What do you remember about your 50’s? – You’ll remember I left my 40’s complaining about my stultifying life in Abilene. Big Al had his 10-year ceremony at Dyess,
and I realized he was never going to be able to transfer with the way the Air Force was shrinking, and he was never going to be promoted if he stayed there. If my life was going to change, it was going to have to be me that made it happen.
Bill graduated from college and told me “Mother, why don’t you go back to school and get another degree? You could be a lawyer.” He wanted to be a lawyer himself, but he was afraid to take the LSAT, so he wanted me to take it and tell him whether it was too hard. I had no idea of being a lawyer, but he started me thinking, and, after consulting with my sister who is a career counselor, and taking the Meyers-Briggs test, I realized that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was an accountant. So instead of taking the LSAT, I took the GMAT and took my body to Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX, because I couldn’t afford the tuition at any of the schools in Abilene. I had never had ANY math or business courses for my Bachelor of Fine Arts, so I had to spend one full year taking “leveling” courses (freely translated undergraduate courses in math, and business) that were prerequisites for my Master of Business Administration. I drove back and forth 90 miles each way every day for the first year, but the second year I lived in an “upper class” “study” dorm. I had a private room, (with the toilet and shower down the hall), but I arranged my classes so I could drive down Monday mornings, and drive home after lunch on Fridays. In any event, after going year round for two years, I got my degree, when I was almost 53 years old.
I took my final exams on Monday and Tuesday, drove to Ft. Worth, and took my CPA exam on Wednesday, and Thursday, and drove back to graduate on Friday evening. (By the way, I passed the CPA the first time!)
I had been searching for a job as a CPA in Abilene for the whole last semester, and the wages offered were appalling. So I found a position with a contracting agency in Dallas, and moved right after graduation. I had an apartment, and Al put the house on the market. He retired from Civil Service, and moved in to Dallas with me as soon as the house sold.
There were several years in that period that everything in my life changed. In the winter of 1996 we finally decided that Papa couldn’t keep Mama at home any more. I looked all over in Abilene and couldn’t find a decent Alzheimer’s care center that had independent living available for him. But I found a place in Denton, TX, not too far from Bill Greisser and his family. We moved them in June and one of the reasons I moved to Dallas was to be closer to them.
In March of 1997, just before I graduated, Al’s father in Florida died. Since I was in the dorm at school he stayed with his mother for a couple of weeks after the funeral helping her clean up her house. Shortly before my graduation, Al’s brother was diagnosed with liver cancer at age 52. He went through several courses of chemo, and Al kept in touch regularly by phone.
During the summer, my son Bill called to tell us that his girl friend, Erika, was pregnant, “but that they weren’t going to get married yet. They thought they would wait until after the baby was born when they would have more money!”
Then, in November of 1997, Mama died.
While we were in Texarkana for her memorial service, Al got word that Larry was in Hospice care and not expected to live until Christmas. He died the first week of December. Al and I drove to Philadelphia for the funeral.
While Bill was in Texarkana for Mama’s memorial service, the family decided to give him her engagement and wedding rings if he would “just marry the girl before the baby was born.” So on December 20th, Bill and Erika were married in Metairie, LA.
Ian was born February 10, 1998, and I thought surely this was the end of all the crises.
But shortly after his birth, my brother, Bill, called to tell me he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer similar to leukemia. He had several courses of chemo, and then he had a bone marrow transplant with my sister from Texarkana as the donor. He was in the hospital in Dallas about a mile from our apartment for 6 weeks, so I spent the summer of my 56th birthday visiting him every day. He was only allowed to have his wife and blood relatives as visitors, and I was the only sibling in town, so I spent a lot of time there. Praise God, the transplant was successful and he’s still alive and reasonably healthy now 13 years later.
I continued to work as a contract CPA in several long-term contract positions. One with a utility company, and one with Roger Staubach in his real estate company. Life settled down, and we settled in in Dallas. We moved Papa to Presbyterian Village North, about 2 miles away from me, after Mama died, and in 1998 we talked Al’s mother into moving to Dallas to PVN as well. We made trips to south Louisiana several times a year to see Bill, Erika, and Ian, and generally settled into a routine.
In 1999, Al’s mother had a stroke and ended up in the health care unit at PVN and we were eternally grateful we had talked her into moving the winter before. I shudder to think what we would have done if she had been living in Florida by herself then.
Bill found a job in Dallas and moved his family up here shortly after the millenium. Life was good and serene with aging parents living close by in a wonderful environment, and our grandchild where we could see him regularly (like weekly at least). We bought a house in March 2000, and were sailing along happily.
Then came 9/11/2001.
We celebrated Papa’s 90th birthday in November, 2001.
and I called “Time Out” on holidays. Al and I ran away from home to a bed and breakfast in Eureka Springs, AR, for Thanksgiving that year.
Because of the uncertainty in business through the fall of 2001, my contract ended, and for the first time in 4 years there wasn’t another one available. I looked for any kind of a job – contract or permanent – but there was nothing. And, although Al’s retirement checks (yes, there were three of them) were adequate, we had house payments that meant either I worked or we did NOTHING for fun. So, at the ripe old age of 57, I hung out my shingle – I quit looking for a job and started looking for clients.
In April 2002, Bill and Erika presented me with another grandchild – Kate Elizabeth.
In the fall of 2002, we went to Westfield, NJ, for my 40th high school reunion. We found my old house where I had grown up through my junior high and high school years.
The rest of the years in my 50’s were taken up with aging parents, growing grandchildren, and a nice little CPA practice. Bill joined me as an IT specialist in my practice for a while, and I enjoyed working with him professionally, as I learned more than I ever wanted to know about computers and their intricacies.
And that’s the story of my 50’s in a nutshell. Stay tuned to hear about as far as I’ve gotten in my 60’s.