I wrote the following letter on Oct. 1, 1989
It can't be . . . but it is! Another of those dreadful form letters which seem to arrive just when you were convinced that we had vanished from the face of the earth! The usual excuse for such letters is, "I have so many people to write to, and I have so little time." Why change the routine now?
We thought that graduating from college back in June would be a relief and we would finally have some time to catch up on our lives. Not True. Life since graduation has been filled with some of the best, as well as, some of the worst moments in our lives and we have had lots of everything except time and money.
Right after graduation, when my Mom, Dad, Grandma and brother Lance, as well as Greg's Mom, Aunt Melissa and sister Laura had just left Ashland, when the many job applications which we had sent out paid off, we were hired to teach in Crescent City, California, on the coast just south of Oregon. So we had to move. Luckily we found a very nice, enormous duplex for a very cheap price.
However, no sooner had we signed the rent check than my grandma Grace became seriously ill and was hospitalized. So we went back to Wyoming to visit her one last time before he died on July 8, from cancer. Losing her hurt quite a lot because she was very much a part of our family and a person whom we loved very deeply.
The trip to Wyoming was not all bad. Newcastle was celebrating its centennial and we had a chance to get over there while the Goodes were all in one place,and that is an occurrence which is only slightly rarer than snow in our new hometown.
As soon as we returned to Oregon we began packing our belongings for the move to California. Moving is always a chore with ver little enjoyment attached to it but this time Greg came down with the flu and had to sleep in a borrowed sleeping bag on a concrete floor while I scrubbed and mopped and filled the house with ammonia fumes. It was pretty miserable. We rented a truck for one trip with the piano, couches and the like but we still had to make so many trips back and forth between Ashland and Crescent City that we cold drive that road blindfolded, and it's a narrow winding road to drive.
Once we had all of our bags and boxes stacked into our new living room, we had to interrupt the moving process and just leave everything sitting for two weeks. We had accepted jobs in North East California at a wilderness, Easter Seals Camp for orthopedically impaired children and adults. Camp Hawley is located outside of Quincy, CA through 12 miles of rugged, four-wheel drive only territory. We loaded people, camping gear, and wheelchair into the "Plumas County Jeep Posse' and rode trough some incredibly beautiful country; mountains covered in wildflowers, deep green lakes, towering firs which could almost compete with the redwoods. We arrived at a clearing beside Hawley Lake, hot and dusty councilors unloaded the jeeps and met the camper who would be assigned to them for the next week. The jeeps went back to town and we proceeded to set up camp beneath the stars. It was an exhausting week, made more so because we had begun it already tired. We were both assigned to adults in wheelchairs, we had to help feed them, lift tim on and off the toilet, in and out of bed, dress them, shower them, brush their teeth, wipe their butt and push their wheelchairs over dirty/rocky/rutted trails. We got to know our campers very well. and also the other campers and councilors, and we made some very good friends. Nights around the fire, singing, were great.
On the last night there was a dance and everyone gave a hand-made gift to the person whose name they had drawn on the first night. The jeeps came and took away the adult campers, then returned that evening with younger people, ages eight to eighteen. The second week was harder for Greg and much easier for me because of the campers we were assigned to. Luckily we didn't have our difficult campers on the same week so w could help each other a lot.
We came back to Crescent City, our beautiful town in the redwoods by the shore. We spent a week going back and forth between ashland and CC while Greg performed in a vocal group as they did Mozart's "Requiem"and we finished all the little details involved in leaving a city.
Then we spent the next week in our new home, unpacking boxes 14 hours a day. We were not quite unpacked when our friends from Germany arrived and they were still here the next week when we began our first year teaching jobs. Greg has around five-hundred students for classroom music, band, and chorus. He works at two schools, grades k-8. He has no room of his own except a small storage area. Sometimes his band meets in the library, and sometimes on the gym stage while another class plays floor hockey.
I have nine students, six are classified as severely handicapped and three are normal pre-school kids whom I use as "revers mainstreaming students"/ role models. My kids are three to five years old. I have a huge room with an enclosed, tree lined, trike-path attached. I have three aides who are so good they could teach the class themselves. I have wonderful kids and I am falling in love with tim but they are difficult. Every day I come home physically exhausted. Some are not toilet trained. Some like to bite. I have some who always have to be kept away from the door or they vanish. I have a girl in a wheelchair who only weighs 22 pounds and I have a 50 pound boy who likes to dump people out of wheelchairs. I have a student who says nothing that isn't obscene and I have others who cry each time they hear swear words. I'm starting to understand how combat soldiers become addicted to always living on the edge of a life or death situation. It never gets boring and the days go by fast so I don't have time to get depressed,
Yesterday we got our first "real" paycheck and spent an hour paying the bills that we have had to ignore all summer. so now we haven't got a lot of money to spend on extras but maybe we'll stop being threatened with collection agencies and maybe soon we will be able to actually pay some of them all the way off. That feels good.
Last weekend the whole town got together and picked up over two tons of litter from our beaches. They look great and it went a long way toward making us feel like we belong to this community. With all the students that we have we are recognized in every store or park that we go to. Greg was even told by one of his students, "I saw you kissing on the beach." Such is small town (3,000) life.
Someday I may have more time to write a real letter. Until I do this will have to serve as a reminder that we really do remember our friends and talk about, and miss, and think of you often.
|The Christmas Letter|
|Mom and My Brother Brett in Cody, WY|
|My Brother, Lance and I in a sea cave in Oregon|
|Grandma Grace in the Redwoods|
"They don't look red to me."
|My Dad at Crescent City|
|Greg and his prints on a fallen log in the redwoods|
|Greg and I at Shore Acres in Charleston, Oregon|
|My Mother-in-law had never seen a hydrangea before|
|The "Married Student Housing" we left behind in Ashland, OR|
|Grandma, (Right) and her sister, Clara|
|The Ashland house, it never snows at Crescent City, like this|
|Grandma and Senator Simpson two months before her death|
|Greg getting ready to Perform at the college|
|Mimi, Greg and I|
|Take out Greg's Mom and add in mine|
|He had this Tuxedo jacket taylor made when we were going to school in China|