During the months to follow the move, DS2 moved from school to school, trying to find his niche. It was hard on all of us but harder on him than anyone else. We’d been advised to use “tough love” but that didn’t work when he went to my mother and she chose to take him in. It caused a rift in the family that lasted a long time. It made me exceedingly sad that I was out of touch with my mother AND my son. I’m sure there was something I could have done to remedy it sooner but I felt betrayed in a way. Nothing would be gained by going into all the detail leading up to his moving in with her. It was a rocky road and I’d wish it on no one.
Our move had cost us quite a bit and we’d had to live with tightened belts for, seemingly, forever. It took some doing to get our Nebraska grandma paid back for the last disaster. DH took on some private charters in addition to the pilot pool. He was still gone more than I liked but he got home more often.
We were living on top of a mountain and the couple we were friends with during the early hang gliding days lived at the bottom. He was a computer whiz and headed up the computer room at one of the large banks in the area. One of his prize possessions was a Commodore 64 “computer”. He’d sit for hours and play Hammurabi, a game he’d programmed himself from code published in a magazine. We were in awe of what the C-64 would do.
Before the C-64, the TI-99/4A came out but I had no idea what it was or what it would do. The Computer Genius figured that would be a good one for us to spring for. It had a whopping 16-bit CPU running at 3.0 MHz. We got the tiny monitor and the speech synthesizer, too. It was a big investment but computers were the going thing and we needed to keep up. I subscribed to a computer magazine that had page after page of code we could key in Basic. It was a thrill to watch the little man run through a forest and jump over logs after we spent hours bent over the console. Before he left, DS2 got quite proficient playing Parsec. It was one of the few games we had. The rest of the modules were educational ones. DD would come in and ask, “Mom, can I play the imputer?” Most of the time it was “yes”.
One day, I was busily making her a dress to wear to church and she was entertaining herself by “reading” one of the Little House books. She climbed off the couch and came over to the sewing machine. “Mom, who is that?” She pointed to one of the girls in the picture. “Honey, that’s Nellie Olsen.” She climbed back onto the couch and continued, “So Snellie Olsen…” Maybe I should have corrected her but I didn’t.
DS1 was doing well at the academy in NC. He didn’t let his schoolwork get in the way of his social life. His voice had matured and he was active in the music program. He had a series of jobs to help pay his way through school. My sister and BIL were on the staff and they were instrumental in his being able to complete his studies and graduate. DH’s mother went with DD and me for the talent show his senior year. It was howlingly funny and we laughed until our sides ached.
Graduation came and DH flew us to NC for the event. My niece was graduating, too, and Mother was there. It was a strained meeting, at least for me.
After some deliberation on DS1’s part, he decided he’d had enough working at a local dairy and he wanted to come home. DH had bought him a bike so he’d have transportation back and forth but it didn’t take long for it to wear thin. We encouraged him to stay and pay all he could on his bill so he could get his transcript but he wanted to leave. After debating back and forth, he came home.
It was nice having DS1 around. He had a cheerfulness that was infectious. DD loved her big brother and he’d go outside with her while she gathered “Delberts” (filberts) from the bushes in the yard. She’d carry them to the front porch where she’d smash them with a brick and eat the ones she didn’t feed to her brother.
Fall came and with it was college. I found out later my BIL had paid his bill and DS1 had his transcript after all. He had been accepted. We took my firstborn to the dorm and got him settled before going back home to a strangely empty house.
We were able to see DS1 fairly often because the campus wasn’t that far from where we lived. It was in the valley below us and down the road a piece.
Some of the people DH was flying for decided to buy their own Beech King Air and hire him as their pilot. I wasn’t comfortable about his flying for them. They were involved in the production end of the music business. It seemed a little on the racy side to me. I’d begged him to try to find a job with our church conference but he didn’t want to. The money was good and while the plane wasn’t as nice as the Diamond, it was decent. We’d flown it out West once and it flew nicely except for one thing. If someone wasn’t constantly at the controls, it would go into a spiralling climb, stall out, and eventually crash. The auto-pilot didn’t work. DH taught me to fly it so he could get up and go to the facilities or take a short nap. I felt pretty important sitting in the right seat. DD was our stewardess. She’d serve peanuts and Perrier to the passengers. It had a 1500 lub useful load. A lot of that was taken up by one person who weighed in at, probably, 400 lubs. Once, in Montana, it was all the plane could do to take off.
In October, 1983, we decided to do something we’d never done before. We were going on a trip, just DH, DD and me. It would be a road trip. No flying. Florida was the destination. On the way to Orlando and Disney World, we stopped in Lake City to see how much it had changed since I lived there at age 10. Everything seemed so small. The lake in the middle of town was dried up to a pond. Then it was on to Gainesville and out to Melrose. I recognized the turnoff to the house on the lake where we’d lived a couple of years later. The smell was the same—sort of moldy—and, like the lake, the house had shrunk.
Epcot had only been open for three days but we still had a good time. We broke down and rented a stroller for DD. She was exhausted with all the fun.
The next month was Thanksgiving. I collected DS1 from the college and headed for my in-laws’ house. DH had been gone on a trip for several days and landed at the local airport where I picked him up. When we got to the house, he wouldn’t leave me alone. His mother finally told him to take it out of the kitchen and, basically, “get a room”.
We spent that night there and I took him to the airport the next morning. The whole family including my in-laws went to see him off. The image of him in the cockpit of the King Air is imprinted on my mind. He was taxiing out to take off and turned to wave. I couldn’t see his eyes behind his Ray-Bans but I knew they were twinkling with the excitement of the prospect of being airborne. I can look back now and know it’s good we can’t see into the future. What came next was another nightmare.