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Thursday, March 31, 2005

KITS AND CATS.......... 

Yesterday I wrote a blog about the funeral of my brother. It was a laborious task as anyone knows who has lost close family members. As I was about to publish, the computer kicked it off and I was looking at a blank monitor. At first I felt disbelief, then anger and then frustration. It seems even to record the passing of a loved one, at times, is difficult. As I contemplated my next action a lot of thoughts raced through my head. It was a busy day and I wouldn’t have time to re-write another. I got up and began getting ready for the next job of the day…..penciled in with a short time-span before leaving for the morning.

My mother used to say, “When it rains, it pours.” She was so, so right. Our cat, Morris, threw up on the rug twice on Easter Sunday, our little Sassy cat threw up twice and Tuffy was having severe hair-ball problems. He put designs on the carpet that were amazing. He couldn’t keep anything on his stomach. Last week he was introduced to power laxatives that made his life miserable for the three days he was to have them. Over Easter week-end he was dehydrated, sick and just stayed in the closet where he made a bed out of my raincoat, waiting to go to the cleaners.

Monday morning I took him to the Vet who took several tests….Tuffy‘s temperature was*104 and Doc thought he should stay over night for observation. The look on his face made me exceedingly fearful. I lost Jakie to kidney failure and I sure didn’t want to lose another pet that way. I was on high alert until the next noon when the Vet would have news from the tests to determine further treatment. They gave him an IV for fluids, antibiotics and something for pain………I was able to bring him home on the second day and I was very grateful the little buddy was OK. He is a very sweet little pal.

Missy, our cat who 18-months ago came down with a strange, slow moving paralysis, is very near death. I have had her in the house for 15-months, spoon feeding her at least four times a day and carrying her to the litter box….carrying her back. She was able to eat two small cans of cat food all that time until over a week ago. Almost overnight she refused food down to one can a day. Many times she would leave me with her food dish in my hand and feeling very helpless. I cannot describe my fight and determination to keep her from dying but this week I knew it was near time to make a decision to put her to sleep. I kept hoping she would just go to sleep peacefully so I wouldn’t have to make the call. On Tuesday I told the Vet to give me an appointment this Saturday morning.

I plan to take her out on the deck as much as I can the next couple of days because she was always our little outside kitty and I’m sure she has missed her outside world. As I write, she is asleep on a pillow in the living room. Very peaceful but her breath is very shallow and she breathes partly from her mouth. I became increasingly sure that at this point it may be better for her to be put to sleep. I would not want to see her fight for her breath.

In view of my kitties and some friends who are either sick or unable to get well, I forgot my frustration about the blog. I will be spending much of today and tomorrow with Missy so I will be back when I’m able. For sure, after Saturday she will at last be free to run and roam and will not know a sick-bed again. She will meet the Maker of all kitties and be happily waiting for me on another day…….

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The next day I went out to WC to bring mom for the day. I knew she would need to be with family and I fixed lunch for her and Becky. Mom had a nice nap in the afternoon and the rest helped her considerably. She was much more resigned but I would imagine her thoughts were mostly unspoken. Becky and I had a large program to plan for our women’s missions at church and I needed to study for my ladies Sunday School class.

I called our distant family members. I was able to reach George and John after trying since the day before. John was of course sorry about Louis and it was a real heartache over Jakie. He was his dog but he had to leave him here to finish college and then seminary. After he married Barbara they lived in apartments so Jake became our dog. Jake never forgot John, however, any more than John forgot Jake. Every time John came home over the years, Jake would try to get in the car when he left. It was hard to watch because they both wanted to be together but it just didn’t work out that way. They remain in each other’s hearts.

Work is sometimes a blessing. As the days passed and I was forced to fill my normal routine, I found some peace about Louis and Jake. I hate hearing people talk about “closure.” It’s like… “OK…it’s all over and now you won’t hurt anymore.” Not so. I think it started out as a “buzz” word for psychologists and the public picked up on it. There is no easy way to live on with a big hole in your heart. The cliché’s seem so empty and an easy out for a sympathizer to say something. Sometimes it is best to say nothing if you aren’t that close to the departed.

Gail and I talked each day. Louis designated that he wanted to be cremated and returned to Willow Springs for burial. That took some time and so we decided I should go ahead with funeral plans since she was so far away and wouldn’t know how to get everything done. I was actually honored to be given the task. Louis was baptized in our church, so was our mother. Dad’s funeral had been in our church, Becky’s wedding; Jennifer and Jonathan’s baptism. John and Becky were baptized; John was ordained as a minister there. John and Barbara’s wedding shower, also……..we had many family memories within our church. It seemed our major life events were within those confines.

I made the calls necessary for the service and wrote an obituary for Louis. On November 30th we drove to the airport in Springfield to pick Gail up. She brought Louis’ remains with her for burial. Her plane was on time so we took her to a quiet place for lunch and to visit. It had been a long flight. We did a lot of reminiscing as it would have been their 26th wedding anniversary. When we returned to Willow Springs, we went to see mom. Of course it was hard to greet Gail without Louis.

The funeral was to be the second of December so it gave us a little quiet time before relatives began to arrive and to finalize our plans. It was also Bear’s birthday so it gave us a little reason to forget the dead for a few hours to honor the living. It seems life sometimes stacks up with direct opposites like that…..and so November became the month that my dad and brother died, fifteen years apart. Their birthdays were the same month, in October. The strange thing was that my mother and I also had birthdays in the same month…..in May…..so it was always Louis and dad, mom and me. Sometimes things just work out that way………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, March 28, 2005


November came with sorrow. Louis' condition had become critical. He was on feeding tubes and ventilator; the cancer spread over his body once they performed emergency surgery for his perforated stomach ulcers. He was taken to the hospital September 16th and with each passing week his chances of survival had grown smaller. We called Gail often, who was spending as much time at the hospital as she could, so we garnered whatever changes or hope there might be from her. Every time mom was here, I called so she could talk with her……it became clear that Louis was never going to leave ICU and the surgery they hoped to perform on his lungs, cancelled. Now it was just a matter of time.

Here at home we were having worrisome problems with Jake, our dog who was really John’s dog. He threw up several times on the carpet and I shamed him and cleaned it up. My patience wasn’t that great….I was on high alert for bad news from Seattle. I couldn’t imagine what got into Jake to cause the vomiting. Then he looked noticeably sick…..we took him to the vet, thinking it was something simple and didn’t have great concern even then. Jake was at the vet’s for several days while they waited for the blood sample to come back….he kept getting worse. My heart was breaking….I knew Jake would be scared having to stay at the vet’s and I hadn’t been able to go visit him because of the hours I worked. By Friday I took a day’s vacation so I could go see him and hopefully get him some relief.

That morning, November 10th, I was getting ready to do that when Gail called. Louis died at 8:10 that morning. Though I knew it was coming I wasn’t ready for it. I don’t think anyone is ever ready to let loose of a loved one….I dreaded going to see mom but I knew I had to tell her. She, above all, should be told he was gone. Bear and I went to see Jake and he was a very sick little dog. I petted him and talked with him …..he answered with a little thump of his tail. The vet told us it was kidney failure and nothing could be done. We had to make the decision one way or the other to have him put to sleep. I asked for a little time…..I had to talk with mom first. We eased out of the room so Jake wouldn’t get excited about our leaving, and drove on to WC.

When we walked in, mom knew. She said, “It’s Louis, isn’t it?” I told her it was and she struggled with her pain, not speaking. Tears welled up in her big brown eyes and she looked down at her hands. We sat down but didn’t speak. After a time, she asked some questions, and we told her what we knew. She looked even smaller than normal and I felt so sorry for her but couldn’t think of any way to lessen her grief. Of course we hugged and cried together……it was all our loss, really. That big, gregarious, fun loving guy was gone and we knew we would miss him more with each passing day. We got her ready and brought her home with us.

Becky came in the afternoon and I told Becky about Louis and Jake both…..we all decided it was more merciful to have Jakie put to sleep than to let him suffer any longer. Doc said there was no way he could ever recover….we took mom back to WC for her hair appointment and then stopped at the Vet Clinic, just down the road. As Doc gave the shot I kept petting Jake and talking to him…he fastened his eyes on mine and never looked away. It was as if he wanted me to know it was OK ….. those eyes were so full of devotion and love…I think he knew it was “goodbye.” Becky and I stood there crying with tears running down as Jakie slipped away from us…and then relaxed his last time.

We lay him in the car and picked mom up to come home with us again. Hank, Jonathan, Jennifer, Becky, Bear and I all dug the grave for him and put him to rest out by the woods. With losing him and my brother on the same day it was indescribably painful. I could imagine Louis walking down a path with Jakie running to catch up with him….then Louis stopping, with that big grin of his, picking Jakie up and going through a last gate. It was so real, I keep that memory in my heart to this day. I know they are waiting for the rest of us and just who will be the first to run and greet us......

