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Thursday, September 30, 2004


Becky and I came to the hospital early each morning to eat in the cafeteria and then start our day with Warren. We were acquainted with many of the medics and also many of the other patient’s families…..we would greet each other cheerily as we all started our day and wished each other a “good” one, whether patient, family or hospital staff. Chaplin Farr introduced us to a couple who were having a hard time coping with the loss of his arm. These many years later, I’m not sure if it was the right or left….but the amputation was between the elbow and shoulder.

He had been hunting with their son-in-law who accidentally shot him in the arm and it couldn’t be saved. He was very bitter and his wife had a problem with the son-in-law, which in turn, posed friction between the parent’s and their daughter. Chaplain Farr believed that we could help by visiting with them since we were products of amputation as well. Most of the time it helps if you can see you aren’t the only one going through a life-changing situation. We did visit with them but as far as how much help we were, I don’t know. God alone is privy to all that. We dropped in on them several times when we could put Warren in a chair with wheels and go to their room.

The staff was keeping Warren very busy now. He had a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and chest/lung therapist. They came and went all through each day and he was growing stronger with each exercise. Becky and I continued to pray with Warren and the staff to strengthen them for what lay ahead of each shift change. His stump was still open and there was no probability of having it closed until he was no longer septic. He continued going to surgery for the de-breeding and the stump was wrapped in gauge until the next time.

It was strange because it continued to feel like the leg was still there. He began having phantom pains that were relentless. There was no way to stop them and no way to know when they would come back. After coming through the initial surgery (guillotine amputation) the pain he felt with the phantoms was so great he couldn’t believe the reality of them. The brain just couldn’t “let go” of the leg and kept sending signals down to mimic hammering on the bottom of the foot, someone sawing at calf-level….something dropped on the toes…….there were many creative ways for the phantoms to come and go. The worst part of it was the fact they would never go completely away……ever. They had to be endured.

The next day we were sad in a way to finally leave ICU-isolation. The doctors felt he was no longer septic and we were moved to a ward where patients were to be flown out to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado for continued therapy and prosthesis. We ordered a large bouquet of flowers for the staff in ICU and had a tearful goodbye. The “kids” hated to lose us as much as we hated to leave them, but the wonderful side of that means that recovery is becoming more eminent. We also had to say good-bye to Becky that day. She was leaving for home now that we no longer had the privacy and space given by ICU….friends from “home” came after her and with a prayer and a kiss, she left.

Warren was asleep and I tiptoed out to the hall and stood by a window looking out across the landscape. On the distant line of hills I could see barren branches sticking up that would soon be covered with leaves. For now, they looked quite dead. Below, the lawn around the hospital complex was vibrant green. The contrast of the two played out the drama of life and death in nature to match the emotions I had been through for the past two weeks. I reached for a pen and wrote the following words………



Dead trees stand erect on distant hills
and look like raised, defiant quills
upon a porcupine.

Below, the April grass of spring
disguises scars and tries to bring
an end to Death.

How much like simple grass and trees
are arms and legs and such as these
…….to live again.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


March 30th was Palm Sunday in 1980. Dr. Smith came in early so I told Becky to go on to the service Chaplain Farr was in charge of. The doctor talked to me in length about Warren’s progress and said things were looking better but he was low on platelets and blood. He had lost quite a bit in surgery and it was time to give that a boost. A couple of Specialists…Davis and Riley had volunteered to give Warren what he needed.

They took Warren down to surgery for de-breeding of his stump again at 1:00pm and to give him the blood and platelets. While he was gone, Becky and I went to the Snack Bar for coffee and a sandwich when friends from home came wandering in looking for us. We had a nice long visit and then headed back to ICU to be there when they brought Warren back.

Every time he went down and came back he gave a hearty “thumbs up” to all as he passed by. The medics enjoyed his encouragement to them….when a hard task was at hand, he rallied them on…. “it doesn’t hurt…go ahead with what you have to do…good job, kids….thanks.” They actually looked forward to being assigned to us and we knew them all on a first name basis. The cleaning lady and I had visited at length…she was a German war bride and loved to crochet. It was a nice interlude for me to chat with her.

Monday morning they took the respirator out and told Warren not to talk for an hour to rest his throat. It had been in for a week and they hoped to keep it out. He was getting rid of some of the electrical lines and machines that were surrounding his bed. I needed to go home to pay monthly bills and get some other clothes. Mom was taking care of our dog, Jakie, and Becky needed to get home as well. She had been gone all this time and needed to get back to the children and her job.

When Warren was resting, we took our leave and headed home. It was strange to be out of the confines of the hospital and travel over familiar road. For almost 10-years we had driven the 85-miles for medical visits and shopping at the Commissary. Now it seemed to have a different “look” about it….one that looked like the way home. I dropped Becky off and came home to wash clothes, re-pack and get things in order. Mom and Jakie came right away and we all had a hugging party. Jake just jumped and barked he was so glad to see me. I had a lot to get done and not much time so we visited while I worked.

I fell into bed quite late and knew I would have to get up early to be at the hospital before they took Warren back to surgery. When it was time to leave, here came Becky….insisting to go back with me…she had made arrangements and didn’t want me to be there alone. Although I welcomed her company I felt bad that she was leaving her family again….she was determined so we kissed mom goodbye and headed back to Leonard Wood.

They had already taken him to surgery and he was back in ICU. He had a different anesthetic this time and it was not agreeing with him at all. He slept quite a bit but he was not “himself”…it was like he had a different personality. Major Vanatta told me it would wear off and they made a note not to use it again. They had hoped to use something different since he was having so much of the one kind they were using. Later that afternoon they got him up in a chair and gave him solid food for the first time. He had been drinking canned liquid enriched formula of some kind when he was able to have something in his mouth. Now solid food tasted very good to him. He was feeling more like himself as the day wore on.

By the next day he sat in a chair from 10:00am to 1:00pm and fed himself. A therapist was assigned to him and he began some exercise while in bed. They gave him an orthopedic bed and taught him to pull up with the help of overhead “pulls”….they brought in a TV set and being a guy…….that pretty well took care of his “creature comforts.” He was in a good bed, learning to use his body again and had a remote in his hand…..life was looking terrifically great to him……..and we couldn’t have been happier for his progress.

The calls, mail and visits kept coming. Becky and I got word out to all those who rallied to our cause; that he was much better and showing positive signs. Our little town had something to feel really, really good about….as did our extended family. The good news went out in all directions….the ones we told, told others and they in turn kept the network going to the far corners of the land. We could feel their joy in our spirit and believe me……..our own spirits were feeling pretty good, too.

Warren just fought the biggest battle of his life……..and came out on higher ground with God’s help. We still had a very long way to go………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


When morning came once more, we made our usual trek to the hospital, had a quick breakfast in the cafeteria and went straight to ICU. Since they hadn’t called during the night I held slim hope that we still might see a miracle. When we entered the unit, Major Vanatta was already on duty. She was in charge of ICU and a fantastic nurse with a great manner about her. She was in her late thirties, I would guess, and her husband was a “tanker” in the Army. Very sharp, capable people.

When we came in, her face changed into a big smile. “Good morning! His blood gasses are better!! I believe he turned the corner during the night.” We were afraid to look too hopeful. She said the Colonel had been in several times and was very pleased with the change he was seeing. She continued, “he is not one to give much hope until he is sure of the outcome so I take this as a very good sign.” Becky and I were so overcome we almost collapsed. After all, yesterday afternoon I was told he was in an irreversible state of death.

Now if there are any skeptics about how radically and swiftly God can turn corners, they need to come see me. I have been blessed with a handful of miracles that were just that….swift and radical. There is no room for doubt in my mind or soul. For those of you who have suffered over the sure fate of losing a loved one….you know exactly how Becky and I felt. At least half of the weight of the whole world was gone. Warren was going to live!!!

I have to give credit to Becky for being a great administrator. The phone calls and visits were unreal. Of course, at such a time, you are most grateful for the strength and support of friends and family….and I was humbled by the outpouring of mail, calls and visits. Still…….my concern and heart were with Warren and I didn’t want to be “visiting” when I needed to be with him. Our church continued praying around the clock….doors were open 24-7 and time slots were filled every hour by everyone in our membership.

You cannot turn away from such love and support….OR concern. How can you not love someone who gets up from midnight until the dawn hours, drive to church and sit in prayer when they could be sleeping? Many were elderly…some were handicapped…still, they came. I sat by his bed from early morning until late at night while Becky continued to give me the time and space to do that. She was a real trooper during it all.

George Jr. and John continued “helping” with what they could do so far away. They called, talked with local folks who knew us…asked their friends, churches and co-workers to pray for us. To me, it’s harder being far away and not being able to “be there” and know what’s going on. Becky and I prayed for all of the people who were praying for us……after all, their role was huge and they were in the “dark” much of the time. We were on the front lines where we could “do” something about what was happening. We were informed by hospital staff that they had personally called relatives and prayer groups to pray for us……..how could we not get through this with so much to strengthen and guide us?

The young people who looked after Warren every day and all through the night continued to bolster our appreciation for all they did…..for ALL of us. One time I was waiting in the hall while they bathed Warren and changed his tubes. A young medic came out and saw me by the window. He came over and said, “Don’t worry, mam. Your husband is going to be OK. The top brass will die every time but these tough ole’ Master Sergeants never die!!” He gave me a big grin and disappeared on his errand.

Warren’s fever was still very high and they had him on a refrigerated rubber mattress……cold packs were on the back of his neck and forehead. Becky and I stood over his bed changing those all day long. I know this sounds unbelievable but we used so much ice the ice machine broke down in ICU. We were glad to have something to do and it gave more time for the staff to help other patients out in the “bay” area.

