Showing posts with label Intro to Jerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intro to Jerry. Show all posts

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friends are the family we choose

A good blog  friend sent us the most lovely Christmas card, Bea,  yes you did, with a wonderful photo of a cardinal on a snowy branch. with handwritten lines, "friends are the family we choose."  So very true.   Here we are two empty nesters anticipating  more of the care free life and at a time when we  should be free of responsibilities tying us down.     I miss my old folks, or maybe it's that now I am the oldest survivor,  the family historian.  For whoever cares.  That's the point, hardly anyone does care. We have been thinking more and more about things in general this year and how to begin to really live our lives as we choose, not by obligations dictated by the needs of others.   Tomorrow is promised to no one. Good friends recently reminded us of that; another good friend  has suffered strokes and is now debilitated.  We have been blessed with good health.    

December  2012 Florence right seated, blue and gray
 in the SNF with Santa, the annual Christmas party.
For someone who will be 96 in January, not bad.  
 Our retirement move here from CA was to provide a better quality of  life for ourselves. However we had another problem, that remains with us, MIL,  who continues going rather strong physically just as she continues further along the dementia road at almost 96 .  Wherever we moved we had to bring her along and  at the time she still had a sister, aunt Marie living here so she was amenable to return  home to MN.

Florence in the middle uprooting  Jerry and his sister,  Dianne
from MN  for CA 1950
Jerry is a saint he deals with everything without any assistance only from me,  although he has two siblings, neither of whom are involved and neither of whom would be even if they lived closer.  In 1950, shortly after the sudden death of her mother and despite advice and pleadings to not do so, MIL  left MN with Jerry and his sister for CA , to  marry Lyman.   Jerry left CA  returning  to MN alone to live with his grandfather and then enlisted in the Air force at 17, stretching his age to enlist. After Lyman died in 1990, MIL became Jerry's responsibility. She has been one of those women having to be cared for, looked after by someone else all her life and it has worked for her.
Florence and Lyman their 25th anniversary in CA

My career in long term care along with my family gave me an abundance of expertise and experience yet it is tiresome.  Jerry's  full sister has been dead for several years but the other two, his halves, the  younger Larson children,  roll along merrily without any responsibility for their mother. I suspect if they think of anything, could be that they will not inherit the $$ they thought they would; it is being paid to the SNF which has enhanced our lives. Still it is the  overseeing, frequent check in visits, follow ups with medical issues, appointments, my doing laundry, keeping her in clothes, buying, and on it goes.  We have more freedom to travel today yet hesitated to plan too far ahead, the back of our minds nag,  "what if...."   It makes me laugh out loud when some of the "family" say that they would like to come to see her, but then they never give up any part of their lives or plans and so they merely chatter along.  So many excuses.

But slowly we are working through this trial just as  we have others in our lives. Today we booked a 20 day land tour and cruise package to Alaska for August 2013 John Hall's Alaska, the Klondike, the works.  It is expensive, but we are also looking forward to spending our  hard saved money while we can.  Here is the link to the tour package by a local MN company out of Lake City.  They will even babysit our car and take us to and from Minneapolis for the  connecting flight.   Destined to become good friends,  that's what happens when you lack family, you choose friends. 

Our own plans are going to take first place, if we do not do this for ourselves,  there is no one else who will.  Besides all that, we deserve it in spades. It's a new attitude.  Make way for us.  This is our time of life,  our friends have assured us of this repeatedly.

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
This has been a Sepia Saturday post ...check out what others share this week by clicking on the title to this post and visitng the host Sepia international site. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Continued-other half early episodes Sepia Saturday Week 38 (Click here to go to the Sepia Site)

May 1941 Jerry (held by Grandma) cousins gather at the farm
This week I'll share a few more photos of husband's early days starting with this first photo taken May 1941 with cousins and his  maternal grandparents farm on one of their anniversaries.  This is his beloved Grampa Charlie and Grandma Esther Behrndt who were farmers and who actually raised him and his sister,Dianne, while his mother who was then divorced, worked and socialized, ahem.  Jerry's Aunt Marie gave me this photo several years ago and I framed it for Jerry's anniversary present on our anniversary that year; he loves it because he had no other photo of both grandparents.  The two boys on either side on the bikes are Alden on left  and Clifford (on right) Cook, Aunt Marie & Uncle Tommy's sons.  Aunt Marie said, when the Ender cousins, (children of Aunt Ruth and Uncle Leonard) Don and Lavonne seated on the ground with LaVonne holding Dianne, came they brought their bicycles.  Well her boys, who didn't have such expensive conveniences, always commandeered their  cousins' bikes and would not give them up until it was time to leave.  Notice the difference in the dress between Don and Lavonne, the city kids, and their country cousins in dungarees and hand me downs.  Marie also laughed saying, "see Jerry with Grandma hugging him, he really was her favorite child."  He is almost four years old in this photo.  The oldest cousin, the girl standing next to Grandma is Jeanette Wuest, Aunt Myrtle's daughter from her first marriage.  Jerry and Jeanette were very close and over the years when we came to MN to visit, that closeness was evident; she was kind of  like his big sis.  I liked her a lot too and through Jeanette, I learned a lot about the family and his mother's insanity.  We both still miss Jeanette who died in 1991.  Whenever we have visitors either family of friends now in MN, Jerry takes them up the hill to where the  farm was; all that acreage was sold off long ago and the old home gone, but a windmill still stands that his Granpa Charlie built and used.  When the grandparents first moved to town, Aunt Marie and Uncle Tommy took over the farming, but when it became too much for them the land was sold.  Jerry has lots of roots there where he had many happy days. 

