Friday, May 20, 2011

The last of the Generation RIP Uncle Carl

Last night at about 11:40PM, my 93 year old  Uncle Carl stopped breathing and made his transition from this valley of tears and trials, onward.  Yesterday he was not eating, but was peaceful.  At about 12:30PM he told me, "Let me rest now.  Patty, you go home."  The day before he was rather confused in his hospital bed, but now I look back and know he was making his last steps of his journey, end of this life. He was even humming and singing a song which I did not fully  recognize, but I believe it was a Polish hymn, one I often heard my Grandpap hum.  How great is that that Uncle Carl had a song in his heart and on his lips his last days.  He was ready and so were we, yet when the call came, it set a lump in my heart.  The last of my family--this makes me the oldest generation.  While I am happy for Carl, I still have a tear flowing at the loss. 

Carl was seeing and talking to both his mother and father; some may find this odd, but my Grandma Rose, his mother,  was a strong presence in our family and she always appears when death is imminent.  I believe the birds he was seeing may have been angels fluttering to carry him.  Even in his confusion he was peaceful the last days. 

I am thankful that we were here for him in his last days.  Thankful that the psoriasis rash that had caused him such discomfort was gone yesterday.  Thankful that we have a family funeral home to handle and facilitate arrangements. Thankful for the Army soldiers who will do the military gun send off at burial.   Thankful for the local Firemen who will be his pall bearers; he was the last living member of the original charter men who formed New Kensington Volunteer fire Department #1.  He will be buried with his beloved fireman's jacket, cap and his Army tank battalion cap.   I have made most of his arrangements the past year as I knew it could be any time; I am thankful I was here for him.  He trusted me with his life and affairs and I believe I have done my best for him. 

We will likely have the funeral on Tuesday with a viewing on Monday.  Carl wanted a military gun send off and I know he is going to be watching from afar, as we lower his casket into the family plot, beneath the tree where he would go to sit and visit the others.  At Aunt Jinx' service he told me, "Patty, right here next to this tree is where you put me.  I can look over the hills at everything."  He was ready and prepared and so we say "Till the other side, Uncle Carl; you did it your way and life was good."

Likely I will not be posting for several days.  Lots to do.  Amen and in His Hands.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things happen for a reason

Remember that as I try to, "things happen for a reason, usually we do not know at the occurrence but later see the wisdom."   Yesterday was one of those days I had to hold onto that.

Uncle on downhill slide and yet hospital discharge imminent; hospitals are in the acute care business and he does not need that.  The discharge planner mentioned nursing home placement but I refused.  He will return to his personal care home under hospice care; he may return to a more familiar setting and become more alert rather than as confused as he is in the hospital.  I pray he not be bed bound but if he is in his final decline that it come soon and that he is comfortable.

Meantime yesterday I contacted the woman who had done the estate sale at aunt's a couple years ago for me to see if in her professional opinion (25 years in the business of estate sales) it was worth hiring her  for uncle's home.  She barely stepped inside the basement where we were working and was astonished, "Are you kidding?  Do you  have enough to make it worthwhile?  I can see just from here that his collection of tools and sporting equipment will be a good sale."  She works on commission and so at the worst I will net nothing after expenses, but that is doubtful according to her.  I told her the neighbor had been offering to buy the home and telling me to just take what I wanted and leave the rest and he'd dump it.  She shook her head and said, "No don't listen to him.  He wants to sell this."  She said this sale could be a "picker's dream" and certainly would attract men and not to worry, the old sturdy furniture is exactly what sells easily around here."  She is booked until June so likely July we can proceed and that means a return trip to PA.  2011 is looking to resemble 2009 when aunt died and we spent so much time here before and after--there's the Alaskan trip we had thought of, now down the road, another year!  Such is life, we plan and God laughs. 