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, March 25, 2005


We began September by driving to Shawnee to visit George. He had traded for a new Pontiac Grand Prix…sun roof, luggage rack with all the bells and whistles. He was deservedly proud of it and we couldn’t blame him. It was a beauty. He also bought a new couch which made into a bed. I guess we were the first ones to try it out and we slept like babes in a crib.

The next morning my good friend Rosalie. who used to live across the street from us, came to visit. We had a lengthy gab session, catching up on the news with each other. Little Jan, Rosalie’s daughter, now married and with her first baby, stopped by to drop him off so she could go to work. It was unbelievable to see Jan all grown up and now a mother herself. Time has a way of putting the brakes on in our minds until we fast forward to catch up with reality.

The next day I met other friends, Evelyn and Helen, for lunch and that evening we were invited to dinner at Evelyn’s. After a nice evening we met George back at his home….he had been to a pool party, so we exchanged details of our evenings and called it a day. The next morning the three of us had breakfast at a place George usually ate Sunday breakfast and it was excellent. After a leisurely meal we said our goodbyes and headed home.

Monday was Labor Day so we had Jennifer and Becky over for breakfast and then I went to see mom. She had fallen while we were gone and was black and blue all over. I got some Deep Heat and rubbed her sore places until she said she felt better. Mom had fallen quite a few times in the past few years and some of them were serious falls, still we were fortunate she never broke a bone.

I called Louis because he was going to the hospital the next day for tests on his lungs and the growth on his esophagus. I took another vacation day and made two batches of jalapeno jelly and 2-pints of dill pickles. I enjoyed canning because I didn’t get to do much of it anymore. I went out to see mom while Bear drove a neighbor, Francis Adams, to a follow-up appointment on his lung surgery. He recently had one lung removed that was cancerous. Mom was doing much better so we walked down to the dining room and had coffee together. The dining area was a good place to relax and enjoy other visitors and guests.

Mid month while mom was here I called Louis so she could talk with him. Of course we were worried about his condition. Gail told us he had had a bad day and was asleep on the divan. He had been given morphine and she was very worried….mom got to talk with her a while and then I took her back to WC…promising to let her know when I got any news about Louis. We didn’t wait long. The next day Gail called to say Louis had been taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Ulcers had perforated his stomach and he had quite a painful time before getting to the hospital. He appeared to be doing all right after surgery. Mom took the news with some concern but thought everything would be all right now.

However, the news was not good from Seattle. Louis was still in ICU under heavy sedation for comfort…..I was afraid of news that would come next. I knew when one has cancer and they are opened up, the cancer spreads everywhere. Our only hope would be radiation and/or chemotherapy.

We were in constant touch with his progress. Some days were hopeful while others left us exceedingly depressed. I couldn’t get my mind to accept the fact he might not pull through. His 61st birthday was spent in ICU with him hanging on to life. Mid-month we drove down to Louisiana to visit John, Barb and LJ again. We had several days to enjoy them and though I continued to keep in touch with Gail, the stress wasn’t as great in New Orleans. It is impossible to be there and carry your burdens with you…..

Once home again, we had visitors….Bear’s cousins from Nebraska came and my pal Rosalie and her husband, Gene, came for a few days. They were celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary and were taking some time off to visit and travel. Although it was wonderful to see everyone, I just couldn’t relax and enjoy them like I would have, normally. Louis was in serious trouble. He would not be able to get off the respirator and he was still in ICU. The realization set in that now it was just a matter of how long his body would resist the urge to let go…..he was in my mind and heart constantly, although I had to keep up a good “front” for mom and her questions/concerns.

I was worried about Louis but also knew mom would be inconsolable when he passed away. There was no hope left that he would ever leave the hospital alive. They kept him as comfortable as they could and of course, was heavily sedated. The tick of the clock was counting down the minutes for a future loss that I didn’t want to face. There is just no replacement for a big brother who has always been there. I thought back to my last conversation with him the day he was later taken to the hospital……his rich voice, his humor and his love came through loud and clear. It is something I will always cherish………..

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, March 24, 2005


On the fourth of July, Dale stopped in on his way home from aunt Beulah’s. She had not been feeling very well and he was concerned. He called when he got home to let us know he made the drive safely home with all of the holiday traffic. Other than that the fourth was just a day off work and a time to get things done and enjoy a good meal in the evening. Mom, Becky and Jennifer were here to enjoy the day.

Summer was setting in with heat and humidity. We had the little kitty neutered and de-clawed….he was pretty quiet for a few days but soon was busy investigating everything in the house. Life was routine, Bear ran all of the errands during the week and I worked. It was at this time we began hearing about a CDL license that would be Federally implemented around the country to end the individual State’s laws. This way a trucker could haul coast to coast without having a bunch of different laws to conform to, State by State, across country. It would greatly simplify the books for truckers as well as the scale personnel who made their life miserable.

The weight of the changes would fall to the DE’s who would have to test every trucker and prospective trucker on the roads. The changes were to come in 1990 and it was a giant task looming in the not-so-distant future. We began getting information on it with a lot of contradiction while rumors flew fast and furious. Anyway we looked at it there was going to be a lot of new material to learn…and fast.

Friends kept us in fresh fruit and vegetables all summer. Many would come ready to cook….stemmed and cleaned. It amazed me that even friends would go to this amount of work to make it convenient for me. A testament to small town living. We no longer had time for a garden. After Bear lost his leg, we gave it up. Thankfully we could still enjoy home grown products from generous people. I even had enough to freeze or can in some instances.

George arrived on a Friday night the first part of August. He certainly helped us out with some needed maintenance at both mom’s property and ours. On Saturday he swept the garage roof clean of pine needles and twigs that had fallen from over hanging trees, then came and did ours. The problem at mom’s place was the moss that had grown under the shingles, making it tedious to clean. We picked and picked and helped some but nothing like it needed.

Jennifer’s seventeenth birthday was on the 3rd of August. We celebrated with a pizza supper at West Plains but planned for her party on Saturday. I made her favorite cake….confetti angle food with a boiled icing, fluffy and pink. I also made a fresh cherry cobbler for Bear and George, which was their favorite. It was pretty good eating……nothing like home grown tart pie cherries.

A Nebraska cousin, Janet and her family came to visit on the 10th of August. They had been to see mom earlier and were here when I came home from work. I fixed supper for all of us and after a good visit, bedded everybody down for the night. To keep our Morris from prowling among the beds we kept him in our room with the door shut. That was just enough to make him think sleeping with us was much better than his box. By morning we found him curled up, sound asleep at our feet. From then on, three of us went to bed. In the morning I fixed breakfast for all before I left for work. We said our good-byes at the door and we were off in different directions.

As sure as a thunderclap out of a blue sky I was faced with a terrible shock at the end of the month. Louis called and told me it is almost certain he had lung cancer. They were to run tests very soon but they pretty well knew what the answer would be. There are no words to describe my sick feeling. First dad, mom with all of her health problems and having to live her life out in a nursing home, now Louis. I’ll have to confess, I wept when I got off the phone….big sobs of self pity. Now I’m losing my only brother? There had to be a cure….a mistake…something that would make the demon go away. But the devil is always in the details and I knew it was not only possible but very probable.

A big brother is irreplaceable…..and I had no other. As self serving as my pity was, in the midst of it, I thought of our mother. The realization hit me that I would be the one who had to tell her……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

MAY TO JULY....1989 

The rest of the month passed with the usual traditions. It’s a big birthday month for mom, two of my aunts, and myself. Mine is close to Memorial Day week-end so George usually came home for a visit at that time. It started the summer out with a bang and we looked forward to his coming. There were always church activities starting up….Bible School and acquiring a summer Youth Director began after school ended each year. At times it was volunteer help from college kids who were going into ministerial work and one summer, while he was in college, John accepted the responsibility.

One other tradition of the season….in those years at least, were my many cases of poison ivy. I don’t know how or why. I well knew what the plant was and had learned to stay away from it…..however, my cats didn’t know the difference and I suspect after they rubbed their little bodies against it, they brought me the gift. I also thought it might have been on the garden tools and eventually I forgot and handled them while there was still residue. If there was a hint of it in the next county, I would somehow get it. One time we were visiting Big Springs Park and I pointed to a massive growth of vines crawling up a tree, (from a safe distance I thought)…..but a few days later, I broke out. Poison ivy loved me….my skin was easily infected even though I had high natural resistance….so my doctor said. Even the medications broke me out……the allergist told me not to put anything on it because my skin was too eager to break out……..for whatever reason. Age and cunning eventually won out over those earlier bouts.

In mid-June, my cousin Mark and his wife Maggie, stopped in on a Sunday after church. They were taking their first wedding anniversary trip back to canoe around Eminence where there are State Parks and beautiful scenery. Mark was majoring in horticulture after playing basketball for Nebraska University during his earlier college years. I’m not sure of Maggie’s degree but it was along the same line I believe. They made a good team with the same interests. They had stopped in the year before on their honeymoon and we were happy to see them. We went after mom so she could visit with them.

July first was my 40th High School Class Reunion. As I was getting ready to go, Becky and Jennifer appeared with a little wet, yellow striped kitten. He had been under their porch all night, crying. A terrible electrical storm came up and I guess his mama dumped him and took off. He was about 6-weeks old and we fell in love with him. We named him “Morris” after the Morris on television. Actually we had a kitten once before that grew into a Morris and this one looked like one of his off-spring. Morris #1 was 13-years old and was an outside cat. Little by little, the younger cats in the neighborhood began getting the jump on him and he was full of old wounds and weak from fighting. One day he just never came home. We never found him but always grieved for him. He loved the outdoors and we never made a “house cat” out of him. Morris #2 had to be down the line from him, somehow.

We went to Cabool to the VFW-Hall where the dinner was to be catered. We went with a couple from our church (she was a classmate of ours) and when we entered the hall and signed in, some of my old gal pals came up and we were in a group hug when I heard a voice say, “Do you have a hug for an old friend?” When my eyes followed in the direction of the voice, I almost fell over. My high-school sweetheart whom I hadn’t seen since I moved to Kansas City in 1954, was the voice. He had never been back for a previous reunion, no one knew his address or his whereabouts…never had any contact at all….so we didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Of course I had always wondered…one never forgets their high-school sweetheart.

I introduced him to Bear and the three of us sat together and had a good visit. Bear enjoyed him as he had aspired to drive an over-the-road “rig” but had served his years out with the Army and the Navy, instead. Rocky’s adventures caused Bear to laugh and cry both….life on the road provides totally different situations than life in a community. I was happy to know Rocky was alive and had survived a heart attack, otherwise his health was good. He was married and living on a farm on the west side of the State and had driven an 18-wheeler most of the years since high-school. He was raised on a farm and had never lost his love for animals….his farm was a haven for every kind, many of which he rescued from the highways. He and his wife of many years, raised small dogs for commercial sales. I came home happy to be reacquainted with him and to hear news of his family, whom I had known from the years lived in Cabool…. however, it was sad to learn his parents had passed away some years ago.

Time has a way of changing things but it cannot erase good memories or friendships. Sooner or later, they all come together, and sometimes at a class reunion…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, March 21, 2005


May came in pleasant but dry. We needed rain which is unusual for springtime. We enjoyed Jennifer’s preparations for the prom and took pictures; Becky and I had worked hard to fix food at the church for the seniors to come by after the prom. It was a big event in Jennifer’s young life. A few days later the youth leader had them prepare a dinner for the elder members in the church with a program and music. Jennifer sang two songs and dedicated the last one to Bear and me. It was “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”….one of our favorite songs. Needless to say it was a nice evening and we were proud of Jennifer.

I worked on the 11th but we expected the Powell’s to come in sometime after noon. I made a quick supper for all of us when I got home and had Becky and Jennifer come to eat and visit. We were watching for aunt Sally to come in any time but Jennifer was singing in her high school Spring Concert so we gals went to the auditorium and the guys stayed here to welcome Sally. She arrived about an hour before we came home.

Uncle Roger and aunt Phyllis arrived the next morning and I fixed lunch for us and then made preparations for the “Birthday Open House” in mom’s honor out at Willow Care. This time she was aware of the festivities…..I didn’t want to repeat the shock she got when I pulled a surprise party on her 80th. Becky went to her room and helped her get all “gussied” up and I was in the dining room putting out flowers, the cake, paper necessities to serve with and all of the practical needs to be done. We had invited anyone who wanted to come by placing an invitation in our town paper so we were expecting a crowd.

Mom and Dad lived in Willow Springs from 1948 until he died in 1974, after which mom still lived in their home until failing health required her to move to WC. Therefore, they had many friends and with the friends Bear and I had we were preparing for the masses as well as our relatives. The occasion began at 2:00pm…Becky walked mom down the hall and to the dining room…..she was so pretty in her pastels and silver hair. Her brown eyes twinkled like a little girl at her first party. She was the belle of the ball until we had to close down for their dinner hour.

We had requested no gifts but of course, some brought anyway, and she received an avalanche of cards…….spent all afternoon visiting with old friends, with her siblings hovering close by the whole time. I so enjoyed her pleasure of seeing everyone and catching up on the news from each one. Mom was never “in the limelight” and never received many accolades but that day was hers to own and clutch to her heart.

Afterwards we came to our house and had a lunch…..laughing and reliving the good moments during the afternoon. Mom went back to her apartment when she was too tired to take anymore in. We made beds for aunt Inabelle and uncle Tom, and aunt Sally. Uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis stayed at a motel. The next morning they came back and their son, Roger Phillip and his wife and son arrived. They couldn’t make the party the day before but wanted to pay their respects to mom. They visited with her at WC and then brought her here to meet with the other relatives. We spent that Saturday together and the Powells and uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis treated us to a nice dinner that evening. Sunday was Mother’s Day. I had corsages made for mom, the aunts, Becky and Jennifer and buttoners made for the guys. Bear had one for me. I went early on Sunday morning to pick up the large bouquet for the sanctuary in honor of mom’s birthday and all the other mother’s attending that day.

After dinner that evening, uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis took mom back to WC and said their goodbyes. They were leaving the next morning from their motel. The rest of us had one last day together before our family had to leave for home. We brought mom out for lunch and more gadding…..then I fixed a meal that evening. Aunt Inabelle and aunt Sally took mom back, later, and said their goodbyes. They were leaving in the morning and I had to go back to work.

Those times take a lot of work, before, during and after but somehow I never remember all of the effort. I only remember the pleasure it brought mom, the warmth from loving relatives and the joy of coming together for the few days we had. How quickly I would do it all over again just to see those dear faces………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, March 18, 2005


Among the routine things during April, we had the pleasure of Jennifer getting a pretty formal to go to the prom in and she passed her driving test. Later that month, Becky and Hank found a nice, used car for her to drive. She would soon be going away to college and would need transportation. Having your own car has to be the height of success when you are a teen-ager. My generation had no expectations of such luxury and we walked every where we went in our small town. Of course there are always exceptions but most guys had to use the family car when dating, to which there were always admonitions of what would happen if they came home late or damaged the car. It made for some nervous dating on the boy’s part.

I look back at some of the limitations we insisted George Jr. observe …..and he was driving his own car! He had worked hard and saved his money, then bought a car from a school teacher that had been his first car. Now he was married, expecting a baby and needed to sell it for the upcoming expense of the baby. It was a ‘57 Chevy with a white top and aqua bottom. The teacher had taken good care of it and the interior was very nice. Still, when George wanted to drive to Lawrence, KS. to
go to a football game, we balked. Who was he taking with him, it was too far, he shouldn’t be driving at night….what would he do if he had an accident? We went on and on until we reluctantly decided in his favor.

We raised our kids in many ways, the way we had been raised. Times change and little by little we could see we were hanging on to too many fears, based on old information. George was our first born and so he had to clear a path for the other two to follow. We held him back too many times because we were over protective. Does this sound familiar to anyone or were we the last ones to get off the boat? George proved us wrong on every fearful excuse we had…..he never wrecked his car, he never had a car-full of buddies drinking beer, didn’t burn his tires up making doughnuts on the street, didn’t farm yards……..did make the car payments every time and did pay for his own insurance, gas and repairs.

To his credit, that car became his baby. He was as over-protective of it as we were of him. George is 53-now and has always stayed with General Motors vehicles….he keeps them clean, well serviced and in the garage when it isn’t being driven. He certainly proved that he was reliable when given the least bit of opportunity. He kept that first car though the rest of his time in school, one year of college, the four years he was away in the Navy and after he came home again and found a job. He bought a new car and finally, his dad grew tired of it being “stored” in the garage so told him he’d have to move it. George sold it to good neighbors of ours, across the street, who eventually sold it to someone else. Both have regretted selling such a classic, many times.

Well, Jennifer’s track record didn’t go so well. The first week she had her “wheels” she pulled out of the parking lot at church, made a left turn onto the street and was hit by a car coming from her right. The other motorist was driving faster than the speed limit and popped up over the hill after Jennifer had looked to her right. Just one of those things that can happen…..and sometimes does. To my knowledge she has never had another accident.

We had a record breaking day of 95* on the 26th of April. Spring can be unseasonably hot or record breaking cold….April is a frivolous month who bounces around on the thermometer any way she likes. It’s one of her many charms……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, March 17, 2005


April came in on a Saturday and Bear had been worrying about the gutters being plugged up. He had watched rain pour over the edge in a few places before it got to the down spout so he was trying to figure a way to get it done. When he lost his leg one of the few things he never conquered was climbing a ladder high enough to get on the roof….which, of course still would not be conducive to eliminating the problem. For some time, I had been able to rise to the occasion but the last couple of times had been a little scary.

I could get up the ladder with no problem and I could swing one leg onto the roof. The problem was getting the rest of my body to follow. I would freeze in that position and just couldn’t go any further…….my mind fighting with my body. The last time, I crawled back down the ladder and told Bear I just couldn’t do it anymore. I felt whipped. I was beginning to see that I was not only losing some of my physical prowess but also losing some “will.” I had to accept the fact that my body was smarter than my desire to keep on doing the things I’d always done. You can only whip a dead horse so long before you realize you need another form of transportation.

Now if you aren’t an Andersen, I’m sure that comes easier. For an Andersen to admit defeat, is not possible. My dad dug ditches until he coughed up blood, and he had brothers and a mother and father who would go down in flames before they’d ever bail out. It was stubbornness magnified by immigrant mentality. I can’t blame my dad or my uncles….they were born into a different world than the women they married and the children they produced.

Since I was one notch down the line I still had a wide bit of stubborn attitude to deal with…….the last time I attempted getting on the roof finally hit home. I was no longer able to do everything that needed doing………or that I “thought” had to be done. Enter….the solution. It had two younger legs, a head that still thought her body could take “orders” and a willingness to alleviate a problem for Bear and me. Miss Becky looked the situation over, went up the ladder, swung her leg onto the roof and her body followed.

She stood high above us and just looking at her gave me shivers. My mind kept seeing a body catapulting into a 200-foot ravine. Of course I had to be hallucinating but I couldn’t get the scene out of my head. What was happening to me? Becky explained it in short terms….. “You wised up, mom. How long did you think you could play Tarzan without falling? How many women do you know who are your age and still climbing up on the roof?” Now I understood totally. It was the “age” thing. I never knew it happened overnight…..or did it? Was there still more to learn and experience? Being down the road from this day and year by a long ways….I can honestly say……there’s a lot more to growing old with grace. A lot more.

Why do I take up a whole blog with one day? Because of the lesson learned. I think on that day I began to look at my body differently. It was no longer a battering ram or a willing victim to dictation coming from the “master switch”……no longer would go hours on end without rest, being shamed into finishing jobs that were not necessary, being a garbage bucket for foods it didn’t want and couldn’t put into energy……..and worst of all, it was tired of my mouth getting “it,” (my body) into all kinds of irrational projects just because my mouth never wanted to use that all powerful word…….. “NO.”

I became a realistic friend to my body.

It is not a slave, not a toy, not a machine. It is material made by God for His use and my housing until He gives me a better one. In the meantime I am to respect it, take care of it and use it for it’s intended purpose. The dictator became the friend my body always wanted……thankfully.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


We had an unusually warm January in south central Missouri. It only got down to 20* a few nights and during the day we enjoyed warm temperatures. Alaska was quite a different story, posting temperatures of 80* below zero for one whole week. The 49’ers beat the Bengal’s in the Super Bowl and there was a round of flu making everyone pretty sick. We enjoyed watching Jennifer’s new puppy, Dara, and her antics. I don’t think anything is as cute as a kitten or a puppy in their play. They make a game out of everything. Just little fur-balls of energy that roll and tumble everywhere.

If January was mild, February made up for it. Early in the month the Siberian Express moved our way and our spring flowers were covered with freezing rain. Our travel crew made it to the office for the day which was a good 50-miles away. Ice was everywhere…….we had one applicant all day so we stayed in the Court House and kept warm. I always had something to stitch on if we weren’t busy. The bad weather stayed for several more days with wind chills of around zero.

We couldn’t bring mom out to visit until the day before Valentine’s day due to the bad weather and ice underfoot. We went to see her, instead. I made some cookies and fudge, then took mom to visit one of her friends for the day. I sent a plate of goodies for them to snack on……and when it was time to pick her up, I had a plate to take to her friend back at WC. My mother was always one to bake or cook and carry food to the elderly or the sick. I had a good teacher in being considerate of others. I got a package ready to send to John and Barbara for their wedding anniversary coming up on the 19th. I framed a counted cross stitch piece I had made for their special day.

The following week-end we drove up to Kansas City to do some shopping and visit with George. Bear was looking for sound equipment and George was well informed of the best sound, price and where to go. Of course, it’s always a must to go to our favorite pizza shop while we’re at George’s…..a long standing tradition. We are never disappointed with their food. The ambience is just what you want to make it a true “pizza evening”….young families, dating couples, retired folks….it’s a favorite watering hole for any age and any occasion. The hustle and bustle from the kitchen area fades into the background of chatter from people obviously enjoying themselves, the company of friends or family.

Becky was having serious infection in either sinus or teeth. She suffered on and off for a month and no one could get it cleared up. She shuffled back and forth from the dentist to the doctor, each telling her it was the other problem. By March, the weather was still making it hard to travel so part of the crew rode with Troopers and some of us stayed at the office. We found things to do until time to quit for the day.

On the 23rd of March, Becky and I took the day off and Jennifer stayed out of school so we could meet John, Barbara and LJ at the Springfield airport. George drove down from Shawnee and after our stop at the airport we found a place to lunch and then visit. We did the town afterwards….shopped at the mall where the guys and the gals split up to use our time wisely. We came home and visited until we just couldn’t stay awake any longer. The next day I fixed a big farmer breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, scrambled eggs, jelly and lots of hot coffee. We brought mom out to breakfast with us. I then concentrated on a big meal for supper so we could celebrate the March birthdays of John, Jonathan and Becky. Hank came to join us and it was a festive evening.

The next day, aunt Beulah came and we picked mom up so she could visit with everyone. We had fun with little John hunting for Easter eggs. Becky got up early and put them all around the yard….it was almost too much fun for LJ…he never tired of finding them and putting them in his basket….then he wanted aunt Becky to hide them again so he could find them again……..the game went on for hours and it was fun to watch LJ’s excitement.

The next day we went to church…the choir was singing the Easter cantata that morning so Bear and I went early for a quick practice. The family came later and Becky was surprised to learn the floral arrangement was in her honor for her birthday from us. The congregation was so happy to see John, Barb and LJ…they were swarmed with well-wishers until some time after the service was over. After dinner that day we took them back to the airport, George followed us up and after all our goodbyes with the plane high in the sky, George headed for Shawnee and we made the long drive home.

It had been a wonderful 4-days with all three of the kids together….something that doesn’t happen too often so we always enjoy the moment. In my next life I’m going to forbid my children to move out of town…..it’s just too long between visits and life is too short. I think that’s a good idea………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


After my wild ride the first part of the month, it settled down to routine activity. Work all week, visit mom, bring her out on the week-ends and have her, Becky and Jennifer for Sunday dinner. The month rolled along with Bear working in the leaves. He was piling and burning most of the month. Every windy day brought more down.

We were sad to learn that one of our good kids from church was killed south of town on the 16th….Daren Brownfield. He was driving a crooked road with his pickup and apparently a deer ran out in front of him, causing the accident. We had our first killing frost on this same day. I reserved one Saturday on the 18th to do nothing but bake ahead for the holidays. I made Christmas Fruit Cakes, Pecan Pie Cookies, Orange Slice Bread, Fruit Cake Cookies, Strawberry Marshmallow Dessert and a chicken for our Sunday dinner. It was a full day and I loved every minute.

I worked right up to the day before Thanksgiving but had things pretty well lined out to finish the morning of the holiday. I baked the pumpkin pies the night before as well as making the cranberry sauce. Bear went out after mom and Becky brought Jennifer and Jonathan…..made some hot rolls and candied sweet potatoes. We enjoyed our feast….talked with John, Barb and LJ….also George, by phone and exchanged news back and forth. The boys were and are very good to call home and keep in touch, which I always appreciate.

After the meal was over, Becky and the kids helped me put the Christmas tree up and decorate it. It was always such a big job to dig the boxes out of the garage, undo them all and begin the big job. Thank goodness for those extra feet and hands. By the time they left, the tree was standing tall in the living room and we enjoyed some snacks before everyone had to leave. I’m sure all of the activity was tiring for mom but she wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

Becky fixed a birthday supper for Bear. He was 64-years and counting…….Becky had Sauerbraten and Red Cabbage which was a favorite of his. With his German heritage he loved most of the German fare except sauerkraut. I could never figure that out….I love sauerkraut and I’m not German, but I guess Denmark is close enough for a few exchanges. We had a good meal and fine evening. Bear opened his gifts, read his cards and we somehow found room to stuff some cake and ice-cream in. We were miserably full but well fed and happy.

December came in with chilling weather. I addressed cards at work when we weren’t busy and got a lot of organizing done which helped later on. We were all out getting ready for key dates during the month with family and friends. We sang the Christmas Cantata the Sunday evening before Christmas and the church was beautiful with a large bank of red poinsettias in front and green wreathes with large red velvet ribbons tied into them. With the dimmed light and the smell of pine we sang with all the emotion we had to give……..we never sounded better in practice. Afterwards, we had our choir party in the basement with members and their families to enjoy finger foods and to see the Choir Director, Organist and Pianist receive their gifts. It was something we looked forward to every year.

George came home on the 23rd …. one day after his birthday. I had fixed pizza for all of us, Becky and Jennifer were here and we had George open his gifts. This year he was 38-yrs…….my that sounds young, now. I bet it sounds young to him now, too. We sat around the tree lights and caught up on the news with each other. On Christmas Eve we had everyone here for supper and gifts. Although Becky and Hank were divorced they remained on good terms which was great for their children…..Hank came for most of the family occasions and this Christmas was special.

Jennifer had wanted a puppy for some time. This year, Hank and Becky went together and picked a darling little West Highland Terrier for her. After all of our gifts were opened Hank went outside (where he had the puppy) to bring her in. She was zipped up in a duffle bag and Hank set it down in front of Jennifer. Of course, she was very curious about the obvious secrecy of the duffle bag and our excitement for her to unzip it. When she did, a little white face jumped out at her and she let out a big scream…….which scared the puppy and she jumped out of the bag and all over Jennifer. It was a wild time with the puppy jumping all through the rubble of paper, boxes, ribbon and our two cats who were in on it all, following in close pursuit.

George was able to stay a few days but the weather turned bad and he left in freezing rain, hoping to get home before dark. Mom was out the days I was off work. Some of us would go get her and she enjoyed watching the puppy, now named, “Dara” and in fact, we all had fun getting her excited wet kisses. She was a bundle of energy and joy….she loved everybody. The last days of the year passed and the weather kept us all inside except for necessary trips. The end of a very busy and eventful…….1988.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, March 14, 2005


Early in November I had one of the more exciting rides of my life with an applicant. We were working in a little out-of-the-way town, back in the hills and an older woman came in for a driving test. It was my rotation to take her so we headed for her vehicle. All the way she was talking about how nervous she was….how she had just lost her husband…how she needed to learn to drive so she could get groceries and go to church, visit friends….on and on and on. It was impossible to get an encouraging word in if I had been so inclined and actually I could have written her excuses for her…..if they were elderly, it was a sympathy thing…if they were young it was a prideful thing. No one wanted to fail a driving test.

She faltered getting the key in the ignition so I could give her directions about her headlights, brake lights, turn signals, parking brake…..DE’s are not instructors, they are “testers.” I waited patiently while she went through her agitated motions and finally we could begin the preliminary test. I knew it was going to be difficult because the woman’s hands were shaking uncontrollably. I got in the passenger’s side of the vehicle and gave her instructions to back out of the parking lot so we could then drive up the hill.

I considered changing our course because the hill is exceptionally steep with a stop sign half way up. If a new driver has to manually use the gear shift it is a pretty sure thing you could be rolling down the hill backwards. That would pretty well cause extensive damage to the vehicle because a frightened motorist would not be able to find the brake pedal in their panic and you would then roll into traffic, gathering speed downhill, and go over a retaining wall. I knew that would not be a healthy experience.

However, it would not be fair to allow her a less difficult course… so we proceeded up the hill. Finally we made it to the stop sign. The instructions were to turn right after stopping….which would then put you on a steep downhill grade. She put the brake on and we were stopped at the sign…..then she began to sense the difficulty of turning the wheel and shifting at the same time. She put the vehicle in low gear, her foot off the brake and we began rolling backwards…….I told her in a controlled voice to accelerate and turn the corner.

We were almost to the curb going backwards when her foot found the pedal and we raced up the hill, into the oncoming lane of traffic, turned the corner, jumped the curb and landed in a yard at high speed. I yelled at her to hit the brakes and we stopped in front of a bird bath in the middle of someone’s lawn. The woman completely lost it and began shaking and crying and asked me to drive her back. Impossible. A DE never drives an applicant back to the office. Either you walk back or “talk” the applicant back. I decided if she was ever going to have courage to drive she would have to prove to herself she could get out of the yard without help.

With a normal voice I explained all of this to her and told her I thought she could do it if she just concentrated. She backed out of the yard, over the curb and onto the street. I gave instructions, block by block back to the Court House, had her park and then we had a little talk. Of course, she failed the test. I told her to practice with a licensed driver….wrote her up a permit….and sent her on her way. I never saw the woman again. I don’t know if she went to a different testing place or if she gave up the idea of driving.

Obtaining a driving license is like anything else. If you think you can…….it’s a pretty good possibility that you can. If you expect to fail…..it’s fairly certain you will. I was often amazed at applicants. Some wanted special treatment and had every normal capability to pass, but failed. We had many disabled people with all sorts of disabilities who stuck with it, wanting to earn it by themselves…..though we offered assistance. The joy of a disabled person achieving the impossible dream was so rewarding to me, I rejoiced with them. Sadly, others who complained that it was my fault they failed….who were pampered teen-agers with a hot new car from daddy on their sixteenth birthday…..just didn’t get it.

I never failed anybody. They failed themselves…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, March 12, 2005


October came in on a week-end. I made fruit cakes early as it was Louis’ favorite cake and I wanted to have it ready because he, Gail and a friend were coming for his birthday this year. We were excited to have them come back to Missouri. On Sunday, after church, we picked mom up at WC and took her on a nice long drive to Van Buren. It’s a pretty drive anytime but especially in the spring and fall.

Our Space Shuttle landed safely on October 4th, putting us back in the space program once more after the disaster of the Challenger. John called the next day to tell us he’d had a good interview for a job he wanted and would know in a few days. We were hoping it would come through for him. The following Friday, George arrived about 6:00pm from Shawnee and the Seattle gang arrived about 8:00pm. They drove a lot of miles that day to get here and were worn out. A friend of theirs, Jack, came with them to help out on the driving…..they rented a large RV for the trip and it was very comfortable….but lots of miles are still tiring.

We visited for a while and then they got the RV set up with electricity and ready for the night…..we closed down and all went to bed. The next day would be a busy one. We had a leisurely breakfast….a family favorite, of mom’s buttermilk pancakes. We’d been raised on them and still like them. Home made syrup is the favorite topping for them. Later, Gail and I went out to pick mom up and she was excited to see Gail. By the time we came back, Louis was involved in some big tall tales and mom settled in to enjoy her baby boy. Louis and mom beat to the same drum and were very close in a special way. I knew I was loved as much, but just different.

Saturday evening I had George, mom, Becky and Jennifer, Louis, Gail and Jack around our table. There was so much laughter and fun my face hurt from all the hee-haw but it was worth every minute. I still miss my brother terribly who was the consummate life of any party. He used to laugh and say his sister was good but he had more fun……..he was right. No one ever had more fun than he.

The 9th was Louis’ 60th birthday. We had dinner and then we drove down to Arkansas to see aunt Beulah. Louis just couldn’t be that close to her and not go see her. He had Warren drive the RV and he loved doing it. When we arrived at aunt Beulah’s, Julie Shepherd, Julie’s niece and Mildred, aunt Beulah’s sister were visiting also. Julie and aunt Beulah lived side by side for a lot of years and were like family with each other. We had a good visit over coffee and cookies and then drove back home for the birthday party. We had a good meal, gifts, cards and his special cake. I think he liked that better than anything.

The next day I was off work for Columbus Day and so we ate and visited all day again. We picked mom up early enough that she could have breakfast with us…her favorite meal of the day. It was our last day together. They planned to drive on to Milwaukee and see old friends and family the next day and I had to go back to work. We had our sad goodbyes…….my supervisor came to pick me up and I introduced him to the family….he entertained them with his repertoire of jokes. We left everyone laughing and headed for the office of the day.

It was sad to see mom and Louis telling each other goodbye. She asked when we would see him again and he shook his head and said, “God only knows, mom, hopefully next year.” In my heart I feared for them both…..mom had been slowly losing some of her mobility and Louis never took good care of his health. It proved out that it would be the last time we saw my brother.

John did get the job and so it is with life….there is always some good to balance our concerns.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, March 11, 2005

SEPTEMBER ....1988 

We left home early so as to arrive in Blair by supper time. Uncle Roger and aunt Phyllis had just come from a funeral of an old friend……and aunt Sally had come back from Colorado to attend as well. It was uncle Rod’s brother, Bob, who passed away and aunt Sally’s brother-in-law. Aunt Sally had been widowed for several years and had spent a few summers in Colorado working in one of the National Park’s gift shops. We visited until very late and then turned in. It was good to catch up on each other’s families and we would be leaving the next morning. We packed as much into the visit as we could.

The next morning we got up early but uncle Roger and aunt Phyllis insisted we stay for breakfast, which we did. Afterwards we walked next door to see the improvements Joy and Dan made on grandma’s home place. As we walked from room to room, remembering how it used to be…..a transformation had taken place that gave it a new personality. Whereas it had remained the same for most of the years grandma lived there, it now had an energy of a growing family and updated new look. They had worked long hours and did the work themselves. Dan was an excellent carpenter and Joy had a flair for designing and decorating. The house was beautiful. Joy had worked as hard with the landscaping and it complimented everything else they had done to the house.

We left by 9:00am and drove to Madison, NE. where we were to stay at Warren’s cousin’s home. Helen was a pleasant woman and her husband, Jim, came in at noon for lunch. We had a good visit with them and in the afternoon we looked up the cemetery where Warren’s dad was buried, his grandma and grandpa Rosenbaum were buried…..the house where he was born, his first church and school. It was interesting to see where he had grown up and where his roots went down. We were both second marriages and so much of our past was a mystery to each other. I felt I knew my husband better after seeing his childhood haunts.

Warren’s niece (who was the youngest daughter of his deceased sister) and her husband had been visiting at the same time, joined us with all of the stops we made. They were leaving to go home to Portland the next day but Diane was happy to see where her mother spent her young years. The King family, though large in number, was very close knit and very loving. One of the other cousins, Alta, had dinner for us, and several other family members that evening. The next day was the picnic and reunion so we visited until late in the evening and then went back to Jim and Helen’s.

The picnic was at the park and was very windy. We met each carload as they arrived and took group pictures of each family. We spent the day eating and visiting and I enjoyed listening to the wild stories Warren and his cousins told. It was a good day with lots of hugging and laughter….the Kings were all very talented, well educated and mostly farmers. They loved their land and farmed with pride and much success. They are the very fiber of what makes me proud to be a Nebraskan.

The next day we drove all over the area again, seeing new country to me. We ended with a steak dinner at a favorite restaurant of Jim and Helen’s, which was to be our last day with them. We left early the next morning, driving all day and arrived home around 7:00pm that evening. I had to work the next day so our routine clicked back into gear as if we’d never been away.

The rest of the month flew by with visits to mom or bringing her to visit with us, which she enjoyed. Becky and Jennifer usually joined us so it was a good balance for mom to be able to go back and forth. I dreaded the day she would no longer be able to come. I look back on these times with great satisfaction, knowing we did all we could to make mom’s life good in her last years. It wasn’t easy, by any means, but I knew I could do no less. How much has your mother done for you? How much impact did she make in your life? When her health fails and she can no longer do for you…..what will your decision be? Tough questions. No one can answer that until the facts present themselves. As for me, I have peace of mind because we helped mom travel those last years together, rather than having to go on an unfamiliar road, alone………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


We celebrated Jennifer’s 16th birthday the evening of August 3rd at Becky’s with cake and ice-cream. Jennifer was pleased with her gift. We gave her a Liz Claiborne cologne that she wanted and a Precious Moments figurine…..she was old enough to drive now so soon she would be taking her written test for a driver’s permit. She was feeling pretty grown up.

On Saturday the 6th John called to tell us the lump in Barb’s breast was benign and that he was having several good job opportunities. It seemed everything was turning out well for them…….they certainly deserved a break. Jennifer left for church camp for a week and the weather became unbearably hot and humid. Some of the old Court Houses we worked out of had no AC….nor did most of the cars…it was miserable working through the heat of the day.

Mom had some back problems but with some medication she returned to her normal activities. We continued to see her every other day or so. Life wasn’t bad for her in an assisted care unit because we brought her out for all of the family occasions or to take a ride etc; We picked her up on Saturday, the 13th and drove down to see aunt Beulah. We arrived about coffee time and aunt Beulah had coffee handy……..her friend, LaDonne came to lunch with us and she and I did the dishes together to give aunt Beulah a break. We stayed until late afternoon and then had to leave.

Warren’s cousin, Dean King and his wife, came on the 18th to visit. They were in the area on vacation and stopped by. After I came home from work we took them out to dinner since we wanted to spend our time visiting with them and not in the kitchen. We enjoyed them so much…….they stayed over night and left the next morning. There was no letup in the weather. The temperatures were around 100* or higher for several weeks…..the grass and foliage were crisp and brown….just baked in the sun and dryness.

Since it was August we had a lot of School Bus driving tests to conduct and it was miserable. They had no AC and the windows let hot air in akin to a blast furnace. Life was pretty much unbearable for the poor critters who had to stay out in the heat……cattle and farm animals tried to find shade and were piled up in every little space they could find. Part of the day the cows just stood in the ponds to get relief. One day, out of the blue, it rained on us coming home…….a good heavy rain. It was wonderful to see after such a long dry spell.

Sunday’s I usually had mom, Jennifer and Becky here for dinner. Mom loved popcorn so I made a big batch in the afternoon and sent home with her to enjoy later. I called John to see how they were doing and he was to start classes again at the Seminary on the 23rd….the next day. The night before, we got a lot of thunder and lightening and a good soaking rain that continued part of the morning. It was very welcome. We were still doing double duty giving School Bus tests and splitting the crews up to balance out the work load.

George came to visit on the 26th and since it was a Friday night, I fixed homemade pizza for everyone. The family’s favorite food. We sat around and visited until Becky and Jennifer went home…..then we called it a day. On Saturday, George went out after mom and she spent the day with us. We had lunch and supper together before George took her back. Same thing the next day, on Sunday…. and in the evening Becky was in charge of a Girls in Action program at church. I was asked to give a talk on the Rachel Sims Mission in New Orleans where we took a carload of material to them last year. We were glad George could come to the program….gave him a little incite to what Becky and I spent so much time doing at church.

The next day we woke up to unseasonably cool temperatures. In fact, it broke a record for the 29th of August. Crazy, after how hot and dry it had been…….but that seems to be the way with weather. Warren and I planned to go to Nebraska to visit uncle Buster and aunt Phyllis and then on to Newman Grove, NE. to the King family picnic. It was Warren’s mother’s side of the family….. so I spent time washing, packing and getting the house in order to leave on the 1st day of September. We ate a bite of supper and went out to visit with mom a while and to tell her goodbye. We would be up early to head north…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Today is a sad day because John’s family will have to say goodbye to Hobo on Saturday. He has provided faithfulness, comical antics, grace under fire, an alarm system when strangers appear and untold love to a family of three. LJ grew up with Hobe’s … I guess you could say they grew up together. I don’t think Hobe’s ever knew he was a dog….he assumed the role of “brother” to LJ…..falling asleep by him on the floor in front of the TV, chasing the basketball, jumping on the bed to wake him up in the morning…..stealing his food….all the stuff that brothers do to one another.

He was a companion to John on his many walks or following him around the yard to watch the week-end mowing, planting or leaf raking. John was the “master”….the one who taught him to mind, to have good manners….to be obedient. He respected John because he was the trainer who brought the best out in him. He was pleased with himself because John often told him he was a “good dog”….and he knew he was….because of the journey they had taken together.

To Barbara, Hobe’s was her “sweet boy”……..it was Barbara who always loved him like a mother….unconditionally. She didn’t demand his obedience or understand how to train a dog. She didn’t play rough and tumble with him. She just enjoyed giving him treats, unearned, and supplying the kind of softness that he needed when his feelings were hurt, when he felt guilty or when he was sick. He knew she was a “soft touch” and like a kid, would depend on that to get him what he wanted. It always worked with Barbara.

As for Hobe’s extended family and for all the friends of John, Barb and LJ…..we will miss him like our own. He was generous of spirit, unselfish and available to anyone who came. He gave back everything he had in him….and he hung on as long as he could because he knew he was loved. If he could say anything to the family now, it would be, “thanks for taking me in….it’s been a great ride.”

We will all be crying on Saturday.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther (Proud grandmother of Hobe’s.)

Monday, March 07, 2005


The first three days of July came in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. John was able to be with us and Barb worked a few hours on Friday. We traveled the malls by day, going to the French Quarter to stroll the streets, watch the crowds, take in the street musicians; the artists who sit in front of St. Louis Cathedral to sell their paintings or to sketch people, and eating at our favorite places. Each night we would wind up at home and watch movies……..on Monday, July 4th, we headed north to Missouri as I had to be back at work on Tuesday. We left everyone waving in the driveway and began the long drive home.

When we arrived, Becky had a lunch fixed for us and she and Jennifer helped unload the car……..we had a bite to eat before they left. We finished unpacking and fell into bed, late. Warren contracted some kind of infection in his stump and was put on high-powered antibiotics….it was quite painful for a few days, but luckily the meds worked their cure.

On the 12th, Warren went to Springfield to pick his brother Don and his wife, Sally, up from the airport. They flew in for a visit from Walla Walla, WA. and Becky and Jennifer came over to eat supper with us each evening. Don and Sally stayed several days and we had friends in to visit while they were here so they could renew old acquaintances. One night the quartet from our church came and we had a fun evening of singing. The quartet sang, then Don and then Don and Bear sang together. It was a very special evening. We had mom out one evening and when we took her back, Sally went with us and was happy to see mom’s nice living quarters. It gave mom pleasure to show Sally around WC…..

We drove them to the airport the following Sunday morning and just barely made it before the loading call…….we watched their plane take off and climb into the open sky until it was just a little speck. It was hard to believe we had had five wonderful days together….we lived so far apart, our visits weren’t too frequent. John called later in the month. They had been to Atlanta to visit college friends of theirs, Tim and Prisca. John and George were (and still are) good about calling home. I was always very proud of them for keeping us in their lives. So many mothers go to bed every night wondering where their boys are…..or what they might be doing.

It was my practice to write them a letter every week……a tangible way of showing they were still important in my life, as well. However, since the computer acquisition, I correspond with email now rather than writing. It is great help to my hands, which are showing their years of serving me for every need. And as for Barbara, she is a jewel. Busy as she is, she makes time for notes and thank you letters. She is the perfect example of good manners. Sad to say, a rarity in this day and age……..common courtesy is all but lost for the most part. I’m old fashioned and still believe in….. and appreciate good manners.

July was hot and miserable and the humidity was high even though it hadn’t rained for weeks……..the ground was hard and cracked and the flowers and small foliage were having a tough time if they weren’t watered. Even some of the trees in the wooded areas were dying. We did get rain at the end of the month but when it came it was with a storm. It usually happens that way when it’s been dry for a long time. When I’m not fearing for damage because of them, I rather enjoy watching a storm in all it’s fury…. and then how calm and washed the world is after it passes by. As the last of the thunder rolls away, the birds commence their singing and all is right with the world once more….a beautiful benediction after a rain.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Ladies, do certain recipes bring back fond memories? This morning I made what I like to call, Poor Man’s Doughnuts, for breakfast. I haven’t used this recipe for years and years…..back when the children were all home. It was a once in a while treat. Back then we didn’t know that Betty Crocker and all of her wonderful recipes were bad for us….so they were a guilt-free treat at times.

When I was first married in 1950, I was in a young married woman’s Sunday School class. One of the “girls” lived close to us and one morning invited me up for coffee. She served Golden Puff Balls…….and they were wonderful. Of course, I had to have her recipe which I think she said was a Betty Crocker one.

For some reason I decided to make them this morning…..we can’t go to church because we are still both coughing and blowing our noses which would not be in tune with the choir or the preaching. Since it was Sunday morning I decided today was the day to look up an old friend…..Golden Puff’s.

As we enjoyed them with coffee I was telling Rocky about doughnut memories. When I was in the second grade in the middle of Omaha…..for special treats dad would reach in his pocket, pull out some change and tell us kids to go over to Fuff’s Bakery and buy a dozen doughnuts. As he put the change in our hand, he would always pointedly say, “Take your time going….but hurry back.” I cannot convey how wonderful those times were. Times were hard and money came hard…….still, once in a while we got a real big treat…..which usually came from Fuff’s Bakery or Reed’s Ice Cream Store. It never took us long to get to the bakery….it was only a half block from where we lived.

Mr. Fuff was fluffy….a mountain of a man with sandy hair and massive arms. We would point to the glazed doughnuts and ask for a dozen. Rocky and I can remember what a “baker’s dozen” was……..they always threw in one extra, thereby calling it a baker’s dozen. Thirteen instead of twelve. Those were the days. I can’t remember getting anything “extra” lately.

This is an old recipe but fun to make and wonderful to eat……


Measure into bowl: 2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Make a well and add: ¼ cup Oil
¾ cup milk
1 egg

Stir with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Drop by teaspoons into deep hot oil. Drain on absorbent paper. Using a sieve, shake ample amount of powdered sugar onto them or roll in cinnamon sugar. Makes about 2 ½ dozen.

(They will roll over in the hot fat when the under side is done. No need to “turn” them. The kids used to love rolling them in sugar or putting the powdered sugar on.

I hope you have a favorite doughnut story and maybe one of your dad. “Take your time going…but hurry back.” Thanks, dad………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, March 05, 2005


June came in on a Monday and shortly after I got home from work, uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle drove in. They were on their way to Nebraska for their yearly visit. I fixed supper for everyone, Becky and Jennifer came and we spent the evening catching up on family news. They went to WC everyday and brought mom to our house so they could all visit…..when I came in each evening I got to hear about their day as I fixed supper for all of us. They stayed with us for a week and then continued on to Nebraska. We always enjoyed uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle.

Becky went to Kansas City to be with her dad who was having veins replaced in both legs. The circulation was restricted and he was to have replacements from his hips to the knees. Becky went to care for him when he came home and Jennifer stayed with us while she was gone. George Sr. had a rough 3-days but began improvement after that.

Mid-month we had a call from Bob and Mary Bryant who said they would be coming through here on their way home from Denver. Mary had been out there for a training session pertaining to her job and they planned on staying with us one night. We were delighted and had mom here so she could visit with them. I think mom would have traded me in a heartbeat to be Mary’s mother. As it turned out, they arrived the following Saturday, left on Sunday and Warren’s Army buddy and his wife arrived on Monday. Codd and Carroll were old friends of Warren’s and had accepted me as part of the package when I married him. They pulled a trailer and insisted on staying in it so I fixed supper and we gabbed until the wee hours. They left the next morning for Fort Smith, AR. to visit Codd’s sister and family.

The following Saturday Warren and I loaded the car and headed for John and Barbara’s. Jennifer went with us and Becky was going to stay at our house because it was so hot and she didn’t have air conditioning. We got away by 4:30am and were in Memphis by 8:30am. We couldn’t believe how low the Mississippi River was due to the drought in the mid-West. You could walk half way across the river on dry land….simply amazing. We ate dinner at Jackson, Miss. And arrived at John and Barb’s by 4:00pm We made good time. Barb fixed a nice supper and we stayed up late visiting. John had to work on Sunday so Warren stayed at the apartment and Barb and I did the malls.

On Monday they were both off work so we went to the zoo and it must have been 100* in the shade with humidity as high as it can get. It was miserable walking around but we made a day of it. I saw my first white tiger and white alligator. Pretty impressive. Tuesday we went to the French Quarter and did all of our favorite things….went to our favorite places. It’s fun to “people watch” and listen to the jazz music everywhere you go…..along with an occasional blast from one of the River Boats and the calliope. You never want to be in a hurry when you visit the French Quarter. Life is slow there and meant to be savored …….

Barb had to work on Wednesday and George was flying in to join us so we made the trek to the airport to pick him up by 11:30am. We stopped off for some lunch and then went to one of the malls…..getting home by the time Barb did. We had pizza from the pick-up window for supper and enjoyed some good movies. Barb had to work again on Thursday and John had some work at home to do on the computer. (He did billing for one of the doctor’s to help make extra money) so Jennifer, George, little John and I went to the French Quarter and rode the Natchez for a 2-hour ride. It was very interesting with the tour guide filling us in on the historical aspects of the trip, down the Mississippi towards the Gulf for a few miles and then back.

George wanted more beignets at Café du Monde so we did that and then went back to the French Market for shopping. We managed to get home by the time Barb did and after a good supper we watched…….yup!….more movies.

July will have to wait another day……

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Friday, March 04, 2005

APRIL AND MAY....1988 

Easter was early in April. I fixed a traditional dinner on the first Saturday for the family and after church on Sunday we drove down to aunt Beulah’s for the afternoon. It was such a pretty day we picked mom up to go with us. She enjoyed being out, and it’s a very scenic drive down to north Arkansas. I took cookies and a stuffed teddy bear I made for aunt Beulah, which she loved. She had a pie and some ice-cream so we enjoyed that with coffee and a good visit.

It was an especially pretty April this year. Everything bloomed to capacity and we took several drives out in the country to enjoy the spring calves, lambs, goats and colts. They felt so good they would kick up their heels and run-a-round mama with the siblings joining in. A slow drive on back roads is truly good for the soul. Mom loved nature and the redbuds and dogwoods were at their peak. We drove out to Tyrone on one such trip and she enjoyed looking at our old farm and remembering. Forty years has a way of changing everything but your memories……

Later in the month, aunt Beulah, her friend LaDonne, mom, Becky and Jennifer came for lunch and the afternoon, one Saturday. Becky, Jennifer and I did a lot of walking over at the school track…..it was good weather for it and we all felt like we needed to get some healthy exercise. April is Spring turkey hunting so we worked short-handed for weeks……I was glad when the season closed. Since I didn’t hunt, it meant I had a long stretch of having to double up for those on leave. I felt like I was on vacation when they all came back.

