little girl” at home, but she would become a wife within a matter of minutes.

Following the wedding, she and Thomas were whisked away in the antique Rolls Royce which had been the center of more than one lively discussion over the past few months. Nonetheless, Jalene and Chuck knew this would be the wedding which Marie and Tom would reflect upon for years to come.

Unfortunately, their wedding day in July 1993 was one of the hottest on record for that particular day. As the photographer attempted to take outdoor wedding photographs, Marie’s make-up began running down her face onto her dress and her bouquet was wilting as she and Tom stood for the pictures. Thus, the outdoor photos were not a component of the wedding memories, but the day would indeed linger in the hearts of Marie, Tom, Jalene and Chuck for all the years to come.

Marie has remained Mrs. Thomas Maltz for over 25 years and is now the mother of three sons and a daughter. Before she realizes it, she too will be standing before her children, beholding the beauty of the day and recalling her own wedding. As I did with her and she will do with her children, we will ask “how have these years passed so quickly?”

Please continue to follow Jalene’s journey which began in this blog on April 2016.

Can’t You Wait Until I Come Home?

Chuck and I prepared our home for sale, while Marie spoke of her upcoming wedding plans. It seemed as though I were in a trance, in spite of the reality I now experienced. Marie and I had planned this special event for years.

My job took me away from home 5 days a week, leaving little time to prepare for Marie’s big day. One day while at work, out of state, a staff member informed me of an urgent telephone call from Marie.

My palms were cold and clammy as I reached for the telephone. Before hearing Marie’s voice, I was surmising the worst possible outcome of this call. Had something dreadful happened to her, to her father or brother? Had a natural disaster struck our home? I was a typical working mother at that moment, anticipating the worst.

“Mom,” Marie uttered in an ecstatic tone. I sighed heavily. Marie continued, “Mom, Are you all right? You sound upset?” As I took a deep breath, I replied, “I’m fine. I’m not upset. I was afraid there might be a problem.”

Marie shrieked with excitement when she proclaimed, “No Mom, there are no problems. Everything is perfect. I found my wedding dress. It is the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen, and I must buy it today.”

Disappointment gripped my heart. This was one of the occasions Marie and I had envisioned many times. This was to be part of the fairy tale day the two of us had discussed so many times through tears of joy and sorrow; the moment most little girls and their moms anticipate in their musings.

My voice was quivering as I replied, “sweetheart, can’t you wait until I arrive home on Friday”? “No Mom, I’m afraid it might be gone.” Now I knew the authenticity of not only having a young adult daughter, but not being home for events such as this. Marie no longer needed me in making one of the most important purchases of her life; her wedding gown.

As I placed the phone back on the cradle,I sobbed. This was another example of the missed joys and memories that accompanies a working mom. I arrived home at the end of the week, saddened I was unable to be with Marie as she had tried on dozens of gowns.

The aspirations each of us had from so many years before, for Marie’s special day, had to be altered due to the swiftly approaching date. The reception, music and perhaps even the flowers had been altered to accommodate the forthcoming wedding. For years Marie and I had planned a beautiful garden reception in their back yard. Nothing remained constant in the plans now, as they changed from day to day.

Each week as I boarded a plane, leaving behind family and home, I was reminded that being a working mother was a necessity to make Marie’s day a special one. Without working full-time we would never have the financial means to provide the wedding of Marie’s dreams. Years later when I realized Chuck never truly loved me, the fact that he used me only for an additional “pay check” caused many sleepless nights and hours of tears.

Marie had her dress and even though that seemed to be the most significant aspect of the wedding to her, much was left to plan and decide before her big day arrived. Marie desired Chuck and I decide much of the wedding details, since we were paying for the wedding.

I was astounded. What bride didn’t want to decide every minute detail? On week-ends when she was home, Chuck and I met with florists, caterers, musicians, etc. We amassed options for the wedding essentials, shared them with Marie and Tom whom then made the final decision. There were few wedding elements which the four of us didn’t agree upon.

Even though Chuck and I were the primary “planners” for the event, Marie noted the options provided for her and Tom were perfect. The only conflict during all these proposals was the pricey antique Rolls Royce which Tom desired for their transportation from the church to the reception rather than driving Chuck’s one-year old Mercedes Benz.

Due to the expense of the wedding, Chuck felt this optional transportation should be the expenditure of the groom. When this became a source of contention between Tom, his parents, Marie, Chuck and me, Chuck “gave in” and paid for a frivolous ride to the reception.

There would be many other ruts along life’s path. Chuck and I didn’t wish to begin the journey with Tom and his parents with frays we might have caused. Oh, the reality of having another “son” in our family with different opinions and values from their own!

Please continue to follow my journey. My autobiographical blog began in April 2016 from her childhood.

Does He Have A Brother?

By the end of the year in 1992, Chuck informed me, we would be moving to FL in less than a year. I sobbed, “What? Why can’t you seek a job here in the area? This is where our children are. We’ve lived in this community for the past twelve years. We are involved in our church and have friends there. Why must we continue to move? This will be our 11th move in a little over 20 years. I don’t want to move.” As Chuck did when he wanted me to realize he was totally in control, he cited, “this is not a topic for discussion. We are moving.”

I went to the guestroom and cried. I wondered why everything always had to be for the whims and desires of Chuck. I knew in a city of over 1.2 million people there were indeed other jobs. Sometimes I wondered if Chuck mandated all these moves just to cause me more sorrow. Years later when I realized Chuck had spent most of our marriage not loving me, my assumptions would be validated. For the moment, it was 1992 and I realized I must succumb to Chuck’s command to prepare ou home to be listed for sale.

When Marie enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma in the fall, she could no longer remain at Hallmark as they needed a full-time assistant store manager. She located a part-time job at a local dry cleaner. Although, not a job she desired, she realized it was short-term until she could return to the University of Oklahoma.

Shortly after beginning her new job at the cleaners, Marie met an outgoing, exuberant colleague whom was her age and recently married. Shurlyn loved sharing her excitement of wedded bliss with Marie. Marie listened with great interest. Marie also noted she had no intentions of marrying for a while as she wanted to complete her college education, explaining to Shurlyn her current job was a detour. Marie explained she would be back on track soon and returning to O.U. to earn her degree in marketing.

One day while Marie and Shurlyn were working together, a man walked into the store and went directly to Shurlyn to begin a conversation. Marie quickly learned this was Shurlyn’s husband. “Wow”, Marie exclaimed, “he is really a knockout.” Shurlyn proceeded to tell Marie, her husband, Skip had three other single brothers. “Do they all look like him?”, Marie quipped. Shurlyn said “sure, they are all very handsome.”

When Shurlyn returned to work the next day, she brought her wedding album for Marie to view Skip’s three eligible brothers. Marie and Shurlyn laughed like two teen-agers as Marie selected which of the three she would like to meet for dinner. Shurlyn was delighted to be playing “match maker.”

The blind date dinner with Shurlyn and Skip was a great success. Tom and Marie “hit it off” from the first word to one another. Tom, two years older than Marie, was graduating the next spring with his degree in engineering.

Over the next few weeks Tom and Marie were inseparable. Shortly after they began dating, Marie confided in me that Tom was going to propose. Almost breathless,I proclaimed, “What? Sweetheart, you just met him. I dated your father for two years.” Marie didn’t hesitate, “yes, I know Mom and look how much you and Dad fight and argue. Tom and I know we “are made for each other”. For us it is truly love at first sight.”

“Okay baby, but I just don’t want you to rush into something. When are you thinking of getting married?” Marie quickly responded,” because you and Dad are moving, we will have to marry sooner than we planned, but we are thinking about July.” Marie and I tearfully hugged one another. I asked, “is Tom going to ask your Dad for permission to marry you?” Marie had expected such a question, “of course, Mom, he will do this soon so we can begin to plan the wedding.” Marie also requested that I would share this news with Chuck so he would be prepared for Tom’s request to meet with the two of them.