Each day Warren was taken to surgery to cleanse and debreed the tissue of his stump. It was still open-ended with the top skin peeled back to provide a way of getting Betadine in the area. The first day he was in ICU after surgery he pointed to his left leg area and wrote a note on a tablet they gave him….it said, “They didn’t take my leg off after all, did they? I can feel it yet.” I said, “ that they had….they had to do it.” He gave me a big smile and a shrug…..like….”no big deal.” I gave him a big smile back and in that moment we knew we were going to be OK with it………….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, September 27, 2004


Becky and I woke early. The first thing we said to each other was, “I hear the respirator, so Warren is still with us.” We both took a lot of courage from the fact and felt God very near. A nurse came into our room with hot coffee and told us what we knew…..that he was still here, and they watched over him through the night. We went to the window and looked at the sunrise coming up over the hills and Becky said, “Mom, this is the best birthday I’ve ever had.” The day was March 27th ….the day Becky was born, 26-years ago.

We hastily dressed and went to ICU. If I didn’t know it was my husband I would not have believed it. They upped his penicillin to 16,000,000,000 units and he was getting 1300-cc’s of fluid through his IV’s. He was awake……his eyes were all red and bloodshot, his face and neck…torso, were swollen to the point of looking like a human balloon. In a human way I knew there was no hope…….but in my spirit I knew there was. Now all we could do was wait and see what God would do.

Because of his condition, the doctor’s left orders to bring in a chair for Becky and me to stay in the isolation unit. That allowed us to be with him except for eating and sleeping. It was a strange time in the hospital. It was the 2-week Reserve duty for a unit from Illinois. We came in contact with many different medical men and women…some of the ones from Illinois and some “regular Army” stationed at Leonard Wood from every part of the country. Had the Illinois folks not been there with Dr. Hopkins (nick-named Hoppy by his peers) no one would have recognized the narcotizing fasciaetis for this was in the time before it was universally known.

Every time the shifts changed, every delivery from the pharmacy department, mail from the mail room, doctors coming and going to the folks that were in maintenance and housekeeping heard about the Rosenbaum family that was going through a life and death time. Becky and I stood over his bed at times through the day, praying for Warren and the medical staff. When we ate in the cafeteria many noticed we always asked a blessing before we ate……one day a young woman came up and gave us a letter.

In the privacy of ICU we opened it to read the contents. She was from Illinois, had been in church as a girl at home but had fallen into bad habits once she was away. The amount of visitors, phone calls, our personal times of prayer….the tubs of mail received from all over the country made her realize a Christian is never alone. She had renewed her vows to God and felt we should know. She wanted to have the faith we did to stay with our loved one when all odds told them he should be dead.

Chaplain Farr came to see us several times a day. It was near Easter and he wanted us to know of the services provided by the hospital. He kept close to us the whole time…..later telling us there had been a revival in the hospital because everyone was talking about the Rosenbaum family and they were all pulling for us. News spreads fast in the hospital community and indeed, we were getting a thumbs up every time there was a shift change.

That afternoon of March 27th, Chaplain Farr asked me to come out to the waiting area. The room was full of friends from back home who all greeted us warmly, each giving their personal support. The mail room had sent boxes of letters from the children of the elementary school back home. Then Chaplain Farr sat by me and took my hand. He told me that Warren wouldn’t last through the night. His body was in a state of death, the vital organs were shutting down and I should let the family know and be aware of insurance, etc;

Because of his difficulty in telling me those things I felt an immediate sympathy for him. I wondered how many times he had to tell families their loved one could not survive…..and how he had to bear the burden of being the messenger of bad news. Life cannot be easy for chaplains, ministers or doctors. I sat stunned, of course, and then put my hand in his…..”That was hard for you to do, wasn’t it?” and his answer was “yes”………we sat there for a moment and I said, “It’s all right. God is with us all.” We wiped our eyes along with everyone in the room and he said he would have to go visit another family…..a hand squeeze and then he was gone.

Everyone walked me to the hallway of ICU and shortly the gurney came again for Warren to take him to surgery for debreeding of his stump…….he gave all of us his thumbs up, though weakly, and disappeared into the elevator. When he came back, Becky and I were alone again and sat with him way into the night.

When we went back to the guest house to sleep I did something I didn’t plan on doing. I finally told God if he would just spare Warren I would do anything necessary to take care of him….before I always prayed, in God’s will. This one prayer jumped out of my mouth from the heart that couldn’t accept his dying. I went to sleep from exhaustion and waited for God’s answer that would come in the morning………….

As we slept, church members from our home town were going to church through the night every hour to pray for us. They did that each day and night without fail…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Major’s Smith and Hopkins came to the waiting area looking tired and grim. I knew they didn’t like the news they had to bring but there are no detours from the harsh realities of life. They were soldiers as well as doctors….they were used to bad news.

I was told they had amputated the leg because the leg was dead. The only way they could save him was to get the leg off, clean the “stump” (the term used for amputations at the hospital) and slash his abdomen for drainage. They made a vertical cut above the amputation and used Betadine to disinfect as much of the muscle tissue as possible. The only hope they had was that whatever got into the abdomen could be controlled by not closing up the stump. The surgeons were grateful that the full thrust of the infection went down into his leg instead of to the abdomen.

They had spared nothing for his survival hopes. The Colonel stayed with the surgical team because of the high risk surgery. The odds against Warren’s survival were great but the fact he had overall good health and a profound faith put a little more punch in his favor. I told them they were trying to save a good man and I knew God’s decision in the matter would see us through….one way or the other. I wanted them to know that Becky and I, our families and our church were holding the medics up in prayer as well as Warren. They were grateful for that and said they had prayed as well….they knew God was guiding them all the way.

The young medics in the ICU were busy for some time hooking him up to all of the machines again. He was getting 16,000,000 units of penicillin during a 24-hour period and to keep from burning the kidneys up they had to flush his system with fluids to offset it. Once he was hooked up and on the respirator the doctor told us we could go in. Warren was unconscious but when the doctor raised the sheet for me to see I wasn’t repulsed at all. I had accepted the amputation before it happened because it was the only way to save him. There were no options.

Because of the late hour, one of the nurses told Becky and me we could sleep in the room nearby as there were no patients in there and we would be close in case there was an emergency during the night. We were very grateful and went right to bed. The last thing we heard as we fell asleep was the respirator’s measured whoosh that put breath into Warren while he slept. I knew he would not know until morning that the leg was gone and I knew he may not wake in the morning…..so I put it all in God’s mercy and fell asleep.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A LONG 48-HOURS....MARCH 1980 

While Becky and I sat in the waiting room of the ER doctors began coming and going like crazy. This went on until noon when Dr. Bergfelder came out and told me to go to the front office and admit Warren because he was a very sick man. He and several of the other specialists had looked at him and had a few theories but they weren’t sure of anything right now.

Warren was given pain shots every half hour and nothing was giving him any relief. By 3:00pm they told us he would have to have surgery on the leg to see what was going on…..at 5:00pm he was taken to OR and we were left in his room. Becky and I tried to make sense out of the events of the day and the worst part was knowing that even the doctors didn’t know what was going on with him.

We had grown quiet, each of us sitting with our own thoughts, when a good friend from church walked into the room. He heard about Warren’s situation at school when he didn’t show up for work. On instinct he drove the 85-miles to Fort Leonard Wood Hospital to see if he could be of any help. He came prepared with his Bible and had prayer with us and then the three of us waited for Warren to come back to the room.

We didn’t get to see Warren until around 10:30pm. The doctors took me aside and told me the bad news. He had contracted strep infection that went to his leg instead of staying in the throat which is more common. He put it like this….the streptococci found an area of his body that had either been punctured or mashed and the strep became lethal in a matter of hours. It was a deadly, fast moving infection that travels through the muscle tissue and kills it as it goes. He called it necrotizing fasciaetis, a flesh eating bacteria.

They cut into his left thigh and a gray fluid ran out on the operating table. It was muscle tissue that had literally been destroyed in less than 24-hours. The doctors continued to question me…did he have a bite, did he have a puncture, a scratch…anything that would have let the strep into his system…and especially to the leg area. The answer was always “no.” There was no reason at all for him to have contracted this virus. The doctors were as puzzled as I was….it was a one in a million case and Warren had it.

I sent Becky back home with Dean and I was taken to a guest house on Base. I got up at 4:30am and drove back to the hospital. I was afraid something would happen to Warren and I wouldn’t be there. The birds were already singing and if my situation had been different it would have been the beginning of a beautiful Spring day. I could only see Warren at intervals because he was in ICU and kept away from others even there…..he was terribly septic and they didn’t want anything transferred to the other patients. His area was ice cold.

When the doctor came he was no less than a Colonel and accompanied by two Majors. The case had been picked up by them as it was so unusual. One of the Majors had taken his internship in a Chicago hospital and had seen one case like this before. The only difference was that the man had it in both legs and died. Because of his experience with the virus he had been given the responsibility to oversee Warren’s battle with it.

They unwrapped his thigh and showed me what they had done. If you can envision a canoe and the way it is hollowed out….picture a leg with that same procedure. The incision was to the bone and the tissue was all gone from above his knee almost to the hip. It was packed with gauze because it was still draining ....his only hope of survival.

