Essentially Esther Banner

Monday, February 28, 2005


I feel better today than I have for a week. I’ve been a model patient and have followed all of the good advice I usually dish out to someone else. I’m not to the bragging stage yet……I would say more on the optimistic side of things…..so we’re going to pick up 1987.…in the month of October and try to finish up the year.

Like many, October is my favorite month. This particular year, October came in on a work day and I was en-route to Ellington with my crew. The drive over is full of craggy hills, sharp curves and sky-line drives that bring your heart up into your throat. In one particular place, you are running the highest ridge in the county and the drop-off on the sides of the road are literally frightening. Your view of the valley below is akin to looking from the window of a plane…….there are no shoulders and only the smallest of guardrails.

I never passed that specific area without butterflies in my stomach. This is on one of the roads less traveled but is arguably one of the most scenic in our area. Since we drove to the same towns every week we devised methods to break the monotony……taking different drives was one of them. In the Spring and Fall it was always prettier to go the “back way” because either the color of the leaves were calling….. or the redbuds and dogwoods when the season changed.

The first Sunday in the month I began teaching a class of older ladies. I inherited two small classes that were incorporated into one. It was evident some were not too happy about the change and with a new teacher to boot, it was a very quiet hour together. Understanding their discomfort about the Nominating Committee’s decision to merge the two classes I decided to let a little time pass before I handed them any more changes. As I explained to them, I was getting used to a different Sunday morning too……so together, we could build our class into whatever we wanted it to be. They relaxed and I relaxed and the class became very special to all of us.

By the end of the first week in October, we had a second roof put over mom’s mobile home to stop some leaking problems and it was a nice improvement. I began taking minutes at the Church business meetings which turned out to be more work than I expected but somehow it fit into an already busy schedule. Choir practice on Wednesday nights, each Monday night I still taught a bible study in our home…..I made time for mom, to visit several times a week and who continued to come to our house at least once a week. It was a chance to cook her favorite things that she didn’t get at WC. Her requests were taken a few days before and it was good to see how much she enjoyed her choices. She was my cooking teacher so most of what I fixed was like she would have made for herself.

Mid-month the woods were spectacular. The rides to and from work provided a panorama of the Ozarks best. The hills were alive with radiant color and the bright green fields in contrast looked like a calendar print. I was involved in the Finance Committee at Church so some of the evenings were spent with that. Other evenings we had friends in to enjoy meals with us and I constantly baked for things to take to work everyday for the guys. They had become quite spoiled to the treats I would bring but it gave me great pleasure to do so. I think there is nothing more binding in a friendship, camaraderie at work or family than to sit and enjoy food together. I know at work, it was very nice to come in out of the rain, snow….heat, whatever, and have coffee and sweets together. It’s a throw-back to the way I was raised. When anyone came to call, dad would say, “Dort, put some coffee on and lets have some cake”…..or whatever. Of course, mom always had something to offer for a snack.

I began making some cross-stitched sweat shirts for Christmas and had so much fun deciding which pattern to make for who. I enjoyed making them and thinking of the person’s reaction when they saw theirs….when we didn’t have applicants at work I could work on them, study for my Sunday School Class or write letters. I was able to redeem a lot of lost time at work by having personal things to work on.

The third week of the month I came home from work and aunt Sally and her friend, Dorothy were here. Aunt Sally lived in Hastings, NE. She and her friend took a drive to see some of the fall colors and ended up in Missouri……..I fixed supper for all of us and then we went to visit mom. This was a Friday evening and mom was happily surprised to see her sister. They stayed over the week-end and mom came here each day….it was a nice time for all of us.

October, having lavished her beauty upon us, left with whirling leaves and a blaze of glory. She vanished during the night and November came to call………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, February 25, 2005


I won’t be blogging today………

1) My head is as big as a watermelon

2) I have an 18-wheeler on my chest

3) My muscles scream every time I move (so do I)

4) I am coughing my toes up through my mouth

Hope to see you Monday….until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 24, 2005


We took some extra days over Labor Day week-end and drove back to Bob and Mary’s in Vicksburg….spent the evening and stayed over night…..then left the next morning for New Orleans to spend some time with John, Barbara and LJ. This time we went alone. The trip was too long for mom and with all the sight-seeing which requires a lot of walking, the spicy food and irregular hours we knew she couldn’t go this time. I hated to leave her but I also felt the need to get away for a while and think about something different.

John was taking classes at the seminary and working……..Barb had a job also and LJ was staying part of the day at the seminary nursery. Somehow with all of that to work around, we managed a lot of quality time with all three of them. We did the French Quarter several times, shopped at the malls around, ate at all of the good places we could and watched lots of movies the evenings we were “home.”

Two things happened while we were there. The news reported that one of the cars in a train had blown up about a mile from where John and Barb lived. The danger was, it was carrying hazardous material……and people were being evacuated from the immediate area. Warren had taken John to get a haircut so I was alone at the apartment….I spent most of the afternoon watching the firemen and news media as they reported and defused the danger. Thankfully, the wind blew the fumes in the opposite direction and we were not in harms way.

The second thing being….the Pope was to visit New Orleans the next day. The railroad car burned through the night and was still burning the next day. The city was in wild anticipation of the Pope coming….New Orleans is mostly Catholic and school was let out in hopes the children could see the Pope. It was a once in a lifetime for those of the Catholic faith to see the leader of their church in their city. The Pope, in an effort to accommodate the well-wishers, had speaking engagements all over the city and each place was filled and overflowing.

We drove home on a Sunday and the next day I had to get up and go back to work. I was not very enthused about working but like everyone else….it’s a necessary evil. Coming home from vacation puts your job in perspective….you need to make more money after a vacation. We went to see mom and hear about her week as we told her about ours. She was doing well. I was asked by the nominating committee at church to teach an older class of ladies and I accepted. I enjoyed the older women very much and my message to them was always….. “It ain’t over till it’s over. There is still a lot you can do and just because you are in your golden years….some of you are widowed…..your life can have real and lasting meaning. Stand up and be counted.” Now that I am one of the “golden girls” I am taking my own advice and attempt to live a full and productive life. It’s all just a matter of choice.

This same month, we took a few days and drove up to Shawnee to see George. We were able to see several of my friends who still lived in the area….the neighborhood was changing rapidly with the city taking in more of the outskirts and homes were being built everywhere. Traffic increased as more people moved to the suburbs of Kansas City. Our little neighborhood was taking on a whole new look to the point it was getting harder and harder for me to feel like it was the same place. Each visit took more and more away of the old images.

After our visit with George we loaded the car and headed for Blair to visit uncle Roger and aunt Phyllis. Uncle Roger (Buster) had told us to come up and he’d give us a good deal on a car. He was the manager of a car dealership and had something in mind for us. We went straight to the business to let him know we had arrived and he said Phyllis was waiting for us…….he came at lunch time and Phyllis fixed a great meal. She can whip something up in no time and it looks and tastes great. In the afternoon we went down and traded for a gray Bonneville with all of the extras, the car was a beauty.

Warren spent most of the next day at the garage with Buster while the car was being detailed and ready for release. That evening Buster and I stayed up until 1:00am talking about old times, our families and the fun we remembered. We planned to leave the next morning but they insisted we stay one more day….which we did. When we came home, we went out to see mom and just as we got out of the car, aunt Beulah and Mildred drove up so we all went inside and had a good visit. I called Becky and Jennifer to come out so we could enjoy the time together.