Later in the day I caught up with the neighbor and told him I was hiring a woman to do the estate sale, he winced.  Then we talked price; I told him I needed an appraiser and mentioned the $ range and what I would discount for avoiding realtor fees.  He countered with his offer, the first time I'd heard this, at less than half.  At his price I would be giving it to him and if I wanted to do that I would find a charity to benefit first by donation.  So back to Plan B, proceed with estate sale then realtor listing.  The housing market is very slow  in these parts, but we are not desperate to sell.  It would be nice, but we can wait. 

Strange how even so seeming "good hearted people" like Walt the neighbor can have an ulterior motive.  I did offer to pay him $$ for the mowing he  did voluntarily last summer; I have offered this before and he has always refused. He refused reimbursement  again yesterday; his last words were, "well you know my offer if you change your mind."  I'm not that crazy nor desperate!  I have contacted my nephew to pick up this job on his landscape mowing business and I will pay him as he hires workers.    That was my original intent anyway so nothing new.

Jerry said Walt likely wanted to buy the home  cheap and fix up/ fine tune then flip it.  That sounds right, but  not on my watch.  So it was a disappointing outcome, but if I  can keep the faith that things happen for a reason, it will all work out.

Meantime the nursing home at home in MN where Jerry's mother resides called us yesterday; she  slipped and hit her head in the bathroom.  reportedly she did not break anything but when we saw the call come in, we thought, "now what?"  Jerry talked to her last night and she was not concerned, said she had just slipped.  Who knows?   Life strangely twists and winds and pushes us beyond what we find comfortable.    And the rain continues  to keep the ground soggy here in Western PA.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Everyday a new world

Yesterday Uncle Carl was totally delusional, from his hospital bed he is "under contract" and filling boxes, then stacking them, and occasionally chasing birds from the air and asking  how did they fly in?  He thought Jerry was a priest and I one of the salesmen. His cranial memories are replaying.  I can see the end and pray it is not a long good bye.  In past hospital admissions, he has been very confused out of his routine at the assisted living home but I see rapid acceleration of decline, of the dementia from Thursday evening where he was alert in the ER to yesterday when he refused to tell the nurse his name. They have not even had him up yet out of bed so I wonder how they can discharge him, but there is that Medicare pervasiveness on reimbursements and hospitals are only to deliver acute not custodial care.

 At the least he is comfortable. It would be a good thing if the organs would fail when the mind goes, this feeble existence is not him and he certainly did not ever consider he'd end up this way; despite his living will, the body keeps on. A predicament and another reason for Dr. Kevorkian's relief, but who could/would make that decision.

 I went to the committee meeting for our 50th high school reunion last night.  They are making good progress and now have a tentative date, location, menus, caterer; watching the group, I observed that Peggy is really organized and knows how to ask questions.  I hope they do better at finding most of us for this celebration over life's trials and triumphs.  Lack of cyber/computer knowledge will be disadvantageous; maybe I can help some.  It is difficult for me to understand the backwardness of people not using what is available, email, Facebook, etc. especially for our generation, but it seems to be about a 50/50 around here.  I am reminded that people only know what they know and parochialism can prevail if one's world is not expanded.   I somberly notice that of the committee of seven of my classmates (I made 8) 4 of them have major physical illnesses including  breast cancer, kidney stones, one is facing surgery Tuesday for an aortic aneurysm that was just detected, one has recovered from prostrate cancer.  Only two of us have been blessed with relative good health and so when we return home and it is time for my annual physical, who am I to complain about any twinges?  Some of our class of "62 are no longer with us. This 50th has to be a celebratory gathering of survivors.