He looked terrible but they had his pain under control. Our pastor and wife brought Becky back and she made arrangements to stay with me. She brought fresh clothing and my cosmetics. The church began a prayer vigil around the clock and by the end of the day everyone in our small town had heard of Warren’s battle. Frank and Vera left around 2:00pm and Becky and I noticed that more and more equipment was brought into the area where Warren was. We stayed in the hall because we could only see him every 15-minutes of each hour.

The situation was very tense as medics came and went all afternoon. The Colonel stepped into the hall and told us his temperature kept going up throughout the day and we were going to lose him if we didn’t amputate. He had the papers for me to sign and we watched as they made rapid preparations to remove him from the equipment of ICU and hurry him out on a gurney.

As they wheeled him out of the room on the way back to OR Warren gave us a big smile and a thumbs up…when they were out of sight Becky and I stood looking out of the window for some time, trying to take in the last 48-hours. He left the room at 7:15pm and Chaplin Farr came to sit with us until the surgery was over. At 11:15 we heard the gurney coming back down the hall. We braced ourselves for whatever the doctor would have to say……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, September 24, 2004


New Year’s Day came in chilly but the weather was good for this time of year. There was a marathon race in West Plains and John went with Andy Yinger who was the assistant high-school coach. They both finished and won second place in their divisions. We watched Bowl Games all day on television as we took the Christmas tree down and packed all of the decorations away. Now we were ready for the new year to begin.

The 3rd of January we took John to the mid-night bus for New Orleans. We sure hated to see him go. Aunt Beulah and her sister Mildred came from Arkansas the next day so Mildred could catch the bus back to Omaha. We went up and visited with them until time for her to go. Aunt Beulah went right back home as she had a bad cold and didn’t feel well.

We settled in to a routine with me working Tuesdays through Thursdays and Warren working Monday through Fridays. I was picked up at home and taken to the station of the day. We served 9-counties with 13-stations so each day we were in a different town, with a different crew and the applicants were constantly changing. My job was very interesting in the regard that nothing was ever the same. It was tailor made for me because I have to have variety to stay enthusiastic. If you’ve worked with the public, you know there is lots of variety out there to keep you interested…….or to some people….a little crazy.

I also liked the 4-day week-ends. I had a day to get ready for the week-end and a day to get caught up after the week-end. Then I worked my 3-days and it started all over again. Variety, variety, variety. I loved it.

I made a notation in my journal on Friday February 22nd that we watched the U.S. Hockey Team beat the Russians in the Olympics and what a thrill it was. We couldn’t believe our eyes when those spirited kids got the puck in for the winning goal. It was a time of national pride for all of us.

On March 24th mom and I took Warren to work at the school and I noticed he looked so tired as he walked away from us…it crossed my mind several times that day. I ran a few errands and got ready for Bible Study at our house that evening. When everyone left afterwards, Warren complained about a “charlie horse” in his left leg. He had a big knot in his thigh but wanted to finish his work at school so he left the house at 10:15pm and didn’t get back until after midnight. When he came home he had a lot of pain in his left leg and he couldn’t walk…also sick in his stomach.

He came to bed and all through the night he thrashed around….he couldn’t get any relief and neither of us slept. I thought it was just a cramp in his leg and that it would go away but by 5:30am when it persisted, I turned the light on to see just what was going on. I was shocked to see his left thigh swollen so that it looked like half of a football on top of his leg. I called Becky quick and she came on the run to help me. I was thinking….blood clot.

We headed for the emergency room at Fort Leonard Wood (since Warren was retired military). He became sicker with each mile and couldn’t stand the movement of the car because of the pain. By the time we arrived he was unable to get out of the backseat so a couple of the medics came with a gurney to help him. They wheeled him into the ER and Becky and I sat out in the waiting room wondering what on earth could be wrong.

There was no way we could have imagined what was ahead for us. It was the last day of normal life we would have for many months…for now we would have to go through a very long and dark valley…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, September 23, 2004

THE END OF 1979.... 

We were exceedingly busy with church events and family members coming to visit all Fall. We were happy to have George and John come for Thanksgiving….though they didn’t get to stay very long. Aunt Mary rode down on the bus to be with us over the holiday and Becky’s family and mom made a full house.

John had to leave the day after Thanksgiving with the three friends he rode home with….they got to our house about noon and I fed them all before they left at 1:30pm. It is a long drive from Willow Springs to New Orleans.

December was full of baking, gift wrapping, writing cards and seeing friends and loved ones. I wrote a note in each card so it took a lot of writing in the ones we were only in touch with on a yearly basis. I always thought a typed generic letter was something I would never do but with everyone else, I finally had to resort to it last year. There just isn’t enough time anymore to keep up…..and I do enjoy keeping up with our friends.

In November I was given an offer to go to work for the Missouri Highway Patrol as a clerk for the Driver’s Examiners. There were two crews who were based here at Troop G Headquarters. They worked each day in a different town giving the written, driving and eye tests. They guys didn’t like all the paper work that went with each applicant so the Captain decided to request a clerk to swing back and forth between the crews to work on their busiest days.

He took his request to Jefferson City at General Headquarters and was given permission to start in December. I was informed of the confirmation and asked to come to Troop G for an SAT test. Having fulfilled that, I went back the next day to be fingerprinted and get all the paper-work filled out. I was scheduled to begin on December 4th and so after 10-years of being at home and filling my life with family and church I was now starting a new career.

On the appointed day I showed up at Headquarters, met the crew, and worked in Willow Springs the first day. It happened to be the night of the Troop Christmas Dinner so the Sergeant told me to bring my husband and join them at dinner. That night, Warren and I both went, and when dinner was over the Captain introduced me as the newest member of the Troop. It was a pretty big and exciting day for someone who had been unemployed for a long time but it was to be a long and lasting relationship. The guys received me as one of their own and always looked out for me. I look back fondly to the years I spent with them….and of course you will be reading a lot about those days as we journey on.

John went to Shawnee first to have Christmas with George and his dad….then the boys drove down for Christmas here, on Christmas day. This year, Becky was having dinner and gift opening so mom and I fixed some dishes to take with us. Becky is a good cook and her brothers always request Beef Stroganoff and hot rolls. I’ll have to admit….they are the best!! The children were on high energy alert with all of the gifts piled under the tree. With only the tree lights in the living room each face stood out in the shadowy atmosphere and I can envision them all, smiling and opening their gifts. Is there any happier time for a family? Being together and sharing those moments has to be the greatest blessing of life….so may it always be…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


My birthday occasionally falls on Memorial Day and this was one of the years. Warren had an Army buddy who had retired and moved to a home on a lake in Arkansas. He, his wife and grown son, came to visit the day after Memorial Day. They had a nice travel trailer that they roamed the country in to visit friends and family so they were “self contained.” They parked in my son’s vacant lot next to us.

The guys were both in Military Intelligence and so occasionally were at the same Post together. Now they were both retired and living a more carefree life. They always kept in touch and were very close. I met them for the first time on this visit and became fond of them immediately. They were well traveled, educated and personable. Their son was living with them at the time as he suffered from severe diabetes and ‘mom’ knew how to cook for him and deal with his needs. Warren had known him from the time he was a little boy and was fond of him.

The next day we took them around our area to show them our usual “visitors menu” of the mills, streams and gorgeous look-outs. The Ozarks has a wealth of quaint out-of-the-way places that positively will heal your soul. If you like stress and the “rat race” of city living….this place is not for you. High achievers would go mad here….for nothing is achieved in a hurry. That is one of the main reasons that many folks move in here from either coast, only to leave after a year or two, complaining that “you can’t get anything done here.” It is true….IF you like to tell folks how to do their job, complain about the time it is taking, constantly lecture on how great it was where you came from……you get the picture.

Folks in the Ozarks….the real natives of our area….are for the most part, good, hardworking people. If you move in here and are willing to learn how things are done HERE and listen to their advice, you will be accepted and respected. However, they don’t take kindly to “know it alls” or folks that “talk down to them.” Mutual respect is exchanged very well.

I am saddened because the folks who have grown up here from generations past will never ask for help. They are proud people who take care of their own and tough it out when the going gets tough. The part that makes me sad is the fact that many people move to Missouri ONLY because of the “great welfare” they can get here. They have no shame about using and abusing our system. This leads to unproductive folks who are using up State funds and think they deserve a free ride.

The summer months passed with visits from aunt Beulah and her sister, Mildred; uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle from Virginia and aunt Sally and aunt Mary from Nebraska. Company was always welcome and I loved to cook for people who loved to eat. You never found a “picky” eater around my table……and I always cooked too much for fear the food would run out ahead of the appetite.

John worked during the summer with Gene again, mixing concrete and carrying it to him. Warren worked with friends from church, helping them put up their hay. When John was unavailable to work with Gene, Warren filled in for him. They both kept busy during the summer months. John decided he needed to go on to seminary to further his ministerial education and after considering his options, chose to go to the Baptist Theological Seminary of New Orleans. It was a life-changing decision…….he fell in love with the South at large and never really left. However, he was to take a few detours as we shall see in the coming years.

Our good friends, the Ross’ moved him down to New Orleans and I’m sure they felt like they were losing a family member. John spent lots of time in their home and riding around with Bob on his night patrol…….they were good folks who are some of the most unselfish and generous people we know. And so….John’s grand adventure begins, being transplanted to New Orleans.

George Jr. came down to visit and we all worked on his lot with him to clear it up some and cut the weeds. Thankfully, weeds don’t grow good here, either. Grass is a hard won luxury but to make up for it the weeds don’t advance very fast. Warren used to love it when George was coming because he knew I’d bake his favorite….a cherry pie. If there was ever any left over it went home with George much to the chagrin of Warren. They always fought over the cherry pie.