These times are so enjoyable to recall. The mind does funny things over the years. I was blessed with a good memory…..so good….that I only have to think of these things and it seems like yesterday. I guess that’s why us older folks get mixed up as to what is real and what is simply in the past……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


August was eerily sad. I had a long phone visit with my aunt and uncle in Blair who told me aunt Mary’s house was finally emptied of all the contents. It was bare to the walls. That same day I went up to my mother’s and began marking her things I didn’t plan to keep, for a garage sale. I had sorted through the sentimental things and saved them for my three children…..then took items I just couldn’t sell. The main value being…..they belonged to mom and dad. It’s strange how you put value on different things. Their “good” things they never used didn’t mean that much, but the things used every day and was so much a part of them….I kept.

August is miserable in south Missouri….humidity suffocates you and the heat adds to the misery. We worked in the garage, trying to finish up. I fixed dinner on Sunday for Jennifer’s 15th birthday. Mom, Becky, Hank, Jennifer and Jonathan were here and we had a good meal….Becky fixed the dessert, helped with the dishes and took mom back to WC. It was a good day and I appreciated the help after being wrung out in the garage.

The next day Warren took mom to the local doctor for her routine Protime check. It was exceptionally high and the doctor was afraid of a heart attack so he had Warren take her on to the hospital at West Plains….when I came home from work I was anxious but she sent word with Warren for me not to come. She was resting well and under good supervision…..since she was comfortable I took her advice and got some rest, myself. Considering my anxiety level I slept well that night.

We were busy at work because one man was on vacation. Pete, my supervisor, and I had 38-written and eye tests and 9-road tests apiece. I worked a motorcycle test by myself, which is a chore. I was thankful for the chance to think about something else besides my family losses. That evening, Warren, Jennifer and I went to see mom who was doing well…..they were getting her medications regulated and trying to find the magic numbers on it all. She was in good spirits so we stayed until it was time for her to rest.

Later in the month we picked mom and Jennifer up to go to Vicksburg with us. It was to be a little vacation. Jennifer would soon be in school and mom loved to travel and was told it would be OK…..we all loved Barbara’s parents and looked forward to the trip. On the way down, we stopped in Memphis in hopes to tour through Graceland. Mom loved Elvis Presley and was so enthused about our suggestion. It was a disappointment, however…..it was the 10th anniversary of his death and was a mob scene. We drug poor mom up into the waiting line and when we finally got to the ticket window we were informed it would be a 3-hour wait. Mom’s little shoulders slumped….there was no way we could wait 3-hours in the heat and humidity. She got to look at the private plane, and a few other Elvis things…..we went into the gift shop and she purchased a book. I’ll always hate it that she didn’t get to see Graceland. Mom adored Elvis.

We made it on to Vicksburg where we were greeted warmly by Bob and Mary. They were the perfect southern hosts….warm, loving people. I still miss them. John and Barbara and LJ arrived about 8:30 after they got off work. Bob had smoked a turkey and Mary had fine fare to accompany it…..she was an excellent cook. Next to Elvis, mom loved Bob and Mary best and we considered them family. We had a wonderful week-end together and left on Monday morning.

Aunt Mary’s birthday came up on the 18th and would have been her 81st. Grandma Stricklett’s was on the 20th. She was born in August 1883 and would be 104-this year. I made a comment in my journal on her birthday…… “With grandma’s house now empty….the house where my brother and I were born…there is little left of days spent with her, all of my aunts, my uncle, the dogs and the cats….all gone now except the building….empty after all those years of living. Except for the few memento’s she gave me and her name that I bear…..the past has been swept clean from “the hill.” It will remain in my heart and my thoughts….blessed memories of bygone days.”

....and so August slipped away....

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

DOWN AND OUT....... 

The sudden departure from my site has been unavoidable. Rocky battled a very sick time of it all last week and was finally able to get in to the doctor. Our town and surrounding areas have been beset with a strange bug of some kind. Schools have been let out and getting a doctor’s appointment has been difficult.

With persistence, Rocky finally got in on Friday and came home with two prescriptions, both of which made him even sicker. He’s one who has never had to take many medications and therefore his system doesn’t do very well with them. He was told his symptoms were asthma and sinus related….no mention of the flu. I thought that was good for me….bad for him. Not!!! After fighting off flu symptoms for a week, I finally received a bulls-eye hit on Sunday. I went down for the count and have been miserable, along with a miserable Rocky.

Rocky is back to work today and has a lot of driving to do so he won’t be home until evening. I can only hope he makes his rounds but he’s a retired over-the-road truck driver and he never quits until the load is delivered. That’s just part of the reason why I love him. He’s someone you can count on in the long haul.

As for myself, I’m taking another day to recover and catch up with a few chores around the house….and to work up a head of steam to write more of 1987. I only hope all of you have escaped the “bug”….we both had flu shots so this is something other than the reason for the shot. Have a great day, may you prosper in all you do…and I’ll see you back here tomorrow….good Lord willing………

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, February 18, 2005

JUNE AND JULY....1987 

Mom wasn’t feeling well the first part of the month and I was becoming more concerned as time went by. Although she was checked routinely at WC I decided to take her to the doctor at his office. She had fluid around her lower lungs and an irregular heartbeat. Dr. Smith gave her a good going over, a shot and some medication. I brought her out to the house and kept her the rest of the day….then took her back to WC. She continued to feel better after that.

John, Barb and LJ were visiting in Kansas City and arranged to meet us in Springfield for a day of visiting and gadding. We packed as much as we could into the time we had and then they drove back to KC. Warren’s sister wasn’t doing well with her cancer treatments and her four girls planned a family surprise party for her in July.

In all honesty, I was beginning to feel the stress of mom’s failing health, Warren’s off-the-wall medical emergencies and working full time. Thrown in with all that was constant company, dinners, church activities, and trips for funerals or illness in our families. The humidity of June made work unpleasant to ride around in vehicles all day with few of them having AC. I was looking for a way to lighten up or I knew I would soon run out of steam.

Mom had to have a lower GI series at the hospital in West Plains the next week. I worked but went to see her after supper and she looked better out of her eyes and seemed to be feeling better. June 25th we heard that Jackie Gleason died ….I really hated that. He had been one of my favorites for years. He was a very funny man but also a good actor in the serious roles I saw him in and equally good at directing music. I just loved the guy….his gregarious nature made me laugh. Inch by inch many of my favorite people were disappearing….it was a sad time but the beginning of lessons to be learned about departure.

Before the month ended we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary, Jonathan, our grandson, was involved in a car wreck ….rear ended by a young girl, and his cousin turned his dad’s pickup over and was in the hospital a few days. Not long before, he had performed an excellent driving test with me as the Examiner…..it happens all the time. Kids go through the motions knowing they’re being tested but the minute that driver’s license is in their hands they go wild. Every so often a kid was killed just weeks after a driving test. Scott was one of the lucky ones.

Warren had more symptoms of Bell’s Palsy so went to the doctor and was given steroids and an eye patch to use….since we caught it early it didn’t have the serious effect of his earlier case. He bought tickets for our trip to Seattle which would be coming up later in the month of July. John finally had the surgery on his left eye and we were relieved to hear it was over and went well. It would take some time to know the full extent of improvement.

On the 23rd of July we flew to Seattle for the surprise birthday party. We hit a snag in Phoenix as the radar went out in the control tower and instead of a 2-hour layover we were there for five. We were concerned because Louis and Gail were picking us up at Sea-Tac and we were hoping they were informed of the delay. By the time we arrived we were relieved to find they were still there…..they took us home and fixed a good supper and we spent the night.

The next morning Warren’s brother-in-law came to pick us up and we had a pretty drive on out to Issaquah….a bevy of relatives had already arrived and Dee looked bad but was in high spirits. The cancer had taken a toll on her but you would never know it. She laughed and enjoyed the hilarity the guys produced with competition in games and story-telling. The next day the guys all went fishing together and had a ton of fun. We gals put Delores in a wheel-chair and took her to a quaint little village where houses had been restored into shops and had a good lunch. We didn’t do a lot of shopping because it was an expensive area.

The next day was Dee’s 57th birthday and we knew it would be her last. We were a group of about 2-dozen and the day was very special. That evening Jim took us back to Louis and Gail’s…….we had a fine supper and early the next morning we said goodbye to Louis…..Gail dropped us at the airport on her way to work. We didn’t know it but it would be our last visit to Seattle…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 17, 2005


May brought aunt Beulah for a visit and we went after mom so the two of them could see each other; Becky and Jennifer joined us for dinner and it was good family time. Aunt Beulah and mom used to stay back and forth with each other but mom’s move to WC made that impossible. I know they missed each other but getting together at our house was about all we could do. They were as close as sisters and were a big part of each other’s lives.

Mom’s birthday was coming up on the 12th and I decided to make it a big surprise party. Unknown to her, I had invited uncle Tom, aunt Inabelle, uncle Buster, aunt Phyllis and aunt Sally. I worked ahead of time making cookies and getting a cake….planning a meal for the evening they would arrive…..and doing lots of cleaning. They arrived within an hour of each other and there was a lot of excitement and anticipation about the next day. Becky and Jennifer joined the family for our evening meal and the next morning she had all of us up to her place for a good breakfast, before going out to spring our surprise.

Becky went ahead of us to keep mom occupied until we were able to file into the dining room. After a few minutes, she walked her down the hall where we were. When she rounded the corner she looked at the group of us who were standing in a little cluster smiling at her, and she smiled back, politely…..then did a “double-take”….. it dawned on her who we were and she almost fainted. She grabbed her chest with her hand and for a minute I was afraid the surprise might backfire on us and cause her harm, but she gained her bearings and was understandably overcome with joy. The laughter and hugging that went on was just wonderful….worth every minute of my efforts.

Some of the girls who worked at WC had given mom cards and gifts and were standing around watching the fun. They had been “in” on it as well and had big smiles on their faces. We surrounded mom with love the whole day and it is still a pleasure to remember. She stayed with us until time for her to go back that evening…she was very tired after all the excitement. Becky took her “home” and got her settled in.

The next day I went back to work, uncle Buster, aunt Phyllis and aunt Sally left for Nebraska, Warren went to Springfield to pick up his new glasses and Becky entertained uncle Tom, aunt Inabelle and mom here at home. Becky received a call that she would begin her new clerking job on the 19th….it was indeed good news. I fixed supper for us when I came home and we had another evening of visiting. John called and was to have surgery on his left eye soon. Hopefully it would enable him to have up to 40% more depth perception. We were all happy for him and hopeful of good results.

The next morning I was up early to fix breakfast for uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle before they were to leave. Corky picked me up to go to work and life returned to normal for a few days. We had our pastor and family for dinner the night before Warren was to have carpal tunnel surgery at Fort Leonard Wood. When they amputated his leg in 1980, the surgeon told me that Warren broke the straps holding him on the operating table and sat straight up. Of course he was anesthetized and wasn’t conscious of the fact but they had to strap him down so tight on the table, it inevitably caused carpal tunnel.

A friend drove him to the Fort the next day and since the surgery was routine we decided that I’d go ahead and work. George came for a visit and we drove to the Fort to see Warren on the week-end, a friend brought Warren home a few days later. The guys at work took me to a nice dinner at noon on my birthday and one of the guys brought a cake. I was always amazed at their thoughtfulness.

Warren and I took mom, Becky and Jennifer to West Plains for my birthday celebration…….and on the week-end, Becky fixed a nice meal for all of us. It seemed we had celebrated all month for one reason or another. Warren’s wrist was doing well…….he had a special arm crutch since he couldn’t use his wrist…he continued with the physical therapy until he was able to get back on his fore-arm crutches.

The mind is a wonderful invention. I am so thankful I can call forth the many happy times of our loved ones. They are great company as well as comfort when I remember the wisdom and the knowledge they shared with us along the way. Each day I live their memory guides me along paths they’ve already traveled…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Louis came home with us after aunt Mary’s funeral and George drove down a few days later. I had to go back to work but that gave mom and Louis time together. His long stories, laughter and teasing were good medicine for mom….he was her first-born and they had three and a half years together before I was born. That made a close bond between the two of them. Whereas I was the caregiver, Louis was the good medicine she needed. I was dependable for the long haul and Louis was the entertainment. We each understood our roles and did not envy or resent each other. Mom needed both of us.

When George had to leave for Kansas City, Louis went with him and caught a non-stop flight to Seattle from the KC airport……when I came home the day they left the house seemed large and quiet. It wasn’t quiet enough though. We had an alert that a killer was on the loose and we were warned to keep close watch and stay in after dark. Going to work the next day, we passed two road-blocks and a command center.

The following week-end we had a call from WC that an apartment was available for mom if she wanted it. We had made application some time ago. Mom’s health had improved so that it was possible for her to be a little more independent and the apartment was a large reward for that. We signed the application and mom would be moved the end of the month. She was thrilled and highly anticipated her move. She hated to leave Emma but could still visit back and forth. Mom would still be given her “meds” at the proper time by the nurses aides but take meals in the residents dining room on the apartment side.

At the same time we were adding a second roof over our mobile home, vinyl siding and regulation doors and windows put in. Becky came two different week-ends to apply for work as she wanted to move from Springfield and come back to Willow Springs. With mom living at WC now we told her she could move into mom’s mobile home, which she did, by mid-month. A few days later our clerk’s position was open and I called to tell her she could apply for it. She went right to the office, got the application and filled it out, returning it the same day.

Meanwhile we bought a new refrigerator and took the one we had up for Becky and had to do some improvising to make it fit in the space properly. The water heater had to be replaced and we had a second roof added to stop the leaks. With a new hanging light over the kitchen table and a new washer and dryer, the little home was now outfitted for living again. It was snug and comfortable. A few days later, Sergeant Groves told me Becky had been selected for our clerk, so April was a very good month. Mom got the apartment she wanted and was moved in the end of the month….Becky moved into mom’s mobile home and everyone was happily settled in their new quarters.

The manhunt ended with no one being hurt….the man was subdued and awaiting trial. I suppose he was moved into quarters not to his liking, unlike mom and Becky. April ended with much promise and satisfaction…..our improvements were near completion and we decided to add a deck and sidewalks to our mobile home. It was a good feeling to have all of the “changes” behind us and Spring popping up everywhere. After a sad March, April returned once again to remind us that nature revives dead wood and life blooms once more on barren branches…..somewhere, it is the eternal springtime that we all seek.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


John celebrated his 30th birthday this month, Jonathan was 12 and Becky turned 33. Aunt Sally called on the 19th to tell us aunt Mary had been taken to the hospital. She had been vomiting blood and told Sally it was time for her to go, she didn’t want her having to deal with any more of the complications of her illness. She died on the 21st of March….the first day of Spring. She had been on morphine around the clock since entering the hospital but had suffered great pain, even so. We were happy her journey ended because, for her, there was no turning back.

Her death touched many lives. She taught school for something like 38-years and had seen many students come and go. She had seen many of them go on to lead impressive lives and return to thank her. It’s amazing what one teacher can do with someone she believes in. Students for the most part came up in systems where the teachers were “career teachers” and did it for the love of training young people to be all they could be. In our crowded and complicated school districts of today the teachers and students are so mobilized they may not even finish the year together.

It makes me sad when I think of the classes and teachers I grew up with. I can name every teacher to this day and describe them to you. I can visualize the rooms and point out where different students sat in those rooms. I can also tell you the impact they each made for my transformation to adulthood. A good teacher is worth more than anything we can accumulate in later life for the “lessons” learned take us through to the very end. I don’t feel today’s teachers receive enough appreciation or nearly enough money for the contributions they are making for the benefit of us all. Someday society will be better or worse for the teaching they’ve received along the way.

It was my responsibility to tell mom that aunt Mary was “gone.” I had been preparing her for the reality of it for weeks. She took it very well but I knew the pain of separation she felt….for all these years they had never really separated from each other. A part of mom was gone after aunt Mary died….and a grieving period that never really left her heart.

I called my brother, Louis, in Seattle to give him plans for the funeral as well as George, Becky and John. George made plans to attend but Becky and John couldn’t make the trip. Louis planned to fly in and join the other nephews who would be pall-bearers. We arrived in heavy rain the evening of the 23rd and went straight to a motel. We joined the family the next morning and greeted relatives who were new arrivals. The rain didn’t let up and so it was difficult getting into the small church and even worse at the cemetery.

The nephews carried aunt Mary to the family grave site….she would lay with her mother and father and some other family members. The mud oozed over the shoe tops of the men and their suits were becoming soiled but they persevered and laid her under the small tent. The pastor spoke more of her own grief than of aunt Mary…..aunt Mary had been her strength during her position as pastor at their church. Even in the last days, aunt Mary continued teaching her about death and the necessity of it. In the context of life not being pleasant or practical anymore and when laced with pain, death is the ultimate gate that leads us to rest.

And so, the Stricklett’s had come together to pay their respects to an elder family member who left no children except for the hundreds she taught over her lifetime. On the first day of Spring, she waved cheerily and walked through the last gate.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, February 14, 2005


February came in on a Sunday this year and I was making preparations after church to go to a DE Training at the Missouri Highway Patrol Academy at Jefferson City, MO. I was fully packed and ready to travel by bedtime because we would be leaving in the morning. It was quite a drive from Willow Springs and classes started at 1:00pm so we wanted to get settled in good time.

Warren drove me to Troop Headquarters where I met “Corky” Roberts, the other examiner I would be going with. I worked with Corky on one crew and he was a regular clown. He could join in on any conversation with an instant monologue of cartoon humor and hilarity until you were forced to laugh at him. He was a born clown who had to make his living with the State rather than displaying his real talent as a “stand up” comic.

Corky checked out the pool car assigned to us, gassed up, and we said our goodbyes to the office folk. We stopped at Rolla for doughnuts and coffee which perked both of us up since we neither had eaten much for breakfast. We arrived at the Academy by 11:15am and got our assigned room, the keys, our meal ticket and the necessary information for our stay. After leaving our luggage in our respective rooms we went directly to the dining hall.

It was a tribute to stainless steel. Everything was shining and filled to capacity. The whole area was pleasant with large windows and food adequately fixed for any appetite. My biggest job for the three-day stay was figuring out a selection of food for each meal. I learned not to eat much at lunchtime because I had an enormous desire to cat nap with the sun streaming in the windows, embracing me with it’s warmth. I feared I might wake up with the instructor standing over me with a dunce cap. The fear of humility kept my eyes open while my brain slept.

We had a “break” every hour and it helped keep us focused. The presentations were pretty generic and mostly review….I was assigned a room with one of the presenters….a Supervisor from the St. Louis Area with years of experience and confidence. She left every evening to visit a daughter and many of the other Examiners left for various entertainment after the required class time. I stayed in my room and read.

Tuesday was a full day of classes and on Wednesday we were dismissed at noon, after being presented with our Certificate’s. We ate our lunch and headed south to Willow Springs. One of the Major’s at the Academy was a brother to Otis Petrus, one of my Supervisor’s, and when he handed my Certificate to me……he said to let him know if “Pete” caused me any trouble. I was sure to tell Pete the next time I worked with him. I can’t exactly say it scared Pete much…he just laughed.

Ironically, when I returned home it seemed everything happened at once. Warren had a friend drive him to the hospital at Fort Leonard Wood so that I would have the car to drive up the next day for his surgery. Uncle Roger called to let us know the latest on aunt Mary and the news was all bad. Then uncle Tom called to tell us aunt Inabelle was in the hospital with breast cancer and strokes. She was doing well enough at the time, however, and expected to go home again. I didn’t sleep well that night but left early the next morning to be there when Warren went into surgery. He was already gone from his room when I arrived but around noon, the surgeon came out to tell me everything had gone well. I stayed with him until 3:00pm and then left for home.

I went back and forth until the day he was released, on the 16th. I took another two days off to make sure Warren could make it OK with me at work and it gave me a chance to catch up at home. I kept mom aware of aunt Mary’s condition as well as aunt Inabelle…..the weather turned wintry and we had more snow and ice. Some of the guys had gone for the next classes at the Academy so we were short handed at work. In a way it was a good thing….I had less time to worry about the family that way…..mom and her two sisters were hanging in the balance and I was beginning to realize our time with all of them would be shortened with the illnesses they had. It was a sobering time for me…….my heart was feeling cold creep in as surely as the weather…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Saturday morning…..(put on your Mama Cass Elliott CD)

I meant to do my work (blog) today
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining
hand -
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Written by Richard Le Gallienne

We are all happy over Ellen’s good news yesterday. If you haven’t read it….get over to her blogsite and find out for yourselves. It was due time, if not past time.

Read the poem and you’ll know why I’m taking the week-end off….distractions of the nicest kind. Have a great week-end and we’ll meet back here on Monday. Do you have your Valentine a gift yet? Still time………..

See you Monday,
Essentially Esther

Friday, February 11, 2005


Another year gone and another New Year unfolding. It seems they slide by more quickly the older I become. Maybe it’s because I’m having more fun all the time. Life is good. John and his family left early morning and it is my custom when guests leave, to throw myself into cleaning up the “campsite.” Scouts are always taught to leave it better than you found it. It gives me a way to work off all of the “goodbyes” that visits eventually demand…..and time to plan ahead. Memories are stacked and stored to pull out at a later date for further enjoyment.

I went back to work after the holidays and on the 9th we had to cancel going to Eminence, our office for the day, because their furnace wasn’t working. We spent the day at Headquarters to put our time in but were told to go home by 3:30pm because it sleeted and snowed all day…ending with about 8-inches on the ground.

Mom caught another cold and so we didn’t go out to see her the following weekend…and church was called off for the evening service so the older folks wouldn’t get out on the ice and fall. I turned my attention to some quilting I was doing and enjoyed the extra time at home.

On the 15th Ron told me I had passed the 6-month probation period and had been promoted to DE II…..it’s pretty much a done deal unless you screw up big time…the reward was getting a little more sick time and vacation time, along with a small raise. Even though routine, it was good to know I had it under my belt and could now look forward to being promoted to a DE III…this wouldn’t happen until I had 5-years with the Patrol.

When I came home that afternoon, Warren was on the couch feeling terrible. He was experiencing pain in his upper abdomen and back….he had a yellow color and was miserable. Couldn’t lay still ………I changed clothes and drove him to the ER at the hospital in West Plains. We spent hours waiting for one thing or another and his pain and discomfort continued to increase. He was about to his wits end when a doctor drove back after hours to check out the problem…..they forced a tube down his throat and nose which was brutal, put him on IV’s and Demerol….but it wasn’t until 4:00 am when he finally began having some relief. I stayed with him until 1:00am and then came home and spent a sleepless night.

I called in to be excused from work and went back to the hospital the next morning. He was taken for ultra-sound and later our home-town doctor came into the room to tell us he had a large gall-stone that passed into the duct which called all the pain. He was advised to have the gall-bladder removed as soon as he was over this attack because it, in all probability, would happen again. Warren was anxious to have it taken care of….he didn’t want a repeat of what he’d just been through. It seems the culprit that brought on the attack was the large number of pecans he ate while shelling them for me all afternoon. Barbara’s parents had sent a large bag of them they had picked up from her grandmother’s home in Mississippi…..and he couldn’t resist the good fresh taste of them.

I brought him home the next day and he was none too worse for the wear. It seems once the “attack” is over…..it’s over. He was not, however, too interested in eating more pecans for a while. Church was called off again the following week-end due to snow and inclement weather and I was off work the next day for Martin Luther King’s birthday…..so we just stayed in and enjoyed the respite.

When we went to Eminence the next time it was totally miserable. They were putting the new furnace in the Court House and there was still no heat. We sat huddled over a space heater with our coats on….the old rock structure was hard to heat up even with the furnace in full operation. This continued into the third time we were there…. but it wasn’t as cold and so it was more tolerable.

We finished the month out taking mom to West Plains to the dentist and then to a good restaurant for lunch. She stayed with us till late afternoon and then we took her back to WC. January had given us quite a bit of sleet and snow and we were glad to see the month fall behind us. Our next quest was to get Warren’s gall-bladder removed….as soon as possible. He was actually looking forward to it. Now that we had time to go at our convenience he would have it done in the Military Hospital at Fort Leonard Wood. A lot of the hospital community remembered him from the crisis in 1980 when he lost his leg……and it was always a social time for him to gab with all the “kids” who took care of him during that time.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Actually, December was a little low key this year. The month started out slow. I had mom out a lot to enjoy the candy making and Christmas baking. She came often and left with treats for Emma and for her. It was good to have her sitting at the table, enjoying the sunshine and watching the birds in between batches of candy.

On the 17th the guys at work treated Neva, our clerk, and me to a pizza lunch which was totally unexpected. When they dropped me off after work I was surprised with a lovely Poinsettia plant they had delivered. To say I was overwhelmed would be accurate. The men I had the privilege of working with were thoughtful and considerate. I enjoyed their gentlemanly treatment of me…..and still I was one of the “bunch” because I wore the “brown.”

I was the oldest of the crews except for one Supervisor. Three of them were George’s age, which made them seem like my “boys” and a couple were five and six years behind me. Their mother’s raised some good, respectful guys and work was totally fun in those days. Each office we worked at had people who looked forward to our coming and were glad to join in with the good humored tomfoolery. I don’t think anyone has more fun than a group of guys who put their heads together to pull a prank. It just seems second nature to them. Of course they always enjoyed our laughter at their shenanigans….and many times I found myself the target of their fun. They often told me…. “guys don’t ‘mess’ with people unless they like them”…..I figured they must like me a lot. I was a good ploy for them.

The usual activity of the cards, gift wrapping, dinners for friends, church programs and the cantata came and went. George was 36-years old this year on the 22nd. We were looking forward to his visit. Mom had some kind of a bug and didn’t want to come out until George was here….he spent Christmas Eve with his dad and his wife, then drove here Christmas morning. He was sporting a new car….I know it was a beautiful cranberry red but I don’t know what “make.” He’ll have to refresh me on that. Warren was very impressed with it and of course the two of them went over every detail of it.

John, Barbara and little John were to come the next day and George helped me cook the whole time before they got here. Between the two of us we had everything finished up and were happy to welcome them by 7:00pm when they arrived. It was a long drive from Vicksburg where they spent Christmas day with Barbara’s family and then came here for a Christmas with us.

Becky and her family came by 8:00am the next morning and the house was full of chatter and laughter. All three kids were here with their families….mom, Warren and I let them have center stage and just sat back and let them do their thing. It’s always a special occasion when all three get together at the same time….and a very special treat for me. It doesn’t happen that often and when it does I catalog every moment.

After a scrumptious meal we had the gift opening and a mountain of paper and boxes in the middle of the living room floor. Jake entertained us diving into the pile and rummaging around….little John followed and we spent time just laughing at the two of them. The boys took mom home later and Becky had to go back to Springfield as she had to work the next day. John and Barb left the following morning for Kansas City to have Christmas there and on the return trip, they stopped in and we took a drive over to Eminence to a gift shop Barbara wanted to visit…..she enjoyed the shop very much and bought several things to take back with her.

They spent New Year’s Eve with us and mom……..but on New Year’s Day they had to load up and head south for New Orleans. It was a wonderful family time for all of us…..and as we waved goodbye we were already planning the next visit. I do believe “the end of one thing is the beginning of another”…..and I have faith it will always be better.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


On the first day of November I got up early and made a Red Bank breakfast. Mom and dad spent a lot of time at their favorite fishing place on Lake Norfork, camping and enjoying nature. A Red Bank breakfast always meant biscuits, bacon and eggs, fresh fried apples and lots of hot coffee. Ever so often, mom would get “cabin fever” at WC and we’d go get her for a welcome change. This particular Saturday was one of those times, she loved her breakfast. All the time we were growing up she would have a good hot breakfast, stating that it was the most important meal of the day. I still miss hearing her stir up pancakes, or eggs sizzling in the skillet while I lay in bed on cold mornings. I realize now what a luxury that was. Life is a lot different when you are the one to rise up and start the day for the family.

After breakfast and a second cup of coffee while we visited at the table, I got the phone and called aunt Mary, each of us taking a turn to talk with her. Sally, their younger sister had gone home two weeks earlier and aunt Mary sounded weak and tired. She was still in the hospital. Later that morning we walked up to mom’s house and she went through some things and had me dig up a rose bush that grandma had given her money for at one time. It was an identity thing for mom between the rose and grandma. I dutifully dug it up so she wouldn’t worry about it and we planted it in our yard. We took mom back to WC late in the afternoon.

The 15th was the beginning of deer season and the 12th year that dad had passed away. It just didn’t seem possible. The day was cold and sleet had frozen on the ground…I went out with Jakie and I could hear shots fired all around. I always hated to see pickups come through town with the dead carcasses in the back. Men would flock to see and hear about the big event….it just made me feel terrible for the beautiful animal. I never took the meat people would offer….I don’t enjoy it and it is useless to take it. Better for the ones who like the meat.

The next day after church I baked some cookies to take to mom, Emma and another friend of mom’s who stayed at WC. It’s hard for most women to give up their cooking. I remember in the movie about Corrie ten Boom….the women talked about how they fixed certain dishes as they were subjected to terrible conditions. It was a way to keep their sanity while they labored in the harsh cold. In one scene one of the women became angry because another used different spices and didn’t agree with her recipe. It was a sad analogy in a desperate situation. My mother was such a good cook and did it so easily….her hands would work over the food as if caressing it…I don’t know, she just had such a gentle quality about her. In my mind I can see her preparing meals and feel the enjoyment as she brought her offerings to the table.

Mom didn’t get to enjoy pretty dishes and good pots and pans….or even have a very functional kitchen most of her life, but her attention to the meal was as if she were serving in the best of tableware. The phrase, “We never knew we were poor,” was certainly true at home. The fare that we ate no doubt outdid many a fancy table in the best of homes. It was fun to take cookies to the ladies because they would give you such a pretty smile and talk about the bygone days when they baked and that brought memories of their families. If I am ever in a Nursing Home I pray that I have some friends there who will share recipes with me.

On the 21st, we drove to Springfield to see Jennifer’s high school musical of “Fiddler On The Roof”…..she was one of the dancers and part of the crowd throughout. It wasn’t a “star” part by any means but we were just as proud as if she had the lead in it. Afterwards we enjoyed pizza together and stayed over night with Becky and the children. The next day we all went to breakfast at Steak and Shake….a good breakfast place…you know the kind. It tasted good but was full of “no no’s”….heart attack on a plate but it was oh so good. The time spent with Jennifer, Jonathan and Becky was always fun.

I had a Thanksgiving meal for the two of us and mom. The rest of the family couldn’t come due to having to work on Friday. After our meal we called our family all over the country and enjoyed hearing about their day. The next day I took advantage of time off from work and did mounds of Christmas baking. I spent two days getting the traditional things made…and again, I took mom to the cemetery so we could put poinsettias on dad’s grave. While we were there one of the men dad used to work with came strolling by and said…. “I talk to Andy every time I come by on my walks”….. as he went on, a bird lit on dad’s gravestone….we were within a few feet of it and just stood there looking at it. Mom said she guessed dad wanted to tell us hello……….

Warren celebrated his 62nd birthday on the 30th and we had a nice meal….the family called later to wish him well and then we drove out to WC to visit mom. The weather was turning cold and the leaves were almost down…..winter was on it’s way.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


If September was the harbinger of bad news, October was a settling down time. It is the month of the new year in our particular church and so there were many meetings and positions to fill. After years of ending up with multiple jobs I found it safer to be on the nominating committee. All you had to do then, is find someone else to do the job. However, at the end of the unfilled list….those of us on the committee usually took what was left rather than collar someone who would decidedly say “no thanks.” It was easier than making time for more meetings.

I wonder if it is the same in all the churches. The good old folks who care about getting things done are the ones who are singled out for another “go” at it. I wasn’t by myself in being over committed to positions…it seemed the same ones of us constantly answered the higher calling. With my mother in the nursing home, a full-time job, teaching a Bible Study Class every Monday night in our home and entertaining friends with dinners all through the week I learned how to think on my feet as the chores were being honed. Choir practice, Missionary meetings and teaching Sunday School……..being on several committees and finding time to get it all done….was a challenge.

In these days I was still going by WC after work, to see mom for a little while. She oftentimes had some need to be taken care of. Warren did all of the paper work because he was adept at detail work that I hated. I did her laundry and shopped for things she wanted. We had her out almost every Sunday unless the weather was bad, then we ate with her in the dining room that was a little more private for families to visit their loved ones.

When we found out about aunt Mary’s cancer, I committed myself to write her a note each day. It wasn’t a big deal….I could write a few words at work……mostly about little things I thought would amuse her and keep her abreast of what we were doing. There were always things about mom I could write to her. I thought it would be nice to have mail every day so she would know she wasn’t forgotten. I also hoped it would give her a little something to look forward to. Aunt Mary and I had a close relationship and it was tough not to be able to pop in on her and help her out.

She came home from the hospital later in the month and when mom was visiting us the next Sunday we phoned so the two of them could talk to each other. It was good for them to be able to communicate because it happened so quickly, mom didn’t have a chance to visit with her before the surgery. It was heart wrenching to listen to mom’s end of the conversation and for us to piece together what aunt Mary was saying on the other end. They had gone their whole life though as “together” as you could be with the distance that separated them in later years. Sisters are a close society.

I have noted that October this year was rainy which always made the job harder to give driving tests. The timber wasn’t going to be very pretty this year because of the rain….a lot of trees were just turning brown. My brother was 58-years on the 9th of October and my uniforms for DE came in on the 15th. It was just in time for our yearbook pictures the next day. The guys I worked with fussed over me, making sure I was hitched up correctly…checking my brass, my tie and showing me how to properly wear my cap. I was put through the basic skills of being a professional…I felt like their real live “dress up” doll by the time they finished with me. They highly approved of my appearance and I was one of them now…..not only in heart but apparel too.

It is a sentimental journey to write of these days gone by. I suppose because I am in the future now from where I’m writing…….and I know the “end of the story” ahead. It makes me appreciate the many good things God has allowed in the past and gives me great hope for the future, because I have been shown so many times that He is always there for each and every one of us. That is a truth to stand on…..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, February 07, 2005


The rest of September was less than perfect. After coming home from such a nice vacation it’s a hard fact that everything needs to be done at once. I first went to see mom who came through very well without our visits. She and Emma were good buddies and mom hardly missed us. She said the week went fast. I was happy….guilt trips are not good.

I then caught a bug that made me miserable for one week-end and most of the following week. I kept working because I always drag to work if I can. It’s the guilt thing I mentioned. I feel like I should go unless I have a broken bone or heart attack. I’ve never felt comfortable staying home for some of the reasons I’ve heard in the past. “Well, I was sick….sick of working, so I took a few days off.” I have to look at myself in the mirror and if I would have to look at those lying eyes of mine, I couldn’t deal with that. If I was home sick….I was home, sick.

About the time I was feeling better we had some bad news. One of Warren’s uncles died back in California and Warren’s sister found out her cancer had returned. It was tough news…..Delores had been clear of cancer for a short while. Uncle Hurley was a family favorite. A very colorful character, he was. Warren’s mother was the only girl in a family of six brothers. Uncle Hurley left the farm in Nebraska as soon as he could put one foot in front of the other, as they say. He had several wives over the years and was quite the ladies man.

The reason all of the little nieces and nephews enjoyed his visits was because he would always take them to town and buy them an ice-cream cone. In the 20’s and 30’s…..that was an offer that didn’t roll around every day. He told them wild stories of his adventures and Warren idolized him. He loved the travels he spoke of and the way he dressed in fine clothes…..Warren wanted to grow up and be like uncle Hurley. He wanted to see the world, not just the United States.

Delores was to undergo treatments for her cancer and we were full of hope. She had breast cancer initially but now the cancer came back in other areas. She and her family lived in Seattle, Washington so we knew we wouldn’t be able to see her very often. She and her husband had four pretty, young girls and we just couldn’t give in to the fact that she might not make it. Time would tell.

Later in the month we picked mom up at WC and drove to West Plains where we had a good breakfast and then planned going on to Gassville, AR. to see aunt Beulah. On an impulse we turned off the road before you get to the ferry that takes cars across Lake Norfork and wound our way down to the Lake’s edge. We had all spent many times there with Dad and Louis and different ones …..there were lots of memories in that old familiar place. We sat there laughing a bit about some of the times and finally fell silent…each of us lost in our own thoughts.

After dinner with aunt Beulah we settled down for a good visit with her and her friend, LaDonne, who came quite often to play cards with aunt Beulah. They were both widowed and enjoyed each others company. We all felt like LaDonne was part of the family. The next day, after our visit in Arkansas, aunt Mary (mom’s younger sister) called to tell us she was going into the hospital for surgery for blockage where the large and small intestines come together. It was cancer. She had breast cancer surgery some time before and now it came back in her intestines. Uncle Buster called later to let us know she came through all right but they couldn’t get it all. There was nothing else they could do.

