Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Merry Martin Christmas 2016

This year we are again so very blessed.  Here is a count of our blessings:

One wonderful living parent!!!  We are blessed to have Jerry’s 90 year-old mother Melba Martin still with us here on this Earth.  She is as mentally sharp and spunky as ever.  We are spending Christmas with her in Preston, Idaho this year.

Two new Grandchildren!  Cute and cuddly, Jordyn Gemie Martin joined our family on August 12th.    Jerald Lynn Martin (the 3rd with that name) could come any day now and we feel he is already part of the family.  (Is this counting our grandchildren before they are hatched?)

Three new homes:  Not for us, but three of our families got new homes this year.  The Boren’s moved to a new home within the same city (Lehi, Utah).  They love their pool and large back yard.  Justin graduated from medical school in San Antonio and he and Kara built a new home in Temple, Texas where he is doing his residency.  They are enjoying being first time home owners.  The Ronér’s made the move from the Atlanta, Georgia area to the Syracuse, New York area where they built a new home!  The children are missing their old back yard, but happy to experience snow. They are having a White Christmas!

Four callings:  Jerry (Sr.) was called in February to be the First Counselor in the Plano, Texas Stake Presidency.   He has also accepted a volunteer position as the District Chairman for the Golden Arrow District of the Boy Scouts of America.  Gemie continues to serve as the Stake Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for our Plano, Texas Stake.  She is gearing up for our Stake Emergency Preparedness Fair which will be held on February 25th.  She also volunteers in the Family History Center on Tuesday mornings.

Five extra "weekend days" each week!  That is what is supposed to happen when you retire right?  It was working for us.  Now we are so busy we wonder how Jerry ever had time to work and how Gemie accomplished what she did with eight children to chauffer all over Plano and a family of 10 to cook and do laundry for.

Six Hobbies:  Jerry loves coin collecting and can boast the best Lincoln Wheat Back Penny collection ever assembled! (Rest easy, it is in a safe deposit box).  Jerry also loves reading (Brandon Sanderson is his favorite author). He also loves to hike and is putting a lot of mileage on his new knee (which was replaced in January).  Gemie’s newest hobby is baking with sour dough.  She loves creating new recipes (sour dough and otherwise).  She also loves to sew and read but rarely finds time for either. 

Seven wonderful in-laws!  We have four terrific sons-in-law, (Spencer, Brendan, Neil, and Brett), and three fantastic daughters-in-law (Sara, Kara, and Karen)!  We are so grateful to these wonderful people our children chose to have as their eternal companions!  We couldn’t be more pleased to have them in our family!!!  

Eight Wonderful Children!  We are so lucky to have each child!  We appreciate each one for the way they conduct their lives.  Our children and their spouses have fun texting the whole group when things happen in their lives (like the new Christmas puppy that just appeared down in Temple, Texas)!  When our phones start buzzing non-stop, we know our children and their spouses are having fun in a group conversation! We love that they enjoy keeping in touch with each other and with us.  Camie, Alyssa, Kindra, Jenae, Jerald (Jerry), Justin, Christopher (Chris), and Adam—we love you fiercely!!!

Nine Wonderful Siblings:   Gemie still has all seven of hers: Loren (Bud), Marlene, George, Mark, Julie, April, and Marvelee.   We love our family reunions in Bliss Canyon (Moab, Utah) where four of them reside!  Jerry has two sisters: Sharan and Nadine who we love our visits with as well (we are also spending Christmas with Sharan this year).  We also have a wonderful sister-in-law Sallie whom we love to get together with and will also see Christmas day!  Sallie lives in Logan, Utah. 

Ten handsome grandsons: They range in age from Ryan who will be 14 in March to the littlest (as yet unborn) Jerald (Jerry?).  In between we have Benjamin (Ben) who is 10, Luke (9), Joshua (Josh) who is 7, Logan (6), Dallin (6), Trace (5), Seth (3) and James (almost 3). 

Eleven rooms of new windows.  We finally got around to replacing most of the windows in our home.  We love having no more cold and drafty areas in the winter!  We hope to see lower utility bills in summer and winter.  We wish we had done this sooner!

Twelve wonderful months of enjoying each other’s company.  I would say we can now finish each other’s sentences, but Gemie never knows what Jerry will say.  Jerry needs to finish Gemie’s sentences because she forgets what she is saying mid- . . .