We need to scoot over to uncle's home today and await the meter reader.  He has a gas meter inside in the basement and periodically the gas utility company needs access to read and ensure all is ok; this was not a problem when he lived there but with the home vacant, it is inconvenient and I do not want to invest the $10,000 estimated to put this meter outside.  Lowell, the nephew who lives here has met them there in the past but since we are in town, I can do this today.  I also have contacted Sandy, the estate sale lady to  determine whether or not we should hold a sale; many tools and items remain in the home.  We neither want to nor can take anymore although Jerry keeps picking up tools and I add a bowl or glass piece now and then.  A lifetime of careful accumulation will go cheaply to buyers; this is confirmation to downsize much as you can while living. The cost to hire her though may not be worth while if we net next to nothing.  We will see.  Potentially the neighbor wants to buy his home and if we can settle on a reasonable price that will be a significant relief to me; my little red flag is waving though that he may want the place for a cheaper price than I am willing to sell. He has advised me to take what I want and just leave the rest, easier said when I know there are some significant tools and I look longingly at an old porch swing, heavy wood that my grandma used back in the 1930's.  We have no place for it but it does tear at me to leave it behind.  That and Uncle's magnificent old porch glider, sofa size, aluminum frame, like new after all these year.    Much as I would like to get rid of the home, the local housing market is not good.  For all the traffic and people around this area, there is little movement in homes for sale; but I put this into Higher Hands as all else.   

Rain continues to pour here in western PA, where the ground is soaked.  Who would have thought I would need boots?  

Monday, May 16, 2011

PA Bob whites and updates

Male bobwhite
I left for the hospital and all things Uncle at 7:30 this drizzly morning and barely started along the drive of the RV park when a bobwhite flew alongside my window and then dive bombed the car!  You have to have lived in western PA to appreciate these crazy birds which are  similar to CA quail, yet oh so different with a western PA attitude.  I saw why the feathery challenge as ahead a small covey of baby bobwhites no bigger than 4 inches tall and barely visible against the gravel and  dirt road, were scurrying across the gravel drive, in righteous indignation at my intrusion of their early jaunt.  Of course I stopped to let them go by laughing at their antics as they looked over their collective shoulders at me while the escort settled into the field ruffling her wet feathers and almost prodding the younguns, "c'mon kids." I wonder if these are where we get the term gooney bird as they are hysterically funny. 

  Wikipedia says: "The clear whistle "bob-WHITE" or "bob-bob-WHITE" call of these birds is most recognizable. The syllables are slow and widely spaced, rising in pitch a full octave from beginning to end. Other calls include lisps, peeps and more rapidly whistled warning calls.Like most game birds, the northern bobwhite is shy and elusive. When threatened, it will freeze, relying on camouflage to stay undetected, but will flush into low flight if closely disturbed. These birds are generally solitary or found in pairs early in the year, but family groups are common,  in the late summer and winter roosts may have two dozen or more birds in a single covey."  Well here at Mt Top RV, these birds are not shy but aggressive ala western Penny's. Wish I could have had a camera on the side flight.

I have not yet had time to snap more photos of the glorious dogwoods which I mentioned previously in bloom.  But I did snap this one leaving Mt. Top the other day as Jerry drove, you can see the white dogwood in bloom in the woods. 
View of the woods from car window; white dogwood in bloom
It was on to the hospital  where I jogged quickly inside once I parked, delayed by 20 some minutes while a construction truck delivering a load of beams to the ongoing construction at the hospital turned  in the street; sitting there I worried that my intent to catch  the doctor on morning rounds would be foiled.  As I caught an elevator inside, I heard someone running and shouting"please wait."  It was an employee caught in the same traffic backup and I recalled the working world where promptness was encouraged.  Once on the elevator, the woman  commented, "Do you always walk that fast?  I saw you in the parking lot and you really got here fast."   I guess I do walk fast especially when on a mission as this morning.

Well Uncle's long time family doctor was on rounds and immediately changed the diagnosis and treatment for uncle.   He says the skin rash is neither shingles (we knew that) nor is it a recurrence of the scabies for which he was hospitalized in March.  He said there was no decision by a dermatologist and that he believes a steroid treatment is in order and this is severe psoriasis, complicated by Uncle Carl's hard scratching.  I had to laugh as did Dr Ferlin when Carl declared from his bed, "when I itch I scratch!"  Uncle Carl was alert and mostly in our world this AM unlike yesterday afternoon when he was so lethargic caring neither to eat nor be awake.  They had done an MRI and may have given him a light sedative which reacted strongly on his weakened system.  This morning he was up to eating all his breakfast and then some.  Diagnosis is not good and as I have suspected he is in decline, but at 93 as the Doctor emphasized "everything is wearing out." 
I have determined he will have hospice care when he returns to the personal care facility.  However, I cannot discuss this with Dr. Ferlan as the other doctor's reminded me he is very old school and does not believe in hospice, but treating until the end.  I encountered this in 2009 when my aunt was terminal; it was not until her release from the nursing home that we arranged hospice.  Uncle Carl is wearing out and down but he has surprised us before. Classically his dementia is worse in the evenings.  Friday he pulled out his IV's and took off his hospital gown because he was "discharging" himself  but ended up on the floor, I made a dash to the hospital to talk sense.  That did not work as he thought I was his dead sister, Jinx.  His cognition vacillates as do his vitals.  This morning his blood pressure was elevated so Dr. Ferlan administered lopressor; Thursday evening in the ER his blood pressure dropped very low.  This is all related to the congestive heart failure which will take him on sooner or later.  But at 93 all we can do is ensure his comfort and care.  Friday evening I took his advanced directive to the hospital as they admitted to not giving him the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) status.  All this information is in their files from his previous admissions in November and March, but lawsuit potential and federal law requires renewing the documentation each admission; I understand this as people do change their minds but Uncle Carl, as all of my family, is vehement about this having drawn up paperwork and updated it. I was astonished to learn yesterday that they still had not flagged him DNR.  I marched out to the nurses' station to remedy this once again and was informed that the doctor had to sign off to which I inquired, "well a doctor is in here daily and I provided this on Friday evening so what else must I do, see the doctor myself?"  The nurse assured me it would go on his top chart while I said that if an event occurred and they did not follow the directive they would not be enjoying my wrath.  So frustrating but I do have the advantage of knowledge and ability to work around and in medical systems and to take care of problems which could wear down a lesser informed individual.  .  

Left to right Carlie, Rich H, Me (standing), Dayna
We have had rain and more rain here, unusually heavy at times and more on the way the next days.  Last night several of us gathered for Chinese food and to catch up; one friend saying, "for food and fellowship" like they say at churches only we toast ourselves. Major news photo and event  the other day was a local drug bust and arrest including one of our classmates from Ken Hi '62; Rich Hemprich here was always the class clown, we are coaxing him into emceeing our 50th reunion next year; true to his reputation Rich mentioned, "I asked Ralph to join us but he's tied up."   He had emailed me the news article saying I likely wanted the photo of Ralph's 15 minutes of fame led out in handcuffs.  This scumbag  annoys all of us, kids who knew the best of times. None of us had any contact with him but as we  look toward our golden gathering next year it torques us; junkies, druggies and those who sell and deal are bottom feeders, and we are righteously insulted as he once was one of us.

Big news coverage here in the Pittsburgh area is our own Steeler's Hines Ward on Dancing with the Stars. Show time approaches and I will be watching and voting.  Each  edition of each newspaper has something to say about this, cheering on our own.  I am off line and ready for  feet up.  Hines has attracted watchers to the show from fans,  people who have never watched Dancing.  That's Steeler Nation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Arrived PA homestate

So here we are at our only place to park the RV at home in PA, Mt. Top RV, Tarentum, off Bull Creek Road.  Our hosts Ed & Fran finally had to raise their price after all these years; it is now up to $25 per night with our Passport America discount, still way cheaper than a hotel.  Jerry asked Ed when would he add the cable TV at those prices and Ed just looked at him strangely as he deserved.  There is electricity and water hook up here but that is it.  In years past they hosted an annual bluegrass festival in July but decided that they could make more money just opening this as an RV spot, there being none other in the area here near Pittsburgh. their home is on this property, which Fran inherited from her family.  Sad to see her on oxygen now but she looks the same, regrets those years of smoking which led to this, and she is not outside visiting RV's as much as her oxygen hose doesn't reach and she saves the portable for outings. 