We went out to tell mom and she took it pretty good but they were very close and it was a worry for her. Mom and aunt Mary were only 27-months apart and had grown up together almost like twins. We were glad to see September slip away…it seemed like after our good visit with John and Barbara and her parents the first week…..it all went downhill. The older ones in our family were beginning to fall victim to illnesses or diseases that couldn’t be contained. It was a harsh reminder that we are not infallible. Life is a gift…but there is a time-line that goes along with that……and most of us don’t know when the time is up. As aunt Mary said when I spoke with her on the phone…. “Don’t worry Esther….it’s all right. Death is a very real part of living………”

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, February 05, 2005


We have a wonderful week-end promised in the Ozarks. Springtime weather with shirt-sleeve temperatures will demand we get out and enjoy it. Rocky and I will be spending the day in Springfield for shopping and lunch. On Sunday we have church and football. No self-respecting fan would miss the Super Bowl and a fan I am. It looks like given the situation, I will be AWOL until Monday morning.

Have a great week-end everybody!! I hope your team wins and since my team isn’t there I’ll have to vote for that little cutie….Brady. There’s just something about that kid that makes me want to watch him play the game. Besides his good looks I think it’s something called….talent. He’s very good at what he does.

May the good Lord watch over you and yours….until we meet again.

Essentially Esther

Friday, February 04, 2005


In reading over my journal I see we had a two-month visit with John and Barbara. Not really. We just hit the last week of August going into September. In looking over my notes I see we sure laid some tracks around New Orleans and somehow got in a good visit even though the kids were working. Little John was in daycare at the Seminary and he was sure a cutie.

On Monday, September 1st Barb picked John up from work and after we had breakfast we got ready and went to see “Top Gun.” Can you believe it’s been 19-years since that movie came out? Of course we were riveted to the screen….it was the beginning of fast action in a realistic setting. With Tom Cruise as the new “hunk” he was brash, cocky and competitive. Just what us girls like. It began a love affair between the public and Tom Cruise.

John is a movie buff. After the Chiefs and Royals, movies command his attention in his leisure time. (OK…other times too…when he should be taking out the garbage.) Having whetted our appetites for more movies, after we roamed another shopping center a while we went back to their apartment for supper. John put in a couple of movies in the VCR and we watched those…. “Youngblood” and “Secret Admirer” (I think that’s right. Can’t even read my own writing, but you get the idea.)Thanks John.

Barbara had to work the next day so we amused ourselves by more movies John wanted us to see. Can you believe non-stop movies from breakfast to bedtime? “Annie, Red Dawn, The Natural, White Knight and Fletch” followed in rapid succession. One of John’s former room-mates (Richard Houston) stopped by to visit a while in the afternoon. John had to leave at 3:00pm for a class and when Barbara came home we met him at the Seminary Cafeteria and had supper there. We enjoyed walking around the campus afterwards….it cooled down nicely after dark. John showed us where he proposed to Barbara and we heard the whole story with all of the funny stuff going on in their heads……Barbara knew very well she was marrying a joker and would be a “straight man” the rest of her life. She willingly took the role. (Though she may have had second thoughts about it later on….)

The next day they were both off work so we drove to the Gulf. We had to take a detour so we stopped in Slidell for breakfast. I had never been to Biloxi before and had never seen the Gulf…I’m always amazed at the different scenery our country provides….from sea to shining sea and mountain top to the plains of the mid-section of our land it is truly worth seeing. We enjoyed the amusement park and of course, a souvenir shop. We had a very nice dinner and drove back to New Orleans where Barbara fixed us all a good supper. Then………..more movies. “Oxford Blues” and “Black Moon Rising.”….both very good.

Barbara had to go back to work the next day and LJ had to go back to school. Richard Houston’s wife, Lisa, stopped by to visit and it was nice to see her. We had met Richard and Lisa previously when we were in New Orleans. We went over to LJ’s school to eat with him and then on to some shopping. Later in the afternoon John had a meeting with a professor so Warren and I checked the Campus Book Store out and bought some books. It was a nice place to relax until John was finished with his meeting. We were back at the apartment shortly before Barbara came home and we had some carry out to give Barbara a break from cooking and .. yes…..more movies. The thrillers this time were “Back to the Future” and “Witness”…..very interesting.

Barb worked the next day so we shopped at a new Esplanade Mall and had lunch, then off to see Rodney Dangerfield in “Back To School.” Of course we laughed our silly heads off. When Barbara came home we threw things together to get on the road to Barb’s parents at Vicksburg. When we arrived, Barbara’s sister, Lisa and husband were also there and we had a good visit before “lights out.”

Some of you may remember me talking about Bob Bryant, Barb’s dad, who worked for the R.G.LeTourneau plant making the huge oil rigs that would be put into the Gulf…… and this particular one he was working on was going to the North Atlantic. Warren and I walked around the complex while Bob explained it all to us. It still amazes me that men can make such monsters, sturdy and safe enough to withstand high rolling seas of the North Atlantic. It is truly an island of steel.

Sunday morning was the day we had to leave for home. We enjoyed every minute of our visit but Monday meant another work day for all of us. After a good breakfast and a round of goodbyes, we left for home and crossed the Missouri line at 4:20pm. The trip lay behind us but the memories would last....

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, February 03, 2005


July sped along for me while I learned the rigors of examining applicants for road tests. Of course the weather is always a factor in our area….we had a couple of weeks with temperatures at 100* and that seemed much hotter on a road test. The motorcycle testing was the worst. In that process you didn’t ride with the applicant but rather stood by cones (marking the different maneuvers) telling them ahead what they were expected to perform. Of course they were always exceptionally nervous because the test required specific skills and bikes can get away from you real fast. The problem for the examiners was extreme heat, standing in the street and having to repeat every verbal instruction over and over. By the time we finished we were soaked to the skin and in most of my working days, wearing the chauffeurs cap was required. Girls…..do you know what the heat and that cap did to your hair?

August came in with a terrible storm in the evening hours. It almost blew us away and a tornado must have been close due to all of the turbulence we experienced. Becky called and said she and the children were afraid…..to tell you the truth, we were too. We dodged or survived another close call. There have been several tornados go up the street next to ours and one that actually moved mom and dad’s mobile home ajar on the blocks. We take storms very seriously.

When morning came I got up on the roof and swept all of the debris off. Climbing a ladder was one thing that Warren wasn’t able to do if it required more than the first rung or two. He was able to help clean up the yard and then we went over to mom’s and cleaned hers while we were at it. Warren went out to WC and brought mom out to check her place (to satisfy her worries about the storm) and to have lunch with us. They had evacuated the rooms at WC and took the bed patients and wheel chair patients to a safe place in the building…..mom and the ones who could walk were also instructed to follow. She had been frightened and worried.

Jennifer’s 14th birthday was on a Sunday and she came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. Jennifer was the one grandchild we got to spend a lot of time with. I kept her while Becky worked the first couple of years and Jennifer was often here and at mom’s…..she enjoyed coming. Jonathan, her little brother, enjoyed being at the other grandma and grandpa’s because they lived on a farm and there were lots of things going on that little boys love. We understood. There was nothing here to amuse an energetic little boy. John and Barb’s “little John” (L.J.) lived too far away to visit very often. Sadly, we have missed a lot of his accomplishments and interests over the years. Worse, we just missed….him.

George came for a visit the second weekend in August. He arrived just after I got home from work on a Friday evening. He and Jennifer went to WC to bring mom out to visit the next day and everyone helped put up peaches that we bought from a local orchard. It was a fun day….lots of visiting. Jonathan was here for supper with the rest of us and George took mom back to WC later in the evening. We had a repeat the next day and finished the peaches.

Aunt Mary called and said she and aunt Inabelle and uncle Tom would be coming soon to visit. The Powell’s had gone straight to Blair this year since mom was in the nursing home. We were looking forward to them coming. School was starting in Springfield so Becky came after Jennifer here and to pick Jonathan up at the other grandparents. The weather cooled off by mid-August and it was a blessing.

Our company arrived the 21st and I had supper ready when they got here. They’d had a long drive from Nebraska but were in good spirits. While I worked the next day they spent the time with mom at WC. She didn’t come out that evening as she was tired after all the excitement of having her family with her. Becky and Jennifer and mom came the next day and I prepared the meals…enjoyed every minute of it. I fixed everyone’s favorites and enjoyed seeing their pleasure when they came to the table. In my next life I want to run a cozy unique inn somewhere to enjoy people as they enjoy themselves……

They stayed another day or two and we hated to see them go. With all of them having medical problems we never knew when our last goodbye would be. We planned to visit John and Barbara so on the 30th of the month we left home early to arrive in New Orleans in time for us all to get to the Super Dome to see the Saints and the Chiefs play a game. It was the first and only professional football game I’ve seen. In 1986 the “wave” thing was going big and it was a hoot to get ready to join in at the appropriate time. It was so much fun I couldn’t keep from laughing the whole time. I didn’t laugh at the score, however. Saints won….our Chiefs lost.

In this day and time, John was working nights at a psychiatric hospital as a security guard. When the game was over we drove home and then Barbara had to drive him to work at 11:00pm. He would work the night through while we slept. The next morning Barb went back after him and he freshened up with a shower…..then we went to la Marquise for breakfast in the French Quarter. We walked all around the Quarter and shopped….Barb and I pigged out on silver jewelry…we ate lunch at Mesparos and on to the Jax Brewery complex for more shopping. We packed a lot into one day and then went home so John could get a little sleep before having to go back to work.

When I think about it….about the struggle John and Barbara have had…I am very grateful that all of their work and efforts were finally recognized and they began to be blessed financially. Nothing comes easy but for these two….even easy wasn’t easy. As the mother……I am very grateful for their success and for the character and spiritual qualities that flow from both of them….and that’s a “wrap” for August 1986.………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

EARLY JULY....1986 

It is strange to think for the past two days I have been writing about my mother going to the nursing home and that is exactly what happened to my good friend, Opal, on Monday. Yesterday I went to see her and we had a nice visit. One of her daughters was there and Opal looked relaxed….I was happy to see she was accepting her situation. I have found when people are very ill, being in a nursing home isn’t so bad. She is also operating on the assumption this will be a short stay. I pray it is.

I came home to find our friend, Ellen, received more bad news yesterday and I know it made all of our cyber family as sad as it did me. It seems Ellen has been dished up with a pretty full plate right now and we all hope somewhere down the line the news begins to improve. All she’s asking for is more time to be here and that seems fair, knowing she has been dealt the death sentence. It’s easy for us to be brave because it isn’t happening to us. If you personalize what she’s dealing with it becomes terrifying. She continues to find humor and strength and we pray we can transfer some of the same back to her.
The first day of July brought quite a bit of news. One of the staff at WC called to tell us a room was available for mom and he was moving her that day. Mom was happy to go to another room because it meant she could get out of the intensive care wing. It was a leg up on her rehabilitation. She was greatly encouraged and when we went to see her, we met her new room-mate. A little country woman who had known nothing but hard work and little consideration. She was a devout Christian and it showed in her attitude and on her face.

The weeks mom spent with her were good. Mom was quiet and a good listener. Emma was a little bundle of energy and chatty. In time mom met her few family members and learned they put her in WC and then ram sacked her home and took all of her things. If Emma grieved over anything it was over her lost things. She talked of the many quilts she made….the crocheted articles….her pictures, and so on. Mom was sympathetic as one who relates to another’s loss.

On this same day we had a call from Becky telling us she had been certified by 7-11 as manager in one of their Springfield stores. She had completed her probation period in record time and shown profit in one of the worst stores in town. She was understandably pleased and we were proud of her accomplishment. Becky had worked hard and was deserving of her promotion.

Finally on the morning of July 7th, Sergeant Groves of the Hwy. Patrol called to tell me I had been given the DE job. I was elated because I was to be the first female Examiner in Troop G and I felt a huge responsibility to do well as they put their trust in me. The next day the “guys” from the two crews were full of congratulations and I began the training to give road tests properly. I already knew the desk work…..so my training time would be short. I took some teasing from the guys who were having a lot of fun at my expense. That told me I was now one of them……

After observing road tests for a week and being checked on my grading I was then given the task of my first road test. I think that was the one time I was more nervous than the applicant. Rules and things to watch for were flying through my brain as I tried to emanate the consummate Driver Examiner. I wasn’t in the vehicle very long until I realized there was a driver operating a lot of metal who didn’t know the first thing about driving.

She was a single mother with a bunch of kids….having a hard time in life….and her tale went on and on. The effect to gain sympathy was lost as I was just trying to get us back to the Court House without either of us being killed. She was using the steering wheel as a merry-go-round and we were leaving pedestrians and motorists in our wake like a speed boat. The first test is the one we all remember…..it’s like your first kiss. But to tell you the truth…that road test had more excitement to it than my first kiss………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


June came in with 10-straight rainy days. It only helped the dark cloud that formed after mom went to Willow Care. Aunt Beulah and her sister, Mildred came by to visit and we went out to see mom. Aunt Beulah and Mildred had been to Arizona to visit their brother and came back up through Arkansas where aunt Beulah lived for a few days….then Mildred wanted to catch the bus home to Omaha, from our bus station.

When we arrived at Willow Care (WC) mom was in the large dining room playing Bingo. A lady from our church was a volunteer and several of the residents were friends of mom’s so she was beginning to feel at home. While we on-looked, mom won a prize and she was really excited. It was the first of many after that. Sammy, who was calling the numbers, kept on until everyone won something. Other volunteers were helping some of the more handicapped folks by watching their numbers and putting a bean on the card. Everyone seemed to be having fun.

Mom’s first visit was to our house on the 13th of June. She was naturally happy to go for a ride and to see familiar places again. We had her here for a couple of hours the first time….she began getting fidgety and thought she should go back. We drove by the cemetery because she wanted to see dad’s grave. We stayed a few minutes and then she was content. When she arrived back at WC people greeted her like she’d been gone for a week….it was wonderful to watch the residents care for and about each other. The more able ones helped the ones who needed assistance and they functioned as a family. I was getting well acquainted also…..up until now I had only missed one day of visiting mom.

On the 16th of June I put in my application for the position of Driver’s Examiner I. The men I worked with encouraged me to go for it….I felt it wouldn’t be possible because, as I’ve mentioned before….there had never been a female DE in our Troop. However, after much urging I did apply and the closing for applications was the following Friday, 4-days away. The next week I was called in to the office and told I was one of five considered for the position and would need to report before an Oral Interview Board. I had recurring fits of nerves when I would think about it but decided to give it my best shot and let fate take it’s course.

The month finished up visiting mom each day and bringing her to our house for a visit and for meals of favorite foods she longed for. The food at WC was actually pretty good because they had a good cook…but mom would get hungry for things she was fond of….nothing special, just simple foods she missed. She was bathed and “made up” every day, went to the beauty shop once a week and participated in the activities.

We were all getting used to a different routine and it was working out as good as it could with mom having to be in WC now. Meanwhile I was waiting to find out who was selected for the DE job and I was getting more anxious with each day. June finished with no word but there was plenty to keep my mind occupied. I began having thoughts about actually getting the job. In fact, now I was beginning to hope I did. June wasn’t the month to know. That would happen one week later……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther