Essentially Esther Banner

Monday, May 31, 2004


Today is the day to remember our war hero’s. Most of us can look within our own family to find them. My uncle Tom enlisted first…he is my mother’s younger sister’s husband. He and my aunt left Nebraska to live and work in Washington D.C. but when the war broke out a short time later he joined the Sea-Bee’s. Uncle Tom spent time in the Philippines. The next to go was uncle “Buster.” He joined the Army Air Corps and was sent to Amarillo, Texas and later transferred to Alva, Oklahoma. I was visiting grandma the day he called to tell her he flunked out of flight training. He was feeling pretty low that day and was later shipped to the Pacific theatre.

In South Missouri a young man graduated high-school and joined the Army Air Force as well. He flunked out of flight training where he was training at Washington State University. At the time I was a 10-year old girl in the fifth grade. We would meet up with each other 7-years later and marry. He spent most of his overseas time in Guam.

In Northern Nebraska another young man had also graduated the Spring of ’42 and enlisted in the Navy that summer. He requested submarine duty and spent his time in training and the Pacific Theatre. We would meet in 1969 where we both worked for the same Government Agency. He was my second husband, Warren.

The interesting thing is these four men were all in the fleet (in varying degrees) escorting the USS Missouri for the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty. They would all meet each other through me years later…….

My brother, Louis, joined the Occupational Army in 1946 and served overseas in Italy. In our family everyone returned home safely and so we were never touched with the grief so many had to bear. The other day I was cleaning out my desk and came across an old letter I had written Uncle Buster when he was in Texas. He was transferred to Oklahoma before it reached him. I was a girl of ll-years and wrote a letter after Thanksgiving. Our family had written a “round robin” letter on Thanksgiving day when we were all together but I wanted to write my own. It’s actually pretty silly but I think his family may enjoy it.

Dear Buster,

Well, I scribbled in the Thanksgiving letter as I was too full. Fortunately for me it passed on. (I mean my stomach-ache.) Anyway, you’re the first person I’ve written to on this stationery.

Daddy went duck hunting yesterday and got a duck. All alone, too. He would have had a big mallard if his gun would have fired. However, it didn’t and I guess it was the shell’s fault. He got up early Sunday morning and saw a want ad for 10-gauge shells. He called immediately and they said they still had four boxes for $2.00 a box. I wish you could have seen him getting out of here. You would of still been laughing. Well he got them and went hunting. Only it was his own old shells that wouldn’t go off. He said it was his first duck he’d shot in his life.

Beverly is cute but ornery. (A little girl I baby-sat.) She is almost broke of her bottle. She sleeps on the floor in my room. It’s a wonder she doesn’t have a cold.

I wrapped a lot of Christmas packages yesterday. It seems as though Christmas is next week. After you hear the Christmas Carols you’re sure it is…and then when you see how much behind you are, you don’t know again….it’s awful odd and confusing.

Well, I have a lot of home-work to do so I ‘d better ring off. Hope you passed your test. Everyone says “hello.”

So long and good luck.

With love,

Suzie (Esther)

P.S. Am enclosing cards for you to mail out. Hope you like em. Suzie
The fact he kept the letter and brought it back home with him shows how the average G.I. Joe treasured letters during the war. Grandma kept it for years and it finally came to my mother and then to me. It is just an old faded letter from long, long ago with a 3-cent V-for Victory stamp on the envelope but it’s one of the tangible things that keeps my uncle close to me. Sadly, we lost uncle Buster over a year ago to lung cancer. My second husband, Warren, died of a fast acting brain cancer 7-years ago. My brother died in 1989 of lung cancer also. My first husband and the father of our three children is still living and my uncle Tom is still very much with us. We are thankful for them and their clear call to duty, honor and country. They make us all proud……………..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, May 30, 2004


After the New Year in 1958 we lined up for the string of birthdays and special occasions to come. George’s birthday was on January 31st, John followed with his March 2nd, next was my mom and dad’s wedding anniversary on the 16th ……then came Becky’s birthday which was also our wedding anniversary on the 27th. After just having Georgie’s birthday right before Christmas it kept us hopping. I usually made the gifts I could because I’ve always considered it special to give something that took time and effort to make. With the children it was easy because they weren’t used to much. Anything was “as good as it gets.” We weren’t cheap, we just didn’t have the money. In those days we had to save for doctor and dentist appointments…..insurance as well because we figured fixing it before it got broke was a good idea.

On “daddy’s” birthday I always made a nice cake and it was one of the few times we would go out to eat or else I would invite friends in for dinner. When we married he told me he had never had a real birthday cake. In their family it was just “another day.” He likewise had never had a Christmas tree for the same reason. I couldn’t believe it. Mom made our special birthday cake and somehow managed to make our day really spectacular….it was never “just another day.” George and I had some pretty rough times, for sure. I remember one Christmas we had a small skeleton of a tree stuck in a juice can full of sand. We hung bulbs on it and a little star…..it was placed on the end table and stood proudly as our family tree for that year. I never decorate a tree that I don’t think of doing so with my brother. He was very artistic and wanted the tree arrayed in good form. I was set on making the paper chains out of red and green construction paper. He would have to argue me down several years until I outgrew the idea.

That year was a big birthday for John. He was one year old in 1958. I’ll have to say he was a cute little guy and a very good baby. I had a few of my friends in who had children of like age for a party. One little candle on his cake and sitting in his high-chair he had no idea what was going on. Actually he was fascinated with the flame more than anything. Our wedding anniversary usually took back seat because of Becky’s birthday being the same day. She was four the March that John was one and Georgie was seven. I always awarded the menu planning and kind of cake to the honoree. It was fun to see the seriousness with the decision making. No matter what “kind” of cake they wanted I did my best to come up with it. We had some pretty individual birthday dinners over the years and some just plain weird….but it was always birthday “choice.”

That summer we drove down to the grandparents for two weeks. It was usually the same every year, give or take a little. We would drive down after George got off work on Friday’s and because the trip was long for the children I always packed a lunch. There was a little rest stop near Clinton where we could eat on picnic tables. I never pass that place without remembering those times and how much fun it was. Life was good and we always found a way to do and go where we wanted without the excesses that some people insist on today.

We stayed in Cabool the first several days with grandma and grandpa Strain, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m sure our yearly visit’s were the high-light of the year for them. They lived on a meager income and I admired their simple and uncomplicated life. Once a year or so grandma would come on the train to visit and stay with us a few weeks. One time grampa came and stayed a few days. Visiting in our household with three energetic children and the shows on TV that he thought “silly” were pretty trying on him. He was used to walking up town and hob-nobbing with some of his old pals every day or walking to the store for grandma. When we took him to catch the train he said his good-byes and then remarked to the children…. “don’t take any wooden nickels” which were usually his last words. He never made the trip again. He preferred the hometown life-style he had known for most of his life. I totally understood.

The remainder of our time was spent with my parents at Norfolk Lake where the children could play in the water all day and listen to campfire stories at night. In the first years of going we had no where to sleep. One year my dad devised a “bed” for Georgie and Becky in the trunk of our car. We made a cushion under them and hung mosquito netting over the raised door to the trunk. They slept like little logs. George and I slept in the front and back seat of the car. This was before John was born. After he came along we opted for a white Chevy station-wagon which worked for a few years……..but one day we were given the means to buy ourselves a “wheel-camper” for such times. However, that’s a story for another day. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the rest of 1958...

Until then,

Essentially Esther

Friday, May 28, 2004


Today is a milestone in my life. I have now lived longer than my dad and my brother. I have a ways to go to equal or pass my mother. Dad left us at 71-years, Louis at 61-years and mom made 87-years. Today I will go to the cemetery with new flowers for their graves, all of which are here in Willow Springs or as Becky calls it “Smalltown” USA.

I am blessed in many ways. I can still think, though sometimes the words take a little longer coming out now. I can still eat anything I want although I am getting smarter about choices. I can still get out of bed everyday and choose what I would like to do without physical problems to work around. I still have a great capacity for love, adventure and learning……may it always be. The last thing I want to be is a grumpy old lady.

I have been blessed with a wonderful loving family and have lived long enough to see my grandchildren grow to adults and bloom. After all this, whatever time I have left is frosting on the cake.

I hope your world is wonderful and you are being all you CAN be. Just be the best of who you are because no one else can be YOU as well as YOU can. You are unique, one of a kind and special.

My love to all of you……..

Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 27, 2004


January 1958 started a new lifestyle for us. We had our own home, big yard and three kiddos well on their way. The worst was behind us with John who was now undergoing the process of his leg and eye problems. I was a proud mother and wanted to be a good mother. I was 25 and looking towards my 26th birthday in May. George and Eldon were concerned for their jobs and beginning to look elsewhere to fit in with the Postal Service. The rumors were flying that the clerks would soon be out of a job due to a large overhaul of the system.

Finally there was an opening in the Shawnee Post Office but it was at bottom grade. It would be a lot less driving to work but also less money. We had a decision to make and after looking at it both ways figured it would be better to work up to a good salary now than later when the family would have more demands. Now George could have holidays off and regular weekly hours.

That winter was a struggle. Money was tight and our needs grew bigger. I never considered working because I was determined to be at home for my kids. I didn’t want a baby sitter telling me what cute things they did each day. I guess I was selfish but whatever it was worked as a good motivator. I went to our area library and checked out books to read to the kids and picked up a few for myself. One book I brought home became a companion for the next few years. It was “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. I practically memorized the book. It gave me the focus I needed to realize we are results of the choices we make. I decided to utilize what I had at hand to give us a better life……things that didn’t cost money but rather creativity.

One morning for breakfast I surprised the kids with “smiley” pancakes. They loved them. I would post menu’s on the refrigerator letting them know what we would be eating the next week. I made up exotic names to raise their excitement level and when they were older I let them choose one meal a week to be assured of something they liked real well. Decorations for each holiday were made out of simple things we had on hand. They loved creating and having their own “spin” on decorations. Simple as they were and however miss-shaped they were proudly sat around the house. No one was a critic at our house.

It really doesn’t take a lot to make a kid happy. It just takes a little time, enthusiasm on your part and pretty soon it’s infectious. They never seemed to notice the simplicity or lack of “tools” we had to work with. They saw the possibility and jumped in with whatever was there.

One thing they always looked forward to was cookie making at Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween. They got to roll out their own dough, choose the cookie cutter and place them on a cookie sheet. They were serious about timing them and waiting for them to cool. It was hard to contain them as I stirred up a big bowl of powdered sugar icing and then separate into smaller bowls for different colors. The add-on sprinkles were pretty generic in those days but at the time it didn’t make a difference with them…..they loved shaking on the pretties. Best of all was when they were done they got to sample them with a glass of milk. Each labor of love was kept in a separate canister for private snacking later.

I have pictures of them on those special days. Yes, there is powdered sugar all over the place and cookie crumbs and flour scattered. It’s on their clothing as well….but I wouldn’t take any amount of money for the faces smiling back at me from those pictures. I think I’ll excuse myself now and go mix up a batch of cookies……..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

THE END OF 1957 

The first year was pretty rough financially because our house payments were more than the rent we had been paying and we had strapped ourselves to buy the house. We held our breath hoping there would be no maintenance problems with the house or car. We continued to have doctor’s appointments with John for his eyes. During the first few months after he was born I noticed when he slept on his tummy both of his feet went the same way. If the leg and feet muscles are normal the toes point in opposite directions.

I didn’t do anything about it at first because everyone thought I was over-reacting since the eye surgery. Still, the signs I kept looking for never happened, the feet kept pointing the same. I finally made an appointment with Dr. Needles because I couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. He looked him over carefully and told me about a good orthopedic man down on the Plaza. He had Mrs. McCormick call for an appointment and we followed up at the appointed time.

Dr. Driskal was a young doctor and after checking John over good told me the muscles were under-developed in the leg that I was concerned about. He wanted to put him in a cast from the knee down for two weeks and see what that would do. Dr. Driskal said if we had not caught the defect it would have been very painful for John to walk, if at all. I felt sorry for him because when the cast was being put on, his foot was bent back in the opposite direction to force the muscles and tendons in the correct position. He purposely “over corrected” it so that when the cast came off and his leg relaxed it would then be in the normal range. John didn’t make a fuss over the cast….when it was dried enough I took him home. We were to be back in two weeks.

On our second visit Dr. Driskal wasn’t satisfied with the progress and decided to put on another cast from the toes to the diaper line. Again the foot was forced in the opposite direction and we were to return in two weeks. This was then repeated a third time but only to the knee. When the six weeks were over Dr. Driskal put him in a brace that connected his two feet. The one was pointed straight forward and the other was bent in a 45*angle outward. The brace was screwed onto the soles of his shoes much like the old roller skates were when I was a girl.

We were to leave it on night and day only taken off to bathe. He couldn’t wear footed pajamas so I put gowns on him at night. His crib was in our bedroom and for some time when John would turn over and bang his brace into the sides of the crib we would wake up. Eventually it was like sleeping next to a railroad track. We never heard it. It was the same with him. He learned quickly how to manage the brace in accordance with what he wanted to do. As he got older he would pull up to the divan and “walk” along pivoting the brace in a “sea-saw” manner. It was amazing how fast and how far he could get like that. He never complained or seemed to be uncomfortable with it so that difficult time was made easier for us as parents. The only bad thing to watch for was if you held him on your lap and he got excited over something he was prone to kick his legs up and then hit your shins with the brace. One time of that made an impression so that whoever held him was watchful.

By the time we moved to 65th Street he was still in his brace….he wore it six months. John posted a picture of his first Christmas where I am holding him. It isn’t very plain but he is wearing the brace in the picture. (The picture is in his December 19, 2003 post.) Once he was out of the brace Dr. Driskal put him in corrective shoes. They had wedges at certain places in the soles to keep his foot and knee in position. From then on we had regular visits with Dr. Driskal and John remained in corrective shoes until he was in school. I never saw a happier kid than when we went to a “real shoe store” and bought some Keds. He hopped and jumped around for days.

By the end of 1957 Georgie was half-way through first grade at Nieman School, Becky was 3 ½ years old and John was a few days short of 10 months. We put up a live Christmas tree and decorated with lights, tinsel and colored balls. The children helped and thought it was beautiful. As our tradition was from the beginning, we always had cocoa and cookies when we finished decorating. It was a full, rich time though we had little materially ……we were blessed with happiness. Christmas was always such a happy time for the children….I can still see their eyes shining with anticipation and excitement over the holiday to come. As I stood at their bedroom door and looked in on them sleeping, snow began to gently fall. Tomorrow they would wake up to a white world……..

Until then,

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


We made arrangements to see the house that was up for sale. Eldon and Evelyn had us all over to dinner and then watched the children while George and I called on the owners. I liked the location and yard. It was large even by today’s standard. It was a ranch with double garage, utility, kitchen, dining room, living room, one bath and three bedrooms. It seemed like a castle after living in our small but efficient apartment. The owners were personable and two large dogs greeted us as well. After we looked it over we were hooked. We made our own sale but the next hurdle was affording it. The home (I believe was originally built and sold for 15,500) and was about two years old…..they wanted 2,000 down and then take over their loan of 13,000. They were the original owners. We gave them 500 escrow money and said we’d be in touch.

We went back to Eldon and Evelyn’s to talk out the conditions with them and figure a way to get the down payment. It was hard for us to obtain a loan with nothing to put up for chattel. I called mom and dad and talked with them about getting a loan for us and then we could pay them back. Dad still worked at the Missouri Dept. of Transportation and belonged to a credit union. I guess I made a great plea because mom went the next day and borrowed the money…..sent us a check and told us what the monthly payments would be.

It was like the heavens opened and rained good fortune on us. I cannot describe the wonderful happy feeling to know we would soon own our very own home….and a beautiful one at that. We were to take possession by October 1st. We had a month to get ready. We put Georgie in school in North Kansas City and would have to transfer him when we moved. All was made ready. We gave notice to the apartment complex to terminate on the 30th of September. Now one would think we had covered all the bases … right? Not at all !! We didn’t foresee the owners taking longer to move. They apologized but said they would need another week. We were frantic with no place to go and when George told Eldon our dilemma he immediately volunteered moving in with them for a week. We could put our furniture in their double garage and stay with them until we could move. Great !! We were saved once again….but no quite.

We moved to Shawnee on the last of September … into the garage as planned. Now we were four adults and five children in the Schneider house with the oldest child being six. The week drew to a close and when we called to see about possession we were told it would be another week. In the meantime I came down with the worst strep throat I had ever had before or since. I was down for the count, leaving poor Evelyn to look after my three and her two. (Two of which were still in diapers.) I was so sick I didn’t think I’d be up to moving when our second week was up. No problem….they didn’t leave until the day before Halloween. Never buy a house from someone without benefit of a lawyer or real estate agent.

Evelyn got Georgie ready for school every day, looked after the four remaining children and fed all of us until I could get out of bed and help with the chores. We gave them money for groceries of course but no amount of money could pay back for her goodness. It was a cold, snowy day when we moved but we got everything inside. We worked all day getting things hooked up and running. Our furniture that looked so good in our first little home and apartment now looked out of place. When we bought it seven years prior the styles and colors were vastly different from the current ones. Everything in 1950 was dark green, red and chartreuse. Furniture was the new look of light oak that almost looked gray. So now we had a red divan and chair, two plastic dark green chairs with an oriental lamp (red shade) and wild cotton drapes of all three colors mentioned. The styles had changed to Early American maple with earth colors and milk glass. I knew we would be years away from decorating in any form.

We had seen the house at night with the lights on. In the daylight the carpeting was dirty and dog hair had filtered behind every piece of furniture the former owners had. The walls showed marks of damage that was covered by the furniture…..I didn’t have time to worry about redecorating…what was needed now was some good elbow-grease type of cleaning. The house was in good shape as far as structure so I knew after a thorough cleaning it would begin to show it’s advantages. I worked for days to make it seem like “home” and the children were happy with their large bedrooms.

From that moment on every bit of energy I had was spent improving the house, the yard and taking care of the family’s needs. In the evenings it was nice to sit in the back yard and watch cows graze in the pasture at the end of our street. I was as happy and contented as those cows seemed to be……….we were home.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Monday, May 24, 2004


After John’s surgery the August heat kept the children in and it was one of those “good thing, bad thing” kind of deals. They didn’t “catch” anything from other children as they had in early Spring when Suzie and Sammy came down with chicken pox and George and Becky came down with it two weeks later. I had them piled up on opposite ends of the couch while they recuperated. Naturally two weeks later John came down with them. Being so young he had a couple of spots in the diaper area and a couple on his chest…one on his face. It had been a long recovery time for as you know….children become bored really fast.

Becky became angry about something she was being hindered with one day and we were at a stalemate. She was unrelenting and I was busy. I asked if she would like to be adopted by someone who would treat her better…….and to my amazement she said, “YES.” I told her to pack her suitcase and I would take her where she wanted to go. She decided to be Gloria Bahr’s little girl. Gloria and her husband had moved into the apartment next to us and had only been married a few months. We had visited some so I thought this would be a good choice to make my point.

She packed her little doll suitcase and came out to the living room with that and her favorite doll. I looked in the suitcase and she had only put in some toys and a couple of knit tee-shirts. I looked for an early return.

I took Becky by the hand and John in my other arm out the front door. We walked around the partition on the front entrance of our apartments and I knocked on Gloria’s door. She looked a little surprised at our presence ( because of the suitcase I’m assuming) and invited us in. I told her I couldn’t stay but Becky would like to come and be her little girl (big wink !!) I explained that she didn’t want to live with us anymore because we were too mean. Gloria took the big wink in and agreed to have Becky come in side. Becky hesitated for an instant and then went in. I thanked Gloria for adopting Becky and left.

Of course I had taken a big chance. By now my plan wasn’t looking so good, but like Becky, I decided to go forward and see how it played out. I didn’t have to wait long. I was dusting in the living room which had one wall connected to Gloria’s living room. In about 15 minutes I heard a long loud wail that erupted into a full blown crying jag. I prepared myself for the inevitable return. Sure enough….in a few minutes Gloria and Becky were at the door and Gloria asked if Becky could come back and live with us. I feigned thinking it over for a few seconds……”well… I don’t….know…? Do you think you can be a good girl?” She only nodded her head affirmatively and I didn’t throw another pitch for a verbal answer. I figured she had enough of a lesson.

After Gloria went home I took Becky in my arms and hugged her. “I’m so glad you came back. What would I do without my little Becky? I love you and I always want you to be my little girl. We won’t ever let this happen again, will we?” With her little arms around me and her head on my shoulder I knew I didn’t need to say more. I suggested she unpack her little suitcase and go get Georgie. I fixed them some Kool-Aid and cookies and in a few minutes the whole affair was history. I’ve been thinking…..if that scenario were duplicated in this day and time, Gloria would report me for child neglect, abuse and illegal adopting. Becky would sue me for being an abusive mother. Some things are just in the right time period to work.

The summer passed and our friends, Eldon and Evelyn, called us about a house just two blocks from them that was for sale. It had the same floor plan as theirs and was a block and a half away. We decided to go see it and find out if we could come up with enough money to buy it. We were cramped in the apartment and yearned for a house with a yard so the children could grow up in a real neighborhood…..and have a dog. Our dream was about to be realized…..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Miz Esther is taking the day off. Have a wonderful Sunday everyone and I’ll see you tomorrow…..a favorite radio personality who has long since been dead used to always close her program from the Ozarks by saying, “I’ll be back tomorrow if the Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise.” Her name was May Kennedy McCord and was a credit to our beloved people, rocks and hills we call the Ozarks……a very special breed of wonderful….

So, with that, I’ll see you tomorrow….IF…

Essentially Esther

Saturday, May 22, 2004


After a long time they brought John back to the room. He had a patch over his eye and was still pretty groggy from his surgery. They put him in the crib they had prepared but he tumbled around trying to orient himself. He grabbed at the patch and got it off several times until the nurse decided we would have to do something to keep his hands away from his face. I asked if I could hold him on my lap so he could know that I was there. She agreed. I held him quite a while and talked softly until he relaxed and get some sense to what was going on.

The nurse came in and said we should put him back to bed and see how it went with the patch but it started the whole process over. Now he was crying and wanted mama. She said she would have to put ties on his wrists which she would then tie to the crib so he wouldn’t damage his eye. I said I would like to stay a while if it was alright and she nodded saying she would put the ties on when I left. I sat there with my hand through the side of the crib touching him for some time. I stayed as long as I could because I knew it would be almost impossible to leave him. Finally I rang for the nurse and she tied his hands to the rails. He didn’t like it at all and began trying to get loose. The nurse promised she would take them off as soon as he was OK with the patch.

I told them he had just been weaned from nursing and may have problems using the bottle so he wouldn’t hold it and drink like a baby who was used to the bottle. She assured me all would be fine so having done all I could to make it easier for John, I left. It was supper time when I got to Freda’s. She was feeding all the children and the two of us ate after they were finished. Georgie and Becky wanted to know if John had his surgery and if they could go see him. I filled Freda in on my day at the table. We ate alone as George and her husband were both working. After we visited a while I took Georgie and Becky home and George got home sometime towards morning.

They called from the hospital the next day and said I could come and get John. Dr. Eubanks left a prescription for eye drops which were to be put in his eye for several days and then we were to make an office call. His patch was off when I went to pick him up and he was happy to see me. The family was glad to have him home and gave him lots of attention. Soon we would know if he was helped by the procedure.

Our next office visit was quite lengthy as Dr. Eubanks dilated his eye and assessed any improvement. He was very methodical and precise with his investigation. When he was finished he said he wanted to talk with me. As I held John on my lap he said, “I want you to take this little guy home with you and treat him just like the other two children in your family. If he misbehaves give him a spanking. If he deserves praise, give it to him. He already has a big strike against him…..don’t make it worse by spoiling him rotten and making allowances for his handicap. No one likes a child who misbehaves so don’t give him another handicap to overcome.”

I knew he was right and I committed to use his advise from that time on. I asked him how much the “bill” was that we owed and he hesitated for a moment…..then took a piece of paper and wrote $150 on it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even in 1957 that was only a token amount for what he had done. I asked what we owed the hospital and he said….”it’s taken care of. You can pay me when you can.” His generosity and kindness were beyond my comprehension. I tried to express my gratitude but my voice betrayed the words I would have said……he put his arm around me and told me when John was a little older we would “needle” the other eye.

When I arrived home I took mail from the box to find a letter from grandma Stricklett. She wrote that my mother had written about John and she wanted to help somehow. Being so far away she was sending a check in lieu of being there in person…….the check was for $150.…….

The generosity I received that day was so much more than I could comprehend. How do you simply say “thanks” to two people who have given so much to someone who could give nothing in return? I was overwhelmed and humbled……and it remains with me still…..

“God’s in His heaven…All’s right with the world.”

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Friday, May 21, 2004


Georgie finished kindergarten the end of May, Becky was a busy three-year-old and we were getting ready for John’s surgery. Becky took two steps back when John came along. She was terribly jealous of all the attention the new baby was getting and when I would sit to nurse him she would be-devil me to the breaking point. She would pick up anything normally off limits to get my attention. No amount of verbiage would deter her actions. I would have to get up and deal with her then go back to nursing John. It’s a wonder he knows what a “full meal” is…..maybe that’s why his eating habit is to eat one thing at a time on his plate now. At any rate it was hard to manage a three-year-old’s mentality as she sucked her thumb “because John does” and did all sorts of ridiculous things for attention.

I had rocked John to sleep one day and left him sleeping in his bed. In a few minutes I heard him shriek and cry out only to find little Becky standing on the rail of the crib. I asked if she had “done anything to the baby” to which she looked me full in the face with her little blue eyes and said, “No mommy, I didn’t touch him.” A bright red pinch mark on his face told me different. Miss Becky and I had many visits about being a big girl and being nice to her baby brother. Georgie was used to someone else getting attention by the time John came along so never figured into the equation. Nap time was always sacred to me. With two children you could sometimes get both of them to nap at the same time……with three children it was impossible. It was the only time of the day I could do laundry, dishes, cook or sit a few minutes.

With George’s odd hours there was little help from him. That is not to put him down. It wasn’t easy on him, either. He was as concerned about John as I was but was home very little to do anything but sleep and go back on the “road.” Being the bread-winner for our family of five was a huge responsibility for he was sole bread-winner in our family. Back in the 50’s there weren’t as many mom’s working as opposed to the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. It would have eaten a check up to pay a baby-sitter for three children but I wouldn’t have left them even so. I grew up with my mom at home when I came in from school, play or whatever. Mom was always there and was always my advocate for any problem. I had determined to be the same for our three.

As it happened when it came time for John’s surgery George was on a “run.” Freda volunteered to keep Georgie and Becky while I took John to the hospital. When we got to the hospital John and I were taken to a room for pre-surgery prep and when finished we were alone in the room. I held him while he cooed and jabbered contentedly on my lap. No need to describe the emotions at the time…..I would have done anything to spare what was ahead for him. Pretty soon I could hear a cart being pushed down the hall and I knew they were coming to get him. When they entered the room and saw their “patient” the two young men laughed and said, “I think I can carry this big guy down. We won’t need this cart.” With that he swooped John up in his arms and started down the hall pushing the cart in front of him.

I stepped out in the hall to watch them go as long as I could. John was looking over the shoulder of the intern totally unaware of what lay ahead. When the elevator doors closed I walked back in the room to wait for his return. It was then I let the emotions loose and I had myself a good cry……..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 20, 2004


I waited impatiently for our appointment with Dr. Needles. I took George to work so I could have transportation. That always involved getting the three children up and driving to Union Station to drop daddy off and then back home until time to leave for our appointment. Since we had not changed doctor’s since moving north I had to negotiate a long distance drive south then to Dr. Needles office.

The children and I sat in the waiting room and my efforts at this time were always the same. Try to find something quiet for the two older ones to do so as not to invite angry stares from the other waiting patients. I remember thinking sadly how few people are kind at times like this. They glare at the mother as if to say, “Do something with those brats…..they’re bothering me.” Knowing the helplessness I felt at the time I determined when I was older and no longer took little ones every where I went I would be sympathetic.

Today we didn’t have to wait too long for the appointment. I poured my fears out to Dr. Needles who promptly took the light out of his pocket and held it over John’s face, moving it from side to side and up and down. His silence worried me as he continued his exam and put the light back in his pocket. He told me he thought there was a problem but he was not qualified to know the extent of it. He would like to make an appointment for John with a Dr. Eubanks down town. His office was on 11th and Grand which was in the heart of Kansas City proper. He was a specialist and the best in the area.

I was troubled but believed “whatever” it was could be fixed by this Dr. Eubanks. My thoughts immediately went to money…payment….no insurance……how would we be able to pay for this? I left the office with my appointment card for the next week. With Georgie in school half-days I had to make all appointments in the morning. It was always difficult to get the car, children ready and be downtown in time for an early appointment. Still, that’s what had to be done. I knew whatever it took would be exactly what we would do. For this appointment, sensing my concern, George took the day off so he could not only make the trip physically easier but so we would both be there for whatever Dr. Eubanks might say.

With both of us in the waiting room it was always more relaxed. Daddy had a ready lap for Becky, Georgie was always able to entertain himself with magazines and I held John. When we went in to see Dr. Eubanks he told me I’d better sit in the chair and hold John on my lap so he would be tall enough to have the huge machine over his little face. I had gone in alone since George was watching Georgie and Becky in the outer room. Dr. Eubanks took his time with dilating John’s eyes and rotating the lenses on the machine. There was no sound except for the light clicking as he turned the dials. I sat holding John with the prayer that is on every mother’s lips….”please let my baby be all right….please God….don’t let there be anything wrong..”

The clock stood still while Dr. Eubanks continued. Finally the only sound I heard was my own heart beating. When he finished Dr. Eubanks told me I’d better go out to the waiting room and bring my husband in. I knew then he had news we wouldn’t want to hear.

George’s face looked anxious as I motioned for him to come with me. Dr. Eubanks introduced himself to George and they shook hands. When we were seated he told us the details of his exam. John had congenital cataracts. Probably in the seventh month of pregnancy when the lens was forming I had some kind of a virus that caused it….or it could have been anything. He went on with his explanation. “It’s like the white of an egg,” he continued, “sometimes they are clear and some are cloudy. That’s the way John’s lenses are….cloudy. In one eye he can only look around the cataract that is in the center of his eye….in the other eye he can only see through the middle as the cloudiness is all around the outer edge of his eye. He said he would advise a ‘needling’ in his worst eye in case something went wrong then he would still have his best eye.” He showed us what he was talking about by shining the light in John’s dilated eyes. The cataracts looked like white sea-weed growing up from the bottom of a black pool of water. It was an amazing sight.

I asked if the ‘needling’ would give him vision and Dr. Eubanks told me it would help his depth perception some but he would have to wear glasses later on. He told us he couldn’t remove all of the cloudiness (cataract) because it’s like the white of that egg he was talking about. If you try to take the cloudiness out you also take the white along with it. The needling would only make a space for him to “look through” or “around.” We had to act fast because the optic nerve finishes development around the age of two and then even if he could give John perfect eye sight the nerve wouldn’t be able to tell the brain what it saw.

Dr. Eubanks cautioned that John could go blind at any time but for now he would do everything medically possible. I told him I didn’t know how we could pay for the surgery but I would scrub floors if I had to….I just wanted him to be able to see. We left the office with a surgery date which meant I would have to wean him at five months to be ready for the procedure. It was a quiet ride home. George was alone with his own thoughts; Georgie and Becky were in the back seat tired of being cooped up for so long and I held John.

I kept looking into his little face while his eyes searched to see mine. Dr. Eubanks had said his eye movement was called, “traveling eyes.” I wondered where life would take this little guy and what he would have to endure. It was the first time in my life I was up against something that money or determination couldn’t “fix.” My heart was crying but my brain was racing for a solution…..with those two emotions I began a long commitment to see that John had his chance to be…..”just a normal kid.”

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


It was March 2nd, 1957 and George had to get up at 3:00AM to leave on an early train. I got up and fixed breakfast before time for him to leave and decided to eat with him and stay up to do the weekly ironing. The baby was due March 8th and I knew I’d better finish the last remaining things on my list…I had a habit of delivering early and didn’t want things left undone. George had been three weeks early, Becky was ten days early and I was down to the last six days waiting for baby number three. No doubt this one would come early as well.

After ironing a while I began having a back ache. I didn’t think much about it. By the last few weeks an expectant mother aches all over….I kept ironing and noticed some low abdominal cramping. I continued with the ironing until it was done and put away. George called mid-morning and asked me to call the doctor and see what he thought. Maybe it was time to go to the hospital….

He was on a train headed for Enid, Oklahoma and told me he could “dead head” back if I was in labor. I told him I’d call the doctor and see what he thought and decide what to do. I didn’t want to get to the hospital too early and have to wait hours for another baby. I called Dr. Needles and he told me I may as well go on to the hospital and check in…..they would call him when the time was near. When George called back I told him that I was going and that Freda would take me. He planned to make the turn-a-round at Enid and hopefully get back in time.

I got Geogie and Becky ready to go home with Freda until George could get home and also packed myself a bag. Freda and her two, with my two loaded me up and took me to St. Mary’s hospital. Freda didn’t stay as the four children were in the car and she wanted to get them back to her place. In no time I found myself in the labor room being prepped for delivery. From the window in my room I watched the traffic flow past all afternoon. By dusk, Dr. Needles came and checked on me fairly often. It was Saturday evening and the traffic on Southwest Trafficway resembled a string of lights being pulled in two directions. I passed the time wondering where everyone was going. Everything was going on the same for them but here I was about to give birth to a new little “someone.”

By 9:15 PM a heard a baby cry and Dr. Needles told me it was a boy. So my third child’s identity was now decided ! I hadn’t really cared what the third baby would be since I already had my boy and girl so there was no disappointment. George came into my room after they settled me in and he had already seen the baby. We had talked about names and decided on John Francis. George Jr. was the Strain family name, Rebecca Jo was named because I liked the name of “Becky” and the Jo was for the book Little Women. I loved Jo’s character the best. Now we would have John for a good solid name and Francis was for my dad. I thought it would be nice to have a token name for the Andersen side of the family.

It was pre-arranged that mom would come up and help take care of the children until I could get home and on my feet again. With Georgie in kindergarten half a day and 3-year old Becky, she would have her hands full. After three days they sent me home and it was almost a carbon copy of when I wheeled to the car with Becky the first time. Only now there were TWO little ones looking bug-eyed at the newcomer and I could tell they didn’t think it was a good idea. All the way home they chattered a blue streak about what they had been doing while I was away. When we all arrived home I was glad mom would be there a few days to see me though. She was, of course, a lot of help.

I nursed John but he was colicky the first couple of weeks. I walked the floor a lot but eventually he leveled off and was a happy baby. As he nursed, I would look into his little face and there was something about his eyes that troubled me. It never seemed like he really saw me. His little eyes jiggled back and forth and looked “cloudy.” I watched him each day and wondered if I shouldn’t see the doctor about it. Everyone thought I had the new mother syndrome and told me I was just imagining things. Still, it nagged at me and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

When he was three months old I dialed the phone to call Dr. Needles……….

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


The three years we spent living in the Garden Apartments were memorable. Becky was becoming more capable in most things and enjoyed playing with the other children. She liked her bathes at naptime and I would let her play in the water a while before the serious part of the bath. One day I was in the kitchen cooking and I hadn’t heard her for a while…..upon investigating she was standing in front of the stool shaking my precious bottle of Chanel No. 5 into the water below. I got there just in time to see the last of it drop from sight. It had been a Christmas present from George and been used very sparingly….now it was going down the drain in one flush. I was devastated. We still laugh about it when something evokes the memory…she feels lucky to have escaped with her life.

Becky was a busy little girl. She was the counterpart for Dennis the Menace. She enjoyed stomping through mud-puddles, picking up bugs and putting them in her pockets and bossing the other kids around in our section. She was afraid of a few things though. One fourth of July we all sat on blankets in front of our building and watched the firework display put on by the City. She was terribly frightened and didn’t like the sounds. She stayed on my lap the whole time which was so unusual I remember it. She made a wreck out of me in church. She would wiggle and fuss and “want down” until I was at my wits end. On several occasions she escaped under the pews in front of us and I could see her little blonde head popping up each time she surfaced to see if I was coming after her. Believe me, my thoughts at the time were not very spiritual.

In late summer, 1956, I walked Punky over to the school which was several blocks away from the apartment complex. He was registered for kindergarten and was all excited about going to school. We met his teacher and walked around the room, then left. When we got home he told me….”I don’t want to be called Punky anymore. My name is Georgie.” His teacher had called him “George” and he liked that. So from then on it was George at school and Georgie at home. He went to school half days in the afternoon slot. The first day I walked him to the end of our street and when he could see the school he told me he could go by himself and I could go back home. He rushed on to emphasize the point and I stood on the sidewalk with Becky watching him go.

I was taken back by his show of independence. I had expected him to be a little clingy at least when it was time to go on alone. Perhaps I overdid the preparation thing a bit. I was the one with tears in my eyes while he galloped onto the school yard obviously happy about the whole thing. It was the first little “rip” I got telling me he was cutting the cord. It hurts to see them growing away and yet that is what mothers are to teach. I made the transition easy for him but had difficulty letting him go. I guess that’s what mom’s do.

Our new friends, Eldon and Evelyn, bought a home west of the Plaza where they had been living in an apartment. We went to visit them and it seemed like a long drive from North KC over to Shawnee, Kansas. It was just over the line from Kansas City in a new development of ranch-type houses. It was the next development west of Mission, Kansas. We loved the floor-plan and all the room. After living in a compact apartment it looked fantastic. The yards were large as well so the kids could have a dog and they could play safely without wandering off. We asked them to let us know if any of them became available.

In the meantime, I had become pregnant with our third child. The baby was due in March and George was running a regular schedule on the mail trains. He liked his job very much and was good at what he did. He and Eldon (Mort) could always talk shop talk while Evelyn and I talked children and running a home. Jack and Freda moved to the area in the Spring of 1957 so we knew two couples already that would be in the neighborhood. We were hoping to be in our own home by the time our baby was born.

My mother was coming to stay with me when the baby arrived. It was due about the middle of March that year (1957). I was down to the last couple of weeks and I decided to do some cleaning so I would have it all done when I brought the baby home. I washed windows and curtains, ironed and hung them all back up. I scrubbed and waxed, ran the sweeper and cleaned out the refrigerator….all that good stuff. Georgie and Becky had their baths and were down for an afternoon nap. I had about an hour or so to finish washing up some of the nick-nacks and finishing the cleaning when I heard some muffled noises coming from the bedroom.

I always shut the door at naptime so the children wouldn’t be distracted by my movement around the apartment. I opened the door quietly just a crack to see what was going on. I couldn’t believe my eyes !! They had the curtains tied in knots, had written on the walls and windows with crayons, the toys were all out of the toybox and scattered all over my freshly waxed floor……..while they……were jumping on the beds. I shoved the door open with a thrust and started screaming and yelling like a depraved lunatic. My eyes bulged, my nostrils flared, I grabbed one of their little ping-pong paddles in my hand and beat it to slivers on the end of the bed. I was totally out of control. As I went ranting on they crawled to the head of their beds and looked like they just saw the wicked witch. Their little arms were up over their faces to protect themselves from this mother-turned-terminator.

When I saw their fear it was a pitiful sight. I realized my display of temper was like poison they would remember the rest of their lives. I didn’t want them to see me or hear me re-enact some of my father’s temper tantrums. I put the paddle down and walked out of the room in silence. I closed their door and walked to my own bedroom where I fell to my knees by the bed and cried my eyes out. I wanted to be a good mother and this was not the way to do it. I had become what I hated.

I asked for help and received peace about it. The children took a long nap that day…..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Monday, May 17, 2004


Hello to everyone !! We are back home after an enjoyable week-end with Rocky’s family. Traveling in on Friday was wet and messy but Saturday and Sunday were beautiful. We arrived home Sunday afternoon.

Rocky’s sister is a retired school-teacher and always plans some delightful events for us to see while in the area. This past week-end in St. Louis the Lewis and Clark exhibit was at the Museum of Art so we took that in after having seen a half-sized keelboat replica at the Conservation Department the day before. This year is the 200th Anniversary of the expedition originated by Thomas Jefferson. Marie and her husband, Harold, enjoy travel and are very involved in their community. They had a dinner in their home for us along with their son, David, his wife Diana and daughter, Rebecca.

Rocky’s brother, Richard, celebrated a “39th” birthday on Saturday as well as a 19-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Helen. They treated us all to a dinner in honor of the two events. They live in Plano, Illinois and are busy with family and volunteer work. Both are retired and also enjoy traveling.

Rocky is the “baby” of the family and has a strong relationship with his siblings. I am the newest member of the Rockenbach couples and have enjoyed the reunions immensely. It is a good thing to make time for your family….it is also a good thing to count them as friends. Over the long haul, through the years, we have been able to do both.

Lest I get ahead of where Essentially Esther is at the moment, I shall leave it with that. Eventually we will get to the Rockenbach part of Esther. Until tomorrow, thank you for the well wishes….your prayers for Rocky (who is doing great…better with each day)..and for your friendship.

We love our blogger friends. Tomorrow then….

Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Just a note to whoever may drop by for the next few days….Rocky and I are leaving for St. Louis in the morning to visit with his sister, brother and spouses. It has been their custom to pick a place of interest and all meet there……have a good visit and see whatever sights are in the area. I think it is a wonderful thing for brothers and sisters to do and wish my brother and I had thought of that.

Being such a busy society it’s hard for families to do unless you set a date and stick by it. In this case, even a brain tumor isn’t keeping us from going and we’re grateful for that. Have a great week-end yourselves and I’ll tell you about it when we get back. See you on Monday….God willing.

Until then,

Essentially Esther


When George started work riding the trains and sorting mail he met and liked a man who was new to the job as well….Eldon Schneider. He kept talking about him and how much they had in common…at least in attitude. He and his wife, Evelyn, lived in an apartment on the Plaza and didn’t have children. The Plaza was the showcase of the greater Kansas City area and was the most expensive.

George wanted me to invite them to dinner some evening when they were both in town. I agreed and a date was set. When they arrived the four of us liked each other from the start. Evelyn was ‘taken’ with Becky who was almost three. She was a pretty little girl with blue eyes, blonde hair and a winsome personality. She was the inspiration Evelyn needed to decide she wanted a baby. The four of us visited back and forth and were good friends……still are.

Vacations were always the same with us. We never had the extra money for the normal term of “vacation” but since both our parents lived in South Central Missouri we always went “home.” The grand-parents didn’t see their grand-children too often and I felt bad about that. I had grown up with such a large family of aunts, uncles, and cousins I felt our children were missing out on the larger family influence. It’s true that by the time I married I only had one (maternal) grandmother but she still was a major factor in our family. She was a strong woman who stayed in touch with ALL of us.

Going home always meant going to grandma and grandpa Strain’s house in Cabool for a couple of days and then to Willow Springs where my parents lived. Grandpa Strain was in his late 70’s when George and I married and grandma was in her 60’s. They were living in a little stucco house not too far from the railroad tracks. Grandma would always make beds for the children in the living room and hearing the trains roar by during the night was part of the fun. They loved it.

In the morning you could always hear grandpa telling the “little jaspers” they better come up out of that bed or they were going to get water thrown on them. The first time this happened they thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. He returned with a full dipper of water and soaked them good. Any visit after that there wasn’t any problem about getting out of bed. Grandma was a quiet little woman who never was exposed to any luxuries in her life. George (and me too) as well as the grandchildren were her joy. Since George was an only child we were always her focus.

She would walk to the local motel where she cleaned rooms and did the laundry for them. She bought groceries with her money and saved for gift buying. Grandpa did odd jobs about town and took care of the other expenses……they had a simple life and were good people. After visiting there we would then drive on to Willow Springs to visit my parents.

Mom and dad had loved boating from the early days of their marriage when they, uncle Ted and aunt Beulah and uncle Emil would fish and boat on the Missouri River between Blair and Omaha. I have pictures of mom on a surfboard being pulled by dad. Mom couldn’t swim but dad had such influence over her confidence she never worried about being thrown off or drowning.

Sometimes my brother, Louis, and his buddies from Milwaukee would meet us all at the lake and we would have wonderful times of water skiing, fishing, and camping. Those were fun times. One summer my brother had a boat and engine so large he could pull five skiers behind with no problem. The children loved all the wild campfire stories that dad, Louis and his friends would tell far into the night. They would fall asleep wherever they were sitting because they didn’t want to go to bed and miss anything. Being in the water most of the day and the fresh air made for early bedtime.

People often wonder why old people always talk about the “old times” so much. Since I am almost 72-now I have figured it out. It’s because we have more life behind us than we do ahead of us. We also have the pleasure of deleting the memories that are painful and high-lighting the ones that brought pleasure. We are the masters of what is past but the present and the future are sometimes not within our control.

Orson Wells read a piece once that I love and in it he said, “I know what it is to be young…..but you do not know what it is to be old.” Tred lightly on the “old folks” who repeat stories. You will miss them when they are no more.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


My life was definitely influenced by a second child. I hadn’t realized the difference between a 3-year old and a new born. Punky was at a loss with me spending so much time with Becky. When she was settled, full and happy I would think up special things to do with him so he would know he hadn’t been tossed aside. Being the first child we had spent a lot of time with him and he was the better for it. He was slow in physically developing but he had a wonderful capacity to learn.

He was potty trained before a year, he knew colors like chartreuse and magenta, he spoke very plain for a kid his age and he constantly asked questions. I didn’t get a lot of “why” or “why not”……he got it and remembered it.

He did have a hard time cutting his teeth. He would run a high fever, have diarrhea and upset tummy. Other than that he was a good kid and could entertain himself quietly. He was scrawny until the magic 6-month time and then he filled out and made a lot of headway physically.

I was challenged to have enough milk for Becky….about the 4th- day home she couldn’t be satisfied though I was drained. When I called Dr. Needles he told me to drink, drink, drink. He suggested beer, tea, and water……I didn’t drink beer or tea so I began with water. He told me since I hadn’t nursed my first baby it might be impossible for me to nurse Becky. Again, my motherhood came to the fore and I determined to be able to nurse. It paid off and she grew into a well filled-out and happy baby. I never had another problem with nursing her.

That summer, 1954, was one of the hottest on record in Kansas City. We didn’t have even a fan to help cool us down. When I nursed Becky she would have big beads of perspiration on her and I would have to hold her with a sheet to keep us both from melting together. I’m not sure of the numbers but we were several days at 112* and 113*……I don’t know if it ever got above 113* but after you get that hot what does another digit matter? It was a totally miserable time. We would all get in the car and drive around a while to help get her to sleep in the evening. Jack and Freda were as miserable but had a couple of fans….they were kind enough to bring us one of theirs…..we were so grateful….I suppose about like Job sitting under the shade of the gourd that God grew for his comfort.

That Thanksgiving mom and dad, aunt Beulah, uncle Ted and Dale came to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a way we could all be together. Mom and dad lived 5-hours away in Willow Springs and aunt Beulah and uncle Ted lived in Omaha. It was the first year we all decided to exchange Christmas presents at Thanksgiving because the roads couldn’t be trusted by December. The most fun of gift giving is to see the person open it……..and it was a family tradition from then on. The children thought it was wonderful to have “two Christmases, and I’m sure remember it well. I baked my first turkey and made a full traditional meal with all the trimmings. Dad thought it was the best turkey he ever ate. Needless to say, I was pleased.

Jack and Freda moved to the Garden Apartments in North Kansas City, Missouri. I hated to see them go. Freda and the children were my only company because George was either working or studying. Understandable, but it left a big gap in my need for adult company. After our first visit to see them we both decided we needed to get something better as well. We packed up and moved before our first year was up in the Wornall area of South Kansas City.

The apartment was so nice I couldn’t believe it. Each was on ground level and arranged so there was an open courtyard for every address. Compared to what we left behind it was wonderful. There was a utility room, kitchen, dining area/living room, two bedrooms and a bath. I had closets again and cupboard space. In no time I had everything arranged and we were only a block away from Jack and Freda. We did a lot of visiting back and forth because we were stay-at-home mom’s and our husbands worked long hours. Last year when visiting in Kansas City we went by the old apartments and I was saddened to see the state they were in. Total ruin. The immaculate lawns, bushes etc; were weedy. I guess you can never, “go back.”

When Becky was 9-months old I called Dr. Needles and asked him when I should quit nursing her. He said, ”My God girl, how long were you going to nurse her?” Since it was something I hadn’t done the first time I had no idea ….but Dr. Needles made it clear I needed to stop immediately. The other day I saw a woman on the Dr. Phil show who was still nursing a 6-year old. Now to me….that was ridiculous.

I look back on the 3-years we lived there with fondness…..Punky was able to play outside with the other children and Becky was beginning to walk. She was very slow about learning to talk. I became concerned and talked with Dr. Needles about it. He told me she didn’t have to talk. She would grunt and point and we would get her anything she wanted. Her older brother did the same….he told us to quit doing that and she would learn to speak for herself.

I guess his advice speaks for itself. Many of you have discovered she never runs out of words……..and I’m happy to say…….she no longer grunts and points…….

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


The nurse came in with an arsenal of labor producing items. First we had an enema and then a slug of castor oil. Then another enema………I was a busy gal for an hour or so. Dr. Needles arrived to check my progress and seemed happy with the oncoming results. I said my water broke earlier that morning but actually it was just leaking……I don’t want anyone to think I had a negligent doctor. He hung around on the sidelines, checking my progress and the next thing I knew I was seeing bright overhead lights and heard a baby cry.

The last couple of hours had been pretty fuzzy. I didn’t have toxemia this time nor was I morning sick but just a few times early in the pregnancy. When I carried Punky he was very high but this baby was carried low. When I gathered my senses enough to ask what the baby was Dr. Needles told me I had a girl. I can remember the exhilaration of having my perfect family. A boy and now a girl. The nurse put a warm blanket over me and I settled into sleep. George came in the room and had just found out what we had…..a little 8 lb. 1 oz. baby girl. He was going home to get some sleep and I dozed off again.

Early the next morning a voice like a Drill Sergeant blared out that I needed to get up and use the “commode.” I came out of a deep sleep to reality…..her reality. I protested as best I could, telling her that I just had the baby at 1:55 AM that morning. I didn’t think she wanted me to get up so soon after. So much for that !! That was precisely what she meant and I was helped to a sitting position and directed to the commode.

I’m thinking, “This is crazy. When I had Punky I stayed in bed two weeks and only allowed up for bathroom use. Now after a few hours of delivery I’m up and sitting on a commode.” The nurse helped me back to bed and I was exhausted from the ordeal. I was starved for I hadn’t eaten the day before except for breakfast. A tray of food was delivered and I ate everything in sight. Shortly after, our baby girl was brought to me for feeding.

When I had Punky I was definitely against breast feeding but this time I wanted to experience everything about motherhood. I had a whole different attitude. The nurse gave me some instructions and the baby didn’t need any. She did very well and was taken back to the nursery. The nurse told me I would be going home after five days so it was important that the baby was getting enough milk. The only thing I heard her say was “five days….home.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Only five days to go home to a 3-year old and a baby? I decided to enjoy the service and food at the hospital because I knew when I went home it would be hard to fill all the needs.

The fifth day came and I was wheeled down to the ground floor and out to the pick-up area where George and Punky were waiting. I’ll never forget the look on Punky’s face. It was if I had deserted him…..although we had tried to prepare him for the new arrival I could see it never sunk in. His feelings were quite evident by the look. I knew it would take a while but he would eventually realize that we had enough love for two.

And so we headed home with little Rebecca Jo who was born on our fourth wedding anniversary, March 27, 1954.…………..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Monday, May 10, 2004


My enthusiasm fell flat when I saw our new home. In the daylight it looked like a shanty on a vacant lot. Probably because that’s basically what it was. It was an old house that had been through tough times. There were additions that rambled indiscriminately and the floors were all in different levels. Our furniture that was only four years old looked like it was in an abandoned warehouse.

With a baby soon to be born I knew I didn’t have much time to grieve over a house that hopefully was only a stepping stone to a better one. I did the best I could with the way it was. George was unable to spend any time on the domestic scene as he had scores of towns to learn along the mail routes leaving Kansas City every day and then on the return trip back.

Punky was a happy kid because our friends from Cabool lived next door and they had two children, one older and one younger than him. After being the only child for three years he was delighted to have playmates. Jack and Freda also had a television set. We were invited to watch TV with them in the evenings when George didn’t have to study. I’ll never forget the excitement of having small-scale movies in your own living-room. The shows that were so wonderful to watch seem so generic now. At the time we couldn’t wait for Saturday nights when the really, really, big shows were on. The Ed Sullivan show along with the Sid Ceaser show, The Honeymooners, Jackie Gleason and at other times there was What’s My Line, I Love Lucy, The Hit Parade, $64,000 Question, Jack Parr on the Tonight Show and then the Today Show with (??) can’t remember the first MC…all I can think of is Jack Lescoulie….(help).

We couldn’t wait until we would be able to buy our own TV. There wasn’t any money for movies or other kinds of entertainment so we enjoyed it at Jack and Freda’s and waited.

I drove up and down the street around the business area we lived close to and found a doctor’s office. His name was Dr. Needles. I thought it would be pronounced like a “needle” but it was “Nee-dells.” His nurse was a wonderful woman whose son played for the Cleveland Brown’s Football Team at the time. Her name was Mrs. McCormick and his name was “Big Mike” McCormick. She was understandably proud of him. He came up the hard way…..by working hard to get there. He had no “connection” to help.

Dr. Needles agreed to take me as a patient and told me he was affiliated with St. Mary’s hospital so that was where the baby would be born. He also agreed to take installments on the delivery. I was shocked when I found out it cost $350 for maternity and delivery. Of course we had no way to pay except monthly. I still appreciate his willingness to carry us along until it was paid in full. He didn’t have to do that.

With everything settled about the baby I worked hard to make a few things for the arrival. It made the time go by when I was alone and I knew we could use the items when the baby came. I was crocheting an edging on some flannel receiving blankets and I had spent the afternoon visiting with Freda. When I went home I picked Punky up and carried him because of the snow on the ground. As I set him down to open our door, I felt a sharp pain in my left thigh. I looked below my jacket and saw the crochet hook protruding out of my leg. I tried to pull it out but it was stuck tight. When I left Freda’s I had put the hook and thread in the large pocket of my smock. I had accidentally hit the end of it when I put Punky down and in doing so, shoved the hook straight into my leg.

Trying to think what to do I carried him back with me to Freda’s and when I took my jacket off to show her, the needle fell out in my hand. My walking motion had caused it to work itself out so that I didn’t have any problem at all. This long after the horrendous puncture I’m amazed I didn’t get lock-jaw. I’d never had any tetanus shots.

A few days later my water broke and Dr. Needles told me to get to the hospital right away and as it happened George was at home and could take me. I was settled in good and Dr. Needles said if the baby didn’t come by 9:00 pm he would induce labor. I checked in early afternoon. By 9:00 pm I still didn’t have a baby and was growing more miserable by the hour.

The nurse came in the room and said Dr. Needles had called and she was to start me into labor. I had wondered all day how that would be done…….and I was about to find out………tomorrow.

Until then,

Essentially Esther

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Happy Mother’s Day to all who pass my way today. I appreciate every one of you. I
am greatly humbled by your faithfulness to read my blog even though I am too busy right now to read yours. Thank you for stopping by with your encouragement.

Rocky is recuperating very well from his recent surgery to remove a brain tumor. He has had a few bumps in the road here and there but nothing to hinder his healing. We know he is one of the fortunate ones to have a benign tumor……..it only takes a trip to the doctor’s office to see others who are less fortunate. It has been wonderful to have him home and to work side by side with me as we groom our lawn and flower gardens. The mending process sometimes makes life changes that otherwise might be short circuited. As they say, priorities are front and center at these times. We are both learning to take one day at a time and let life happen.

I would like to close by saying that I had a wonderful mother. She was never a public figure and she never aspired to be famous. She did so much more than that. She married a man who had extreme limitations when it came to relationships and whose only sense of showing his love was to work hard by his rules. She had my brother and I in the most difficult pregnancies and managed to raise us with the barest of conveniences. She remained steadfast and faithful to us all and her gentle spirit won over any disagreement. She was patient. She was kind. She gave her all. We could not hope for more………..

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Nineteen Fifty-Three was a pivotal year for us. George had worked at the Producer’s Creamery in Cabool since he was discharged from the Army and there was no future there. He worked a swing shift and it wasn’t easy on any of us to adjust to it. I knew he was capable of more but every time I approached him with changes he ruled it out. He was sure of what he was doing and liked the security. I kept asking him about possibilities and one day at the Post Office I noticed a flyer for railway mail clerks.

I told him about it and he wasn’t too interested but said he’d go find out about it. Applications and testing would be done at Springfield in the near future so I talked him into trying for it. “What harm will it do to try?” I asked. “If it doesn’t work out there’s no harm done.” He agreed to go at the specified time and he did. It seemed a long time to wait for the results but he did very well and was offered a position which would require a move to Kansas City, Missouri.

He didn’t want to move but I told him he could try it out and if he liked it we could move later. So the first of November that year he left for Kansas City and I stayed in Cabool. I was pregnant with our second child and still working at the drug store. He was in a crash coarse to learn the post drop offs from different trains carrying mail out of Kansas City in all directions. He was liking the challenge and thought there was a great future in the job.

The Kansas City Railroad Station is really something. It is one of the largest and most interesting in the country. I believe John has some information on his links about the renovation and restoration it has enjoyed. It truly is a work of art now and holds a lot of history within it’s walls. The labyrinth of tracks beneath the station is mind boggling. The Silver Chief, Golden Eagle and other iron horses were ready to move their machines forward at the command of the Engineer. The release of steam boiling up from under those mighty chariots was a reminder of the power and energy that could be summoned at a given signal.

There was an air about the place of people leaving, arriving, changing trains and scurrying about so as to be ready to board when the announcement came over the loud speaker…….calling out towns that would be involved along the way of the train’s destination. The old porters calling “all aboooaarrd” was magic. They had been up and down those same tracks for a lifetime and knew every inch of the journey. They had been calling train departures for longer than we were old I imagined.

George had decided to stay with the job and he had been living with friends from Cabool until he could rent a house. There was an old abused rent-house next to them and for something quick we rented it and planned that we would move in after the first of the year. I had told Verl I’d work for him until inventory was over and then I would leave. We had our house sold so all I had to do was to find a mover and start packing. By January 4th 1954 I had finished with the inventory and had the furniture on it’s way. I had packed the car with precious mementoes I didn’t want to get lost and put our black and white water spaniel in the back seat. Inky was a sweet dog and we wanted her with us. I had a little bed made in the front seat of the car so Punky could nap when he wanted to. We stopped at the edge of town at a café that had good food and ate supper. After that I put Punky back in the car and started for Kansas City. It was 5:30 PM. I didn’t have a map and thought maybe I could just follow the signs until I got there.

This was in the days before speed limits and I always had a heavy foot. I wanted to get there as soon as I could. By now I was only 2 ½ months away from having Becky. I didn’t encounter any problems other than a bale of hay in my lane north of Springfield. Thankfully there was no other traffic so I could safely drive around it. I was going too fast to stop safely if I had to. The hay was around a corner and I had to think fast…..I was around it before I hardly registered the danger. Once in the city I could see the lighted tower that honors veterans on the hill above the terminal. I kept angling over that way until I was within close range. Some people waved me down on a street I was on and shouted…..”you’re in the wrong lane !!” Sure enough I was and the traffic that came flying around the corner was proof. I made a U-turn before anyone else came into view and eventually found the hotel where George was staying that night.

I drove up in front of the hotel where the train men stayed on their lay-overs and when I looked in the front window, George was in the lobby reading the paper. I pecked on the glass and he threw the paper down and hurried out the door. We let Inky get out and stretch before putting her back in the car for the night. George had arranged with the management to let us stay in his room. We were all tired and ready for bed. The next day we would go out to the house and help unload our furniture……life was good and the future looked bright…..soon we would call Kansas City….home.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Friday, May 07, 2004


After Christmas and the New Year life began to settle down somewhat. Punky had his first birthday and I resumed working at the drug store. That Spring when school contracts were made out Opal’s husband took a teaching job in Oklahoma. They would be moving shortly after school was out.

She had been a dear friend and I was at a loss as to how I could ever repay her for all her kindness to me. She just laughed and said, “ Why honey, you can’t ever repay me but the next time you see a need and can fill it, that will be my pay.” She didn’t know that it became a lifelong practice of mine…….to do what I could when I could and to remember her in the process. Teaching me to crochet was also a lifelong companion and I tried to teach others as well as pass on things I made.

Opal wasn’t good at writing letters and in time there was no more word from her. I stopped writing as well after my life became busier and busier. I’m sure she has passed on by now but if there is a heaven……..and I know there is….Opal is there and deservedly so. She was an angel and inspiration when I needed it.

Dad was an engine man. He had oil for veins and thought the best music in the world was a fine tuned motor. He was self-taught and had a love affair with automobiles. When we would go on rides with mom and dad, Punky and George would be up front with dad and I would be in the back with mom. If a car passed us dad would say, “That’s a Chevrolet” or “that’s a Ford” and so on. It got so that Punky would say, “There goes a Chevrolet”….and dad would say, “by golly, that’s right!” If Punky was wrong, dad would go into detail as to why it wasn’t that car. He told him about the hood ornaments, the different fenders, the tail lights and any other distinction he could think of.

In no time Punky learned all of that plus trucks, sedans, vans and convertibles. After that he learned the colors of every car we met or passed. It was sport for dad to hear him call them off by the numbers and he became harder and harder to fool. One day we were out riding on a Sunday afternoon and dad spotted a train. Like all little kids Punky loved to watch the trains so dad got the idea to drive fast enough to get ahead of the train…..and get to the station house as the train came roaring through the town. We drove like mad and finally about 50 miles up the road we made it to the station and stood on the track-side as the train came roaring down the tracks.

It looked like it was going to hit us at that close range and I guarantee if you want a thrill, that is the mother of all thrills. As the train got closer it was blowing it’s whistle in long shrill blasts and as the cars passed by us there was a definite rhythm to them. As for Punky he became so frightened he tried to crawl over George’s shoulder. His eyes were as big as saucers and dad had a big grin on his face as he watched the reaction. To be completely honest it was a bit scary to the rest of us as well. It was quite an experience.

That same summer we rode to Nebraska with mom and dad to the Stricklett reunion in August. Dad bought a new Henry J car and wanted to see what kind of gas mileage he could get on it. That was when gas was cheap…….but dad was always looking for a better way to go further for less. George and I were crammed into the small back seat with a pad between us for Punky to sit on and sleep on. The roads were not as good in the early 50’s so it took longer and the rides weren’t as smooth.

By the time we got to Blair George and I were almost done in…….dad didn’t have air conditioning and so the wind blowing in the windows for over 600 miles and cramped as we were….believe me it was good to get out of the car. That was the summer Punky was cutting some more teeth and I spent most of my time upstairs in aunt Mary’s bedroom rocking a sweaty little boy.

Grandma Stricklett was introduced to her third great-grandchild; all boys. The reunion was held at the city park in the town where I spent a lot of time growing up and where I went to school my first year. It was good to come back and bring my contribution to the next generation. I had always loved my aunts and uncles and since we lived so far away it was special when we could be together. Now it is up to the cousins to bring about a reunion for most of our elders are gone. I am so glad I grew up in a loving and caring family and proud of the heritage we all shared. Those good times rest in memory for the family we were, the family we are……and the family to come…….

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Thursday, May 06, 2004


In thinking back to Punky’s first year there was an important event that occurred. My mom and dad happened to be at our house for some occasion I don’t even remember. The thing I do remember is that mom was out of the room which left dad, George, Punky and me. Punky was at the crawling and pulling up stage so he was on the floor and all of a sudden drew a bead on dad. To my amazement he got to dad’s leg and began pulling himself up….he made a bobble and would have fallen but dad reacted quickly and saved the day. Before he thought, dad looked at me and said, “Wow….did you see that? He almost fell.” Not wanting to lose the moment I said, “Good thing you made the grab or he would have.” It was the first words dad and I had spoken to each other in 4-years.

My cousin, Dale, and I understand this perfectly. The Andersen men, once they painted themselves in a corner, would stay there until an act of God got them out. It was a sign of weakness to say the simple words, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.” Manhood was all in being tough and working yourself to death and always being right. You either stayed in that environment or left it as Louis and I did. It didn’t seem strange to us because we had always heard the story of how dad left home at 15-years of age to work. The thought had long been entertained that this was a normal thing.

I will never know the silent anguish that dad went through in those years. How many nights did my mother go to bed and wonder how I was doing and where I was. Dad and I never discussed that in the years after but mom and I did. As for herself she said she knew I would be OK because I was so capable. Not that she didn’t concern herself with me but mom was a woman who waited things out until they fixed themselves……and they usually did….for the better.

Over those years I sent dad birthday and Father’s Day cards. Mom said he would look at them and say “I haven’t been much of a father but she never forgets me.” One time my brother came home to visit and dad was telling him how hard I had worked and still finished school. He always thought Louis should have completed his schooling but he never did. In his case he got along fine without the diploma but it was not an option for me. I made sure I graduated……to prove to myself that I was not a “quitter.”

Once the ice was broken dad and I were able to develop a good relationship in time. He beat himself up many times for being a “bad father” although those exact words were not used. One time he told aunt Mary that if he had it to do over he would let Louis and I do more of what we wanted rather than making us always do what he wanted. I considered this to be as close to an apology as Louis and I would ever hear.

Considering the way dad was raised and the hardships he endured I never held a grudge against him. He had to be tough to come through tough times and in the years Louis and I grew up men didn’t have much to do with their children. The women had them and raised them. The men worked hard and made a living. The children were to realize they were provided for and expected to do what was asked of them. Between my dad’s toughness and my mother’s tenderness we grew up with a strong sense of right and wrong and the consequences of both. We knew the emotions of “tough” and “tenderness” in the right situation.

I feel so sorry for men who are trapped into thinking they can’t show emotion, can’t cry and can’t express feelings. I have known many men like this in my journey….relatives, friends and acquaintances. They miss a lot and live with many regrets. By letting dad work out his own demons and with the birth of a little boy our relationship was restored. “God works in mysterious ways….His wonders to perform………

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


The two weeks I had to stay in bed drug on. I couldn’t wait to get up. Actually it was a very bad thing for I had been in bed most of the past two months. The added two weeks in bed after bumping all the way home in the ambulance created damage of it’s own. Eventually I was able to get up and pick up my life again…..with baby added.

I had read Dr. Spock (big mistake) and it said not to handle the baby much. That didn’t stop Grampa Strain when he came to visit. He would jostle him out of the bassinette and carry him around holding him on his lap the whole visit. I tried to protest but it got no where. Grampa Strain was programmed a little different than Dr. Spock was. The nurse told me on leaving the hospital to feed him when he was hungry….not to go on a schedule. Babies didn’t always follow schedules.

I had a blue granite kettle to sterilize bottles and boiled them faithfully for as long as it said. I had to wash diapers by hand as I didn’t have that many and without a washing machine it was the quickest way to keep them fresh. At first I had to get up several times a night with Punky but as the months crept on he was down to two and finally one. He lost the black baby hair and grew in some light brown and his blue eyes stayed with him. He was growing into a very pretty baby and I was definitely a proud mama.

We had a very warm spell in January so I bundled him up and put him in the baby buggy. I walked down town pushing the buggy and enjoying the fresh air. I had been inside for too long and getting out was invigorating. The first six months were as hard on Punky as my first six months of pregnancy. He continually spit up almost everything he took from the bottle. It was so frustrating because he would ruin himself, me, and wherever we might be sitting. I did a lot of cleaning up those first months.

Finally we worked through that and he began putting on weight and growing into a busy little kid. I had stopped in the drugstore one day to pick up some things and Verl asked if I would like to come back to work. I hated to leave Punky but we were very much in debt. I told him I would so he said I could start the following Monday. The money was more than I had previously earned and goodness knows we needed it. Grandma Strain kept Punky while I worked and until George got off work. The months flew by and it was almost December again…..he would soon have his first birthday.

I was running late to work one day in December. I had zipped Punky into his snowsuit and hood. I put him in the passenger side of the car and whipped the door shut. I got in and began backing out of the drive faster than I should have. It threw Punky off balance and he fell against the door…..to my horror the door opened up and he began falling out of the car. I grabbed after him with my right hand as he slipped from sight. I had the wheels of the car cut to the left and by some miracle they must have come around on each side of him. He was balled up under the car like a little bag of rags as the wheels came around him, missing him entirely. When I got the car stopped and ran to him he was very white around his mouth and eyes were shut. By the time I got into the house he caught his breath and started crying. I placed him on our bed face down so he wouldn’t strangle if he was bleeding internally. I called Dr. Grassle and he told me to bring him right down which I did. He examined him carefully and told me he would call ahead to Springfield and I should take him up there to have him checked out. I called George at work and we took him right away. They were going to keep him overnight for observation so I told George to go on home and I’d stay with Punky.

He had a punctured lung but no broken bones and not a drop of blood was anywhere to be seen. He didn’t even have bruises. Friends of ours came by the hospital and ordered me to go home with them to rest for the night. My instinct was to stay with Punky but they wouldn’t hear of it. I did sleep well that night.

The next morning the hospital released Punky so George came to pick us up and we went home. There are no words to describe my relief. It put things in perspective for a long time and you can believe I was sure the door latched after that as well as giving myself more time to get to work. I cannot imagine the guilt and grief I would have suffered without a happy ending to the story.

We celebrated his first birthday on December 22nd and with Christmas three days later we had a lot to be thankful for………

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


It was Saturday morning December 23, 1950. I woke up to the fact I had given birth the night before after 24-hours of labor. I had a boy and it was all over. Is there any better feeling in the world? I think not for me. A wonderful feeling of completion filled my soul and I felt up to the task before me. I couldn’t know then how great a task that could be for a new mother. It wasn’t quite as simple as I imagined it. After all, the worst was over…..right? (The thoughts of youth and ignorance.)

My brother, Louis, was working at Caterpiller in Illinois at the time and was coming home for Christmas. We hadn’t seen him since our marriage and I was anxious to get home. When the doctor arrived for morning rounds I begged to go home so I would be there when Louis arrived. Everyone was supposed to come to our house but now this unexpected event was going to change things. I wouldn’t get to cook and bake like I wanted but if I could get home I knew mom would do all that.

Dr. Johnson was undecided and I seized on that to further my case. I poured it out over and over until he finally said I could go home IF I went in an ambulance and would stay in bed for two weeks. Of course I would promise cutting off my right leg if I could just go home. The ambulance arrived and I was taken down to it holding George in my arms. I was given some formula and instructions before we left so all I had to do was let him sleep…..if he woke up I could change the diaper and give him the formula.

I underestimated the journey I had taken so lightly. The ambulance telegraphed every bump we went over. By the time we got home I was worn out and George Sr. was showing concern. He had not been favorable about me coming home so soon. I had him call mom to tell her we were home and they could still come up but I couldn’t get out of bed. George Sr. decorated a small Christmas tree and put it in the bedroom where little George and I were.

It didn’t seem right to call the baby an adult name like George. When he was brought to me to feed or diaper I began cradling him in my arms and calling him my little “punkin.” His dad started calling him “Punk” but I didn’t like that either. In a short time he was dubbed, “Punky.” That seemed to fit perfect so from then on it was his nickname.

Opal had gone back to her hometown with her husband for the holidays but mom and George got the things done that needed to be. Mom had pretty well cooked the meal at home and brought it with them…..it only needed to be heated up. I was so happy to see my brother……I had really missed him. Louis always had a funny comment and lots of stories to entertain us all. It was the first time that mom, dad, Louis and I had been together since Louis left for the Army so it was a happy occasion.

We had a good meal, opened gifts and enjoyed the day. It seemed our little home was really a home and not just a house. When everyone left and it was just the three of us I had my first idea of how it would be as a family rather than a couple. Punky slept in the borrowed bassinette and looked pretty small even in the small bed. George’s parents came on Christmas Day and got to see the baby for the first time. He was asleep and Grampa Strain swept him up out of the bassinette and began talking to him. I was horrified ! Why would he do that when he was sleeping…..the golden silence that new mothers like?

Punky woke with a start and protested being jerked out of his comfort zone. When I protested, Grampa just laughed and said, “He can go back to sleep when I’m gone. I want to see this fella.” Upon sizing him up he looked at George and said, “I used to tell you you could have my watch after I’m gone but now it’s going to go to him.” George laughed because he knew it was the beginning of things that would by-pass him and go to Punky.

It was dark when they left and George turned the lights on our little tree. The house was quiet as I fed Punky and snow was falling. My thoughts turned to another baby born so long ago and whose birth we still celebrate. I looked at this little gift who would certainly change my life with giant proportions……he had fallen asleep in my arms…….safe and secure.

Until tomorrow,

Essentially Esther