Spring in south Missouri also brings more than the pretty side of nature. We are usually pelted with severe storms that can get right down mean and ugly. From Easter until mid-June we watch the rainy skies for hail, wind and tornadoes. I always joke and say….“living in a mobile home sure improves your prayer time“…they are notoriously known for being “the pick” for tornadoes. I think they have magnets built in to draw them…….mobile homes get unfair treatment in storms. We have had some come too close for comfort.

I had a birthday dinner for mom but she was complaining of pain in her leg….and didn’t enjoy the day very much. The leg continued to bother her during the month and we had repeated doctor visits, with medication and shots. She had damaged a tendon around her knee area but her legs and feet both turned a bad color. Naturally I was concerned and we spent a good deal of time making sure she was improving. It was slow, but she did get better.

The day before my birthday, Warren drove to Newman Grove, NE. for aunt Martha’s 90th birthday party. I wasn’t able to go and encouraged him to go without me. George drove down to spend my birthday with me as he usually did. Becky and Jennifer came to have supper with us and to visit with George. That same week-end, my cousin Mark and his new wife Maggie, stopped by to visit. They were on their honeymoon and camping in Missouri was part of their plans. After a nice weekend together, George, Mark and Maggie left on Monday and I was a year older. Warren called and was on his way home as well. May ended with a happy note and summer was just beginning……life was good.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Before I do anything here…….I want you to go over to the link at the left of the page and view the beautiful (and very large) framed counted cross-stitch Ellen made and sent. She is something else. It is a very special piece because she continued working on it all through her journey with the diagnosis of her cancer and treatment up to now. How can I not love such a gift……..or the giver? She taped the “story” of The Whistle Stop Café on the back….taken from one of her favorite books. Because the book is so meaningful to her I plan to read it in the future. With such a good review from her, it has to be worth the time. Stop by her blog site and tell her what you think of her piece……..just wish you could see it in person, but I’ll enjoy it for all of you. Thanks again, Ellen. You are loved back.

January 1988 was uneventful. Routine visits to see mom because the weather was too severe for her to get out….routine days at work….applicants were scarce because we couldn’t give road tests due to slick streets, and so we stayed “put” and just did written tests much of the time. There is always paper work to be done when we aren’t able to do anything else. I do like January because it polarizes activities and slows life down……..that’s a good thing.

February turned into March and on the 10th we received word that aunt Mardelle died. She was married to dad’s older brother, Emil. They had moved back to Omaha for better doctors after selling their home in Kimberling City, MO. We sent flowers to the family but didn’t try to make the trip for the funeral.

The rest of the month slid by and we were all relieved when April turned over on the calendar. It seemed winter had been very long and very cold this year. Spring is always a time for renewal and Missouri was ready for her arrival……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Forty-eight years ago my life was made complete by a little visitor who came to call at 9:15pm on a Saturday night. I lay in a top floor of St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City watching the traffic flow into the city for dinner and entertainment. My entertainment was trying to give birth to one of God’s funniest kids. I should have known he was going to grow up to run, although like many things in John’s life….it didn’t come easy.

He was born with a club foot. When he lay in the bassinette both little feet pointed the same way. Not good. When a baby is on it’s tummy, both feet should point outwards. I went through the phase of everyone telling me I was imagining things….he was fine. I wasn’t convinced. Then I began to worry about something else….when I held him to nurse, his little eyes jiggled back and forth and constantly roamed as if trying to focus. His eyes looked cloudy to me.

Since he was my third child I was not easily disturbed over possible irregularities. I just knew something was wrong. Dr. Needles, who delivered John, made an appointment with Dr. Drisko who was an Orthopedic surgeon. Our first visit, he affirmed my concerns and a cast was put on from the hip to the foot…..he went on to have more casts, braces, orthopedic shoes and finally at about the age of eight was graduated into regular shoes.

Dr. Needles also made an appointment with Dr. Eubanks, an Ophthalmologist who rendered the information that John was born with congenital cataracts. The prognosis didn’t look that great but we started a long journey to make the best things happen for John that we could.

From a parent’s standpoint, John developed into a strong personality and didn’t make himself out to be a victim. He worked very hard just to be a normal kid, but the truth is……he overshot that goal and never looked back. As his mother, I just hung on and enjoyed the view! Happy Birthday John!!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther


Forty-eight years ago my life was made complete by a little visitor who came to call at 9:15pm on a Saturday night. I lay in a top floor of St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City watching the traffic flow into the city for dinner and entertainment. My entertainment was trying to give birth to one of God’s funniest kids. I should have known he was going to grow up to run, although like many things in John’s life….it didn’t come easy.

He was born with a club foot. When he lay in the bassinette both little feet pointed the same way. Not good. When a baby is on it’s tummy, both feet should point outwards. I went through the phase of everyone telling me I was imagining things….he was fine. I wasn’t convinced. Then I began to worry about something else….when I held him to nurse, his little eyes jiggled back and forth and constantly roamed as if trying to focus. His eyes looked cloudy to me.

Since he was my third child I was not easily disturbed over possible irregularities. I just knew something was wrong. Dr. Needles, who delivered John, made an appointment with Dr. Drisko who was an Orthopedic surgeon. Our first visit, he affirmed my concerns and a cast was put on from the hip to the foot…..he went on to have more casts, braces, orthopedic shoes and finally at about the age of eight was graduated into regular shoes.

Dr. Needles also got an appointment with Dr. Eubanks, an Ophthalmologist who rendered the information that John was born with congenital cataracts. The prognosis didn’t look that great but we started a long journey to make the best things happen for John that we could.

From a parent’s standpoint, John developed into a strong personality and didn’t make himself out to be a victim. He worked very hard just to be a normal kid, but the truth is……he overshot that goal and never looked back. As his mother, I just hung on and enjoyed the view! Happy Birthday John!!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


November came in quietly. Becky, Jennifer and I did a lot of stitching together on week-ends while Warren watched TV and mom watched our progress. It was cozy to work together and enjoy our meals together. We were saddened to hear our local veterinarian was hit by a train at a crossing south of town. He was on his way to vaccinate some cattle for a farmer and apparently didn’t see or hear the train. He left a wife and two small boys…..and a town that cared for him.

George called to tell us he wouldn’t be able to come for Thanksgiving this year but would be coming for Christmas. I slow cooked a turkey all night the day before as Becky, Jennifer, Jonathan and mom were going to join us. The noon meal was better for mom so she wouldn’t be “out” after dark in the cold when it was time to check back in at WC. After a traditional meal we did a lot of stitching for the holidays.

Uncle Roger called early in December and said he and aunt Phyllis would like to come see us and to visit mom in a few days. Warren’s brother-in-law called to tell us Warren’s sister, Dee, was failing fast. The cancer was all over her and she wasn’t expected to last much longer. The following Monday, uncle Roger and aunt Phyllis arrived with mom in the car with them….they had gone straight to the nursing home to visit until I came home from work.

When I came in the house, Warren told me that Dee had died that afternoon (December 7th) at home, in Jim’s arms. Of course it made us all very sad. She left Jim and four beautiful daughters. I fixed supper for all of us, Becky and Jennifer came to join us. We had to make the most of the visit because Roger and Phyllis were leaving the next morning and I had to work. They spent the night with us and we all said our goodbye’s in the morning……..

On the 14th we had a weather pattern move in and bring freezing rain, sleet and snow….it came slowly so that it stuck on everything and bent the trees down and coated everything outside. It is always beautiful but destructive. We made our way slowly to work but quit early to insure getting home safely…..the road crews had been out all day on the major highways but the back roads we traveled were dangerous.

We were able to sing our cantata at church but had to forego the traditional choir party after as the sewer had backed up in the church basement and everything was understandably a mess. Professional cleaners had partially cleaned the worst of it up but it was in no shape for a party. The rest of the month was spent racing with the clock to finish Christmas projects, get the cards sent, packages mailed, the baking and candy making………but……..somehow I always met the deadline.

I had to work on the 24th over at Van Buren….a good hours drive from home. The weather was still not good and the Court House closed at noon so we were done for the day as well. I arrived home before George, who drove in around 4:00pm….that evening we gathered around the tree lights, drinking eggnog and catching up on each other’s lives. The next day we had a full table of traditional food, Becky and her family, mom and George were our guests and we enjoyed our gift exchange and each other.

We had freezing rain for three days and the yards were like an ice-rink……..the damage to the trees and foliage were astronomical…… they had twisted and frozen into grotesque shapes representative of another world. George made the drive back to Shawnee safely and we DE’s worked in wicked weather to finish the year out. Warren spent his days feeding and watering the poor bird population…..and the new year slipped in while we slept…………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther