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.

Flying Fingers

Where had the years gone? Marie was now a senior in high school. The years of attending her orchestra concerts were now going to be memories. What a joy it had been when Ben and occasionally Lorraine would drive up to Edmond from Oklahoma City to also hear Marie’s concerts. Now the Wood family’s life was entering a new chapter; one which saddened me tremendously. However,I realized some things in life are inevitable and time truly does not stand still.

As the termination of Marie’s senior year approached, I queried Marie as to whether she and Doug, Marie’s boyfriend of the past year would be attending the senior prom. “No, Mom, I’m not going since Doug has already graduated and is now in college”. I reminded Marie, “okay sweetheart. I just wanted to be certain if you attended that we had plenty of time to shop for a dress.”

I continued with my schedule of working as a corporate dietitian and teaching as an adjunct teacher at the local college. I ran errands after work, dashed home to prepare the evening dinner and prepare for the next day’s routine. My life held no excitement or intrigue.

Nonetheless, I was also reminded daily my life was not like that of other Christian wives. Every day the dysfunction of my life seemed to vibrate in my head with each breath. Silently I would “cry out” to God, “why does Chuck not love me? What can I do so he will love me?”

I knew how greatly Chuck desired money and that he admired the professional women whom worked for him. I had voiced my true passion countless times during our marriage; I didn’t yearn to be employed. I longed to be a full-time wife and mother; to devote my time to my family. Nonetheless, it was imperative to Chuck that I would bring in an income, which allowed him to continue to purchase the luxuries of life he so greatly coveted.

Chuck reiterated that I must work in order to provide our children with opportunities. My reply to Chuck never changed, “your income is more than sufficient to provide all the necessities and many desires for this family. You don’t need my income. Why do you insist that I must work outside our home?” I realized Chuck’s reply would either be total silence, or he would argue with me.

The Mercedes in the garage was not a necessity, nor was the more expensive home which Chuck mandated they purchase. I was tearful when I recalled the numerous calls from the realtor beseeching that I allow Chuck to purchase our current home.

I also reminisced my frequent replies to Bobbie, “we don’t need another house. I love our house. It is brand new and the one which Chuck wants is twice the money for the same size, but older home.” Bobbie continued to plead, “Chuck says Kickingbird is a more prestigious neighborhood.” I knew once again that Chuck’s image was paramount to him. I also learned that when Chuck wanted something my life would become intolerable until he achieved his goal.

Now, 9 years later, I disliked the home as much as the day it became their new residence. However, there would be other situations with Chuck that his will would override my desires. I was grateful for Marie’s entrance through the garage door so that her mind brought her back to reality. Marie was jubilant, “Mom, can you make me a dress. Doug and I have decided to go to the prom?” I caught her breath as I replied, “Marie, it is only two weeks until the prom.” Marie was not concerned, “oh I know, but you can do it.”

Over the years my sewing skills were not as honed as when the children were younger due to my outside employment and countless requirements for the family, but she delighted in presenting a sewing project to family and friends. I was enthusiastic and eager to shop with Marie for a pattern and fabric to create the perfect prom dress. The family graciously accepted quick meals over the next couple of weeks as I noted I would need “flying fingers” to accomplish this task on such short notice.

“Mission accomplished”! One day to spare! As this unforgettable moment arrived, Marie stepped into the evening sun with her handsome date. Marie was blissful. This was a memory which I would treasure for years. Our beautiful daughter was radiant as always, but the dress handmade with love by me was even more perfect that a $1,000 designer gown. The soft mauve peau de soie dress embellished with ruffles and fabric roses was exquisite for the momentous event.

Chuck washed, polished and waxed his car for hours. When Chuck handed Doug the keys to his Mercedes as their transportation to the prom, Doug was flabbergasted but radiating with excitement to be driving his special gal in her Dad’s Mercedes Benz.

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

She Just Needed to Be Punished

Over the next few years, the Wood family remained intact while the family’s schedule was routine and expected. With each of the children now teens, the family calendar was filled with assorted activities including concerts, golf and debate tournaments, as well as the occasional need for “parent volunteers”.

Even though Chuck continued to direct Jalene to work outside the home, she always cherished those moments of being with her children, as she knew those moments were fleeting. She truly missed her duties as home room mother, camp fire leader and parent chaperone for school outings. Chuck would occasionally help out with these events, but more often than not, he was working.

Red-letter events such as family birthdays and holidays remained a highlight for Jalene. Planning these celebrations concluded in days of preparation in decorating the home, purchasing special gifts, cooking and baking for all the guests. Whether it was a party for a few or many, Jalene loved to give her time and attention to every minute detail; making all those whom entered their home feel welcomed and appreciated.

In addition to the numerous celebrations throughout the year, Jalene had been offered the opportunity to open their home to international guests for up to 6 weeks at a time. After conversing with Chuck and the children, they all believed this would be an opportunity to “bring the world” to them, since their vacations and travel were limited.

Jalene also signed up to host local international college students in their home. The commitment mandated a monthly visit with the family and student(s). Jalene savored the occasion to share their home and culture with these students whom were removed from their family and friends thousands of miles away. Jalene also encouraged their assigned student(s) to bring their friends. Often times the Wood family’s home would be abuzz with as many as a dozen international students and their friends. Marie was grateful and appreciative for these opportunities as she often bonded with the guests. Although, Christian was not as welcoming to those whom the family hosted.

Chuck and Jalene continued to have frequent verbal confrontations. However, Jalene’s love for Chuck remained paramount even though she realized his love for her was not equal. With her strong religious beliefs and vows, she always had faith the marriage would be healed and some day Chuck would love her. There were also the occasional “good days” which caused Jalene to realize their marriage was worth saving.

Physical intimacy between Chuck and Jalene was seldom and this persisted to be one of Jalene’s greatest sorrows in their marriage. Sometimes she longed for even a hug from Chuck, but he believed she was asking too much.

Chuck was a good provider for the family, but Jalene often thought how gladly she would trade their luxury home and “extras” for a more modest home and life, if only she had a husband whom loved her as much as he loved his career and income. Jalene discerned she could not change Chuck’s desire for wealth and prestige, but she continued to pray his heart would be changed; to desire her as his wife, as much as she desired him to be her husband. Jalene so greatly missed what the other couples in their sphere of influence had; loving mates whom enjoyed the company of each other.

In future years Jalene would look at some of the lovely gifts which Chuck bought her instead of giving her the physical and emotional love and support she so greatly cherished. She would tearfully recall those moments of receiving his gifts, wishing for a loving touch, a warm kiss or embrace.

During one of the lingering conflicts, Chuck would not utter a single word to Jalene for 15 days. He knew this was causing her great anxiety and sorrow, but it was deliberate punishment. Jalene sought counsel from their pastor and a psychologist as her emotional anxiety increased.

Their pastor had requested to converse with both Chuck and Jalene for an understanding of such behavior. Chuck was unable to provide an explanation or rationale. He noted, he did so just to punish Jalene, but he couldn’t recall what she had done to bring such chastisement. This would be the pattern of their marriage for years to come. Jalene’s pleas to Chuck for an understanding of what she had done to cause such actions would always be refused.

During Chuck’s frequent absence from the family, Christian challenged Jalene’s patience to the utmost. His dishonesty of being with friends when he was actually into mischief became the “norm” rather the sporadic shenanigans. He remained an excellent student, in spite of his orneriness. Jalene would learn years later that her requisite to discipline her children in the absence of Chuck would have a lingering effect of their anger toward her, but especially from Christian.

Please continue to follow Jalene’s journey. Her blog began in April 2016 from her childhood.

I Don’t Care If She Starves


The Wood family’s schedule continued with jobs, school, sports, music lessons and countless church, community and school events. Chuck’s routine persisted to be arriving home long after dinner was consumed, the children had completed their homework and were settled in bed.

As Jalene  conversed with counselors and her pastor, she realized Chuck’s disdain for her only intensified. She maintained  her pleas to Chuck for an understanding of what she could do to be the wife he desired, but his isolation of her heightened .  The physical abuse strengthened as Chuck  shoved and restrained Jalene, while his emotional support and physical interaction were virtually non-existent.

Jalene’s counselor and pastor recommended she have a reprieve from Chuck. As the pastor queried whether Jalene had  friends or family whom she could temporarily reside with, she did not. However, she realized their counsel was correct. She could not remain as she was. She informed the children now a teen and pre-teen they would be moving from the house temporarily. They were adamant. They had no desire to move into an apartment and to leave their rooms and “things”.

Jalene was also stunned to hear Marie tell her that she knew “who buttered her bread” and if she left to accompany Jalene, Chuck would “write her off”. When Jalene shared these comments with her counselor, he informed her these were not the words of a 13-year-old. These were the words of her controlling and manipulative father.

Jalene pleaded with her children to join her, but at an early age, “things” became more important than relationships. Jalene grappled with whether to remain in the intense abuse or delay the inevitable. As she prepared to depart, Chuck physically and forcibly prevented her from removing anything from their home except her clothing and personal items.

They had additional furniture in the attic which sat collecting dust, but he reminded her it was his house and all things belonged to him. Jalene cited that she too was working, and they had achieved everything they owned with God’s love, grace and income together.  Other than their personal items, Jalene reiterated everything else was co-owned by each of them. Nonetheless, Chuck forbid her from removing even a dinner plate from their home. Abuse, control and manipulation were paramount to Chuck.

Jalene was dejected as she went from apartment to apartment to locate one which she could afford on her part-time income. In the 1980’s furnished apartments were not as plentiful and many too costly on her meager salary. After locating the apartment, she had to locate a bed, chair and table which she could lease short-term. Her anguish was the greatest she had ever felt. However, she was yet to learn of Chuck’s inconceivable behavior.

By the time she leased the apartment and meager furnishings and paid the deposits on the utilities, she was penniless. There was not even $1.00 for groceries. Working as a consulting dietitian in long-term care enabled her to eat lunch at the facilities where she consulted. That was her daily, sole meal. Survival became her utmost goal.

In less than 24 hours after she moved into the apartment, she learned Chuck had removed her name from joint savings and checking accounts. Fortunately, one of the banks required that a joint account be written as “and”, which negated Chuck’s attempt to remove her from that account.  However, she was eliminated from other accounts and therefore no access to monetary funds.

The week-end following Jalene’s arrival to the apartment she telephoned her children to come and join her for an outing. Christian refused, but Marie anticipated the outing. Upon arrival to Jalene’s apartment, as curious teens do, Marie began snooping in all the cabinets. Marie shrieked, “Mom, where is your food?”  Tearfully Jalene replied, “Baby, I can’t afford food. It took all I had to move into the apartment.”  Marie continued, “but how do you eat?” Woefully Jalene answered, “I eat my lunch at the nursing homes, but don’t eat dinner.”

Marie and Jalene enjoyed their evening together of watching a television movie and snacking on popcorn, which Jalene had purchased for Marie’s arrival.  When Jalene delivered Marie back home, little Marie was eager to let Chuck know Jalene had no food.

Chuck’s harsh and angry reply startled Marie, “I don’t care if your mother starves to death. She is the one that left.” After 15 years of abuse from Chuck, Jalene comprehended that no one mattered to him. His only concerns in life were his finances, prestige and image. As a tax director for a local oil company, his income was sufficient that Jalene should never have been mandated to work outside the home. However, Chuck’s rapaciousness and narcissism nullified any rationale for allowing Jalene to be the full-time stay at home wife and mother she so earnestly desired.  Additionally, treating Jalene with even the slightest respect was foreign to Chuck.

Please continue Jalene’s journey. Her blog began in April 2016 from her childhood.

Dysfunction ?

As each spring approached, Jalene pleaded with Chuck for a summer vacation for the family. His reply never changed, “no, we don’t have the money”. However, there was always money for expensive private lessons for the children’s sports and music lessons, summer camps and retreats for the children. Why then, couldn’t they make some memories as a family with a vacation?

Jalene’s counselors enabled her to understand some of Chuck’s rationale. When they traveled, they would be in more confined spaces, with the family unit participating in events together. For the same justification Chuck refused to go on a honeymoon or even stay overnight in a nice hotel following their wedding, so too was his rationale for avoiding a family vacation. Counselors and Jalene knew it was never a matter of the lack of money. Chuck always had the financial means to purchase luxury cars, expensive clothes and any personal desire of his.

Being on a family vacation meant he would have to spend time with his wife and children daily. He would be expected to be viewed as a man whom loved this family. His love was not one of display. His love for his children was always what he would give them monetarily. He had no love for Jalene. Thus, he resented the expectations of a husband and father during a family vacation.

There had been two previous vacations which Chuck reminded Jalene of when she pleaded for such. The first was when the children were young and they flew to Disney Land in CA.  The second was with his parents when they visited Ben’s relatives. Chuck believed nothing was expected of him then, since his focus was on satisfying the desires of Ben and Lorraine.  Even though it was a mode of “getting away”, it was not truly a family vacation.

Jalene frequently reflected upon the conversation she and Chuck had prior to marriage; that of a family and children. Jalene longed to be a mother. However, when she noticed Chuck’s indifference toward all of them, his words echoed in her ears, heart and mind. He didn’t care if he had children, but if she wanted them, that was okay. After they had two, he mandated there would be no more. According to Chuck two children was enough for any family.

The dysfunction of the family became overtly apparent one summer day in 1984. Marie was 12, Christian 10. Jalene doesn’t recall the exact conversation which prompted Marie’s actions against her, but now 32 years later Jalene still recalls the outcome. While standing in the kitchen conversing with Marie, before she realized it, Marie had doubled up her fist and punched Jalene in the chest, knocking her backward. Jalene caught herself by grabbing the kitchen island and counter. Otherwise, she would have landed on the floor.

Not only was Jalene flabbergasted, but she was dumfounded as to the rationale of her daughter to assault her in such a manner.  Jalene’s loud pleas for Chuck to come into the house were repeated countless times over the roar of the lawnmower. His frustration was apparent that he must leave his chore to oblige Jalene. She showed him the large red whelp on her chest. There was no discipline of Marie. His words were, “I don’t know why the two of you can’t get along.” He returned to the lawnmowing, never again speaking of the incident. For Jalene, it was far more than a punch in the chest. It was flagrant disrespect from her daughter. Jalene had tried earnestly to have a close relationship with Marie, but she remained unsuccessful. This action further validated this effort.

Jalene realized Marie had the need to talk to someone about her feelings and perhaps the influence on her of the family dynamics. Because Marie refused all interaction with Jalene, she sought a psychologist specializing in adolescent behavior. The counselor was highly recommended, but after 6 -1 hour sessions, the counselor noted, she was unable to assist Marie and therefore the family.   Due to Marie’s rigid body and crossed arms duing each session, she made it very clear, she had nothing to say. The counselor noted it was a vain effort for all involved.

During the next weeks and months , Jalene continued to provide additional time and effort with Marie. She wanted Marie to know how deeply she loved her, but also of the great concern she had for her mental wellbeing. Jalene realized you can’t make anyone accept a gift; no matter what it may be. Jalene’s gift was to provide Marie with the opportunity to converse with a non-judgmental, neutral party.  Jalene had reiterated to Marie countless times during the counseling, “it’s okay to tell the counselor you are angry at me or even if you don’t like me, but please, please let her know what is bothering you.” It was not to be. Marie remained silent, while her anger intensified.

Jalene pleaded with Chuck for weekly family meetings, so that some of the concerns could be voiced and amended where necessary. Chuck believed this to be ridiculous as he shouted to her countless times.  The family dysfunction remained status quo.

Please follow Jalene as she continues her journey. This blog began in April 2016 from her childhood.