As usual click on the title to get to the  hosted Sepia Saturday site.  Once there you can click on any of the individual posts. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Revealing the other half Sepia Saturday week 37 (click here to go to the Sepia website)

Grandmother Esther Behrndt, Jerry 1 year old,
and Mother, Florence. 
I spent some time on the genealogy of Jerry's (the other half) side this week, so thought I would share a photo or two introducing him and his peculiar side.  I have often said that if I had known  his family, in particular his mother when we first met that I would not have ever gotten involved with him and he says that is why he lived far away from his family.  Further he blames me because he said until we were married they did not bother  with him, after we married it seemed  they had a place to spend summer vacations and they did.  His mother, Florence,  is 93 today is still going kind of strong (but not in the mental area)  and lives here in La Crescent in a senior apartment, though she really belongs in an assisted living place.  But that's another story and she refuses so we get the duty of overseeing  and providing for her.  It's most unfair as Jerry says he has now provided  and cared for her longer than she ever cared  for him.  As the first  born and  oldest son, I think he is a saint, because  this woman , Florence whose life story rivals "Prince of Tides"   has become the bane of our existence. 

She was the baby of the family, the  youngest of  five sisters and nothing like any of them;  then her second husband kept her in a delayed state of adolescence and when he knew he would be  leaving this planet apologized to Jerry that he would have his hands full taking care of his mother who was then about 77 years old....Shudder and so true.  She had four children but the two youngest are really into the ME ME generation and have little to do with her, her daughter lives in CO and about every  two years makes a dutiful trip here for a couple days to visit her mother for a few  hours.
1950 California  bound
As I said, Jerry is a saint, because as this  photo taken in 1950  shows, Florence who never had a  full load of bricks as they say,  determined she would drive herself and her two children, Jerry age 13 and Diane age 12, cross country to California, leaving Minnesota two months after her mother, Esther  who had cared for the children died.  Florence had met  the man who would become her second husband and my father in law, when he rented a room from the family, but he left for work in California.  By this time she had really worn out her welcome in the tiny town of La Crescent with her antics and had built her reputation as a "loose woman."  Not a good thing in a small town, especially the day she took her Sunday School class to the local tavern to find out if her current hot date was there!  You get the picture, people were not willing to put up with that behavior, not in La Crescent.  She was divorced from the first husband, Morrison, who enlisted in the Navy in WWII to get away from her but who also had issues, another story.  Florence had spent time confined to a mental institution for a year, committed by her sister, Jerry's aunt Myrtle, who begged to adopt Jerry so that she and her husband Joe  could keep him in MN. There was no way that he wanted to leave Minnesota and especially the family and friends he knew.    No Florence would not have it, revealing a lifelong pattern where she thought of herself first.

Jerry in Korea, Air Force  1956
 So there they are, Florence with Dianne, Jerry's full sister and himself in front of the home, ready to head to California.  Jerry is 13 and would live in Californian with his mother and step father only  less than a year before he would hitchhike  cross country back to Minnesota and live with his grandfather..and the aunts until he could enlist in the Air Force, photos to the left....  Raised mainly by his grandparents and then off on his own, I told you she was not a mother to him. This trip to  California would culminate in Las Vegas  where Jerry ended up driving them after Florence nearly killed the three of them in a head on crash as she passed a car  going up a hill into oncoming traffic.  Jerry took over driving, to Las Vegas.  Florence called Lyman from there and he  came to Las Vegas where they married and took them to California.  Florence never drove again, never got a dirver's license, sinking into being "cared for" and taken wherever she went...Her oldest daughter, Dianne, (Jerry's full sister) died in 2005 in California but she had lived a hard tragic life of multiple marriages, many children most of whom did time in jails and prisons, on drugs, alcoholism, etc. and on and on.... Well you get the picture,   I told you it's like Prince of Tides......really lots of dysfunction and more....

Home in La Crescent
This was the old family homestead in town in La Crescent where she and the kids lived with her parents and Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Joe.  Today it is an empty lot and Jerry says buried under ground somewhere when they tore down the house and pitched everything into the cistern is his original pair of skis.   Uncle Joe was always Jerry's hero, taught  him to ski and would have been an excellent surrogate father.  This is the last photo of today,  Jerry's Aunt Myrtle, (a sister of Florence) and Uncle Joe a World War II hero and all around interesting person....this is their  wedding photo where the handsome soldier from North Carolina found, courted and married a beautiful girl from Minnesota.   With the purple hearts and Bronze stars Uncle Joe had earned he was entitled to send a son to West Point.  They had no children and he wanted to adopt Jerry and send him there, it was not to be.  Makes you wonder how  very different  life would have been. 
Wedding photo Myrtle and
Joe Whitfield

I did not realize I would  write so much about  mother in law when I started this, but more to come in weeks ahead.  I think my husband  did a dandy job of  becoming a good adult.... showing that people can overcome their circumstances with will....As always, click on the title to  go to the Sepia Saturday website where you can read and see others' photos and posts.