We took mom to the airport to catch a plane to Seattle, Becky was working at Rawlings, the boys were gone and Warren went to work for the local school here as custodian. Summer was over, school bells were ringing and it was time to get organized for Fall festivities. Winter winds would soon be blowing across the Ozarks……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Winter finally gave way to better weather after February was over. Uncle Alfred had a bad spell with pains in his chest in March and we went to Mountain Home to visit him in the hospital. After observation for a few days they decided it was his cold that was causing the chest problems and he was released to go back to the Nursing Home. March is his birthday month so after checking on him a few times we took him to dinner to celebrate.

In April we drove to Bolivar to load up some of the things John wanted to move home. May would be graduation and time to move out of the dorm. We brought a car-full back with us so there wouldn’t be so much to bring on the next trip. The 19th of May was graduation day which was an even 30-years to the exact same day…. from the time I graduated high school. Mom, Warren and I drove up early so we could have a good seat in the Field House. George Jr. came from Shawnee but we didn’t find him until after the ceremony.

Afterwards, we regrouped and then went for dinner. John went back to Shawnee with George when we finished eating and we all said goodbye in the parking lot. Chris had gone with us to eat and he was going to be leaving to join the Air Force. We never saw Chris again but John later told us he had heard from him and he was flying the huge cargo planes of equipment to troops all over the world. Steve and Belinda went to a pastoral position and John was in the process of deciding where to go next.

For the time being he was going back with George to perform the marriage ceremony for his boyhood friend, Doug Fowler. The boys had grown up together, living across the street from each other, and John was happy to be doing the service for him. John returned a week later and got settled in for the summer. He rode his Honda up to our friends, the Ross’ who were moving to West Plains. Warren drove the car up and helped all day as well. We hated to see them go as they had been like family to all of us and living 25-miles away would make it less accessible to be together as much as we had been in the past.

John has written about his strong friendships……and friends have always been important to all of us. There are many definitions for friends but no one can really get a grip on just what it is that makes or keeps a friend. Many folks are charismatic and can attract people instantly but then when the initial acquaintance is made, they fade away. Other people aren’t as good at impromptu introductions but they “wear on you” as mom used to say….and over the long haul they are faithful, supportive and enduring as long as they live.

It is always said that you can usually count your friends on one hand. If you have the total number of “five”…consider yourself lucky. I think making a friend is best when we accept them for who they are and don’t wear them out with being together too much. Grandma Bond was a wise lady who we accepted as our Shawnee grandma. She was older and her family was on each coast so it was impossible to do any grand-parenting with her own grandchildren. She needed someone to give her love to and we needed her wise council and cheery visits. I loved the way she would laugh and throw her head back in merriment. She was a mentor for me and a delight to our children. One time she said, “If you don’t eat your friends up….you won’t have to spit them out.” Familiarity breeds contempt, in other words.

Our friends who lived across the street from us were friends of a different kind. Rosalie was younger with two small children. Being the elder….I took on the roll of big sister and tried to pass on all the good I learned earlier from mentors of my own. We have lived apart for more years now than we lived across the street from each other but phone calls, emails and letters have flowed through the years to keep our friendship constant and real.

Granny Bond lived long enough to see her dear husband go before her and later she moved into a high-rise elder assistance complex. To her very last, she played the piano in the lobby to the pleasure of the folks sitting around and listening. Her letters were of good cheer and she never counted herself out, even when the end was eminent. A letter was my last contact with the dear old friend.

As for Rosalie and her family, they no longer live on 65th Street, as I mentioned earlier. Gene retired some years ago and they moved back to Emporia, Kansas where they were raised. Their children were married and they immediately took up the cares of their elder family. Medical visits of all kinds, taking in every stray dog and cat that came to their door, cleaning up an overgrown family cemetery and working on genealogy took up their days. They have made a life out of helping others in time of need. Over the years we have grown closer than ever as time ticks off the calendar pages of each month. Age has a way of delivering advance notice that we need to love a lot and care a lot. The day looms ahead on some distant vista of time when we can no longer commune with our friends, here. From time to time I will tell you about some other friends of ours.

While it is today and while we are able….we need to let them know how blessed we are to call them………“friend.”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, September 20, 2004


We left off with the end of 1978 and an ice storm that transformed the world into a beauteous wonderland. It actually heralded in one of the coldest, snowiest and iciest winters all over the mid-west and north-east. Normally we don’t have much of a winter here in the Ozarks but when the weather turns foul to the west and north of us…..it has a trickling down effect.

Our pipes froze early in January and our furnace was not up to the temperatures it was trying to offset. We hung quilts over the windows which were acting as an invitation for the cold air to blow through.

It was John’s senior year at Bolivar and one of his favorite professors was taking a group to Israel over the January term at school. I believe it was more or less following one of Paul’s trips from Israel on to Turkey and then to Greece. We took him to Rolla to meet his ride to St. Louis where the group would catch a plane to Paris for their first stop. They would arrive at Tel Aviv by late afternoon and stay there their first night. I was thrilled for his opportunity to visit the Holy Land and see all of the Biblical sights we had always read about.

I usually spend the month of January cleaning out and getting organized. Evenings and quiet afternoons are spent knitting, crocheting or quilting. I declare that my sabbatical month to follow my day dreams of crafting. Hours quite often were spent with mom either here or at her place. Mom had a calming and peaceful air about her that worked on me as yoga must on people who follow the practice. She usually had cross-stitch by her chair and I marveled at the patience executed with each stitch.

Her work was so meticulously done that long after the pillow cases wore out, I would carefully cut the embroidery work out of the piece and make small pillows out of them….mini pillows shaped into hearts and put in a basket. There they were loved and enjoyed each time I passed by…..and they are still a source of good memories and a bond between my mother and me.

The 19th of January was the day we were to meet John’s plane in St. Louis. Our weather had not improved at all. By the time we started out we had freezing rain and the trees were once again being pulled downward with the weight of the ice. Now, however, it was worse because they were weakened from the last several days of ice and were not entirely straight yet. We knew it would be hazardous driving to St. Louis.

We arrived at the airport by 6:45pm after negotiating the home-bound traffic through the city. We found the desk where his flight would be monitored and to our surprise it was delayed. To be certain, we inquired at the desk and told it was indeed, delayed. We were a little concerned knowing the drive home was several hours on good roads and we didn’t know what might be happening weather-wise on the long drive back. I’m sure we looked anxious as we sat watching the monitor register flights that were delayed or cancelled. Our flight was delayed a second time and then cancelled. The airport in St. Louis was “socked” in with heavy fog and the plane had been sent on to Kansas City where the passengers were taken to a hotel for the night. We were stuck in the airport for the night. It was “sleepless in St. Louis” to coin a phrase, as many vacationers were enroute to ski resorts with all of their gear and people were piled everywhere with their belongings. Of course, children were the worse for the situation, since accommodations had dropped to zero.

Our main concern was what flight John would be coming in on now that his other flight aborted. We didn’t know the flight number or the time. All we could do was sit tight….and stave off hunger. We had no cash with us and the concession stands wouldn’t take credit cards then. Knowing we were stuck with no food until we could pick John up and get somewhere made us all the more hungry. We sat watching other people wolf down their hot-dogs, burgers and hot coffee which made us terribly envious. Time passed and morning came.

The next morning we watched every flight from KC and no John. About the time we were ready to give up, he came in on Ozark 967.…….of course, he had been concerned as well when plans went awry and he didn’t know if we’d be there or not. We got down the road where we spotted a McDonalds and we grabbed a bite and headed home. John’s old room-mate and his wife were due that same evening so we were cutting our preparation time down to the wire. His new room-mate was also coming with them.

Becky came to my rescue and helped get food and sleeping arrangements made….she and mom had been worried about us not coming home and we had no way to call. I hated the trauma we put them through but as they say, “all’s well that ends well.” The young folks all got here about 9:30pm and we fed them and got them bedded down for the night….then got up early to get them off by 7:20am. The end of the trip didn’t exactly turn out like it was supposed to but things usually work out if given a little time.

A few days later, John and the others came back from their trip and I had fixed a turkey dinner for them. I’m thinking this must have been a preaching trip they went on or perhaps a “trial preaching” in view of a “call” from a church. I didn’t specify in my journal. The rest of them hurried back to Bolivar as Steve had to work the next day but John stayed with us.

Later, I asked John what impressed him most about all the things he had seen and tasted of. After thinking a moment, he said, “Well, all of the places that are marked where events happened to Christ were pretty well crowded and commercialized. I guess the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the hillside by the Sea of Galilee where Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount. You could look out at the water where boats were fishing and the lilies were blooming all over the hill. It was quiet and there is where I could feel His presence. I will never forget walking where He walked.”

In that sense, John is still walking where Christ is and that close communion is the anchor of his life. John has put a lot of footprints down in 47-years but he still follows the Master’s…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Today is traditionally a day of rest for the weary. I like to reserve Sunday for inspirational thoughts that are separate from the continuing saga of our family story. Since I have written up to 1979, it is a good place to stop and think for a moment about something all of us bloggers use. Words.

Speaking is often done without thinking…many times words are just a running thought process of what goes on in our brain when it’s in limbo. The adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones….but words will never hurt me” is false. Words hurt when they are directed to us …..or worse…used unwittingly by us. Many a good friendship or family member has been ruined by hasty and unkind words. When we think of them as “tools” to guide us into a happy life, they become less….with more….meaning.

The tongue is the loose end of our soul. It unravels our most inward thought and once borne, words can never be retracted. It is wise to make them sweet and kind because they are eternal.