Thirteen gorgeous granddaughters!!!  At 12 Brooklyn is almost a teenager.  Ashlin and Katelyn (Kate) both 11 are “Irish twins” having been born less than a week apart.  Then we have Bailey, Abigail (Abby), and Eleanor (Ellie) all 10.  Marin and Rachel are nine, but turn 10 early in the year.  Lilian (Lilly) is six.  Our other set of “Irish twins,” (born just two days apart) Addison and Brinley are three.  Then we have Gemma (the only girl in her family with four older brothers) who just turned one.  Last (but not least) is Jordyn who is 4 months old. 

As we contemplate our many blessings and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we count our greatest gift to be His marvelous Atonement.  We know His atoning sacrifice will make it possible for us to someday be reunited with Him and our Heavenly Father and all our beloved family members who are on the other side of the veil.  We often say, "Families are forever," and count on the prospect of being together for the eternities with our wonderful family to whom we have been sealed through Holy Temple ordinances. We know it is our Savior Jesus Christ who makes this possible for us.

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and prosperous) New Year!

Jerry and Gemie Martin

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Happy 32nd Birthday to Our 5th Child!

Thirty two years ago today, our 5th child was born.  My husband Jerry and I had recently moved with our four young daughters to Doraville, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta).  We had selected a small local hospital in a neighboring town, Chamblee to give birth to our 5th child.  

It was not the practice at that time to do sonograms on non-risk pregnancies.  We had no idea of the gender of our new baby.  With four girls, we also had no reason to suspect we would be having a boy.  I could tell this particular baby was significantly larger than any of the girls had been, but I had an aunt who had been born at 12 lbs.  Still, I was convinced this baby would be a son!

Our baby was due on September 2, 1984.  I knew we would probably be moving back to the Dallas, Texas area where the headquarters of Frito-Lay (Jerry's employment) was. I wanted the baby to be born on or before the first of September so we would have the choice of whether or not we could enroll our child in Kindergarten when he or she was 5 or whether we would wait until he or she turned 6.  The cutoff date was September first.  I went jogging around on the hills in our neighborhood on August 31st.  Not a wise thing to do, but it seemed to work.  About a month earlier, I had been put on bed rest to make sure the baby did not come too early.

I cannot describe the elation I felt when our first son was born!  I was so delighted to find out that I was right about him being a boy, I forgot to have the after baby blues!  He weighed over a pound more than our largest daughter.  He was 9 lbs. 2 ozs. And 22 inches long.  He did not curl up like a newborn does, where they draw their legs tightly up to their abdomen.  Jerry laid out flat right from the start.

They used to keep us several days in the hospital back then.  On the second day, the nursery delivered the wrong baby to my bed.  I knew it was not him immediately!  “This is not my baby!” I told the nurse.  “YOU BRING ME MY BABY!”

“This IS your baby Mrs. Martin,” she tried to reassure me.  “Let’s check your tags.”  She checked our tags and said, “Oh, this is NOT your baby.”  I think I beat her down to the nursery.  He stayed in my room for the remainder of our stay.

I was so convinced I would have a boy, I only packed a boy’s outfit in my hospital bag for his trip home .  I had it all washed up and ready to dress him in.  If he had been a girl, she would probably have had to wear a little blue nautically themed outfit home.  It would probably have fit her better.  As it was,  I had to shove Jerry into the outfit and it was difficult to snap it.

“You need to take that outfit back to the store,” remarked the nurse who was helping me dress him.  “It’s too small.” 

“No,” I replied, “I’ve already washed it and he’s going home in it.”  It would be the only time he would wear that cute little outfit, but he did go home in it!  Home to his four excited sisters and visiting grandmother (Genevieve Johnson).

"Little Jerry" (we named him Jerald Lynn Martin after his father), was a very pleasant little guy.  He only cried when he was hungry or had been startled.  Then his little face would wrinkle up and he would wail.  Another thing to note, he had the biggest feet I have ever seen on a newborn!  

Happy 32nd birthday, "Little" Jerry!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Changing Perspectives

In cleaning out and sorting papers, I found a loose journal-type entry of mine.  It was not dated, but had to have been written sometime in late 1999 or early 2000.  I have deleted the names to protect the innocent (or should I say guilty).  I think I was frustrated and just venting when I wrote this:

“My 15-year-old son just broke his toilet paper holder off the wall!  It was put on brand new a few weeks ago by the guy who hung the new wallpaper there.  The wall paper has a lighthouse motif.  I found some cute little ceramic soap and lotion dispensers in the shape of lighthouses to put at the basins.  Yesterday, I glued a chip back on one of them.  It has several smaller chips that I won’t be able to repair.  Two weeks ago the boys broke a support off the handrail to the stairs while they were rough housing.  The three eldest boys broke the door to one of their bedrooms that very same day.  I am still fuming about all of this destruction!!! Why can’t I have anything stay nice???

I think my problem is that I am ready to be an empty-nester. This is a problem because I have a first grader (also a boy) and two other sons in between the two I have already mentioned.  I also have a daughter, still at home, who is 17.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel there.  I am geared up to enjoy the one more year I have with her.  Her three older sisters are already away at college.  Most of the friends my age are empty-nesters.

Twenty-four years ago, I was pregnant with my first child.  I had either one or two in diapers for over 18 years!  If anyone deserves to be an empty nester, it is me.  The irony is that when I finally arrive there, I will probably be too old and senile to enjoy it.  I will be too old to cook, let alone to enjoy being the only woman in my kitchen.  (I’ve always maintained that two women in a kitchen, is one too many.)  I will probably no longer be wearing make-up, so it won’t matter that my blushes and nail polish will stay where I put them.  No one will want to borrow my orthotic shoes.  Support hose won’t appeal to them either.  In fact, I am sure none of them will want to wear anything I have.  (Every year after the three oldest leave for college, I have to take an inventory of how many shirts, slips and socks I have left.)

With so many children, I will probably have lots of grandchildren.  Grandchildren do damage too.  I am just thinking of the damage my children did to their grandparent’s homes.  Maybe we should volunteer to visit our grandchildren in their homes.  Perhaps Jerry and I should get a large RV (with a bumper sticker that reads: ‘I am spending my children’s inheritance’ on it), and travel around to each child’s home, plugging into their electricity!”

Those were my sentiments back in late 1999.  Here is how I feel today:

I finally arrived at the empty nest stage of life.  I still enjoy cooking although I do not do nearly as much of it.  It is fun when I have daughters and daughters-in-law come to help cook.  My youngest son and I had a lot of fun cooking together before he left the nest.  Occasionally we still cook together when he is around.   One daughter still goes through my make-up.  (She now asks permission to take what she wants of it.)  I find it endearing that a thirty something woman still wants to go through and wear mama’s make-up.  I don’t wear orthotic shoes or support hose—yet.  Even if the girls were to like my clothes, they (the girls) are all too small for my clothes to fit them well.   I love having my grandchildren over even though things do get broken from time-to-time.  We have plenty of time to make any repairs or clean-ups that need to be made.  I really enjoy all of my adult children and their spouses too!!!  What an exciting time of life!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Marion Borges Martin, A Great Man

Written by His Son, Jerald Lynn Martin in response to a request from Christopher Martin (His Grandson)

1)  Great Men of the Ward.  When I was 15 or 16, I attended a Sacrament Meeting that will forever be in my memory.  Grandpa was a convert of the Church after he got married to Grandma.  He knew little of the doctrine or the culture.  But he always had great faith, believed in people and was always willing to serve wherever needed.  Grandpa Martin did not complete high school until he was middle age, around 40 years old.  He was intimidated to be in front of crowds, had little in the way of leadership skills as we think of them and was fearful of public speaking including giving prayers.  I can't remember Grandpa ever giving a talk in any meeting and on only one occasion giving a prayer in Sacrament Meeting when I was 17.  He was so terrified he completely wrote out the words of his prayer and then read it.  On this particular Sunday, Brother Clausen, 1st Counselor in the Bishopric was the final speaker of the day.  This was before the block scheduling so Sacrament Meeting was 1and 1/2 hours and was held in the afternoon.  Brother Clausen's talk was themed "Great Men of the Ward."  After describing characteristics of great men, the first person he highlighted as the role model of great men of the ward was Grandpa Martin.  I was shocked as was the whole family as there was nothing society would think was great about Grandpa.  He never held a Church leadership position.  He barely had a high school education amongst a ward full of Engineers and Nuclear Scientists.  We had little money and lived in the Veterans Affairs development of homes for World War 2 vets.  What would qualify Grandpa Martin to be considered "great".  The answer came quickly.  He was the man who honored his priesthood and magnified it.  In 13 and 1/2 years, Grandpa had never missed a home teaching visit and always had a message of inspiration.  His home teaching went way beyond that.  He took care of fixing yards, making repairs in their homes, feeding them and others with the bounty of his garden/orchard harvests.  He always volunteered to transport the scouts.  He never missed Church.  He merely went about doing good without any notice or any desire for attention.  Yet he was most beloved by all.  Because he served with love.  Because he didn't need to talk much, he was a great listener and heard the challenges of those in his circle.  He then acted to help with those challenges.  He was a simple man with few needs but with great faith and excellent everyman skills.  He could change oil, run electricity, build fences, do brick and cement work, sprinkler systems, and grass, put up sheds, paint houses, fix roofs, and had an amazing green thumb.  He took joy in using those skills for his family and others.  And in all of that he was truly one of the great men of the Ward. 
2)Tithing.  When I was young, maybe 6 or 7, Grandma and Grandpa had a special family home evening (which we didn't do that often).  The purpose of this FHE was to discover if we children would support our parents in them paying tithing.  We were a poor family.  Just a few years before, my parents didn't have enough income to provide housing (they lived in a shed like building behind Great Grandpa Martin's house) and many times went hungry for food.  Both Grandpa and Grandma worked at this time with Grandpa oftentimes working two jobs.  The question was put to the kids if we were willing to do with a little less so that they could pay tithing.  We children all said yes.  So Grandma started paying tithing from her wages for the whole family (covering Grandpa's  pay also).  In the scriptures it says the Lord will open the windows of heaven for those who keep this law.  While that may come in many forms, it came directly to our family in way of much greater employment opportunities.  Within a short time, maybe a year, Grandma Martin was given the opportunity by her employer to learn engineering schematics.  It was the space race with the Russians and the US needed many more skilled people than were available.  Grandma jumped at the opportunity and in a couple years passed up Grandpa Martin in wages where before starting paying her tithing she earned about half of his wages.  A few more years went by and Grandma Martin continued to accelerate in her career now nearly doubling Grandpa's wages.  Around this time Grandpa Martin proclaimed he would take responsibility for his own tithing.  From there our family become very comfortable with money.  We enjoyed vacations out of the area and Grandma and Grandpa Martin became very comfortable financially.  To me their son, I consider this a miracle.  Two high school trained kids living comfortably in the midst of Silicon Valley.  This testimony of tithing, of putting the Lord first, is deeply entrenched in my heart.  "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  I learned that Tithing is the most visible symbol of my faith in Heavenly Father and His Son.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Happy 23rd, er make that 24th, Birthday Adam!

It was 24 years ago today that our last child, Adam Joseph Martin joined our family.  I have already wished him a happy 23rd birthday (for the second year in a row) but did the math and realized he is actually 24!  (Six subtract two is four, so that has to be right, but it is still hard for me to believe!) He chose June 22, 1992 to come here to Earth and we were lucky enough to have been chosen to be his family.

Adam was born at the Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, Texas.  He was our largest baby, weighing in at 9 lbs. 11 oz. and was 22 inches long!  He was already past the newborn stage (where they pull their legs tightly up into their stomachs) when he was born.  One nurse commented that she had noticed with larger babies that they arrived laying out flat.  He started wearing 3 month clothing immediately.

Another thing that was remarkable about baby Adam, was that he was covered in dark hair.  He had a very hairy back.  Like his older brother Christopher, he was very fair complected, but with very dark hair.  Adam also had very long eyelashes such that when he would cry, his tears would cause the top lashes to plaster down on his cheeks.  It looked rather hilarious.  I felt guilty laughing at a crying infant.  Fortunately, he did not cry all that often.  He was generally a very pleasant little guy.  He was only unhappy when his stomach was on empty or had an air bubble trapped in it.

He was the youngest of eight children.  I won't say he was spoiled, but the other children doted on him, especially his four sisters.  They were all older than his three elder brothers.  There was a 15 year difference between he and his oldest sister, Camie. She was like a second mother to him.

I remember several funny Adam stories, but will relate only one at this time.  He was probably about 18 months old when this incident happened.  One day, after putting Adam down for a nap, I noticed he did not stop crying.  His cry was also not his normal protest cry (of being put unwillingly to bed). I entered his bedroom to check on him and found him standing in his crib.  As I tried to lay him back down, I realized that one leg was stuck at the knee (with the knee bent), between the crib bars. He had on a bulky sweat suit which did not help matters.  I tried unsuccessfully to remove his leg from between the bars.  Each time I left the room to try and find the right tool to help, he would panic and set up a howl.  I felt so sorry for him.  Ordinarily, I would have broken one of the crib bars, but my husband and I were leaving town the next day.  I knew the babysitter would be needing the crib to put him into for sleeping.  I remembered that in our city (Plano, Texas) one could call the Fire Department for assistance.  I called them.  A firetruck with about 8 firemen, rushed to the scene. When several of them entered the bedroom dressed in their jumpsuits and gear, Adam really panicked and began freaking out.  Fortunately, two of them were able to force apart the bars without breaking them, while a third pushed Adam's knee back through.  The firemen wanted to take Adam to the hospital to be checked out.  I was unwilling to let him go because I had preschool-aged Christopher to tend to at home and would not be able to ride with them in the ambulance.  They checked the pulse in his foot and looked at the coloring of his leg and, after seeing him toddle around for a few minutes with no problems, determined he could stay at home.  It would be about 16 years later, that I would ride with Adam in an ambulance to a hospital emergency room, but that is another story for another time.

Happy 24th birthday, Adam!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Perfectly Hectic Day

Amazing the things we run across cleaning out our files and stacks of paper.  I ran across this Poem (entitled "Perfect Day") that I must have written a modern woman's answer to.  I am not sure when I wrote it.  It must have been when I still had most of my children living in the home.  Here are both poems:

Perfect Day
(Author unknown)

Grandmother, on a winter's day,
Milked the cows and fed them hay;
Slopped the hogs, harnessed the mule,
And got the children off to school.
Did a washing, mopped the floors,
Washed the windows and did some chores,
Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit,
And pressed her husband's Sunday suit.
Swept the parlor, made the beds,
Baked a dozen loaves of bread,
Split the firewood, lugged some in,
(enough to fill the kitchen bin.)
Churned the butter, baked a cake,
And then exclaimed, "For goodness sake,
Those darned calves are out again!"
Went and chased them into the pen.
Gathered the eggs, locked the stable,
Back to the house to set the table;
Cooked a supper that was delicious,
Afterward washed up all the dishes.
Fed the cat, sprinkled the clothes,
Mended a basket full of hose,
Then opened the organ and began to play
"When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day!"

 A Modern Mother's Answer to “Perfect Day”
By Gemie Martin

Myself, upon a winter’s day,
baked cupcakes for the PTA,
Got my children out of bed,
loaded the machine that makes my bread.
Chauffeured my brood all off to schools.
Went to water aerobics  at a local pool.
Checked my emails, removed the spam
Dusted the den, then off  I ran,
to run some errands very quickly;
Then visited a friend who was somewhat sickly
Made phone calls for Visiting Teaching,
Prepared a talk I will be preaching.
Paid some bills that we were owing
Stopped a toilet from overflowing.
Called the plumber and cleaned up the mess.
Put towels in the washer and changed my dress.
Picked up the clothes from the nearby dry cleaning
Then polished my silver, till it soon was gleaming.
Oops, I forgot, I will be honest
My daughters appointment at the orthodontist.
I dropped her off at a quarter to three
Then returned overdue books to the library.
The after school carpool runs were made,
Then the counters scrubbed and the table laid.
So 6-1-2-1-1-3-3, called Pizza Hut delivery.
At last with children finally fed.
By now, I feel like going to bed.
But homework help I would impart
(I hope we get an “A” in art)
Then scripture reading and then I’ll pray
I hope tomorrow’s a less hectic day.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Genevieve's First Patient (Her Sister Sara Ann)

My mother, Genevieve Holyoak Johnson worked as a nurse during the years between her graduation from Grand County High School and the time I was born.  She had no formal nursing schooling, but was trained by Dr. I. W. Allen to do exactly what he wanted and needed her to do.  She administered anesthesia, (Ether), gave injections, emptied bed pans, and many other nursing tasks.  She was a favorite of many of her patients because she performed her duties in a way that allowed her patients to maintain their dignity.  She performed her work with caring and kindness.  When her younger sister Sara Ann graduated, she joined Genevieve in this profession and was also a well loved nurse.

 Aunt, Sara Ann, as it turns out, may have been Mama's first patient.  She recently recounted an incident when she (Sara Ann) was about 12 years old and her sister Genevieve was about 14.  As they crossed through a ditch on their property on their way home, Sara Ann came into contact with Poison Ivy. Within a few days, poor Sara Ann's legs developed oozy, itching blisters.  The irritation began to spread, growing to affect her body up to her arm pits.

Genevieve happened to come across a remedy on the back of their younger brother Dan's Boy Scout Handbook.  The recipe called for a paste to be made with laundry detergent as the main ingredient. Genevieve made the paste, using the "Rinso" brand laundry detergent their mother swore by.  The remedy was spread over poor Sara Ann's body just before bedtime.  She reports that it "stung and burned like crazy."  Genevieve had taken an old clean sheet and torn it into strips.  She then wrapped her patient up "as if I were a mummy," reports Aunt Sara Ann.  She had a very difficult time getting to sleep that night with the remedy causing such intense pain.  At last she was able to sleep.  In the morning, the bandaging was removed.  All the blisters had crusted over.  Those quickly healed and Genevieve's patient at last had relief.

Aunt Sara Ann and I are certainly not recommending this as a Poison Ivy remedy. (Neither would my mother if she were still alive.)  This was the best that was available at the time.  Sara Ann will be 88 years old in a few weeks.  She sure misses her sister Genevieve who passed away several years ago. So do I.  Thanks Aunt Sara Ann for taking this trip down "memory lane" and taking me along with you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Play With Misty For Me

I ran across a few packaged syringes while cleaning the other day.  At first I was puzzled as to why syringes would be lurking on my closet shelf. Then, a small twinge of pain went through my heart as it dawned on me who they were for.  They had been for Misty. I suddenly missed her and wondered where she was and if she was finally well.  She had possessed a sweetness and meekness about her that I had grown to love as I helped nurse her through her many bouts of illness.  I guess it is true that you come to love those whom you serve.  My son Jerry had loved Misty the minute he set eyes on her, whereas I was at first very repulsed by her.  In fact I probably would still find her presence distasteful had she not become ill and had Jerry not needed my help in caring for her.

As thirteen-year-old Jerry walked home from Haggard Middle School, he would usually stop in at a pet store that happened to be along the way. That is where he met and fell in love with Misty.  I should explain that Misty (if she is still alive) is a five-and-a-half foot long Ball Python.

Jerry had already acquired two small Kenyan Sand Boas in order to earn his Reptile Merit Badge for scouting.  They were tiny snakes and only came up out of the sand to eat, drink or if retrieved by Jerry when he fancied visiting with them.  I had opposed getting them. I hated all reptiles and was convinced they would make us ill.  Besides, there are so many other merit badges to choose from.  After much begging and pleading on the part of Jerry and my husband, I finally acquiesced and before I knew it a small aquarium filled with sand, housed two small snakes in one of our upstairs bedrooms. Although I was uncomfortable with this, I tolerated it (mostly because they were so invisible).

"So Jerry," I asked my son one day, “what do you want for Christmas?"  It was getting late in the year and Jerry was one of the children who had yet to write his official letter to Santa Clause.

"Misty," was his answer (he had already named the object of his affection). 

"No Jerry." I continued to press, "What is something ELSE you would like?"

"I guess if I can't have Misty, he replied rather dejectedly, “I don't want anything,"

We had several more conversations like this with me suggesting items that would entice any other young teenage boy.  I just could not understand how a son of mine could love something that was cold blooded.  I could understand loving a dog or a cat.  In fact, we already had a cat named Oreo, (which Jerry hated).  Needless to say, just before Thanksgiving, I found myself in the pet store purchasing a large snake, an enormous aquarium, and all the paraphernalia that goes with owning a reptile.

I explained to the shop owner that the snake was a Christmas gift but that it had to be that particular snake so I needed to purchase her to make sure no one else did.  The owner agreed to house her for a month and just charge us for the food.  I remember leaving the store that day, receipt in hand, wondering “Is this really my life?  Did I just purchase a snake?”  The things a mother who loves a son will do even when her son is in love with a cold-blooded reptile.

The arrangement with the pet store seemed to be working out great.   The only problem for me was that I found myself dreading Christmas for the first time in my life.  When my husband returned from the store where he had gone to pick up the aquarium and bring it home to hide in our bedroom closet, I became very nauseated.  I nearly had to leave my post in front of the door I was guarding to make sure none of the children (especially Jerry) would see the aquarium and other supplies.  I was filled with dread for the day when the aquarium’s intended occupant would arrive, and that day was getting closer and closer.

Then, one afternoon when Jerry stopped in at the pet store to check on her, Misty had gone missing.  She was often brought out of her cage and displayed on a hanging decorative branch near the cash register in the store.  Whoever closed the shop one night, forgot to return Misty to her cage.  The next morning they discovered her gone.  When Jerry and his friend Parker arrived that afternoon, they began frantically searching the store.  “You won’t find her,” the owner assured them. “Some little old lady bringing her poodle in for grooming will be the one to discover her and she will not be happy about that.  She will probably have a heart attack over it and sue the store!”
Day after day, Jerry would stop in at the store and look for his missing pet.  Then about the time school was to let out for the holiday, Jerry and Parker determined they would find Misty if they had to tear the entire store apart.  They prayed before beginning the search and sure enough, their faith was rewarded.  On Christmas Eve, my husband picked up Misty and she was there to greet one very happy young teenage boy the next morning.

Misty, who had been born in the wild and captured somewhere in Africa, had developed a taste for gerbil.  As the store owners explained, she would eat nothing else.  This was a big problem because shortly before she joined our family, our last pet gerbil "Smoky" had expired.  We had held a proper funeral for her and buried her near her sister “Ashes” (who had ironically died of smoke inhalation in a house fire a few years earlier).  The Kenyan Sand Boas ate tiny, newborn mice called “pinkies.”  Since they had no fur, they did not really resemble mice the sisters came to accept their diet quickly.  Misty’s choice of food was another matter entirely.

“MURDERER,” yelled our daughter Kindra at her brother when she found out what Jerry would be feeding his new pet. This conversation had come up as the family was motoring to “Six Flags over Texas,” a theme park in our area.  Kindra (who, incidentally, had not been the owner of our pair of gerbil pets), was inconsolable.  All her sisters began to follow her lead.  Heart wrenching sobs were coming from the interior of our van.  It appeared for a few chaotic minutes that our outing may need to be aborted.  To calm the hysteria, my husband began to remind the girls about the “food chain.”  Gerbils, which reproduce quickly and abundantly, were intended to be low on the food chain.   God made them to be food for other animals.  I don’t think Jerry’s sisters ever liked it, and I don’t know if any of the four of them ever witnessed the feeding process, but the girls did come to accept Misty despite her singular appetite.

Misty’s long adventure outside her cage in the pet store had taken its toll on her health.  Snakes are supposed to be kept in a cage heated to about 85 degrees.  Misty had been loose for weeks inside a store that was heated to around 72 degrees during the daytime and probably went down into the 60s at night.  We brought her home thinking that the de-lousing she had had to undergo after she was found was the extent of the damage control that needed to be done after her unfortunate escape.  After a few weeks in our home, however, Misty suddenly began to refuse her food. When this happened I had to return her rejects to the pet store. We could not leave the gerbil in the cage until Misty regained her appetite.  The “food” would start gnawing on her, sometimes even drawing blood. 

One morning before he left for school Jerry informed me that Misty had kept him awake much of the night because she was making a funny noise.  I came up to listen (even though I rarely encountered the snake).  It was indeed a strange noise.  It was somewhere between a “hiss” and a “wheeze.”  She also had a pink underbelly and had gone through a difficult shed. Snakes periodically loose the outer layer of their skin, for those not aware of this process.  If they do not shed all of their skin, they have to be soaked to loosen the skin and then gently rubbed to remove the remainder, repeating the process if necessary.   Misty was clearly not well.  I made an appointment with our veterinarian and we took Misty in to see him after Jerry got out of school.

 “Looks like Misty has pneumonia,” diagnosed Dr. Blonien as he pulled out a vial of medicine and a syringe.  He explained that the snake would need daily injections of antibiotic, and that Jerry needed to learn how to give those to his pet.  He instructed Jerry on how to fill the syringe, how to avoid the spinal column, and how to insert the needle in the tiny area between scales.

Jerry was unable to inject Misty without help.  Up to this point I had never touched Misty (or any other snake for that matter).  Misty quickly got wise as to what was about to happen to her and she would tense up her muscle making it impossible to get the tiny needle to pierce the skin.  I had to assist Jerry.  One of us would pretend to be getting one spot ready for an injection, while the other would zero in on a different area and quickly insert the needle and push the plunger down.  We did this daily for 10 days each time Misty became ill.

We were hopeful that each bout of pneumonia would be Misty’s last.  She would do well for a while and then inevitably she would start rejecting food and we would go through the process of having to inject her with antibiotics all over again.  I cannot remember how many years we did this, but we eventually reached a point at which we decided Misty needed to go a home where she could get full time care.  Jerry was getting busy with basketball practices daily, not to mention summer camping and other activities.  With heavy hearts, we returned Misty to the pet store where we had purchased her.  

Misty was instrumental in helping me overcome a big fear and aversion in my life.  I will not claim that I am totally comfortable with snakes or reptiles, but because of her, I now have a deeper appreciation of one more type of God's creations.  I was surprised to realize that cold blooded creatures do have personalities.  I got  to know the personalities of all of the snakes that eventually made their home with us.  Misty was meek, mild and sweet.

I believe I missed Misty as much as Jerry.  I often think of her and wonder how she is doing.  So to whoever owns her now, I hope you will have been able to nurse her back to health. I hope you love her as much as we did.  I hope you will play with Misty for me.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy 37th Birthday Alyssa!!!

Thirty seven years ago this evening, we welcomed our second child and second daughter. She weighed 7 lbs. 15 ounces. We were very delighted to greet her. Alyssa, (as we ended up naming her) was not really due until March 22nd. I remember a conversation with a friend several months before Alyssa was born. She asked if I felt like my baby was a boy. I remember saying, "I feel like I am having a girl and that my Grandma will be bringing her." (My grandmother has just passed away in January of that year). I continued, "I will know if she is born on the 8th or the 17th. The 8th is too early, so she will probably bring her on St. Patrick's Day." Mind you, this was in the days before sonograms, so I really had no clue that I would be having a girl.  
The 8th was Grandma's Birthday. Grandma always celebrated St. Patrick's day and recited the Poem about his birthday. I was in light labor, with my pains 15 minutes apart for three days, so Alyssa would be born on St. Patrick's Day as I had predicted. This also gave my mother time to get to Provo, Utah from her home in Moab, Utah.
Alyssa was one of the original "drive through delivery," babies. Utah Valley hospital, was in the process of being enlarged. The night Alyssa was born, there were were not enough labor and delivery rooms or recovery rooms for all the women who were there delivering babies. Because both Alyssa and I were doing so well, the hospital sent us home early (after less than 12 hours) without charging us.
We actually made money on Alyssa's birth. Jerry had bought seven insurance policies that paid out a flat $2,450.00 upon delivery. We cannot remember the cost of the premiums, but they were very low. The doctor bill was about $450.00 back in those days. We were able to put the money we made toward a down payment on our first home in Texas where we moved about a month after Alyssa's birth.
Alyssa was the ideal baby. When I wanted to hold her and play with her, she was happy. When I needed to do dishes, or cook dinner, she was happy to lay on her blanket on the floor and play with her hands, feet, or toys. At two weeks, she started sleeping through the night. Soon, she was sleeping 12 hours. I would put her to bed about 7:30 PM and would have to actually wake her up at about 7:00 to 7:30 AM. I think I kept having babies in the hopes that I would have another one just like Alyssa. She was just like having a doll to play with, except she was alive.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Happy 35th Birthday Kindra!

Exactly 35 years ago this morning, I decided it was imperative that I get to the hospital.  I was having mild, fairly regular pains, but was not in hard labor.  A wonderful neighbor took our two young daughters as per our plan “B”—more on that later.  We threw my already packed bag in the car and began the approximately 16 mile journey from our home in Carrollton, Texas to the Medical City hospital in Dallas.  It was about 8:30 AM, the height of rush hour traffic.  As we drove, my labor pains became a bit more intense and frequent.  I was not in hard labor, but just felt that I really needed to get to the hospital.  In his anxiety, my husband Jerry missed the Coit Road exit from the LBJ Freeway which we planned to take if traffic was bad.  We exited onto North Central Expressway, which was anything but “express” during rush hour.  Not to worry, we were in a small compact car and Jerry was a very skilled driver.  At least once he drove on the shoulder of the expressway to the irritated honking of many other drivers. 

We arrived at the hospital and were admitted to Labor and delivery.  Jerry checked me in and started to leave the room to go back to the car for my suitcase.  “You are not going anywhere,” said the nurse, “this baby is coming.”  About this time, my labor, which still had not been too intense, stopped.  We waited in eager anticipation for it to start back up.  Finally, the doctor ordered the hormone Pitocin to start my labor again.

My mother was flying in that day from her home in Utah to be there and take care of Camie and Alyssa (our two young daughters) when it was time for us to leave for the hospital. That was our plan “A.”   We were worried about Mom, who was a nervous traveler anyway, arriving at the airport with no one to pick her up.  This was well before cell phones.  We were talking over who we could get to pick her up, when, my labor started back up.  The nurse explained that there hadn’t been time for the Pitocin to kick in so it had started back up on its own.  With one hard labor pain, she was there--our third daughter!  

January 21st also happens to be Jerry's brother Ken's birthday.On our way to the hospital, we had been discussing whether or not to name the baby "Kenneth" if it turned out to be a boy. We had a couple of different names chosen which I cannot recall now.  I think we arrived at the hospital thinking we would name "him" after his uncle.  When "he" turned out to be another "she," I suggested the name “Kendra.”  Jerry was concerned that she would be nicknamed “Ken” by the other children at school.  I recalled a cute little girl I had taught a few years earlier in my Sunbeam class (the class in our church for three-year-old children).  This child’s name was “Kindra.”  We decided to name our new baby after her uncle with a slight twist.

Kindra was a very beautiful baby.  She had enormous dark blue eyes (which later became a bright blue) and black hair. Sisters included, we were delighted to welcome her into the family. 

Happy 35th birthday Kindra!  You have brought joy into our lives!