I hope you’re doing better. I know the surgery was hard on you. Are they treating you ok there? I sure hope so. We are going to try to come see you this summer. I’m saving up a little money each week for the trip. I sure do miss you.
I hope you aren’t too bored there. Are you still doing arts and crafts? I loved the clay mug you sent me for Christmas. I have it sitting on the fireplace mantel for everyone to see. They all talk about how pretty it is, and how much talent you have. I told them you always loved working with your hands and making stuff. I remember the wood flower boxes we made when I was first married. I hated when they got tore up in the storm in ’93.
I hope you’re doing what the doctors say and staying off your feet. Your hip will never heal if you overdo it. If you’d quit chasing all those old guys around the halls you wouldn’t have accidents. Ha Ha I’m sure the men would be very disappointed though, if the most beautiful lady in the place stopped paying attention to them.
Everything is fine here. The kids are growing like weeds. Robbie is already as tall as I am, and Cassie is up to my chin. I’m glad they are taking height after their dad, but I do miss them being little. Before I know it, they will be grown and gone. I know what you meant now when you told me to cherish every moment so I can look back on them when the kids are gone. They have already changed so much. It about broke my heart when Robbie told me not to hug him in front of his friends anymore.
They are still enjoying school, thank goodness! I don’t know what we’d do if they hated going like some kids. Of course, they are still in grade school. I’m sure things will change once they reach high school.
Robbie was in a play last week. He was a tree. You should have seen him. He practiced standing still every day for a month. It paid off. He was the best tree ever!
Cassie wanted to water him every time he put the tree costume on. She was so cute, chasing him around the house with her little watering can. I had to break up quite a few fights…when I was able to stop laughing. Sorry, I didn’t think to take any pictures to send you.
Doug is still working at the plant. He signs up for overtime whenever they offer it, which isn’t often these days. Don’t worry though, because we are doing just fine. We have food on the table and a roof over our heads. You always taught me those were the most important things. I try to pass this along to the children when they want some new toy we can’t afford. I was worried I wasn’t getting through to them, until the other day when Cassie told me she was saving all the pennies she finds on the ground to help with the house payment. Although it broke my heart for her to know about our money problems, it made me proud to see her generosity.
You aren’t going to believe this, but I’ve started crocheting. Do you remember when I was a kid and you tried to teach me to crochet? I gave you such a hard time! I guess I just needed more patience before I could enjoy it. Now, my house is covered with things I’ve made. I’m sending you a doll. I hope you like it. I made her dress peach because I know how much you love the color. I’ve even sold a few things at the local craft fair. Any little extra bit helps.
Cassie swears she is going to learn how to do it with me. She wants to make clothes for her dolls, and for Snickers. She carries that dog around so much I’m surprised he knows he has feet! She treats him like a baby and he just eats it up. I have to admit, he looked cute in the little sunglasses she put on him the other day. She wants to dress him up like a hotdog for Halloween. I’m hoping I can talk her into something more original.
I saw Jack the other day. He only stopped by for a few minutes, but it was nice. Sherri and the kids are doing fine he said. They were all going to the mountains for the weekend. He looked good. I think being a salesman agrees with him. He said they were doing better than they have been in a long time. I sure was glad to hear it. For a while there, I thought him and Sherri weren’t going to make it. I’m glad they turned things around.
I told him he should write you more often. He promised he would. We’ll have to hold him to that promise, so you let me know if he writes or not.
He showed me pictures of Tammy and Heather. They are both so beautiful. He said he has to fight the boys off with a stick. Ha Ha He is such the proud papa when he talks about those girls. I can’t believe they’ll be graduating this year!
Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? I remember when the girls were in pigtails, rummaging in my closet to play dress up. Now, they wouldn’t be caught dead in anything I own. I’m not stylish enough for them anymore.
It seems I spend a lot of time thinking about the past these days, remembering good times we all had together. I hate we can’t all be together again. I guess that’s what happens when you get older.
Well, it’s almost suppertime, so guess I’ll end this letter. Write back soon. Take care of yourself.
I love you,
“Are you writin’ your mama again, girl?”
“Still makin’ up that fantasy life of yours for her?”
“Yes. I have too. Besides, it’s not all fantasy. Some of the stuff really happened,” Joyce replied.
“It ain’t right. Lyin’ to your mama that way.”
Joyce sighed. “I know it’s not right, but I can’t do anything else. She’s 85 years old. The truth would kill her. When she remembered it.”
“Maybe you ain’t givin’ her enough credit,” Betty said. “Us old broads can handle more than you youngin’s think we can.”
Joyce sighed, “Mama is nothing like you, Betty. My brother was having trouble a few years ago. He got into drugs. He was using the grocery money to buy the stuff, starving his kids. When mama found out, she went to his house and beat him with a stick broom! She chased him around that house for hours, until she passed out from her blood pressure going too high.” She smiled before continuing, “Mama always thought she could fix everything. But some things are beyond fixin’. Especially now that her health is failing and she has Alzheimer’s. She can’t even fix her own breakfast anymore, but she still thinks she’s superwoman.”
“But you didn’t do anything wrong. Your mama’s not gonna beat you with any broom for protecting yourself and them youngin’s,” Betty stated. “From the sounds of it, she’d be proud of you. Seems like you did some pretty good fixin’ of your own.”
“Well, it’s different with me. Mama is old school. She thinks a woman needs a man to take care of her. She thought Doug was the best thing since sliced bread. Once I married him, she didn’t have to worry about me anymore. I never told her things were bad. I was ashamed.”
She shook her head sadly, before continuing, “My stubborn pride is what got me into this mess. I didn’t want mama to know I made a mistake with Doug. I let her think things were perfect. She always had enough trouble with Jack. I didn’t want to add to it. I was the baby. Everything was supposed to be good for me.
“She bragged to all her friends about her son-in-law who took care of her baby girl. I don’t know how many times she told me I was lucky I didn’t have to raise my kids alone like she did.
“No, it would break her heart to hear Doug beat me every day, to find out he was a monster and she didn’t protect me,” Joyce said. “And to find out I killed him, and the kids were put in foster care. Well, her heart would plum stop beating then,” she assured Betty.
“Besides,” she shrugged. “What could she do about it anyway? She’s in a nursing home two thousand miles away. It’s not like she can come visit or anything.”
“If you told her, you could call her on the phone. They let you do collect calls here. Might help you get along better. You’re gonna be here a long time, girl. Time drags in here when you got somebody to talk to, let alone when you don’t.”
“She wouldn’t remember what I told her anyway. She lives in her own little world most of the time,” Joyce replied, wiping a tear off her cheek. “I couldn’t stand telling her what happened over and over again every time she called, tearing her world to pieces again and again,” she added.
Betty shook her head, “That Alzheimer’s is something awful, that’s for sure.”
“Yes it is,” Joyce agreed. “But in a way I’m thankful for it. Mama can go on being happy, living in her world where everything is good, not in the real world where everything is going to hell in a hand basket.”