I’ll share something I wrote in November 1978. It seems a good way to close out that year in my journal.


Words are like manna falling from my mind. They rest upon my heart and God sends His children to gather enough for a day.

Words are lovely instruments given by God. The music we play with them is our testimony ….and our gift back to Him.

Words are like jewels, polished and well-chosen. Their rare beauty and color is lost unless the Light shines upon them in truth.

Words are the judges of my final hour. Oh God, that I might use them in love…and wisdom…for your glory ….and my redemption.

Words are all His and not mine to keep. I must pass them on….their goodness to convey…so come freely and eat…..while you may.

May you find rest for this day,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, September 18, 2004

GOODBYE TO 1978.... 

Uncle Buster called from Blair to tell us aunt Mary had surgery for breast cancer. We hadn’t known of her condition so it was a shock. Uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis lived very close to aunt Mary and were “there” for her and her needs. We were relieved to know it was all over and the prognosis looked good. We could only send our love and hope for the best.

Aunt Beulah came for a visit later in September and we enjoy having her. She’s always a breath of fresh air and fits into anything going on at the time. Of course there are table games when she comes. When I think of all the games and card playing I wonder if anyone does that anymore? It was always something to be enjoyed during the visits from any of the Andersen’s.

We got ready for the Powell’s to come from Virginia. They always make a pilgrimage to Nebraska during August but this year they came early so as to pick mom up and take her with them. Aunt Mary’s surgery was early in September so they wanted to be of help to her if they could. They were here a few days and I helped mom get ready to go on with them.

October was beautiful. Isn’t October everyone’s favorite month? Whenever it is mentioned almost everyone says it is. I see notations in my journal referring to the skies that are so blue it looks like someone spilled paint overhead. I love to hang linens on the line in October…….mostly because I enjoy the air, the leaves of every color and a sky that no other month can boast of. There is a feeling of grand completion that permeates the atmosphere. Nature is settling down for a golden Fall harvest….the last of the gardens coming in, the crops from the fields and time to take a deep breath and enjoy God’s handiwork and the fruits of our own labors.

I was busy canning tomatoes until the last of the vines could do no more. In Missouri the gardens produce so well in the fall that many people make a second planting of green beans. I remember the first year we moved to Missouri we picked a bushel basket of them on Veteran’s Day in November. Mom and dad thought they had moved to Utopia but later on we found every year doesn’t do that well. We are subject to weather changes and early cold snaps like anyone else. The odds are better here than we were used to in Nebraska though, at any rate.

November brought the Powell’s, mom and aunt Mary back. The Powell’s were on their way back to Virginia and mom was going back home with aunt Mary. They were here a few days before everyone headed out again in different directions.

John was busy commuting back and forth from Bolivar. Sometimes he would catch rides with students who traveled this way and had vehicles (he always filled their tanks) and at times we would go after him or take him back. He was on the road with the quartet almost every weekend and when he was home he was helping at church….he did a lot of preaching around the area in small churches. He never seemed to need the sleep most people do so he managed to make it around his crowded schedule without complications.

We had Thanksgiving dinner here with aunt Beulah and Becky’s family joining us. It was a nice day with good food and time to visit with each other. Christmas was a little different this year as we were spending it in Shawnee, with George. Mom and aunt Mary were driving down from Blair to meet us for the holiday. John had to preach Sunday morning but we came home and loaded the car……made it to George’s by 6:00pm. Mom and aunt Mary were there around 4:00pm.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and enjoyed George’s beautiful tree. Later we went to the Plaza to see the Christmas lights which are something to behold. It is a tradition we have enjoyed for many years…..the Plaza becomes a fairyland from Thanksgiving until the first of the year. We were able to visit with grandma Strain who now lives with George Sr. and his wife….it was good to see her….and after a few days it was time to head back home.

Aunt Mary left first for her drive back to Nebraska and we left soon after. Mom had been gone for some time so she was glad to be going “home.” The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve went quickly. On December 31st we woke up in a different world. It had drizzled and frozen all night long and the trees and bushes were bent to the ground in grotesque shapes. When the air stirred a little you could hear the branches groan and crack with the weight of ice they held.

With every calamity there is always a bonus to off-set the situation. When the sun shown on the ice, our world was transformed into diamonds and aurora borealis that made little rainbows everywhere. The world was washed and frozen for a moment in time……ready for a New Year of hope and expectations. God’s world is an ever changing canvas of beauty for those who stop long enough to see…….and recognize his handiwork……..

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Friday, September 17, 2004


I have been reading my 1978 journal so that I can write about events for the first several months. I’ll have to confess, in reading it, I am exhausted. Let me see….I turned 46-years of age in May, this particular year. It reads like a continual little wheel that gerbils run on.

To record for my family, we shall continue on. January was very cold this year and we kept Jennifer and Jonathan while Becky recuperated at mom’s after her surgery in December. Jennifer was in school so we were on schedule for her coming and going. John was home the month of January between semesters at Bolivar and doing some preaching around our area. I was busy feeding people, doing laundry for all of us, cutting hair…fixing hair and sewing for everyone. I finished knitting a sweater for John and made knitted caps for Becky and the grand-children.

We celebrated all of the March birthdays which consist of John, Jonathan and Becky. George Jr. came at Easter and we had a good visit with him and all of our local family. Spring cleaning, yard work and church activities brought us up to Bible School time. We moved John back home from Bolivar and he, Warren and I taught classes in Bible School.

Shortly after, John had the opportunity to work with a friend who did brick work. He mixed and carried the concrete to Gene who laid the bricks. He spent the summer doing that and playing drums for the quartet on week-ends. He also went on the church bus routes so he was busy. His room-mate from college was getting married in June so we took John to Illinois, close to St. Louis, for the wedding.

Warren and I went to Nebraska to visit his maternal and paternal families and also stopped in Blair to see my relatives there. We were back and forth to Mountain Home on a regular basis to look in on uncle Alfred. He looked forward to getting out of the Nursing Home to shop for little extra’s to eat in his room.

He didn’t like their cooking or their rules. They took salt away from him because of his high blood pressure so he bought salt and a shaker and put it in his top shirt pocket before going to the dining room every day. It was his act of defiance against “the system”….he also kept peanut butter and jelly in his room with a supply of crackers. He bought a steel “safe” to keep his goodies in because he suspected the “hired help” of sneaking it out. He had a huge padlock and key………uncle Alfred was 86-years old in March and resented anyone telling him what he could or couldn’t do. We stayed neutral and let him wage his battles.

Uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle came to visit all of us on their way to the Nebraska reunion in August. They stayed several days and we always enjoyed having them. We were also visited by Warren’s sister and family as they made a sentimental trip to Arkansas where Warren’s brother-in-law was raised. (They have lived in Seattle for many years.)

Summer passed and once again we moved John back to Bolivar. Warren took John’s place with Gene to be his hod carrier. He enjoyed the physical work and “guy” visits they had during the day. I spent the last days of August putting up tomatoes and peaches as well as relish and pickles. Mom was around to visit with while I worked and as I look back on those days, they were pretty special. Mom helped a lot in her quiet way….she had a way of getting things done without a lot of fuss and muss.

September was to be on the next calendar page and school had been underway for over a week. As I hung clothes on the line early in the morning I could hear the drum and bugle corps practicing on the field. The sky was cloudless and bright blue and my thoughts were on an ant hill I had stepped over on the way to hang the sheets. I came inside and wrote the following lines…..


Commitment was only a word to me -
A word so easily spoken,
A promise made for many reasons
And all too often, broken.

Oh I’ve built a mountain of good intentions,
And though each was a solemn vow,
With every new day or come setting sun,
I could see where I’d failed, somehow.

One day as I watched an ant hill
Being shaped out of hard, rocky, ground,
My mind came off of the mountain
And true commitment I found.

We don’t learn to walk by running,
Nor does Trust build Her house in a day,
Like the ant we must be faithfully willing
To pick up and carry God’s clay.

Most of the time our ideals are far too lofty for God. We want to build mountains…He only wants ant hills. We get so carried away by “doing”….
all He wants is our “being………”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Yesterday I wrote about friends of ours who lost their grandson in a freak accident. This was in May. Imagine the shock to have a mutual friend call to tell us that the grandfather of the boy died in his sleep on August 29th. Only a little over three months after they lost their grandson.

Margaret got up early and thought Jim was still sleeping so she went to the kitchen and made coffee and started breakfast. Time went along, and Jim, who was not a late sleeper, still hadn’t come for his usual morning coffee. Finally, she went to the bedroom to see if he was up and discovered he was dead. Died sometime during the night. There is no way any of us can imagine the shock, disbelief and immediate devastation Margaret felt.

It was a terrible blow for the family. Jim was the consummate man. He was respected by men and women the same, he was a terrific dad, a great provider and enthusiasm oozed out of him wherever he went. They were a family to follow. He was involved in Boy Scouts, his church and the neighborhood at large. Margaret’s life that was so perfect early in May now found her mourning her grandson and her husband. We knew her grief would be inconsolable. Margaret, herself, lost a battle with cancer and died a few years later.

It seems there is a time in your life when the stronghold of innocence is finally beaten down to the point there is no escaping your own mortality. For me, this was one of those times. Sad, though a natural thing, is losing grandparents or aunts and uncles…..maybe a parent. This is more or less a ‘given’ and anticipated from time to time. However, when friends are taken so quickly, the circle becomes smaller and the possibility of your own demise becomes greater. It is ‘life’ knocking at your door for that ultimate “wake up” call.

