Right out of high school, June 28, 1980, I married Dave. Your wedding day should be joyous. For the most part it was. Dave was sick with ulcerative colitis. He was diagnosed with this his senior year of high school. The night of our wedding rehearsal he was sick and could not make it through practice. A good friend of mine who we asked to be a usher had to fill in for Dave. He made it through the ceremony the next day, but was sick during the dance. I had no idea what ulcerative colitis was and was not in any way prepared for what the next 7 years would have in store for us.
My dad, of course could not be included on our day because my mom would never allow it. He had another wedding for us in Racine the week after. I wore my dress and Dave wore his tux. It was in held in my Aunt Gracie’s backyard. My dad’s family and some of his friends attended. It was very nice. The morning of the get together, I had to fight with Dave because he would not get out of bed to get ready. Everything seemed like a struggle. From my mom dictating that Sara could not be at the wedding, Dave being sick, my flowers not being paid for prior to the wedding and me having to ask the owner of the flower shop if I could pay for them afterward, to my new husband who was really not too motivated in life. I was always nervous. Compared to when my own daughters got married, I tried to be involved as much as they would allow. We would go dress shopping, I made flowers, we made favors, doing invitations was a family affair. I had none of that. I was pretty much on my own. Looking back at life today, I struggled at most of life to make things happen. And then the struggle became my normal life. And taking care of everyone but myself.
We lived in a trailer house after we were married and Dave worked for a moving company. We did ok at first. Then he lost his job. He got sick, lost his job and his way in life. We weren’t married for very long and then things just went downhill. We bought a newer trailer and we lost the trailer. We moved what seemed like every year or more. We moved to Rothschild and rented an apartment and lived off the system when he was sick. When he wasn’t sick he drove semi. Sara was about 3 and I became pregnant. I was excited to have another baby even though our situation wasn’t ideal. I was about 5 months along when I had a miscarriage. It was horrible. Dave was home at the time and he took me to the hospital. He brought me home later that night and the next day he went back on the road. There I was at home with Sara and felt just horrible. My mother wasn’t speaking to me for whatever reason again and I needed some help. I called Dave’s mom and dad and they came and got Sara and I and took us back to their house in Athens. I was so cold! I remember sitting on the big heat register that was between the living room and dining room wrapped in a blanket just trying to get warm. Dave’s mom went to work that afternoon and I was still not feeling the best. I called Joan and she picked us up and we went to her house for the day. He house was so warm and finally so was I. I think just being at her house, which was my home back in high school, was all I needed. She would continue to love me as a daughter for many years, until she passed away in 2015.
After a couple days I started to feel much better. I decided to apply for a job in a factory in Medford and I got hired. We moved back to Athens and I went to work. Dave continued to be sick on and off. And when he wasn’t sick, he was driving semi for someone in Merrill. I became pregnant with our second daughter, Erin. Everything seemed good for awhile and then Dave got really sick. He ended up having surgery. They removed his large intestine and he came home with a temporary colostomy. He absolutely hated the fact that he had the colostomy bag. On top of all this I had a police officer visiting me looking for information about Dave and his employer. He was being accused of embezzlement and I was pissed. I gave the officer his briefcase and Dave was mad that I did. This officer would call me at work to talk to me. He was actually very nice and I had no idea what Dave did on the road. Dave was actually arrested in his hospital bed and I could not visit him. I was so mad that I was afraid if I did visit I would pull every drain tube from his body. I was beside myself. I was totally lost. I had no direction. I was confused, scared, and alone. He came home and I had to help him with the colostomy bag, why I do not know. I continued to work fulltime, take care of Sara, kept an immaculate house, and again put myself last. Once the colostomy bag came off, he got an infection and they had to open the site and it had to heal from the inside out. This meant it needed to be packed everyday and yes I did that as well. And then we had to move! I was as big as a house and we had to move. All I could find to rent was an old apartment above the hardware store. It was huge, three bedrooms, but it needed a cleaning. My mother did help me get it cleaned. We hired movers from the moving company Dave worked at earlier, as there were probably 20 steps to climb. Neither of us could do it, him just having surgery and me ready to pop any day. But we made the apartment home and this is here Erin was born.
Dave continued to be sick but worked here and there. He went to trial for embezzlement and I had to be a witness. He was found guilty because of the way he took the money. But in the end it was proven that they actually owed him 80 bucks. It was exhausting! It was stressful, and I was done! We moved a few more times because of all this. I had had enough and I started getting a social life. I would throw darts and shoot pool as a sub. I sucked at both but I still went and had one heck of a time. Dave went his way and I went my way. When we were home all we did was argue. Things just fell apart, I did not trust him, and it was over. I started seeing a guy that I dated a long time ago, before Dave. We would meet up and I thought the dude cared about me. I thought wrong. But worse! I got pregnant. All I could do was cry. And then I shut down. The same way I did when I was a kid living at home living with my mom and the pervert. I told Dave I was pregnant, and just that. I continued to work, stayed home all the time again, and just existed. I know Dave knew that this was not his baby but I never said a word. No one cared anyway is what I thought. And because no one cared, I knew I had to make it on my own. I just turned all feelings off. And the other guy? Well he knew and never ever bothered to call, to see if I was ok, nothing. But that was ok because you see, no one ever did anyway. I guess I didn’t matter.
My third daughter, Casey was born in October. I had her via C-section, like her sisters. Dave was in the hospital for six weeks and was still in the hospital when I had her. He watched through the delivery room doors as she was born. He accepted her as his own, no questions asked. Her sisters had lots of brown hair and she was a toe head! Blonde as can be, but beautiful. Dave was discharged the day before me and the baby. He was still very sick and was almost airlifted to Mayo. The day after I came home, Dave and I and his parents drove to Mayo. Joan’s daughter kept the girls, all three of them. And we made the journey to Mayo for yet another surgery. Dave came out of surgery as well as expected. Again we needed to move!! So Joan’s daughter and her family had my girls, PLUS they moved me from our house to the new house. I came home to a new baby, a house full of boxes, and I had just had a C-section a week prior. My mother and my brother did come out to the new house and helped me get some what settled. Dave was still in the hospital and would not be back home for another week. Once he was home and healed he was back on the road. I did not return to work. I stayed home with the girls. I was in no way happy over the fact that he went back to driving a semi after the court issue. He would be gone for four to six weeks. He would come home only to argue, shower and leave. He was into things on the road that he should not have been into. One day he came into town, parked his semi and I pulled up behind him. I asked him just what the hell he thought he was doing and that’s when he threw a bag of cocaine at me. That was the end. I was more than done and we separated. I am not perfect. But my kids came first, I have zero tolerance for drugs, and I was not raising these girls with that life style.
Dave was not around for a long time. He would see the girls intermittingly through out the years. After Sara married, and some years after, Dave came back to the area and later lived with Sara’s family. I was remarried to Geno by now and we had seen Dave at family functions for the grand kids. At first I was uncomfortable with this and actually a bit mad because how was I going to just stop in by Sara on a whim to see those grandkids? After awhile I was ok with it. Geno and Dave would talk about stuff and occasionally I joined in.
No way in hell would my kids ever feel the stress I used to feel as a kid growing up. There was no reason we could not be in the same room and get along. And we did. About 6 months before Dave passed away, he told me that he took full responsibility for what went wrong in our marriage. Now I didn’t know he was that sick at the time but I believe he knew. I stood by my three beautiful daughters the last six months of his life. I held his hand and he looked at me and said my name. Casey played classic rock from her IPhone as it laid on his pillow. Erin barely left that room. The three of them handled some tough decisions and Geno and I backed them all the way. He died with his sister in the room with him because I told the girls he would not leave this world with any of them in the room. They went home to shower and catch a nap and they got the call. His battle was over and he was free from illness and pain. I stood back and looked at those three girls and I beamed with pride because they handled this with grace and love and most of all respect. Geno and I are proud that we could be a part of this circle of life. We were allowed to stand by them, support them and close that circle without question.
Nothing matters in the end.