Within days of Marie sharing the news with me, Tom sat in our living room, Marie at his side. My eyes began swelling with tears as Tom and Chuck conversed, for I realized my baby girl was soon to be someone’s wife. Marie would no longer be living at home but making her own home with her husband.

Christmas was one of the most memorable we would have for years to come. Not only was our family of four at home for the holiday, it appeared it would be the last one in which Marie would be a Wood; next year, at this time, she would be a Moller.

The holidays flew by and the Wood home was bustling with the events which would change the entire family’s future. Please continue to follow my journey. My autobiographical blog began in April 2016 from my childhood.

On The Road Again!

Marie pondered over her current circumstances of not being able to graduate college when she planned, but she also realized this was a life lesson. Certainly, as much as the missed semesters from college was the fact of her parents’ mandate on grade requirements.

Chuck and I were extremely lenient with our children’s first year of college. The requirement was we would pay 100% of all college related financial needs as long as each of our children maintained a 2.0 G.P.A. their freshman year. The following years we expected no less than a 3.0 G.P.A. Of course, we trusted our children would maintain higher than the minimum to receive full coverage of their college expenses.

The only other stipulation on full payment of all college related expenditures was they would not marry until they received their undergraduate bachelor’s degree. If they chose to marry prior to college graduation, they were proving they were adults and didn’t need the financial assistance from us.

If they failed any classes, Marie and Christian had to cover the cost of re-taking those lost credit hours. Marie was now frustrated that she must find a full-time job, but also faced the reality of paying for the classes she had failed.

Marie returned to work at Hallmark full time as the assistant store manager. She loved working at Hallmark, but also missed attending the university. However, she also realized she had placed herself in this predicament. Even though it seemed like an eternity now, she would be able to resume her college schedule in less than a year.

Marie had returned home. Christian was beginning his senior year of high school and I continued to spend most of my week traveling out of state with the job Chuck insisted I accept. My life was filled with mixed blessings. I loved having both children home with us, but I was melancholy that Chuck mandated I accept my current position.

I had pleaded, “Chuck, this job requires that I’m away from home 4-5 days a week. I don’t want to be away from the family.” Chuck was insistent, “the children are old enough to take care of themselves. You must take this job, knowing my company is being closed and I don’t know how much longer I will be employed.”

My words of assurance were not accepted by Chuck. “Chuck, you know God will provide for us. God will also supply a job for me which allows me to remain at home.” Chuck would not relent, “no, you were offered this job. You must accept it.” I spent many hours at night in hotel rooms, crying and praying, but realizing “for now” this was my life.

As the months passed, Marie experienced another heartbreaking “life experience.” Doug had found a new love. Marie could not be consoled. For her, this was more traumatic than realizing she had to “sit out” of college for a couple semesters. Marie had other “loves” whom moved on, but Doug was special. He was a great boyfriend. “Why did he leave? What had she done? Who was the other girl?” All of these were questions which Marie struggled with for the next few months of her life.

The seasons changed and so too did the Wood family. Spring of 1992, Christian was preparing for his high school graduation as Marie had done only two years prior. He continued to excel in his academics as he had for the duration of his middle and high school years. Christian had entered the gifted program while in grade school, participating in countless scholastic programs and competitions. His senior year was the grand finale for him, as he graduated with honors, earning numerous awards including that of the State Debate Champion.

Now, as with Marie, these fleeting years with Christian were memories. Being Christian’s homeroom mother, assistant Cub Scout leader for the year he participated with the Boy scouts, the tennis lessons and tournaments, playing golf (and the numerous times I drove Christian and his buddies to the tournaments),the pride with his awards from debate tournaments, the many nights of having his golf and debate buddies fill our home with great laughter and yes, some frustration, were ending.

Like the memories for Marie, my scrapbook of Christian’s accomplishments during the previous 18 years of his life was a source of pride. I was blessed with two talented and lovely children. Now each were young adults; beginning their own lives. Marie was home again for a short duration, while Christian prepared to head off to the University of Oklahoma in the fall.

A repeat from two years ago, there was the freshman moving day. Christian’s new home for the next 9 months was the O.U. honor dorm. Marie had chosen to remain at home and enroll at the University of Central Oklahoma while she earned money to re-take the classes she had taken at O.U. less than two years prior.

Please continue to follow my journey. My autobiographical blog began in April 2016 from childhood.

The Next Chapter

The day was near! One of the first milestone events of Marie’s life’s journey was rapidly approaching. The years of being a camp fire girl, music lessons, soccer games and tournaments, tennis and swim lessons, orchestra rehearsals and concerts, losing teeth, wearing braces and countless other childhood experiences were now memories and pages in scrapbooks and photo albums.

On the day of this celebration, I happily and eagerly completed the final details for Marie’s pre-graduation brunch. I was in my element when entertaining. The food and decorations had to be of perfection to delight not only the honoree but also the guests.

Cap and gown in hand, Marie pulled out of the driveway, parents family and friends following behind. Within a few hours this chapter of Marie’s life would be history before moving forward on her path. As pomp and circumstance played, my eyes filled with tears and I felt certain Marie’s most probably were also.

As with most parents, I recalled my own high school graduation, the hopes and dreams I too had for my future. As much as the tears for Marie, were my tears for the great disappointments of my own life. I had prayed that Marie and Christian would be able to fulfill their life’s ambitions more productively than I had accomplished my own.

Summer passed quickly while Marie continued her position as assistant manager at the local Hallmark store. This had not only been an excellent part-time job for Marie but provided remarkable experience for future jobs in her chosen career of marketing. The high acclaims for Marie’s skills as such a young assistant manager added to our pride of our eldest child and only daughter.

Marie and I spent the summer purchasing charming dorm linens and décor. Though the dorm rooms were small, every collegiate wanted their space to be as comfortable as their rooms at home. The class schedule was finalized. Books were purchased and the big day had arrived; move in day as a Freshman at the University of Oklahoma.

Because Marie was the first grandchild to be attending college, this was an event for some of the extended family. Grandparents, an aunt and cousins all caravaned to Norman from Edmond to assist Marie as she moved the car loads of her treasures into her “first home” away from home.

Upon arrival and settling into her room, Marie realized some of the necessities were missing. With a trip to Target and several hundred dollars later, Marie’s room now held all the luxuries and necessities required for the next 9 months of her life. With hugs and tearful good-byes, we left our precious daughter standing on the threshold of the next chapter of her life.

Doug remained a prominent part of Marie’s life. Even though she was attending a different university than Doug, their friendship remained strong. A fact Marie and I were grateful for, on what was at that time, a most traumatic day for Marie.

I was home when she heard loud and hysterical sobs from Marie. Doug was walking close behind, attempting to console her. I was perplexed. “Sweetheart, what has happened?” Marie could hardly speak, as her sobs became wails. Doug spoke for her. She can’t return to OU. Additionally, she can’t enroll at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Why? What happened? Finally, Marie calmed down enough to say she had failed too many classes. I was stunned. How could that be? It seems Marie had experienced what countless university freshman students experience. Much fun and little study equal failing classes. I sighed, thinking quietly, Marie and hundreds of other students can no longer “squeeze by” as they did in high school.

Marie thought she could enroll at the local university, but when on academic probation from one university, the student must “sit out” for a semester or two before they are permitted to re-enroll. Marie had not discussed her dilemma with us, as she thought she could hide the details of the request to change universities. Now, she had to divulge the truth.

This was not a tragedy; merely a little bump along life’s path. Marie would move home, locate a full-time job and return to her studies when her probation period ended. Whereas, this was a major obstacle to Marie in her young life, years later she realized this was minor compared to other life impediments.

Please continue to follow my journey. My autobiographical blog began in April 2016 from childhood.