John went back to Bolivar in August and Becky had surgery in December for re-occurring problems. We kept the children during the surgery and her recuperation. We had visits from mom’s family all during August and the fall season….we made numerous visits to Arkansas to take care of uncle Alfred’s needs and to visit aunt Beulah. The months seem shorter and shorter with each passing year but there isn’t any way to slow down the process. Life is a journey not a stopping off place…….and so we travel on……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


May, this year, (1977) was very busy for us and full of not so good news. It seems things happen in bunches and I have lived long enough to bear it out. Mom always said things went in threes, and again….she was right. We had three bad things in May.

As I’ve written before, dad always looked after uncle Alfred who lived in Mountain Home, AR. After dad died, Warren and I continued in his stead. Uncle Alfred was having multi-health problems and we were perplexed about what to do. Being a stubborn old man he decided the pills they were giving him was making him sick. (Well, that might have been more true than not, the way pills are dished out to elder citizens.) Imagine our surprise on one of our visits when he told us he dug a hole in the yard and put all of his pill bottles in it…..covered it up. The look on his face was one of glee…….the little man’s revenge on all doctors. He was triumphant!!

Of course this alarmed us considerably since we had a 65-mile trip to look after him. In an emergency it was light years away. His health problems didn’t get any better and we talked him into going to a doctor for a good check-up. We were told he had “electrical” problems and he would need a pacemaker to regulate the heart. That required hospitalization and he had no Medicare. He had opted not to have it when he signed up for it. He had no insurance. We made it through the red tape and after days of running back and forth he was back home in his trailer.

The occasions we had to visit him were quite educational. He had a huge jar of grape jelly on his table covered in mold, peanut butter, old bread….but the rest was even worse. He would buy a large pork roast (Danes love pork), cook it and grind it up with a hand grinder. He then made some kind of a loaf out of it and would eat it every meal till it was gone. It looked absolutely horrible….however…he was quite proud of his culinary abilities. How the man kept from dying of ptomaine poisoning is more than we could figure. Needless to say his condition worsened and we had to take him to the Nursing Home….doctor’s orders.

We spent a week getting the loose ends tied up with the sale of his trailer, moving his things, getting him settled and finishing the papers with the State of Arkansas. His landlady bought the trailer for $1000 and that was put on a funeral plan along with the other ready cash he had. He was taken care of for the time being and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Later in the month we learned grandma Strain was giving up her apartment and moving to Shawnee with George Sr. and his wife. She was getting her pills all mixed up and no longer able to care for herself in her little apartment in Cabool. We would miss her for we always had her here for the special occasions and many times……“just because.” She was a woman who never knew what it was to be spoiled by having too much in the way of material things or in affection. Her days had been lived out by only thinking of others.

In rapid succession we learned of a tragedy that happened to some good friends of ours. Their grandson was in his backyard riding his bike when a car crashed through shrubbery between the road and yard….killing him instantly. It was an unbelievable tragedy and devastated the whole family. Sometimes it is hard to understand why things happen like they do. Life and death are both realities and some things just aren’t meant to be understood.

May was one of those times in our family. Uncle Alfred went to a nursing home, grandma Strain went to family and a young grandson was taken at an early age. God alone knows every “why” we encounter in life and promises the eventual outcome will be good. It helps all of us if we can just accept that…..and go on.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Since I was gone yesterday I was reading John’s post from Monday concerning Mr. Ates. It hit home since I am closer to Mr. Ates condition than John is. I have loved older people all my life and have spent lots of time with them. We all have a story to tell about our journey. I remember a pastor who said people really didn’t need a sermon at their funeral….the person had already preached it by the life he/she led……this is true. We may canonize them after they are gone but the memories we hold are truth of that person’s life. Words cannot edit a life that was lived on the dark side or wasted. We have the power to do that while we live and growing older is a beacon that we need to get serious with it.

It made me think of a poem I wrote in November 1978. I was within a few months of John’s age now when I put it to paper. It makes me wonder if gene’s transfer on the same time-table…….



Each man must give an account of his time
From his first breath to his last.
A life isn’t measured by silver and gold
Of travels and possessions or gain…
Our Master has a far different plan
To gauge the value of man!

Oh how we struggle and spend precious time
To collect, possess and achieve,
Just one more trophy, another new goal
And one more day becomes one more week…
The price is too high to conside the cost
It isn’t the money but the years being lost!

How freely we spend it and dip in for more
No thought that it’s soon running out.
The minutes are flowing and carry us on
To some distant, vague, lure of tomorrow…
And the fires of sacrifice now lit for today
Leave a charred reminder where dead dreams lay.

And so it goes till the Death Angel comes
And we’re surprised to see Him so soon.
My gold for a day - an hour - one moment -
How precious I see was my time…
Oh to say all the words I wish I had said
Oh to live the life that I should have led.

Our gold won’t buy even one second more
When the Master sees that our sand has run out.
To each was given his measure to use
Whether wisely or foolishly the same…
And only one question will be asked sublime -
“What did you do with your portion of time?”

Dedicated to Mr. Ates and all those who are nearing the end of their journey.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Thanks to John for the pictures of Jakie that he added to my blog. Becky, Rocky and I will be in Springfield all day on Monday so I shall be back on Tuesday. I hope you all have a great day and the good Lord takes a likin’ to ya.

Until then,
Essentially Esther


January 1977 was miserable. We had 28-straight days of snow on the ground. Normally, in our area, if we get snow at all it is just several inches. A 4-inch snow is normal…….and burns off with the next sunny day. This year was much different. Our winters are cold, granted, but this year the temps stayed below zero or in the teens. It was horrible all over the country.

New England had 13-foot drifts and to watch those poor folks try to shovel out was unbelievable. Buffalo, NY. caught the worst of the snowfall with wind chill 40* below zero. Unthinkable!! How they managed to keep things going is beyond comprehension. I know the Northeast is used to handling winter weather but this was one year even they were ready to throw in the towel. It is reminiscent of the hurricanes poor Florida is experiencing at the moment. Just storm after storm after storm.

To make the economics worse California and Florida had massive crop failures. California was experiencing one of the worst draughts and had to ration water….while Florida’s crops froze out with temperatures way below normal. Here in our little area of the Ozarks, the lowest temperatures ever recorded took center stage. You can imagine what that did to the food production.

JakeIn May that year John asked if he could have a puppy. His best friend’s parent’s raised poodles and had a couple of “mistakes” they were going to have to get rid of. It seems a wily white Wire-Haired Terrier jumped their back fence and bred an Apricot Poodle of theirs. They couldn’t sell the two male pups so they needed to get rid of them. John took a liking to what became, Jake. John compared them to Jacob and Esau as one was fairer and the other more ruddy apricot. Since Jacob was the “good” brother…..he left the “bad” brother for someone else. Poor Esau came to a bad end. He had been tied to the clothesline while his new owners were away. They came home to find him strangled in the rope.

I would have to be honest to say that Warren wasn’t too delighted about having a puppy here. He only liked big dogs that were real dogs…..and got off the porch, so to speak, preferably a German Shepherd. House dogs never appealed to him and besides that…..John would be at school most of the time which meant we would be Jake’s “caretakers.” I had to sell him on the idea and on our next visit to Shawnee we dropped in on our friends to pick Jacob up. He was an adorable bunch of white fur with apricot spots on him and obviously loved anyone who picked him up. He suckered Warren in with his puppy kisses. The first day we laid eyes on Jakie was May 2nd.

We put Jake in the car and headed back home, stopping in Bolivar to show him to John. Jake was born on January 20th so by May when we got him he was 4-months old. Just the right age to bite everything in sight. Gnawing and chewing were his favorite things to do besides eating. I will have to say…….I never “house broke” a dog before so I don’t know how difficult it is, but I suspected Jake was just too easy. I set him out on the grass every hour or so and from the first introduction to the lawn he was “broke.” He never made a mess in the house.

So it was, that we were the caretakers of Jake, John was his master. He would run circles and bark excitedly when John came into view. He adored him. John spent his week-ends at home with Jake. He devised games to play with him and on him. One day while they were playing “sockie,” Jake lost all of his baby teeth. For those of you who are not acquainted with the game, John would play tug-of-war with an old sock. When Jake got a good hold, John would start raising the sock in the air and Jake not being willing to give up….came with it.


This would go on and on……they neither ever tired of it. This one day John had him in mid-air and suddenly Jake fell to the floor. On close examination John discovered all of Jake’s baby teeth stuck in the sock. The teeth just couldn’t take it anymore…. Jakie was a fun little dog and smart as a whip. He was eager to learn and it was easy to teach him tricks. He loved to show off his ability when company came and after the greeting and the seating……he would come sit in front of me and stare. That was my indication that it was time for his repertoire of tricks.

Jake taught me a lot about life. Watching him live out his days was a privilege that I benefited from. He always gave the best that he had and loved everyone….there are many stories of Jake’s time with us…he lived a good life for almost 13-years. He is buried in our back woods with a pile of Missouri rocks for a reminder that he was here and that he loved us…..and that we loved him………


Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, September 11, 2004


As a girl of nine, I heard President Roosevelt tell about the attack on Pearl Harbor over the radio. His words mesmerized our family as we huddled around the radio in the living room. We could hear planes and bombs dropping with sirens droning an endless wail……..as if in agony. Excited news reporters trying to describe the awful carnage and impossible scene as our fleet and planes battled to stay alive, filled the airways. It was a moment in my life that is as real as this very day.

“Today is a day that will live in infamy……..”

When President Kennedy was shot in 1963 I heard the news over the intercom at the school I was working in. The lunch line was just over and we were cleaning up the kitchen. Suddenly the principal’s voice interrupted a normal day and a normal routine by telling us the President had been shot in Dallas. They were hoping it was not fatal….he had been rushed to a hospital….he would keep us informed. Finally, the news that the President was dead. We stood stunned, looking at each other…..words failing us.

“Ask not what your country can do for you but rather, what can you do for your country.”

I was getting ready to go to work when I happened to glance at the TV and saw what looked like a plane flying into a building….I thought…a movie. Then the realization that it was real and that this was a second plane flying into one of the Twin Towers in NYC. The following events of that day will forever be etched in my mind. The unthinkable, the impossible, the horror of the scale of damage that was accomplished that day brought ‘trouble’ to our very doors. The bravery of that day will be the thing I remember most….the scores of heroism and self sacrifice that calls all of us to step up and be counted among them.

“Let’s roll !!”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, September 10, 2004

GOODBYE TO 1976.... 

Summer is always time for the visiting and travel that we don’t do in the other months. John was home for the summer and he is always like having instant entertainment. His mind is very spontaneous and creative….like dad and myself, he sees life through “cartoon” eyes. Any thing that’s going on, instantly plays out as a cartoon feature and the situation becomes instant comedy. Dad never forgot a movie. He could recite lines from the silent movie era…….in fact, he was quite a movie expert….being in love with the screen from it’s beginning.

Mom, on the other hand, knew all about the movie stars. He was interested in the part played by the star….mom was interested in the star. She used to tell me about poor Rudolph Valentino, the screen Romeo of the early films, how popular he was, how women swooned over him…..and then….the tragedy of “talkies”. His voice was high range and squeaky….a real ‘turn off’ to the ladies. He dropped out of sight like a dud from the Space Center.

After his death there was a lady in black who always came and placed a red rose on his grave. The mysterious visitor was never identified due to the heavy black veil she wore. Were that to happen in this day and age, the media would hound her until they knew who she was. It is nice to remember that an element of mystery is a good thing.

Jean Harlow was a blonde bombshell in the 30’s. Platinum hair and gorgeous body, at the top of her popularity went to sleep under a sun lamp one day and died from the effects of third degree burns. Hollywood mourned her short and famous life.

Dad laughed about Laurel and Hardy long after they disappeared……Ma and Pa Kettle, Wallace Berry....later on came Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope…he loved them all. Listening to dad talk about his favorites held you spell-bound. He could bring his “mind pictures” to life so well that you could almost hear the reel turning from the sound room. John inherited his gift.

After a fast summer we took John back to Bolivar the end of August to find a new dorm for his lodging. It was quite impressive. We stayed long enough to help get things squared away and waited in line for registration…..it all went a lot faster than when he was a freshman. There are some benefits to being a ‘grade up’ on campus. Shortcuts are there if you know where.

George had been down several times and we were always glad to see him. He was doing well in his job and he was a kid who liked security and knowing what was ahead; so he was moving along and didn’t plan any jumping off place for something better. One thing about Civil Service in those days….if you got on and did your job, it was yours for life. Just don’t screw up. Retirement benefits are a good thing.

We had lots of family visits in the fall. Aunt Mary and Sadie (mom’s sister and cousin) came from Nebraska frequently and mom would go back with them at times. Aunt Beulah and her sister, Mildred, came to visit mom several times and we continued bringing grandma Strain for dinner and to visit. Along with people coming and going my brother, Louis, called and wanted us to drive dad’s new Maverick out to Seattle for him. He offered to fly us home if we’d drive out and bring mom along.

Mom had never been to California so having made one trip there I knew she would love the sights. We agreed and left home late in October for a scenic route through the Southwest. We took her on the same route we did on our honeymoon. From Missouri we made the Texas panhandle, Tucumcari and Albuquerque our first day. (900+ miles…due to the time changes in our favor going West.) The next day we got as far as Barstow, CA and spent the night.

We made it across the desert to Morrow Bay and then went north along Coast Highway 1, to the Monterey Peninsula, Seventeen Mile Drive, Carmel. We stayed at Monterey and had supper at Fisherman’s Warf. Mom loved it all and it was fun to see it again through her eyes. The next day we drove through Santa Cruz, and San Hose, to San Francisco. We took mom through the city enough to get a good “feel” of it……saw the usual landmarks and sights, then crossed the Golden Gate to Santa Rosa. We had a good lunch there and continued north to the giant redwoods and Eureka. A day later we reached Renton after coming through Portland.

We spent a few days with Louis and Gail and then flew home. Mom loved to travel. Her sister Mary, always teased her about remembering all of the good places to eat. She said any road mom had been over she had a running account of where to go for the best food. Not a bad thing in my book.

Fall and leaf raking set in big-time when we got home…Thanksgiving and Christmas found our table full and overflowing with family and food. We counted our blessings for the many benefits of the past year……and for the goodness of family…..and so, we bid farewell to 1976.…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Life leveled off fairly well by 1976. For the first six months we were living in a schedule that didn’t vary too much. John preached his very first sermon on January 11th at our church. George Jr. and aunt Beulah came for the service and of course we were all proud of him. John was home from Christmas to February 2nd because there was an optional January course he didn’t sign up for.

We made a lot of trips to see aunt Beulah at Gassville, Arkansas and we also stopped each time to see uncle Alfred at Mountain Home. Sometimes we would take him to aunt Beulah’s with us and sometimes we would just take him to dinner and then to the grocery store. Dad made that his priority as long as he lived because uncle Alfred had been so good to dad when he was a kid. Older brother looked out for him when the chips were down. Dad never forgot it and until dad’s death he drove down to see him fairly often to check on him. (It’s in a former entry where I wrote about dad’s life.)

Uncle Emil and aunt Mardelle would come sometimes and we would bring mom to meet at aunt Beulah’s…….there was always an abundance of good food and lots of card playing. I usually took knitting or crochet to work on but they did love to play cards. Their obvious fun and laughter often made me walk to the kitchen to see what was so funny…..and they “played” each hand over again when the hand was finished. “If you’da played your three spot, when I played my ace….I woulda had you dead to rights……..” then more laughter. It went on…hand after hand. A game was not easily forfeited.

Warren and I volunteered to paint aunt Beulah’s house that Spring. We had three cats that we couldn’t leave at home so we put them in a cage in the back of the pick-up and headed for Arkansas. When we were on the open highway I looked back at the cage and the three of them were hanging onto the sides of the cage with all four feet and scared to death. Their fur was blowing in the wind and they were absolutely the picture of panic. They survived the ride and stayed in their cage until we came home.

We scraped and painted and finished in a week. We made the bargain to paint the house for food and lodging. We were well taken care of in that regard and aunt Beulah insisted on giving us a monetary gift…….she was happy with the work and we were happy to have the week with her. Needless to say, the cats were glad to get back home.

One of my mom’s younger sister’s, aunt Inabelle, had a bad stroke in February this year and mom and aunt Mary flew out to the D.C. area and stayed for several weeks. Aunt Inabelle had to learn to crawl like a baby all over again, to talk, and learn the use of her right arm once more. There was physical therapy every day and they helped uncle Tom as much as they could with her rehabilitation and the chores about the house.

John spent a lot of time with our friends, the Ross’s, when he was home from school. I think for a while they half claimed him as their own he was at their house so much. He enjoyed the family and riding around with Bob on his rounds. It was a very good time in his life. John taught me a lot of what he was soaking up at school. He would come home and tell about different discussions in so and such a class and he had a way of presenting it all so that it was a lesson in itself. We had many long visits over subjects that were interesting or troubling. Warren and I would avail ourselves to some of the speakers who came to the college as well as some of the music groups who came. When June rolled around he had one year out of the way and was well accustomed to campus life.

George Jr. was working at the old Bendix complex in Kansas City as a civilian (Civil Service) disbursing clerk for the Marine Corps. He liked his job, got an apartment, and began getting some furniture. He bought a silver Camero early in the year and made quite a few trips down here in it.

Becky was a busy mom of two and I did a lot of baby sitting for her during this time. She was running their own laundry business and had quite a few health problems which finally sent her to the hospital. To write of these times seems commonplace and yet, it is the stuff that filled up hours, days, weeks and months of our lives. It is the “filler” between the high points and the low times.

I was looking at a picture my brother sent one time of him and his wife looking over the rail on their deck. They gazed upon a beautiful sunset that sent a gold reflection over Lake Washington right up to their dock. As I looked at the picture, I thought, “what an extraordinarily normal day….may it always be.” The glue that holds our days together is made of nothing more than this….the simple sights and sounds, being together, observing nature putting your world to sleep…and maybe hearing a mocking bird singing from the topmost branch.

In my little corner the last things I see before night falls are the bunnies in the back yard safely eating and the cardinals who always come last, before dark. As they wing ‘home’ for the night I know they are filled with what I feel……..that God’s world is a beautiful and wonderful place and that we are given the benediction of rest for another day……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

YEAR'S END....1975 

I found my way back to the computer today and I think I’m brain dead. It’s like I never saw a keyboard before…..so I shall slide back into the routine a little easy while my body catches up. First of all I want to thank you for your concern and your comments, all of which reacted like mom and chicken soup to my soul. I am grateful for you caring folks out there in cyber space. I have truly missed every one of you and the great connection we are to each other on a daily basis.

In the interim, my printer went bonkers and Becky’s did as well. Now that’s odd….do you think there is a family connection? She has ordered a new one and I’m going through my choices. Since I am now addicted to writing and printing everyday it causes an undeniable glitch in my processing. “ I shall think about this tomorrow,” to steal a line from Scarlet O’Hara……..