We have been parking here since 2008 when we had our first new Southwind.  Just like everyone who arrives here for the first time, down winding Bull Creek Rd and then up Sun Mt. Road of sorts, one wonders where you will end up.  It looks like driving back into Deliverance deep in the woods and hills;  these are real Pennsylvania woods not just a clump of trees as someone we know in MN  refers to her backyard clump of trees.  Right now the spots of natural dogwood trees are making the woods even more magnificent.  Pennsylvania is known for its hills and woods, PennsWoods, for the founder, Quaker William Penn pre colonial times.  
Every one who RV's here that we talk to says the same thing, "what did you think the first time you drove here?" Previous to finding this place, we had parked the old Southwind   which had no slides in Aunt Jinx driveway, but then we did not spend weeks there.  When we  upgraded there was no way we could fit.  Jerry cusses out the streets in these towns which are very narrow making RV driving not so compatible and down right undoable in town.  I remind him this is not new, these roads are from the colonial era, old settler trails where homes popped up and 1800"s at the latest.  Wide enough for horse and buggy maybe, not today's vehicles with cars parking alongside the  curbs.  This is a historic area from the country's early times.
Many young guys working construction have trailers and RV's here which is their home while they are working in the area.  When the job moves on so do they.  This shows industriousness and sense for those who want to work and not draw unemployment and complain about "can't find a job."  There is a young family in one trailer with 3 youngsters, about 5, 3, and 2 years old.  We watched the little bitty 5 year old, at least so we guess, driving round and round in a mini little Kawasaki ATM, giving her  younger sibs a ride in front of her.  I told Jerry, "No way would I let a little girl do that" to which he  laughed, "you wouldn't even ride such a thing."  Correcto!  But she, though itty bitty, teeny tiny,  is very cautious, wears a helmet and we watched her pull off the gravel into the field astutely when a vehicle was pulling in yesterday.  She made several loops around and around, quite cute. 
It's very quiet out here in the boonies and we slept well and long last night.  It is also very safe as Ed is always around mowing, fixing, tinkering and the local police drive up the hill and make the loop. I will post photos later.  This morning we are soon off to visit Uncle at the assisted living center and then over to his home to begin to clear out the trash for Thursday pick up. 
Yesterday  we covered a saner 333 miles from Decatur, IN; purchased 47.7 gallons diesel in Beaverdam OH for $194 and topped off again with 35 gallons for $150 at Sam's at Mills Mall before arriving here--that fill up at expensive PA prices will get us across the state to Gettysburg and beyond and south if all works well.  Road tolls have increased since last year; OH charged $3.25 for a short segment of Interstate 76 and then welcome to my home state of PA where we paid $17 on I 76.  I do agree with user fees for many activities so I cannot  complain too  loudly about the tolls.  Except I recall when the first PA turnpike toll road was set up, to pay for the road and then the toll would be done!  Hah1  A tax once set in place never goes away.   Still the toll  roads are in good shape so they are keeping them up; that is  except for the I 76 around Akron Ohio which gets worse and worse.  We must find an alternate route to that; Jerry has decided even I 80 toll road a bit farther north would be preferable to the washboard through Akron. 

Photos later.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On the Road, the sunny road and 50's memorabilia

Well we arrived in Decatur, IN at some very late midnight hour last night, or is that this morning?  A long drive  but with the madman at the wheel of his new diesel, intent on persevering, pushing onward toward the goal!  I did not realize Decatur in one day was  the ultimate goal, but it turns out he was looking to beat his  best time even venturing onto I 80 south east to Gary, IN an area we usually avoid. I dozed off on the couch about 10:00PM, enough for a day.  Something happens to Jerry behind the wheel of the coach and actually all previous motor homes, and truck  campers.  He loves to drive and he just keeps at it.  Many years back on a caravan to Calgary, Canada with friends we talked about how he and another man became boars behind the wheels, just driving on.  Not sure if we meant "bores" but we laughed and decided Road Hogs fit, years before Wild Hogs, the movie.  I have said many times that in another life he must have been either a long haul truck driver or pony express/stage coachman.  He absolutely loves driving.  Me, not so much, but I can keep myself entertained with my Blackberry and other gadgets.  Advantage to the coach travel  is my frequent potty calls do not have to rely on the driver pulling over. 

We went 558 miles yesterday over 14 hours, of which only 10 hours and 27 minutes were moving, one hour lost to time change as we transitioned  into the  Eastern zone, 45 minutes to refuel, 5 minutes at a rest stop,  23 minutes at Madison, WI Camping World where himself loves to shop, 1 hour and  20 minutes to dine!  The rest of the time he was behind the wheel, eyes ahead.  I cannot sit still that long, so it is a good thing to be able to get up and down and around!

About his shopping escapade; I waited inside the coach because I have seen enough of the insides of Camping Worlds to last me the rest of my years; I feel the same about Cabela's  and other stores of the like.  This trip Jerry was intent on procuring some special vent covers sold nowhere else to his specifications. He also picked up a belated  birthday present for himself, a new shower head for the coach shower.  I liked the old one just fine, but he did not.  However, after my morning shower today, the old one has been reinstalled as I complained loudly that I did  not appreciate standing in a shower with a hose turned onto me.  He had showered first and commented that it was "forceful", which must be the understatement of the month, so far.

Our coach has a tile floor in the bath and in the kitchen  and dining area, just fine with me, but himself wanted matching carpet runners for the tile, which he found on sale at Camping World.  Another $33, unnecessarily spent to me, but I have abdicated any hope of curtailing his expenditures on this coach.  When at home, I purchased an additional decorative pillow for its sofa, he thought that not needed.  The sofa is  creamy colored  leather and I like the  pillows adding color and felt one more was needed.

So yesterday's purchases  leave us $461 poorer of which  $268 was  for diesel fuel which was the first fill up since our  return trip from AZ when we filled up in Des Moines, IA.  Most often we dine at home, but we did  get out  to dine at an Iron Skillet in Remington, IN whilst deciding whether or not to press on to Decatur.  Why did we have that conversation?  He already knew what he was planning, but took a break to indulge in a steer burger while I feasted on shrimp alfredo with ziti pasta.  Here in the Midwest where food is too plentiful and the cooks are all excellent  makes it an experience! 

We stay free here in Decatur at the Fleetwood Factory RV ground, a perk for Fleetwood owners in the area.  It was nearly full last night when we pulled in but nearly deserted today.  Jerry wanted a factory kit to mount the front license plate but after waiting around for an hour, decided to forego that. 

Today we lunched at Arnold's a Decatur, IN landmark, a 50's burger joint.  My favorite there is the old time cherry coke which I do not even  try diet style, instead reveling in the only authentic  cherry cokes  today, made just as I enjoyed them in my adolescent years in PA. The burgers are some of the best in the country and they make their own potato chips.  Health food!   There is ever so much stuff and  genueine 50's collectabilia inside, that one really feels back to the  50's  especially while moving to the original rock n roll music played.  We will not be here next week, May 14th  when they hold their car hop auditions, yes they really do.  Not just anyone can be a skating car hop at Arnold's. Foiled again,  I never worked as a car hop yet always thought that would be fun as a teenager. I would be unlikely to pass the age requirement for the auditions; I wonder how they get around that but it is hearland, Decatur. Anyone who gets to this area should experience Arnold's. 

I am curious  and must learn where the waitresses buy their saddle oxford shoes that all are wearing.  Oh I loved those shoes. I recalled  being a teeny bopper with a new pair when the game was to purposely step on our toes to scuff up our new whites.  One boy tried to do so to my  new shoes, but I responded swiftly  by hitting him upside his head with a book I was carrying and knocked him to the floor.   Another boy witnessed this and said, " Patty, you killed him!"  "No I didn't but if he ever tries that again I will!"  I was telling Jerry this story today in Arnold's and he shook his head; he marvels that I have friends today after all these years in PA who are glad to see me when we are home, next stop.   I said that word got around and no one ever  tried to step on my whites again!  No shy retiring violet was this girl!  By the way that was the same boy I pushed into the waste basket in 8th grade then grabbed him by his hair and out came a handful.  One would have thought he'd have known better thanto mess with Patty Lou; Robert Baldridge was his name and I believe he is dead.  No I did not kill him! 

 On to visit friends this afternoon.
Front counter at Arnold's Decatur, IN


Friday, May 6, 2011

Sepia Saturday 73 The Other Half in Sepia (Click here to Sepia Site)

Jerry's natal day corresponds to our Sepia post day and so, I offer him today in Sepia times.  He was born May 7,'37, at 7:00AM, weighing 7 lbs., the 7th grandchild and the 7th  great grandchild to parents who were only married 7 months before his birth.  One might think 7 could be his lucky number or of some significance, but we have not yet realized any such luck  playing that number.   When a cousin's 5 year old  boy saw this photo he looked at Jerry and said, "You wore a dress?"  Well so he did as likely did many of that time, but little Blake thought that was so funny. He just pointed at Jerry and teased.    For several years, Jerry insisted this was not him but I did get confirmation from aunts and from his mother who validated indeed it is him.  He is still embarrassed today to be recorded forever in such garb, and says, "I don't remember and I'm glad, harrumph!"

There are ever so many photos of himself as an infant as it seems everyone had their photo taken with him.  His story though does wend twisted ways as his parents divorced, his dad enlisting in the Navy without mentioning he left behind a wife and  by  that time two babes.  However after  all these years around MIL I can well imagine waking up some morning as the tale goes and saying, " I am out of here."  Jerry's mother is a tale of someone who should never have had the responsibility of children; she had neither skill, education,  nor sense to make good decisions.  It is a tale told in novels ad nauseum, a woman several bricks short of a full load, but able to reproduce.

Jerry 1938 held by Dad,
 next to grandfather Morrison

This next photo is one of the few he has with his father. Notice the cigarettes that both Morrison's are using.   The Morrison family doted on Jerry as he was the 3rd with the name Gerald, but  his mother, true to her lifelong selfish nature managed to keep that relationship at a distance, denying him that lineage.  Recently cleaning out her things, we found a postcard that the father had sent to Jerry from Racine, WI in 1940 further proof that all those years when she said there had been no contact, she was not being truthful.  Jerry was astounded when he saw that last year.  What would you think when you suspected and now had proof that your mother lied to suit herself?  There was never any relationship with his father who became an alcoholic and was married and divorced again; dying a pauper. 
This alienation reminds me of the life of my Uncle John whose son was taken by the maternal grandparents when his wife died and John would see the boy no more; however John went on in life.  It is amazing  how one person can screw up so many lives.   After her husband left her, she moved back home and Jerry's maternal grandparents raised him; his grandpa Charley Behrndt was his role model, old farmer and hard worker that he was.  Sill Jerry adored Charley and the feeling was mutual.

Jerry about 4 years old on the farm

This  photo  about 1941 shows Jerry  barefooted, hard to see, but he swears he was, on a swing on the farm.  He says he walked around barefoot most of the summer until one day when he was about 6 he stepped on a nail.  Shoes were mandatory there after.  For a man who would not be caught barefoot today, he has  come a long way.   We both enjoy  this photo and have it displayed after we found it among his mother's belongings when we moved her to the skilled facility in September. The family  farm and the corn crib is in the background to the left.   

There are ever so many more photos I could include, but we are in the midst of loading up and taking off in the RV for PA and hopefully the Carolinas.  So I will close with  a then and now set. 

 When we were in Tucson, AZ in March and visited the Pima Air and Space Museum, Jerry found a plane he had flown on while in the Air Force.   He was so tickled to find old 554, saying the only thing better would have been triple nickel as they called old #555. .  While browsing photos to include in this post, I found one of his squadron beside the same plane when they were honored as top squadron  of the year at McClellan AFB,years before my time. 

 First the 1960 photo from the base news letter showing the 963rd    B4 crew at full attention. 
1960 McClellan AFB   Honored flight crew of the 963rd
Jerry standing far left  

Jerry at Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AX
With old #554 same plane the crew flew on
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