It was definitely unhandy not having a phone in the house. And remember, this was pre-cell phone. One of DH’s construction buddies came to tell me he’d been taken away from the job site in an ambulance after a ladder he was on broke under his weight. He offered to take us to the hospital and I took him up on it.
DH wasn’t overweight. There was no reason the ladder should have broken. Several of his buddies found the ladder and discovered it had been cut almost all the way through on one of the “legs” causing it to fail. There was talk of a lawsuit but the ladder mysteriously disappeared and someone said he’d seen a bulldozer run over it. With no evidence, there was no case.
The hospital stay was short and he ended up with a wrenched knee plus a few other minor injuries. The doctor ordered him off work for six weeks. He was lying around the house on Worker’s Compensation. They were paying him the princely sum of $100 a week and it was getting close to Christmas.
With money so short, it was hard to cover rent, utilities and food. We agreed not to give each other presents and spend what little we had on the boys. I did want a tree but I knew I couldn’t buy one. I scrounged up some chicken wire that had been tossed aside from some project on the farm. Making that into a cone shape, we went to a tree claim and, with permission, trimmed up some cedars. I wove the branches into the wire and made a beautiful tree. It wasn’t more than three feet tall but it was perfect. The wire made lights impossible and the fragile nature of the tree ruled out using the ornaments my mother had given me. We made decorations of felt and paper. When it was finished, it was festive and smelled just like Christmas!
Try as I might, I can’t recall what we got the boys. I hope it wasn’t clothes. They hated getting clothes for Christmas. Even though DH wasn’t supposed to get anything for me, he had saved enough back to buy a diamond nail file. I’d been wanting one for a long time but I didn’t know he knew it. That meant more to me than if he had been able to buy me something huge and expensive. It was my treasure.
There weren’t many presents under the tree until DH’s co-workers had taken up money and bought gifts for the boys. They were thrilled but not any more than I was. It was so thoughtful. That was a Christmas to remember.
The six weeks finally passed and DH was given the green light to go back to work. He was understandably leery of getting on ladders but he had to earn a living. One evening he came home in agony. He’d jumped a ditch and wrenched his bad knee again. He was off work a few days and this time it was ruled not work related even though it happened on the job site. We were hurting financially.
Once again, DH got back to work. The Nebraska winter was fiercely cold so as soon as there was enough money ahead, we ordered some down underwear. It came with a top, bottom and booties to be worn inside his insulated steel-toed boots. When the set arrived, he couldn’t wait to wear them. There was an unexpected thaw and the temperature soared to 40º. He just about perished with the heat. He couldn’t take them off until he got home. That was never repeated.
Our entertainment had to be simple and cheap. The TV DH’s sister had given us died before the move and we didn’t replace it. We went to the public library in North Platte and all four of us got library cards. We’d each get our limit of books and records. There was one wall in the living room that held a different piece of artwork every two weeks. My favorite was Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. I checked it out more than once. It made me think of me in my situation ‘way out there on the prairie.
I’d brought up adding another family member more than once but it was met with resistance from DH. It was a long time since that day when we came back from our honeymoon and the boys were looking for the baby in the car.
I went to the doctor for my annual physical. At 33 years of age, he kindly let me know that I wasn’t getting any younger. My clock was ticking. He said, “You need to think about whether or not you have completed your family.” I went home and told DH it was now or never.
I’d been on The Pill for years. I stopped taking it and was quietly excited that we were going to have a little one! I just knew I was pregnant. I didn’t stop to think that I shouldn’t get pregnant that first month. When I cycled as usual, I was heartbroken.
Life went on and it seemed I was doomed to be childless. I prayed for a baby. Try as we might, it wasn’t working. Were we trying too hard? Was I already too old? Would I fail at getting pregnant?