And so now we need to finish up 1975.…….we have dropped John off at Bolivar and I’m feeling the “empty nest” syndrome. Since dad died in 1974, I did mom’s laundry each week and Warren mowed her yard and we tried to take up the slack that dad left. I washed their mobile home which was under trees……those of you who do also, know mildew loves those areas. Her storm windows were the old type that winged out in three sections so they couldn’t be washed from the inside. It was
a job but the results were worth it all.

I did mom’s Fall cleaning in the mobile home, sewed a lot for her and did her hair once a week. I do not write this to earn the “good daughter” award but to give account of my time. Finishing with mom’s; we then did the same at our place. It took most of the Fall to finish up the cleaning and preparation for winter.

Our church commitments took a lot of our time as our church was like every other church I’ve ever known about. There are more members on the roll than show up on Sunday’s. There are members who show up on Sunday morning but don’t come to the evening services…..and then there are the Wednesday night Prayer Meetings, which are indigenous to the Baptist church; with choir practice following. Among those faithful there are again, very few who are able or willing to fill the many areas of service needed to keep a church body moving along.

Warren and I had slowly taken on more and more responsibility until we were working full time to keep it all going. I look back on all that with a good deal of wisdom from the other perspective now. It is obvious that a lot of these other absentee members had at one time been “on fire” but burned out trying to keep pace for others who were too sick, too old, too “whatever” to drag the old wagon along. For one thing, when you are that busy and have a family, they see very little of you. Why do you think preacher’s kids are usually the “hellions” in the community? Their psychological needs are not being met because dad is called out during the week at all hours, preaching or preparing to preach, attending community functions and the rest of the church calendar.

Even members who are committed and want to help out are soon overrun with too much to do and drag to each obligation with less enthusiasm each time. Churches plan too much “stuff” at church…….and then tell you to go out into the world and “save it” as well as preaching quality family time at home. It is the great paradox of the Church to learn just how much you can do, should do or want to do. The happy person is one who has learned the limits of his own possibility……not to try and make it ALL possible. Lesson learned: God is still in charge….I can take a break once in a while.

And so……we were busy being busy and happy when George Jr. or John could make it home for the week-end. Becky was living nearby so we were able to see one another fairly often. John and Becky were still involved in church here and John would preach at times when our pastor was out of town. Fall passed before we knew it and we had a big snow before Thanksgiving. George wasn’t able to make it but Warren went after grandma Strain, mom walked over and John’s presence made five places at the table. Becky and family came later for evening snacks as they had been to Hank’s folks for Thanksgiving dinner.

Christmas brought all the kids together with both grandmother’s and we had a wonderful dinner and gift-giving. It is our custom to read the story of the Nativity around the tree lights before we open gifts. When the children were little I wanted them to know the real reason for Christmas and that gifts were part of the way we show generosity and love for others. Each year a different person would read….sometimes the one who came the furthest, the oldest, youngest….it was always a special honor to be handed the Bible to read about the Christ child. Over the years the younger ones are now head of their own homes and some of our dear ones are gone……..but the story goes on…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, September 04, 2004

TIME OUT..... 

Well, Rocky and Becky were kind enough to share their “bug” with me so I’m down for the count. I am going to spend the next couple of days piled up on my favorite chair watching Frances do her thing. Other than feeling miserable I feel fine.

I shall be back in a couple of days….hopefully. Until then I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day Week-end. I look forward to writing again soon.

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, September 03, 2004


May is always a busy month in our family because of Mother’s Day and birthdays for mom and me……as well as aunt Beulah and aunt Inabelle. George Jr. was here several times, going back and forth. We always had him bring grandma Strain down for dinner and the afternoon. She enjoyed seeing our flowers and visiting with mom as well as catching up on all the news. Grandma Strain lived in an apartment in Cabool after grampa died and she was never one to complain….about anything.

John came down with George Jr. and on the 14th of May John applied for work at Hillbilly Junction and was hired as a cook. His dad brought him down on the 23rd and Rosalie came with them. She was my buddy from across the street in Shawnee and it was fun to show her around so she had an idea of our little corner of the world. George Jr. came the next day so we had both boys and Rosalie here while George Sr. visited with his mother in Cabool.

John joined church the next day and went to work at 2:00pm later……he rode his Honda back and forth and that was the part that troubled me. However, unless he did something I don’t know about, he made it just fine but I never went to sleep until I heard him pull in the driveway each night. On my birthday that year, Warren took me to Hillbilly for dinner and it was cooked by John….now that seemed odd but it was one of those moments when I realized my baby was growing up. As with everything else, everything he tackled…… he conquered.

June was busy with church and social functions common to small town living. Warren, mom, John and I went to see aunt Beulah in Arkansas and Warren always stopped to get uncle Alfred at the nursing home for a day out. On the July 4th week-end, my old neighbors, Gene and Rosalie Fowler and George Jr. came to visit. We had a wonderful time but it always ended too quickly.

August 12th John told us he had definitely planned to go on to college. He wanted to go into some kind of full-time Christian work but wasn’t sure just what. Warren and he went to visit our pastor, Brother David, the next day who made some phone calls and put them on the right track. On the 18th Brother David rode up to Bolivar (a Baptist college north of Springfield) with us to see about registration and to work out the final details. I have always been grateful for the help that he gave us. John worked his last day at Hillbilly on the 24th of August. He caught a bus to KC and saw all of his pals….sorted through a lot of stuff and George brought him back the next day.

On September 1st we moved John and his things to Bolivar where he was assigned a dorm. It was less than desirable, as well as being small, John was the last of three who would share the room. His room-mates had staked their claim on everything about the room that was good and he had to squeeze into what was left. We spent the night in Springfield and went back the next day when he would enroll and register.

The saddest time for a parent is driving off when you leave your “baby” behind at college. I can remember looking out the rear window until we were out of sight and John was still standing by the curb watching us go. I don’t know what he was thinking but I wanted to drive around the block and go back and pick him up. I knew he would have a lot of stuff to learn and keep up with and without a car he was more or less stuck.

As fate would have it, he got along fine, got a better room, had a room-mate with a car and loved being at Bolivar. Typical John. No sweat.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Early in January we had a large revival at our church featuring Freddie Gage and Jerry Wayne Bernard. Freddie had a large reputation for drugs and shady dealings while Jerry Wayne was a Pat Boone type….squeaky clean in every way. John knew they were coming and caught the bus back so he could attend…..they were a very compelling twosome.

Our church had been preparing for weeks and the whole town had been canvassed for the event. One night it was held in the high school gym and the other nights at our church. The crowds were amazing and so was Freddie Gage. He drew young people like I’d never seen in this town before…..all the pews were full as well as the aisles…they were full-up in the balcony and sitting on the floor in front of the pulpit. They weren’t your “regular” kids seen in church….they were the drop-outs and rebellious types who were never seen in a church.

Freddie was relentless as he walked up and down and pointed fingers….he told his own story which was pretty candid…he never lost eye contact with anyone sitting within hearing distance of him. He had written a book, titled, “All My Friends Are Dead,” in which he told of his spiral into a living hell with buddies that O.D.’ed on drugs and other sinful ventures until he was the last one standing.

Somehow he heard about the living Savior when he was in the deepest hole and it was like a light at the end of his long, dark tunnel. As if struck by lightening, he was a changed man on the spot and began dragging people off the street into the church. He literally “made” them take on the faith and turned into a zealot for Christ. Being totally ignorant of the Bible or any formal religious learning from church or Sunday school he knew he had to preach the Word……..but knew he didn’t know enough to do so.

Jerry Wayne was the song leader but a fair speaker as well. He told the story of his days at Baylor College in Texas where he was studying for music and evangelism. Baylor is a Baptist College in Texas and most people who go there are not the Freddie Gage type. Jerry said he’ll never forget the day Freddie came on campus. He was in a big car and arrived like a parade of one. In no time everyone at Baylor knew he had hit campus. His unorthodox ways and his challenge of doctrines was being talked about everywhere. He was not one to go through channels to preach but rather went out to set the world on fire with the flames from his own personal salvation.

He lit this little town up like it had never seen before. People were excited about their faith and were exercising it as in the days of Pentecost. John had just finished high school and had been reading the Living Bible which opened up a new door of faith for him. When it was all over, John caught the bus back to Shawnee.

These months were very busy for the whole family. Mom and aunt Mary flew to Virginia to be with their younger sister and husband and on their return trip, mom stayed in Blair with aunt Mary quite a while. George Jr. came through on his way to see a friend in Alabama and then on his way home again. Becky gave birth to Jonathan on the 11th of March and my brother flew in from Seattle to drive dad’s pickup, camper, boat and motor back to Seattle. Mom went back with him and after they were gone we made an extensive trip West, ourselves.

We stopped in Blair, then on to Casper, Missoula and a beautiful Lolo pass to Lewiston, ID. where we visited with Warren’s step-dad. We stopped in Walla Walla, WA. to visit Warren’s brother and his wife and finally, on to Seattle. After being there some time we brought mom home with us and visited relatives all the way back again. It was a very mobile time and we were all looking forward to coming home to our beautiful Ozarks which would be in full bloom with dogwood and red bud trees.

Springtime is beautiful anywhere but the Ozarks is queen of Spring. She tucks little blooms in the smallest of places…a rock, a creek bank, an old tree trunk…and furls the blue sky above without a cloud to mar her face. The nesting critters and birds are busily going back and forth to make ready for their young and the hills sing out with joy and anticipation. A butterfly lights on a nearby leaf and then soars away….wings to carry the good news…..Spring has come once more.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther