Perhaps it is tantamount to plagiarism, but the opening line to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is a perfect description of what I felt in the fall of 1976. For it really was the best of times and the worst of times for me back then.
Yes, I was absolutely ecstatic about Sam's decision to take me back into her heart, but it came at a terrible price. For I had to choose between what was and what could be.
No, none of this account is meant to portray Sam as being rather selfish, nor quite demanding. For it would have been grossly unfair to expect her to have virtually no social life to speak of until Jerry came a-marchin’ home again—especially not with her growing popularity. For Sam became a member of the Cassville High School Pep Squad, who performed choreographed dance routines at their football and basketball games.
Nonetheless, I was still left between the proverbial rock and a hard place. For I knew that our lives together would greatly suffer if I did not return to school, but since my parents would not allow me to drive my pick-up truck back and forth, I could not return to school without losing Sam.
Yes, I suppose the smart thing would have been to forget about love until I could really afford it. For my future was looking very bright indeed, but my heart would not be denied at the time.
So, I did what needed to be done to survive on my own, and all was going fairly well until I made a very serious error in judgment. For I went to my old scoutmaster to ask him for some advice on how to deal with my parents, and he betrayed me.
No, I should not have blamed him. For Charlie did what he truly believed was in the best interest of all concerned.
Nonetheless, I had trusted him with the knowledge of me no longer being at school in Columbia, and the fallout from his decision turned out to be devastating to all of the parties involved. For my parents demanded that I choose between them and Sam, and I chose her, which resulted in me becoming an orphan (for all intents and purposes) for quite a while.
Since so much damage had been already done, I did not see much of a downside to repossessing MY pick-up truck. For it was not like my parents could have me arrested for grand theft auto of a vehicle with my name on the title.
Yes, it could be said that it was a hostile takeover of sorts. For I snuck up to their place under the cover of darkness, and my parents considered my audacity to be quite outrageous—not to mention a great insult.
On the other hand, it sure made my life a lot easier. For I no longer had to depend on the kindness of others to get around.
A case of having my cake and being able to eat it too? For having my truck meant that I could go back to school AND see Sam often enough to keep her appeased—right?
Hardly. For I could not afford to drive back and forth from Columbia without having a job, and there were not enough hours in a day to pull it all off.
Besides, my passion for formal learning had went into hibernation, and all efforts to revive it were proving to be quite unsuccessful. For I received a C in Introductory Electrical Engineering, and a F in Introductory Accounting, out of enrolling in a couple of night courses at SMS (Southwest Missouri State, which is now Missouri State) in Springfield for the Spring Semester of 1977.
Ultimately, some good came out of my futile attempt to continue my education. For my parents were encouraged, but we remained somewhat estranged for the time being.
Talk about being in an uncomfortable position. For crossing paths with my parents was unavoidable in a town with a population of 1,910, and the level of discomfort increased dramatically when I went back to work for Kenneth and Lucille Johnston.
No, I do not doubt that it was just as bad for my parents (certainly for my mom). For she was the head of the Sporting Goods Department at Johnston's, and I often challenged her judgment, as well as her authority.
Yes, it was particularly wrong of me to treat her so disrespectfully. For she was still my mom, and she really did know what she was doing at Johnston's—as generations of customers would readily attest.
Whether justified or not, I was angry. For I blamed my parents for me being there at work in Cassville instead of being at school in Columbia, and my mom presented me with a rather easy target to hit (verbally—not physically).
Yes, all of the ugliness took much away from the place, but working at Johnston's was still an experience I have many fond memories of. For the store offered as much merchandise as a standard-sized (not a Supercenter) Wal-Mart in less than a third of the floor-space.
Moreover, Johnston's was famous for having an unusually wide variety of items in inventory. In fact, the slogan of the store was: If We Don't Have It, You Don't Need It.
A good example of that was the inventory of the Sporting Goods Department. For hundreds of different fishing lures hung on the walls, and aside from having all of the most popular types and styles of rifles, pistols and shotguns, in all of the most popular calibers, there were also .218 Bees, .22 Hornets, .22 magnum rifle/20 gauge shotgun over/unders, Winchester Centennial .30-30s, .30-40 Krags, .45-70s, along with plenty of ammunition for each, of course.
Needless to say, the store was packed to the rafters, and there was a running joke about not wanting to be in the store when the time came to pass for the New Madrid (correctly pronounced, New Madree) Fault in the boot-heel region of southeastern Missouri to generate another mammoth earthquake. For with ceilings being well over twenty feet tall in some sections, it would take days (maybe even weeks) to dig out.
Ever so slowly, the relationship with my parents improved, but then a situation involving my brother threatened to negate all of the progress. For Terry decided to run away from home, and I was blamed for his short-lived dash for daylight.
No, I had nothing to do with it, and I tried to be as helpful as I could be to my parents after he made his escape. For I could have just kept it to myself that I had a feeling about Terry probably being at one of his friend's house in Butterfield (around 5 miles north of Cassville) if I had of wanted to cause trouble. Instead, I did what any good older son would do, and I ratted-out my little brother.
Yes, Terry was found in Butterfield, but my parents were not in a mood to be grateful for my help. For they had it in their heads that he would have never even thought of doing anything like that if I had not of set such a bad example for him to follow.
No, all was not soon forgiven—let alone forgotten. For holding grudges comes quite naturally to my family, but when the time for the wedding came around, my family came around enough to attend.
The date was the 28th of April, 1977. For Sam had turned eighteen on the 8th of April.
Yes, most would think that it was all so very sudden, but they would have no idea of just how long I had waited. For according to my internal clock at the time, a day felt like a lot longer than a thousand years, and I honestly believed that we were ready.
Well, I was half-right. For Sam was a great wife from the very beginning, but I could not do much of anything right.
Alas, the magic appeared to be gone. For almost everything I touched would turn into....fertilizer.
Even though she did not say much, it must have been a nightmare for Sam. For instead of having a man, who would quickly make her life in Gaddis Holler seem like a distant memory, she had a drowning boy, who had no idea where the shore was.
An early example of the madness Sam faced was my decision to join the Army less than a month after we were married. For the only advantage I gained from my R.O.T.C. experience at Mizzou was being able to start as an E-2 instead of an E-1.
Oh yes, it was a very sad situation. For I believed the recruiter in Monett (around 20 miles north of Cassville) when he assured me that Sam would be allowed to join me on base at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina after Basic Training was completed. For Ft. Jackson was where I would also receive my Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
No, what he assured me of was not necessarily a lie. For I really could have had my wife join me on base after Basic was over.
On the other hand, he failed to mention a few details. For it all depended on the availability of on-base housing, and at the time, none would be available for almost a year at best guess.
I also believed the recruiter when he told me that I did not need to specify which unit I would like to join after Basic and AIT was completed since I would surely be granted permission to stay at Ft. Jackson until I completed my degree from the University of South Carolina, which is also located in Columbia, BUT WAIT—THERE’S MORE! For he also assured me that the Army would pay for my bachelor's degree, and would then send me to any law school that would accept me.
Yes, I swallowed the bait—hook, line and sinker. In fact, I even spent some time in serious thought about whether I wanted to attend law school at Duke in Durham, North Carolina, Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia or at Harvard in good old Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Much to my chagrin, those thoughts of law schools went by the wayside when I was ordered to attend a meeting of those in the current training cycle without a pre-approved unit to join after Basic and AIT was completed, and that was also when I decided that I no longer wanted to be a soldier. For the choice I was given to make was between joining the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea or the 82nd Airborne Division in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, and neither location would have any on-base housing available for quite some time.
Be assured that I was way beyond mere devastation. For I felt like a rat in a discarded four-inch sewer pipe, with traps set at both ends.
Much to my surprise, it was my dad, who came to my rescue. For he was the one who informed the U.S. Congressman for the 7th District of Missouri about my recruiter’s assurances, and about two weeks later, I found myself stepping off of an airplane at the Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, with an Honorable Discharge in my suitcase.
Sadly, I was more appreciative of Congressman Gene Taylor's efforts on my behalf than those of my dad's at the time. For like what was said before, holding grudges comes quite naturally to my family.
No, I am not at all proud of my appalling behavior back then. Neither am I proud of leaving the Army after only six weeks. In fact, I have felt a deep sense of shame ever since, but at the time, I just could not see the benefit of setting myself up to receive a Dear Jerry letter before I had a chance to experience what it was really like to be married.
On the other hand, there were some bright spots to my brief stint in the military. For I recorded the second fastest time in my training company in the two-mile run test, with a time of just over eleven minutes (sixteen minutes was the cutoff, I think) and I placed second in my training company, with 51 knees bent/hands behind the head sit-ups in a minute. I was also one of two who qualified for a military driver's license out of 70 applicants.
It was, however, that military driver's license that placed in some very scary situations. For there was one night (after he was informed of my desire to leave his kind of life behind) when my main drill sergeant had me drive him out past where the crickets dared to tread, all while talking about how much he had learned about killing from his special forces training. With that insignia on his sleeves, I had no reason to doubt what he was telling me.
There was also what happened on another night when I was assigned as the driver for the NCOD (Non-Commissioned Officer of the Day) after being kept awake for over three days that had the potential to become problematic. For I fell asleep at my post, which was a desk in front of the door to where the NCOD was sleeping, and I was awakened by someone asking me if I was asleep. My answer was, of course, “NO, DRILL SERGEANT!” Thankfully, that was all there was to it. For the person asking me such a silly question, was a major.
Oh yeah, I was just reminded of a couple of other things about my time at Ft. Jackson that are worth mentioning. For I had the great honor and privilege of meeting the Command Sergeant Major of the Army at the time, and I also found Jesus again while out there on that desolate road with my main drill sergeant.
Skeptical? Well, how could I have survived such an encounter without Him?
Yes, it was a reunion of sorts. For at the tender age of seven, I went forward to announce my acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as being my own personal Savior at the First (Southern) Baptist Church of Shell Knob, and I was subsequently baptized in Table Rock Lake around a hundred yards (I think) from our house, near the Central Crossing Bridge.
Just as a side-note, I used to joke about Terry being a better Christian than me. For I was baptized in the fairly warm water of the lake during the month of September. Whereas, Terry was baptized in the 45-degree (Fahrenheit) water of Roaring River during the month of March.
Perhaps it was not that much of a joke? For after attending church on an extremely regular basis for almost nineteen years, I rarely attended services after I left for Mizzou.
No, my stellar attendance record was not just the result of my parents dragging me to church, kicking and screaming. For church was another place where I really shined, and I thoroughly enjoyed the attention.
Yes, it could be said that I was very religious for the most part, and that served me well (naturally-speaking, of course) at Ft. Jackson—be assured. For what I felt down there was familiar to me. For I had heard His call to the ministry before.
No, I cannot remember just how many times I had felt like I was being called to serve, and I do not have a good reason for why I was always so reluctant to answer those calls. For I had read the Bible completely through five times before I turned eighteen, and I had taught a Sunday School class for years.
I suppose it was mostly on account of a desire for personal financial gain. For I knew of Oral Roberts, but I had no idea just how much money there really was out there for a charismatic minister of the Gospel to gather unto himself (all in the name of the Lord, of course). Therefore, the legal profession looked a whole lot more inviting.
My circumstances at Ft. Jackson were different, however. For I could not see where I was in any position to bargain.
My oh my, is it not funny how a change of scenery can often change the way we look at our circumstances? Maybe not for all, but it has worked like that for me on certain occasions.
One of those occasions occurred when I stepped off of the airplane in St. Louis. For instead of being engulfed in a dark cloud full of doom and gloom, I could see the sun shining ever so brightly about me.
Subsequently, I felt like I really did have some options to explore, and I settled on enrolling for the 1977 Fall Semester at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Missouri (around 75 miles northeast of Cassville). For I had heard that preachers with the appropriate degrees could make more money than those without any papers.
Alas, such are the plans of the foolish. For I only lasted about three months at Bolivar, and my very supportive wife had to suffer through another failure of mine.
One good thing did come out of the summer/fall of 1977 for us. For Vicki Lynn was conceived, and on the 18th of May in 1978, our daughter was born at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
No, the birth of our daughter was not as joyous of an occasion as it should have been. For Sam's doctor did not make an appearance until it was time to cut the umbilical cord, and this resulted in her having to endure a very unwanted natural childbirth. For the nurses in attendance said that they were not allowed to administer any drugs until the doctor told them to, and what made a bad situation even worse was that Vicki weighed in at 10 pounds, 4 ounces!
Yes, Sam suffered greatly from fourth-degree lacerations, and St. John's did not do much to make it feel all better. For after I thought I had met the most sadistic somebody to ever work in a hospital, another nurse would come in and make the other one look like the epitome of kindness.
On the other hand, the problem may have been all in my way of looking at things. For I had not received any sort of medical training, except for some advanced first-aid classes while in the Boy Scouts. Therefore, it would not be all that unreasonable to think that I must not have any idea what do no harm really means.
Nonetheless, one look at Vicki's full head of very dark brown hair (3-4 inches long) made it all worthwhile, and there was something about holding her in my arms that made time stand still. For she was such a good baby.
Then complications arose. For it was discovered that Vicki's hips had been dislocated during her birth, and she would have to stay in a double-brace for a while in order to ensure that they would stay in their proper place as she grew.
The news was devastating, but it turned out to be just another brush with disaster. For Vicki came out of the brace with a clean bill of health, and in what seemed like no time at all, she was walking and running all over the place with youthful abandon.
As expected, Sam was a wonderful mother. For she already had a lot of experience in that area from helping to raise her younger siblings.
What was not expected was how much I was able to help her. For Sam already knew about me being thoroughly domesticated by my parents, but what she did not know was that my extensive home-training also included changing diapers and feeding babies.
Neither did I, to be quite honest about it. For I was too young to be of any help to my parents with that sort of stuff while Terry was a baby, but it all came quite naturally to me. That is, except for always being afraid of sticking Vicki with a diaper pin. I also spent a lot of time watching her as she slept after learning of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Speaking of my parents, the birth of their first grandchild smoothed a lot of ruffled feathers, and Sam had a lot to do with that. For she made it crystal clear that they were more than welcome to spend as much time with Vicki as they wanted to, and that touched them deeply.
Yes, some things were most definitely looking up. Others were not. For I was of a lot of help in a lot of areas, but in the area of providing for my family, I was generally a miserable failure.
No, it was not for lack of trying. For I never went more than eight days without a dependable source of income, but I would not stay anywhere long enough to maintain a reasonable level of financial stability.
Oh what a foolish boy was I. For my inability to hold a job for longer than just a few weeks came from thinking that it was beneath me to do certain menial things.
On the other hand, having thirty-some jobs in the first four years of our marriage allowed me to gain knowledge about an awful lot of things. For I worked as a machine shop worker, welding inspector, precision flange layout designer, cowboy, pork producer, cab driver, advertising sales representative, saw-miller, hay hauler, brush cutter, firewood producer, convenience store attendant, truck stop attendant, tire repairer, mobile home sales manager, chicken plant worker, electrical motor factory worker and inspector, fishing fly-tier, feed mill worker and the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church.
Yes, I kept my promise to the Lord by becoming a permanently-licensed minister through the sponsorship of the First (Southern) Baptist Church of Cassville in 1978 (I think) and I even saw some success in the two years I served as the pastor of the Twin Valley (Southern) Baptist Church. For it was located in the middle of a Holiness Pentecostal stronghold, but regular weekly attendance still rose from five to thirty-five with me preaching the mandatory hellfire and brimstone sermons.
By the way, Twin Valley was the church Sam and I held our wedding ceremony. It had been without a pastor for several years at the time, and it turned out that it was built on a piece of property still owned by Sam’s father on top of the hill leading down into Gaddis Holler.
The little church was also around a mile down the road from Lohmar Tower. Lohmar Tower was a forest fire watch tower manned by the Missouri Forestry Department during times when there was a great danger for forest fires and the site of one of my most eerie experiences, which involved being struck by a headless six-foot long timber rattlesnake.
Okay, the rest of the story to the rattler has me coming on it crossing the highway in front of Lohmar Tower one day. I stopped my pickup and chopped its head off. I then pulled into Lohmar Tower to catch my breath, and the man who lived within sight of the tower walked up to see if I needed help. I thanked him for his trouble and showed him the snake. While holding it out of the driver’s side window, the snake struck me on my left cheek with where the head had of been. I do not know if I turned white, but the face of Larry sure did before he turned to walk back to his house.
I skinned the snake later to tan its hide, but I did not cut up the meat to eat. For I was not absolutely sure that it had not bitten itself, and it is same as being bitten to eat poisoned meat.
Making it back to the ministry. I did not accept ordination. For I felt unworthy of such a charge.
Besides, it did not appear to be a hindrance. For as a permanently-licensed minister, I could legally perform marriage ceremonies, and business was fairly good for a period of time.
All in all, I presided over fourteen ceremonies. For I was willing to marry people other ministers would not touch.
No, it was not that I had little respect for the institution of marriage. Neither was it an act of rebellion. For I just did not consider myself as being qualified to pass judgment on the intentions of others.
One of the marriage ceremonies I performed involved two couples (with the youngest of them being 70 years old) who wanted to have the ceremony out in the sunshine at the Monett City Park. In stark contrast, another was held in the mouth of Rockhouse Cave.
Speaking of Rockhouse Cave, Daryl Greenstreet lived a mile or so down the road to the east of it. In fact, he was the one who introduced me to Larry Tyler and his blushing bride.
Now to say that Daryl was an interesting character would be quite an understatement. For his I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) had to have been over 200, and he was well-versed on a number of subjects—including religion and philosophy.
He was also a Marine Corps Vietnam vet, and this contributed greatly to an evening that I do not believe I will ever forget. For while we were walking back to his house to get his tractor to pull my pick-up truck out of a snow-bank, Daryl told me that the most valuable thing he learned in Vietnam was how to hate.
In response, I informed him that I also knew how to hate. To which he retorted that I was sorely mistaken, and then he proceeded to make his point by asking me a rather profound question. It was what I would do if my worst enemy was drowning in full view of his wife and four small children, who were begging me to save him, which could be accomplished by simply reaching down and pulling him out of the water?
Talk about being surreal. For the surrounding landscape was blanketed with a foot of pure white snow, and a very bright full moon was shining down. This made it look much more like day than night, and there I was with this fairly small man (around 5' 8", I think) with a foot-long beard and a pipe full of tobacco, jumping about three feet off of the ground while screaming, “I WOULD STOMP ON HIS HEAD,” after hearing me give the obviously wrong answer. For I had admitted that I would reach down to pull my worst enemy out of the water—albeit only for the sake of his family. If I remember right, I wet myself when he did that, which gave us both a good laugh (eventually).
A little later on, Daryl asked me another profound question, and the mood turned decidedly more somber. For what he asked was about why a loving God would let a bus-load of little children die in an accident if He could do anything about it.
I was absolutely stumped, but I had to say something. For I was, after all, the pastor of a church.
Therefore, I fell back on a patented response that is often given when one is asked to explain what appears to be inexplicable. This was, of course, “Well, I am sure He has His reasons.”
Is it not brilliant? For it neither concedes that God must not be able to really do much, nor denies that He is indeed full of lovingkindness. It also alludes to His mysterious ways, and that should be enough for anyone with at least some religious indoctrination—right?
Such was not the case with Daryl, however, and that really haunted me. For I felt like such a failure, but before I could devote more time to the salvation of his soul, I had much more pressing matters to attend to.
Yes, life had been going on, and things had been going from bad to worse. For we were drowning in debt, and the only lifeboat in sight at the time was bankruptcy.
The year was 1981, and we initially tried to file under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Protection. For that would allow us to keep what we had and pay far less per month for it (in theory).
The lawyer we hired to handle our case was corrupt, however. For he did not disclose to us that he was also on retainer for a number of our creditors, and by the time they were through with us, we were required to pay over $400 per month MORE!
So, that left us with only one option, and this was to re-file under Chapter 7, which constitutes a liquidation of assets. For if we could not afford to make our payments before, we certainly could not do so after we were ambushed.
1981 was also the year when Terry graduated from Cassville High School, and soon after that, our dad died. For he had been given only a few weeks to live in November of 1980 because of the kind of cancer that had ravaged his lungs (fourteen years after quitting smoking) but he was granted his wish to stay alive long enough to see Terry's diploma.
Yes, my dad and I had put a lot of our past problems behind us by the fall of 1980. In fact, I would often drive him to and from his appointments at the VA Hospitals in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Kansas City, Missouri, but when he wanted me around the most, I was off with Sam on a float trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas.
No, I was not there when he passed away in that state hospital in Mt. Vernon, Missouri (around forty miles north of Cassville and around eight miles south of Miller). For I just could not face the look of deep disappointment in his eyes (over my failures to start becoming who I could be as a man) while he lay on his deathbed.
Hence, another thing about my past that I am deeply ashamed of. For I was simply too gutless to be there for my family when I could have been of at least some comfort to them.
As with 1977, one good thing came out of 1981 for Sam and me. For Amanda Marie was conceived in that year, and on the 21st of May in 1982, our second daughter was born at the Cox Medical Center on the north side of Springfield, Missouri.
Thankfully, Amanda's birth was nothing like Vicki's. For she ONLY weighed in at eight pounds flat, and Sam was given all sorts of good drugs because of her doctor being there when he should have been.
Nonetheless, I would have still liked to have had some good drugs of my own. For unlike before, I was allowed in the delivery room this time.
Yes, I truly believed I could handle it. For I had assisted with the births of calves, pigs and even rabbits, but I quickly discovered that I was not at all prepared for Amanda coming out blue, with a bunch of really icky-looking stuff smeared all over her.
No, I did not faint, and I began to feel much better after being told that Amanda would not have to endure what Vicki did after her birth. For everything about Amanda was right where it was supposed to be.
The subsequent hospital stay was also a lot better that time, and this included care for another procedure—to boot. For Sam had her fallopian tubes tied after Amanda was born.
Finally, a legitimate reason to celebrate. For the birth of Amanda really was a joyous occasion, and what made it even better was that we had thought we had lost her during the sixth month of the pregnancy.
It all started with blood gushing out of Sam for no apparent reason, and by the time we made it to the hospital in Springfield, at least a half of an inch of it covered the floorboard of the car beneath her feet. Needless to say, I was terrified, and I have no doubt that it was only by the grace of God that we made it to the hospital in Springfield.
Since I had called her doctor before we left home, he was waiting for us at the hospital, and after a preliminary examination, he confirmed our fears by telling us that Sam had indeed suffered a miscarriage. He then directed a nurse to do a sonogram on her as part of the standard procedure before performing a DNC, which is the procedure that cleans out the womb) and lo and behold, there Amanda was.
No, I did not see her at first. For my attention was focused on another image in the picture on the monitor of the sonogram, but after she was pointed out to me, it became clear that Amanda was very much still alive.
I have often joked that Amanda must have been literally hanging on for dear life as all of that blood rushed past her, but then there is also the matter of that image of a man's face in the sonogram picture of her while she was still in the womb to consider. For was it the face of Jesus, her guardian angel or just a figment of my fertile imagination?
It was enough to drive a Southern Baptist preacher to drink, and I felt like it was only right for me to do that very thing—despite no longer being active as a Southern Baptist preacher. For there is nothing like being in a drunken stupor to mellow a person out.
Yes, common sense would dictate that the last thing I should have been doing was becoming drunk. For I was well aware of how that kind of conduct can lead to disaster in a number of ways. I was, after all, raised to be a GOOD Southern Baptist, but since I usually only drank adult beverages on the weekends, I saw no reason for concern.
Besides, Sam really enjoyed going out on the weekends to dance and forget about what a mess I had made of her life for a few hours, and after we hooked up with some others from the Cassville area, the fun did not have to end when the band called it a night. For we then started to observe the universal tradition of eating breakfast before going home after a night out on the town, and this was usually good for a few more laughs.
Alas, good times do have a habit of coming to an end, and such was the fate of our merry band of weekend warriors. For after Pulaskiville (a honky-tonk outside of Pierce City, Missouri) had to close for a while, there was no other place to go within a reasonable distance to travel.
No, we did not stay home for long. For we hooked up with another group, and this bunch was even more fun to be around. For instead of going dancing, we would go rambling through the backwoods in 4-wheel drive and off-road vehicles while consuming massive quantities of beer and other adult beverages.
Yes, I am quite sure that most of us would have qualified for a MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Top Ten Most Wanted List if such a thing had of existed back then, but none of us would have really cared. For we were all charter members of DAMM (Drunks Against Mad Mothers) in our area, and since we did not land in any trouble to speak of, we believed that we were doing just fine.
Some better than others, of course. For I lost my family to one of the members of our new group.
No, I could not really blame her. For with all things considered, I was a miserable failure at being a good husband.
Nonetheless, the timing of our break up really messed with my head. For I had been working at the same job for about three years, and we were doing fairly good financially in comparison to how it had been the first four years of our marriage.
Could it be that the Seven Year Itch Syndrome also affects women? For Sam and I had been married seven years and seven days when the end came.
On the other hand, maybe where we lived at the time had something to do with it? For it was called the Heartbreak Hotel by those who knew about the history of the house.
Oh, and what a history it was. For no couple, who actually lived there, had ever left the place still a couple—including the original owners. For the husband (I think) died while they lived there, and I truly wanted to join him after it became all too painfully clear to me that life as I wanted to know it was over on the 5th of May in 1984.