The 1970’s is the decade where the Bennett children go from young kids to teens. I wouldn’t care to experience all four kids as teens at the same time. The year Paul turned 13, Anita would have turned 15, Mary 17 and Carol 19.
Maxine went to work at Village Oaks in Lincoln Unified School District, as the Resource Teacher. She worked there for a long time.
Lloyd continued working at Karl Holt Youth Correctional Facility with the State of California.
In approximately 1976, Lloyd arranged for he and Paul to have a mini-boys only-vacation together. They flew from Stockton to San Francisco. This was the first time Paul had ever flown on a plane. If you’ve ever taken that flight, you know that as soon as you are in the air, you are landing within fifteen minutes. While in the air, there is an arc flight pattern. Paul was so excited.
They spent the day at Fisherman’s Wharf, then Lloyd bought them tickets to Alcatraz. They saw where Al Capone’s cell was and were locked up inside it. This is one of Paul’s fondest memories of his father.
Lloyd and Maxine took their children to the ocean a lot. They loved it. Often, they’d pack a lunch and make a trip out of it. Lloyd loved to sleep on the sand. It was a great family outing for them.
When Mary was 18, she married and subsequently had Ricky Brent Lamb in 1977. He was a first grandchild for Lloyd and Maxine and he was very doted on, by the entire family.
The Bennetts loved Christmas. Lloyd was a very thoughtful gift giver, taking time to make sure he purchased just the right item, just what his child would appreciate most. I loved the description of the kids laying in front of the fireplace. Lloyd was famous for making clam dip. It was a staple on Christmas Eve. He also made Crab Louie’s for the entire family. Now, if you weren’t inclined to eat crab (that would be me) he was always willing to substitute out the crab for whatever you thought you would like. Didn’t like avocados? Not a problem, he made sure everything was just perfect for his entire family. He loved to make homemade ice cream. It was always a great treat. In fact, they kept ice cream in the freezer most of the time and cookies in the kitchen drawer.
Maxine would grind her own wheat to make homemade bread. Paul wasn’t fond of homemade bread sandwiches at school as kids made fun of him for not having white bread. Anytime there was shopping to be done, Lloyd would take the kids to J.C. Penneys, taking time to make sure each child picked just what they wanted.
As the 1970’s drew to a close, the Bennett family found that they had expanded by three, Rick Lamb, Chuck Allen and Brent Lamb. They had more expanding to do in the 1980’s.
The next letter is dated November 20th, 1966. He starts out telling his parents about their new purchase…a new car (well, new to them!) It is a 1961 green Ford Fairlane 4 door sedan. It was a necessity because as they were headed out of town, their Pontiac had transmission trouble and forced him to stop where he was. He left the girls at a park to play and he “hot-footed” it two miles to the Hertz car rental. So glad we now have cell phones, and AAA. He returned to Maxine and the girls and they decided to head to San Francisco. “The girls were excited as we crossed the bay bridge and were spellbound by the city itself. We visited Golden Gate Park and then I drove through the park to the point where it meets the ocean. If you will remember, you make a sudden turn, and there is the ocean in all its glory.”
Carol was the one that delighted him the most. She was simply ecstatic and could barely wait to wet her tootsies. They walked over the Golden Gate Bridge and as they got to the center, a large freighter was moving toward the bridge so he and Anita made a mad dash in order to watch it pass right underneath them. They waved to the seamen and looked down the funnels as it headed out to the big Pacific.
He goes on to say, “One of my fellow employees who was a former tree surgeon came to the house and brought his climbing equipment and climbed our great big oak. The children were fascinated and frankly, so were we. It was quite a sight to see him go up the side of that massive tree and finally lodge himself on in a crotch many feet above the ground. We now have a swing like you hear about but don’t believe you’d ever have one. It’s about 35’ high and creates a massive arc that puts you high in the sky and gives you a fabulous view of all the neighbor’s yards. “
As you kids can attest, the swing in the oak tree lasted for years and years and delighted every child who played at Grandma Bennett’s house.
Fall was coming to a close and in order to prepare for winter, Lloyd made a fire in the fireplace that spread a lovely warm glow through the front room. After their popcorn and Kool aid treat, the kids lay on the rug with their tootsies being toasted by the fire and the firelight and listed to Christmas carols and talked about their grandparent’s impending visit.
These letters are so sweet, the lyrical bent to his letters always puts his voice back in my thoughts. Boy, I liked that man.
In 1965, Lloyd and Maxine make a trip to Washington, D.C. for vacation. They visited the White House and looked so charming here.
As the 1960’s come to a close, we find those Bennett children living and playing the life a lot of kids dream of: two parents, beach trips, trips to the city, an every day life.
The 1980’s start out with Wesley Ryan Lamb’s birth on March 22, 1980. Lloyd and Maxine couldn’t have loved those boys any more if they tried. The boys were a matched set, two little blond boys, happy and playful.
Next, Anita married Scott in 1984. This was the same year I had just met Paul and they were married in a meadow at Oak Grove Park.
When I met Paul on April 1, 1984, I’d been cruising on the Avenue (Pacific Avenue) and was with a friend who knew his friend. We stopped to talk to them. Paul never said a word to me, the entire night. I saw him again the next week and this time, we did talk. We hung out that night in the backyard of his next door neighbor’s house. The next door neighbor wasn’t home but we sat in the backyard and talked. At one point, I needed to use the restroom and he said we could go right next door to his house. Lloyd was in the living room and we stopped and said hello.
Some time a week or so later, Paul had invited me over to hang out at the neighbor’s house. When he needed something from home, I walked with him but waited in the driveway. Anita raced out the door and introduced herself to me. Apparently she just wanted to get a look at me. My husband had a reputation for dating dumb girls with big boobs. I wasn’t dumb haha.
Anyway, Paul and I started dating casually for the first few months. Sometime later, probably about six months in, Paul had been at a party and was drunk and angry at the next door neighbor. Lloyd called me at home to say Paul was very upset and could I come over there? My mother said yes, so I drove over. I calmed Paul down and at this point it was probably 1 in the morning and Lloyd asked if I would stay the night. It was funny because I don’t think Maxine was thrilled and Paul was still angry and insisted I sleep next to him on his bed. His father agreed (nothing happened, for heaven’s sake, haha) and Maxine was, um, formal the next morning. I explained everything to my mother and she agreed it was better that I stayed and helped Paul. I think both of our parents understood that Paul and I were serious and that we’d be in each other’s lives. I think that is when Maxine’s attitude toward me changed. When I met her, Maxine thought I was another girl with big boobs and so she was very stiff and formal with me. However, I guess I wore her down because I know she really came to love me.
After we’d dating for a couple of years, Paul’s parents were headed to Salt Lake to visit Grandma Bea and Grandpa Bill. Paul wanted me to go. My mother agreed and thus I went to Salt Lake for the first time. Nothing could have prepared me for riding in a car that Grandpa Bill was driving. I’ve never been so scared in my life and I’ve ridden in a taxi in Mexico. Grandma Bea’s relatives were visiting from England. Uncle Jack had been married to Grandma Bea’s sister. Along with Uncle Jack, were his son and daughter in law, Neil and Valerie. They were all very nice and just a bit tough to understand. It was a lot of fun. Of course, Great-Grandma Bea liked me, and was always on my side. In fact, not long after Dad and I got married, some ex-girlfriend of his called the house. Grandma Bea told her that he was married and Paul wouldn’t want to talk to her.
The following year, the Bennetts, Junior and Seniors were planning a trip to North Carolina. Paul wanted me to come, too, as well as Grandma Bea. We stayed with Paul’s Aunt Darlene, Uncle Henry and his cousin Rodney. All nine of us traveled in a van together for a week. It was a fun visit. It was the first time I’d had a chance to visit civil war locations and I loved it. I also was able to see Kitty Hawk and Jamestown, Virginia. I really loved that trip. I stayed in the hotel room with Grandma and Grandpa, haha. Paul stayed with his parents and Rodney stayed in his parents’ room. We really did have a fun trip.
I traveled a lot with my in-laws. One trip was to see the elephant seals here on the west coast and Paul ended up having to work. Lloyd said there was no reason why I shouldn’t go anyway, so I did.
Paul babysat his nephews a lot and little Wesley, he was so sweet as a little boy. He was very relieved when Paul and I actually married, because he wanted to call me Aunt Yvonne too. Our lives were filled with kids, from the get go. Besides his nephews, my nephews went with us a lot and they became friends too.
In 1988, we traveled back to Salt Lake City for Grandma Bea and Grandpa Bill’s anniversary party. My father in law asked me to help him plan the party. I had planned a few large scale parties, including my parent’s anniversary party, and Lloyd trusted me.
By September 9, 1989, Paul and I were married in Morris Chapel. My in laws had a beautiful dinner in the backyard on Valencia for the rehearsal dinner. It was a lot of fun.
We left the 1980’s with the Bennett clan just a bit fuller, and head into the 1990’s, where we lose our patriarch.
Here is a video of a very typical scene at the Bennett household on Christmas morning.
Mary Butterworth was born on March 7, 1892 at 20th East in the home where she spent her girlhood. Her parents were William James and Melinda North Butterworth. She was next to the youngest of six children and so tiny when she was born that no one thought she would survive. Her Grandmother North urged her parents to name her quickly before she died. She was named Mary for her Grandmother Butterworth and Arriminta for her Grandmother North. Mary Butterworth was told that she was so tiny her grandmother’s wedding ring would slip over her hand.
Her siblings were Annie, Melinda, William, John and Effie. Aunt Mirian describes her mother as not very tall and not very pretty, a mousy little lady. Mary Butterworth was more than her looks and Aunt Mirian says she was the reason everyone went home on Sundays to visit. Mary surrounded her children with unconditional love, even when they didn’t deserve it.
Mary was the type of mother who read bedtime stories to her children. I think she was my kind of mother. Aunt Miriam said at times her mother would nod off while reading and she’d have to nudge her awake.
She took excellent care of her children and was very particular about their hair being combed and faces and hands washed before they were allowed to go along to Grandma Bailey’s house. Mary was a mother who governed with strict obedience. Her favorite punishment for almost everything was “sitting on a chair” for a prescribed number of minutes. She was not averse to using a little willow on some naughty little legs, either. She would not put up with a saucy mouth and often prescribed “thimble pie” to those who disobeyed. “Thimble pie” as my own children can attest, was a quick thump on the top of the head, a quick little flick to let a child know that disobedience would not be tolerated. My mother in law Maxine prescribed to the same practice and now I can see where she got it. I’m surprised my husband doesn’t have a permanent dent on the top of his head.
Aunt Mirian said her mother wasn’t a fancy cook but could remember wonderful Sunday roasts and fried chicken and tender pie crust along with her sage dressing, a recipe from her mother.
Mary loved Thanksgiving, and everyone helped prepare the meal. Everyone had their favorite dishes that had to be included in the tradition. Aunt Mirian’s girls helped Mary with the preparations for last Thanksgiving of her life. Mary’s diary entry read, “In the evening, Mirian’s girls and Claron’s Besty came over and crumbled bread for the dressing. Kathryn came over after mutual. She ate some crusts, too and afterward we played Chinese checkers. It was all fun.”
Mary was an excellent seamstress. She taught her daughters to sew and embroider, too. She praised the girls when their stitches were small and neat and made them pick them undone when they were not. She encouraged her girls to write and they were allowed long uninterrupted hours in the back porch room scribbling away on a story.
Mary was a fine pianist and Aunt Mirian says Mary must have been so happy with Maxine, who was able to sit and practice piano playing for hours on end. Mary taught children piano for years and years.
Aunt Mirian says Mary was never robust and must have been rather fragile as a child. Given that she almost died, I’m not surprised. She was pampered and protected by her parents and her siblings alike.
Mary was valedictorian when she graduated the 8th grade. Aunt Mirian says she has a picture of Mary seated in the middle of her classmates with her serious little face, diploma held proudly in her hand and the picture speaks volumes of her dedication to scholarship. I have two girls who both feel the same way about their education. I am grateful for Mary’s genes!
Aunt Mirian’s opinion of her mother was that she was certain her mother never had an impure thought in her entire life and that she didn’t abide lewdness in any form. The only swear word she ever uttered was “de-amn” and always directed at herself.
She read the Church news from cover to cover every week. She upheld the Brethren in the face of Papa’s rebel comments, but her admonitions were couched in, “now, Leonard, dear…”. I can’t say how fortunate we are to have Aunt Mirian’s words of love for her parents. We have such a first-hand accounting of Mary and Leonard.
Mary believed a real woman never left the house without a hat, purse and gloves. Mary was generally even tempered but could be stubborn, too. Mary wore her hair, which was neither thick nor lustrous, combed back from her high forehead and twisted into a bun at the nape of her neck. Aunt Mirian always wanted her mother to cut her hair which was how all the other mothers wore their hair when the kids were in school. She refused.
Aunt Mirian only had one quarrel with her mother and it was one she regretted her whole life. Her Aunt Effie, who had lived with her Uncle John as neither had ever married, was of ill health and thus, after Uncle John had passed away, her Aunt Effie had moved into Mary and Leonard’s home. Mary was spending her days and nights caring for Effie who was suffering from diabetes and had large sores on her feet.
Aunt Mirian and her father Leonard both felt that Mary’s life was being taken over by caring for her Aunt Effie and Mary’s own health was suffering. Mary was growing visibly tired from the constant care her sister required. Mary refused to put her sister in a rest home and Leonard began railing against her continued living in their home.
Aunt Mirian felt that her mother was being unreasonable. Mirian could think of no solution and no amount of discussion would get her mother to agree. Mirian resorted to a threat. She told her mother she wouldn’t talk to her nor would she visit until her Aunt had been put into a home. Aunt Mirian hadn’t taken into account the Butterworth love and loyalty and stubbornness.
The days went by and Aunt Mirian continued to stay away. They were at a total impasse until one day Mirian’s sister in law called to let her know she had taken Mary to the doctor. There was a suspicious lump in one breast and a biopsy had been scheduled. Mirian raced to the hospital to find her mother laying on the bed, groggy but awake. Not a single word was spoken about their disagreement beyond Mary’s understanding and that she forgave Mirian completely.
The lump was malignant and she had a radical mastectomy that night. Two of Aunt Mirian’s cousins, along with Aunt Mirian, finally put her Aunt Effie in a rest home. They never spoke of it after that. It wasn’t long before the doctor said that the cancer had been in her lymph system and had spread to her lungs, that she wouldn’t have long to live. Aunt Mirian begged the doctor not to tell Mary, to let her go on thinking she would be fine.
Not too long afterward, on the morning of June 27th, 1962, on Mary and Leonard’s 45th wedding anniversary, Leonard called Mirian to say Mary wasn’t feeling well at all and she flew along the road to see her mother. Mary lay in her pink flowered nightgown, her head turning restlessly on her pillow. She looked at Mirian as if she were trying to think of who she was. Finally, Mary said, almost to herself, “Oh, dear, I didn’t want to go!”. She was quiet for a moment as if she were mulling over her last words, then said, “Please take care of Daddy.” She never spoke again. The doctor came and said she’d had a major heart attack and if it were his mother, he’d let her rest in her bed. It wouldn’t be long.
Mary lay in a coma. Her grandchildren tip-toed in to say their goodbyes and her children stayed by her side. Her boys were silent and perplexed, Maxine weeping next to Aunt Mirian while Leonard sat at one side of the bed. Mary’s breathing quieted until it simply stopped, as if she had fallen to sleep. Mary left this world surrounded by her family, wrapped forever in their cocoon of love.
Mary Butterworth Bailey died on June 27, 1962 and is buried in Wasatch Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah, in view of Mount Olympus.
Leonard was born on August 7, 1889 at the old Bailey home, 3578 South, 13th East, Salt Lake City, Utah to his parents Reuben Josiah (R.J.) and Alice Ellison Park Bailey. Leonard’s siblings who came after he was born were Bertha, Vivien, Delores, Erwin, Errol and Marvin. As described by Aunt Mirian, Leonard and other Bailey family members were fiery tempered, worldly, opinionated, mostly superficially religious, judgmental, proud gun-toting ranchers.
His father, known as RJ, was a sheep rancher and Leonard was brought up on a ranch. Aunt Mirian goes on to describe her father as charismatic, unpredictable, tender-hearted, violent, unforgiving, generous, proud and passionate.
Leonard was a larger than life character, a man of many talents and passions. He attended “North School” then graduated 8th grade and attended the University of Utah for two years until his father, RJ, showed up and asked the teacher if Leonard would be better served staying at college or coming home to the sheep ranch business. His teacher had replied that Leonard was very lucky to have a business to go to and thus Leonard ended up as a sheep rancher. He did go on a Mormon mission to the eastern United States.
Leonard loved to tell the story of how he met his wife, Mary. Leonard went to a ward party where he felt stiff and uncomfortable as he was fresh off the range and herding sheep. A slender young girl dressed in pink came and sat down by him and struck up a friendly, casual conversation. Of course, they belonged to the same ward so they knew each other by name and Marian says her mother, Mary, came from people who were genteel, long suffering, modest, accommodating, deeply religious farm folk. Marian was certain her mother was feeling sorry for her father and Leonard never forgot that evening. He wrote a poem, “Pink Lady” dedicated to Mary and he compared their meeting with two ships encountering each other “on life’s rugged ocean” and their subsequent journey together.
Leonard wrote many letters to Mary, starting in October of 1914. Aunt Mirian’s recounting includes part of his letter, “Dear friend Mary, you will be surprised to get a letter from one out on the desert lands. We are on our way to the winter range once more with the sheep. I am going to ask you if I could correspond with you this winter. Friendly letters help so much in more ways than you may well imagine, especially to one out in these circumstances. If you would consent to such a thing, I would respect you highly and appreciate your letters. Hoping that you will grant my wish and that everything is well with you, I remain your friend Leonard Bailey.”
His letters went from “Dear Friend” to “My Dear Mary” to one year later, “My Dear Girlie” and then boldly, “My Little Sweetheart.” The letters are filled with descriptions of lonely days, the rigors of camp life out with the sheep, changing seasons and finally changing hearts.
Only Leonard’s letters remained because he had periodically burned Mary’s responsive letters to keep prying eyes of the camp tenders off of the letters. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple and their reception was held at the Granite High School gymnasium on June 27, 1917.
Later in life, Leonard related to his children about his wedding night. It seems that his mother had given him a certain little self-help book for the newly to be wed young man. In it, Leonard said, the groom was counseled to be mindful of all the pre-nuptial trauma that his bride had had to deal with, parties, wedding plans, dress fittings etc., and in deference to her shattered nerves he should postpone any idea of consummating the marriage until he felt certain she was sufficiently calmed down and well rested. By the third night of their brief honeymoon, at a hotel in town, according to Leonard, Mary was in tears, her maidenly modesty prohibiting any questions as to what might be the matter and fears she had probably had about the wedding night were magnified by her groom’s apparent disinterest. Leonard would laugh at how he’d gathered Mary in his arms, trying to explain his seeming lack of ardor.
Leonard and Mary went on to have five children, (Leonard) Vaughn, Mirian, Claron, Maxine and Vayles.
Leonard was a man who would climb on the floor to play horse with his children. He had a quick mind and loved word games, mathematical tricks and story-telling. He was talented at drawing, art and poetry. He loved to sing and would sing “Oh, I am a Utah Man, Sir” with gusto in a great baritone voice.
He expected obedience from his children at all times. Lying meant real trouble, talking back was forbidden and quarreling when they were small would be punished with a spanking. He was a man who cared deeply about his children’s education and was just as likely to be in their corner as not. When his girls would go on a date, he’d tell them, “Be a lady, Tootsie.”
One of the stories that made me laugh was that Leonard and Mary had a pact between them. When one of the children were sick and had been vomiting, he’d be the one to clean it up as it would make Mary ill if she did. However, Mary would be the one to change every dirty diaper as Leonard couldn’t handle that. Paul and I have had the same arrangement. One day, Paul had baby Taylor at home while I was working. She had a messy diaper and Paul thought he should just cut it off her so he wouldn’t have to pull the dirty t-shirt over her head. I told him, “Don’t you dare cut that off her.” That arrangement served Paul and I well and clearly, Leonard and Mary were served equally well.
Leonard loved Christmas time and he would help twist red and green streamers of crepe paper that were hung from the light fixture in the front room. He always brought home a tree from White’s grocery and joined in on the trimming festivities. He could scarcely wait for his kids to get up on Christmas morning and if they waited too long, he’d go down the hall shouting that he was pretty sure Santa had come.
When he turned fifty, Mary arranged to have all of his poems typed up and bound into a book for his present. The book was bound in a handsome leather cover with “Poems of Fact and Fancy” in gold across the front of it. Leonard was ecstatic with his gift.
Leonard’s ranching days went through a difficult time and at times there was hardly enough money to keep one going. He never owned a car until 1951, when most of his children were married. He bought Maxine a new 1951 Chevrolet for her to drive back and forth to work when she began teaching school.
One of Leonard’s poems entitled, “To The Pioneers” was read into the Congressional Record in Washington, D.C. during the inauguration of the Bringham Young Statue in the Capitol rotunda. He was so proud of that accomplishment.
In 1954, Leonard suffered a serious accident at the Utah Oil plant where he worked. A huge scaffolding fell in a high wind and struck his shoulder, transmitting the shock through his body to his right knee. It was completely shattered.
Mary Bailey passed away in 1963. Leonard continued to live alone, ever stubborn and insistent on living his own way. His children would take turns having him to dinner. Some time after his wife died, he was crossing the road to visit a neighbor when he was hit by a speeding car. He was forced to stay with Mirian’s family for a year while he convalesced. He was a model patient and very pleasant the entire time he was there. One day, Mirian looked out the window to see her father using his walker to slowly make his way down the road. Mirian ran out and said, “Papa, what are you doing?” and he replied, “I just wanted to go home for a little while.” He was so independent he just couldn’t wait to get back to his own home.
One of Leonard’s favorite pranks to play on an unsuspecting child was to ask, “How do you spell your name, my boy?” and after the young man had replied with spelling his name, Leonard would respond with, “I would spell it Y-O-U-R-N-A-M-E”. I can remember Maxine asking the same question lol.
In 1979, Leonard was 89 years old when Marian walked in to find her father sitting in his chair, partially clothed and unable to speak. He’d had a stroke and was taken to the hospital then sent to a rehabilitation hospital. He recovered some of his speech, but it was clear he was living somewhere else. He’d say, “My, Toots, just look at those horses coming through the door.”
Leonard died on June 19, 1979, just two months short of his 90th birthday.
Maxine left a letter, describing her father’s funeral. She said 286 people signed the register. Vayles offered the family prayer. Leonard lay in his casket in his temple clothing, looking serene. The Bishop spoke of Leonard as a valiant and strong son whom Heavenly Father sent to earth nearly 90 years ago. He said Leonard had poked lots of Deacons with his cane, and made no bones about protesting what he thought was error or injustice. One of the injustices Leonard thought was of the church itself. They would have funerals in the chapel and the descendant’s body would be wheeled to the front and would have to leave down the same aisle. Leonard felt that wasn’t right and railed to have a door installed in the back of the church, for the body to be removed through. After some time, the door was finally installed, and the Bishop said it was the Leonard Bailey door and would be called such, forevermore. Leonard Bailey was wheeled through the Leonard Bailey door, to be laid to rest at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.
The 1960’s find Lloyd and Maxine along with all four kids living in Stockton, CA. My father in law Lloyd moved to Stockton first, began his job and lived in a small apartment. We are so used to reading Maxine’s words as she left a diary for every year of her life. She didn’t always reveal her inner self in her diary but occasionally she would let her feelings show.
On the other hand, Lloyd never wrote in a diary. But, we found some letters he wrote in the mid 1960’s to his parents. He wrote, “I hope that next time Mom goes to S.F. that she remembers her long “woolies” so that she doesn’t freeze to death in the S.F. cool.” That sentence made me smile. I can hear his voice in my mind. His letter details what it was like to live in Stockton in the mid-1960’s. He said, “The downtown area of Stockton is rather “ratty”. So, downtown Stockton was “ratty” in the 1960’s? How long ago was downtown Stockton great? Good lord, 60 years of a crappy downtown. Well, maybe someday it will get better.
His letter says the house he’s looking at is “2 1/2” blocks from Kelly Park which is a neighborhood development of Colonial Heights for which we pay $28.00 a year for it’s use.” He ends his letter saying, “… can hardly wait for the September 17th, date which is our tentative get together time” with Maxine and the kids.
On September 11, 1966, Lloyd says “It was so exciting to talk to Maxine this morning because it is our last ‘Sunday’ call. She and those dear children of mine should be in Stockton next Saturday morning unless something terribly unforeseen happens between now and their arrival.”
He was waiting to hear about his home loan, “Although I haven’t yet received final word on the house loan, I’m hoping against hope I’ll get the final approval tomorrow.” He did.
His next letter is from September 18, 1966 and he says, “I sat in our garden today, under the great oak that dominates our backyard scene. I had in my hand several bunches of sweet concord grapes and a bunch of Flaming Tokay grapes that I had picked from the grape arbor at the end of the lot. They were simply delicious, so sweet and so fresh”. They had such a beautiful lot. Those grapes were there for a long time. Maxine put in blackberries in the same area (just past the sand turtle she put in for the kids).
One of his last lines says, “The oak is massive and quite a sight. I looked it over today and have located the ideal limb for a swing – so a rope and a board will be required for a “young people’s enjoyment spot.” Not only did his children enjoy that swing, so did his grandchildren. Everyone loved the swing.
He’s talking to his parents and goes on, “I’m proud to say that one of the attributes I’ve received from both of you is to give my employer my best and not be afraid of hard work. I thank you for that heritage-you both are such hard workers and truly dedicated employees.” His closes his letter, “Loads of love, Lloyd.”
The next letter is dated October 9, 1966. He says, “It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Stockton and the girls including Momma, are attending their first Sunday school while Paul and I enjoy a morning together.”
He says “It’s probably unnecessary to say that I’m pleased to have us again united as a family. This business of living alone is for the birds. It was a real pleasure to have picked up my family a week ago last Friday and I brought them to our new home. Paul loved me all the way to Stockton and would reach over and hug me every few minutes. When he arrived he was harnessed to Maxine and he broke into tears when he saw me because he couldn’t run to meet me. Above all else, however, the light of my life has arrived and life again has a sense of real balance and purpose with her by my side.” Now, in all fairness to my mother-in-law, Paul took apart a water fountain on this trip (he was 3) and she was traveling with a three year old, five year old, seven and nine year old kids. I might have used a harness, too.
“We’re enjoying the new house immensely and have already cut new doorways and started making some remodeling plans.”
His update includes the kids, “Carol has had her ninth birthday and was most delighted with your gift. She loves money, particularly the green folding kind and has spent some of it on a basket for her bike and a new combination lock for her bike so she can lock it up when she rides to school.
Mary Jean is making many friends (as usual) and has been to several activities with friends, including a birthday party.
Anita is as mischievous as ever and full of ‘old nick’. She keeps us hopping, believe me, but she is also so affectionate that you cannot help but love every bit of her. I believe she has her father’s number and I’m sunk when she comes to me with a kiss or a hug.
Paul is his typical affectionate and helpful self and is constantly suggesting that we go over and visit grandma or grandpa. I’ve tried to explain the distance to him but this doesn’t stop his request for a visit.”
He ends this letter, “Paul just came in –gave me a hug-then rushed out again for more tricycle riding on the driveway. He’s a dear soul and so darn loveable.”
Lloyd gave Maxine the last page to add her thoughts to her in-laws and then at the very end, you can see all three girls wrote notes to their grandparents. These are so precious. It seemed California living was agreeing with the Bennett clan.
Here is a video Taylor took of Maxine and Lloyd’s yard in 2010. Much of it was the same and very well loved.
Miss Maxine Bailey traveled to the L.D.S. Chapel in McAllen, Texas in 1946. She was there for her mission. She spoke Spanish flawlessly and the Hispanic members of her church were very dear to her. I didn’t realize when Mormon’s went on a mission that they could be sent domestically. I had assumed that it was an over-seas event but Maxine traveled from Salt Lake to Texas.
I only knew Maxine as an adult but I do have a good idea of how she must have been as a teenager/young adult. She was such an earnest person. While Maxine wasn’t overtly “touchy/feely”, she was so caring that you could always see how deeply she cared. I’m sure that is what she took on her mission.
What Maxine did on her mission is very well documented. She took hundreds of photographs while in Texas. As you can see, they are all very high quality photographs. Then, on the back of every photograph, is a detailed explanation including names, dates and events. Maxine would continue to identify every photograph that she took. I can assure you, I never had that kind of detail from my mom. Haha, not to disparage my mother but the kind of detail Maxine provided was something that can’t be duplicated.
This first photograph is labeled “Looks like the hen and flock or some of the Madonna pictures” haha. Those little girls are so cute. Maxine looks adorable in the picture, too.
The next is Shirley and LaVina Garrison, Christmas holiday 1946
The Fernandez family, Elvira, Tossie, Mollie, Raul and Senora Fernandez near Keene Street, Houston Texas February 19, 1947.
The next picture says there must have been an error in ordering this picture. That tells me that the photographs were taken by the missionaries of the church and then ordered through the church. I could tell they were a good quality.
The next is a picture of Maxine, wearing a red corsage made of pipe cleaners for Mother’s Day, 1947. She was given the flower for having a mother, lol.
The next photograph is of small children but uncharacteristic of Maxine, no identification on the back. Such cute kids, though.
The next picture cracks me up. There are three young men but it is the gentleman on the right side of the picture. Maxine said his stomach hung over the picture so she drew it in. She is so funny.
This next picture is very sad. Maxine’s explanation says “This man is a neurotic, shell shocked returnee.”
His face looks like he is remembering a horrific experience and that is so sad. Clearly, he has returned from World War II and experienced a dreadful conflict. Terrible.
The last picture is Maxine. Her note says that maybe the hot sun during tracting was responsible for the idiotic expression. That made me laugh. I don’t consider that an idiotic expression, just the expression of a young lady who has a minute to slip off her shoes and take a quick break.
She wrote home and also received newsy letters from her family. This one was sent by her father. As you can see, he calls her Tootsie. He tells her that her mother wanted a new electric range and water heater. He was hoping by spring he could put one in.
Lenard told his daughter he just wrote Vaughn a letter. He dreamed Vaughn was ill the other night. It seemed he was knocked out on an operating table with a young army doctor ready to manicure his appendix. Quite real, it was just “a wild life dream”. His son Vaughn was a soldier in World War II and thus clearly he’d been on his father’s mind. His letter goes on, “I swore in front of Christie the other day and she said, “We don’t say Son of a (bitch)” Christie was Aunt Mirian’s daughter who was about three at the time.
Maxine returns home to Salt Lake and works for a year at Olympus Junior High as a teacher. That is when she meets Lloyd. If you read the previous Lloyd post, you’ll recall she met him while working on a Roadshow put on by her church. Several churches would work them together and he was in college and living in Salt Lake
August 18, 1956
Their wedding was very much a family affair. I love that his Jackson grandparents came from England for his wedding. That is very cool. Maxine’s two nieces were their flower girls. This reminds me of my wedding, also a big family affair.
They took off to Canada for their honeymoon. Here is an article from the newspaper in Canada.
Their children came fast.
Carol was their first born in 1957, Mary Jean in 1959, Anita Maxine in 1961 and finally William Paul in 1963.
I can only imagine that she was relieved at finally having a son. I feel like she had a lot of pressure from her in-laws to produce a male heir. Silly, right? But I also know how she must have felt. I, too, had a female child first. Truthfully, I wasn’t pressured by my in-laws, but Great-Grandma Beatrice was very, um, excited, when we had Jacques and named him William. I think there was a relief that their name would continue. I, too, am glad that our line of the Bennett name continues. Now it is up to my son. But no pressure!
Maxine and Lloyd spent their early years living in Holiday, Utah on Ridgedale Lane. However, one day he came home and said they would be moving to California, specifically to Stockton. He’d taken a position at Karl Holt Youth Correctional Facility near Stockton. I don’t think Maxine was thrilled at moving away from her family but she made the best of it. That was how she was. Given lemons, Maxine would make the best lemonade she knew how. However, I do think secretly she must have been a bit relieved to have some space from her in-laws. Lloyd was very close to his parents and I can’t imagine she had an easy time as a new daughter in law. Maybe that is why Maxine made such a good mother in law. She’d had a tough one and perhaps had vowed not to be that type of person. She was a woman who said, “What can I do for you?” and she meant it. Ask anything in the world and she’d do it if she could. That is the one thing to remember about Maxine. She had a heart the size of Texas. When she gave a hug, it was so tight you’d never mistake it for anything other than genuine emotion. So, the early 1960’s find my in-laws living in a new town writing lots of letters to Bea and Bill Bennett.
The dawn of the new century did not shine bright on the Jacques family. By early January, it was apparent that my mother’s health was in fast decline. By the first week of January, it was clear my mother would not make it to her surprise party. I’d already sent out all of the invitations, so I had to cancel all of our plans and turn around and call everyone, explaining the situation. Instead of coming to her birthday party, they’d be coming to tell her goodbye. Several of her girlfriends from school came to Stockton to visit her. I believe every single family on my dad’s side of the family arrived. It is difficult to remember everyone as one day slid into the next over the course of the next two weeks. The one person who had been my best friend was preparing to leave us. I don’t have enough time in the day to explain my relationship with my mother, but I spent every possible minute with her that I could, and I won’t ever regret it.
Of course, it was most difficult on my father. My parents had such a great love for each other. They knew each other as well as one person can know another and loved each other through every up and down imaginable.
Ruby Mae, whose father had nick named her Jubie, returned to her first family on February 1st, 2000. I know my Grandma Flora, my Grandpa Charles and my Aunt Jean were all so happy to have her home again. I was not. But I had two children, one seven and the other just past his second birthday. I would have to push forward.
The day mother passed away, Jackie and I had been sitting at the end of her bed. No one had left mother’s side and we had simply rotated, taking turns to just sit near her. When she stopped breathing, it was the absence of sound that shocked me. I felt as if I were in a magnifying glass that had been scrunched tight then turned upside down. When it was flipped back, my life was no longer felt the same. Mother’s hospice bed was in the dining room and everyone had lined up to kiss her goodbye before they took her out. I bent over and kissed her forehead, but my tears rolled onto her cheeks. Dad had been standing behind me and said, “See that? Your mother doesn’t want to go. There are tears rolling down her cheeks.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him they were my tears.
Mother’s funeral was well attended, and she was laid to rest at Cherokee Memorial Park. My dad was already suffering from Parkinson’s disease and thus he had a tough time getting around. He was still driving, just to the store or he’d meet me at church on Sunday morning. Eventually he moved into several different senior apartments.
The following summer my nephew Eddie got married in North Carolina. We all flew to North Carolina, including Dad. I left Taylor here in California, as she was in my cousin’s wedding and I would be returning in time for that ceremony. Jacques stayed with his Grandma Bennett.
When I got back to California, summer was ending. I’d taken you kids to the pool when I realized my bathing suit had shrunk. I thought that was so odd.
A month later, I was laying on my back in bed on a Sunday morning when I felt Hailey kicking inside of me. I was so shocked. Truthfully, it was the best thing that could have happened to Dad. He was so pleased with that new baby. I was in a quandary. I wanted to name Hailey after my mother, but I also knew Momma wasn’t fond of her name Ruby and I didn’t know if I could put the name Jubie on a little baby. I settled on Hailey J. Marie Bennett.
I finally gave Hailey just the letter J for her Grandmother. Papa was so damn happy and loved spending every minute with her he could. He would also say Hailey was stubborn. Boy, he exactly right. But Dad’s health problems progressed. I moved him into our home while he waited for another apartment to open up, one where he could have increased care.
In 2001, my brother Tim took Dad on a cruise with Aunt Fran and Uncle Don. His health had declined but my brother was certain he could handle taking dad and he did. He did such a great job taking care of Dad. I can’t even tell you how close Tim became to Dad and my mother would have been so proud of my brother. Dad had a great trip. Tim would push Dad up to the casino and he’d play black jack for as long as he liked. Dad won a ton of money, too. It was a memorable trip.
Dad’s first great-grandchild, Kylee Marie O’Shea had been born and Dad was so pleased with that baby too. Those new little lives put a spark back in Dad. Also having Dad live with me really gave me an opportunity to learn how to cook chili. I had watched him do it a million times but now, he’d sit on a stool in the kitchen, next to the stove and show me step by step. I am so fortunate. Although I’d lost my best friend, I turned that role over to Dad. Jackie and I would never have gotten to know him so well with Momma here and that was a great silver lining.
When my Dad turned 75, I had a birthday party for him. He loved his children and grandchildren and we took lots of pictures together.
Dad had booked another cruise for 2003 but by February, the doctor decided Dad was too ill to go on the cruise. Dad had already paid for the trip and wanted me to take the cruise with Tim. First of all, I would be leaving Dad and all three of my kids. That was tough. I was worried Dad wouldn’t make it until I returned. But he assured me he would be here when I got home. So glad Jackie would visit him while I was gone too. It was a great cruise but very difficult to relax.
My husband did a great job. He took care of the kids, with his parents’ help, but he also took the kids to see their Papa while I was gone. It was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for me.
I returned home to find that dad’s decline was real. It was time for him to go into a rest home. We had him moved and it wasn’t long before Dad’s time was small. By the last week of his life, I called my relatives to come and say goodbye to him. But his humor didn’t leave him, not even at the end. Toward the last days, we were sitting around his bed and he asked for a coke. Paul went off to get a soda from the machine and when he returned with a Pepsi can, my Dad joked, “I said Coke.” Daddy had a fun sense of humor. Dad left us on June 30, 2003.
Both of my parents were gone. So many great things happened for our family over so many years and the sadness will continue, but my parents go on. They really do. When I see Hailey’s eyes light up at gossip, I think, lord, my mother continues.
My parents surely must have been watching the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. My Mom would have jumped ten feet off the ground. Damn, she loved her Giants. That continues through each of us.
Where do we go from here? We go forward. We can’t go back. Every once in a while, I’ll have chili and beans and think, damn, Dad would have appreciated that meal. Or I see a Twinkie and laugh, cause Momma loved Twinkies. Our life wasn’t perfect. My parents weren’t perfect. But we had the best parents for us. We came from a great love. That continues. You children will continue. My parents would have been very pleased, indeed.
William Lloyd (always went by Lloyd) was born on August 21, 1929 in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. I never think of my father in law as a Canadian. When Lloyd was born, his mother Beatrice said that the doctor said, “You can’t deny this one, Bill”. Lloyd looked just like his daddy. He was raised as an only child until he was ten years old. Lloyd was born just as the depression was getting under way and his father had a very difficult time finding work.
Bea was at home with Lloyd and Bill searched week after week to find a job. One day he returned home to find Bea and Lloyd sitting in the dark, as their electricity had been shut off. His parents lost their home in July of 1933 and Bea was pregnant with Lloyd’s baby brother. His mother had the baby, but he died just after birth. Bea said he’d looked just like Lloyd.
The Depression forced his family to move to England, as well as Bea’s longing for home. They were able to both find jobs and moved to a home on Bushland Road, Northampton. They would go to the market on Saturday afternoons. Bea, Lloyd, and Bill would get away and have fish and chips together. That was a meal Lloyd would continue to treasure his whole life. Both of his parents had positions in the Mormon Church. Bea was working in a shoe factory. She had to be at work by 7:30 a.m., worked until 5:30 p.m. and got home from work after 6:30 p.m.. She paid a Mrs. Frost to watch Lloyd, as he was just going to school. Lloyd remembered waiting on the corner, wearing his mother’s wrist watch. She’d given it to him to hold so he would know when she would return from work. His missed his mother.
Eventually, his parents moved back to Canada in the fear that war was on the horizon. It was. Lloyd’s father was very homesick for Canada and was happy to return. This was September of 1939 and Lloyd was ten years old. They finally, after many travails, arrived in Cardston, where they were met by Bill’s family.
They lived with Lloyd’s Uncle Marlin Bennett. Lloyd didn’t like being in Canada, as he wanted to go home to England. He was very popular in school because he was a proper English student and all the children wanted to hear him talk. Lloyd got a baby sister when Darlene was adopted in February of 1940. His sister Miriam, also adopted, joined the family in 1942 and their family was complete.
Lloyd went to school in Cardston, then graduated and went to the University of Utah. Lloyd enjoyed the Boy Scouts program and achieved the rank of Canadian Eagle Scout
Lloyd graduated from high school then took off to Salt Lake City to go to college. He attended the University of Utah. As he was raised a Mormon, he stayed active in the church. Lloyd had a lovely tenor voice and played the piano.
The Mormon Church is split into geographic locations. These levels include a Branch which is their home church, a Ward which is a number of churches in a larger geographic area, and then a Stake. The Stake house is a larger territory where they oversee Wards and activities such as genealogy research. One of the activities that the Stake would perform was (and as recently up to the 2000’s) was called a Road Show. Here is an explanation of the Mormon Roadshow: “Roadshows, 15-minute skits acted by members of an LDS ward were performed over and over in all the wards in an LDS stake in a single night. Performers travelled between church buildings in a caravan of cars on a tight time schedule. They began as entertainment for weary pioneers and blossomed into a full-blown theatrical tradition in the 1950s and 1960s. At the roadshows’ pinnacle, the LDS Church sponsored an all-church competition, bringing regional winners to Salt Lake City for the final competition.” The Roadshow was said to have started with Brigham Young, to encourage the Pioneers to entertain each other.
Lloyd met Maxine Bailey at a Roadshow. She was an excellent piano player and they both were very involved in their church. They worked together, built a friendship and then more. Lloyd and Maxine married on August 17, 1954. Lloyd was 24 and Maxine 28 years old. I, for one, am grateful for their meeting.
The 1990’s arrived and found my parents in a new town. They had moved to a retirement community, just south of Red Bluff, CA and east of Corning, CA. Corning was the area where Mother had moved to as a child in mid-1930. Rancho Tehama was down a very long 10 mile drive off Interstate 5, then past a cow pasture and up into the foothills. The houses were mostly mobile homes and Mom’s property had about a half-acre of land, on a hillside. Their home had two bedrooms and a built in hot tub. There was one bathroom.
One of the consequences of our parents moving was Aunt Jackie moving into her own apartment. With our parents gone, her apartment was very close to our duplex and thus she came to our house all the time. We all traveled to Mom’s a lot.
In fact, when I was very pregnant with Taylor, about 8 months, we’d driven to Rancho Tehama for the weekend and traveled with Aunt Jackie. She was driving my car back, Paul was in the front seat and I was laying in the back seat (I wasn’t feeling great). We had our windshield busted out by a bird. It was very scary. We pulled over on the median and then I drove home the rest of the way, busted windshield and all.
Max Theodore Dodson was born on September 22, 1991 and the following year, Taylor Carson Bennett was born on September 14, 1992. We went to Rancho Tehama a lot when they were little. It was a three hour drive from Stockton. We traveled constantly.
We’d arrive on Friday night at 10 p.m., as we left when Paul got home from work at 7 p.m. Mother would be in bed already and Daddy would be up watching t.v. but really he was waiting for us to arrive. Momma would come out to say a quick hi then straight back to bed. We’d get up on Saturday and they’d make a huge breakfast about 11. By the afternoon, I’d be playing Scrabble with my parents. The house smelled of cigars, as Daddy smoked his cigar while playing at the table.
For dinner, they’d make steaks marinated in olive oil and garlic. The smell of the barbeque always made your mouth water. There were twice baked potatoes and garlic bread. They were such great cooks.
By Sunday, we’d run to Red Bluff to grocery shop. I loved that little town. It was very quaint. That was really when Walmart became a big box store and we’d shop at the one in Red Bluff because it was the only place in town to get what you needed. On the Fourth of July, we’d go to town for the fireworks display. The whole town showed up and the fireworks were shot over a pond. There was only one movie theater and we’d go there during the summer.
Mom and dad had a huge satellite dish, in order to get all of the television channels that they wanted to watch.
Daddy planted vegetables and fruit, along with tulips. My dad planted flowers at every home they lived in.
My parents started traveling. The year Tara was five and Eddie three, my parents had taken them to Disneyland. I got to go on that trip as the teenager so that I could take them on the rides. This time, in the early 1990’s, my parents had purchased a van and took all five of their grandchildren to Disneyland. Tara was 15, Jim was 14, Eddie was 13, and Anthony and Nick were both 10. They had such a great trip. Of course, Nick and Tara fought the entire trip. It happens.
The 1990’s is the decade my parents took a trip back east. Mother had been wanting to travel so they got in their van and drove from California to New York to view the autumn colors. They stopped at my cousin Dickie’s house in New York. My parents got the biggest kick out of that visit. Dickie took them to where he worked in the Senate, and they were very impressed. They thought Lorraine and the kids were great. But mostly, my dad was so damn proud of Dickie and he knew his brother Epie would have been so damn proud of him too.
They also took an Alaskan Cruise. They absolutely loved Ketchikan, Alaska. They were very impressed with all of the ice and of course, made wonderful cruise friends. That’s how my parents were, they could make friends anywhere, with anyone.
They also took a trip to Alabama along with my Aunt Kay and my cousin Cynthia Paulson. They visited with all of my Grandpa Hardin’s relatives and my mother was happy to meet so many cousins. Most of them were redheads and Mother fit right in.
Lenny Holmes, Cindy Wilkinson, Kay Paulson, Tim and Jubie and all that is left of the fireplace where Charles Hardin was raised in Alabama
House as it was when Charles Hardin lived in Falkville,AL
They also took a cruise with Aunt Fran and Uncle Don. They were the best of friends and just had such a fantastic trip together. Of course, when Mother traveled, (prior to everyone carrying a cell phone) I would go for days without hearing from her and it would drive me crazy. It drives me crazy now, not being able to call Momma. In Dad’s video, you can hear Uncle Don say, “Jubie, phone’s for you. Cookie’s calling you again”. Hahaha. That video made me laugh. As much as it makes me cry, it makes me laugh too. Yes, I’d called Uncle Don like seven times while Mom and Aunt Fran were shopping. I might have been a bit impatient. And Uncle Don loved me.
Every time my parents would go on a trip, I’d go stay at their place for a weekend while they were gone. It was never as fun when they were gone.
We also made more than a few trips to New Mexico. The first, when Taylor was just 6 months old. Here she is at the Grand Canyon on our way home.
The next New Mexico trip was in 1996, when Taylor was four. Tim, Jackie and Paul and I along with Taylor, Cammie, Jim and Nick met up with Mom and Dad. They’d driven with Eddie. It was a great trip.
For as much as they loved living in Rancho Tehama, Momma kept her doctors in Stockton. Consequently, she would come back to Stockton every time she had a doctor visit, so in between our trips up there, they’d come back and stay a day or two at a time.
When I was pregnant with Taylor, Momma and Daddy came and stayed for about a week, driving us to the hospital. I went into the hospital and my Mom and Dad took your dad out to dinner. I was perturbed, to say the least. I thought it very unfair that I was laboring away and my parents decided he needed to go eat. Haha, makes me laugh to think of it now. With the pain my mother had, I knew it was very difficult for her to sit at the hospital hour after hour with me. Part way through the night, she had to leave for a few hours but Maxine stayed with me. See, Momma was very happy that Maxine was strong and resilient and able to sit for the long hours my mother couldn’t.
After an emergency C-section, my Mom and my Mother in law were outside of the nursery window, waiting for Taylor to be brought out, along with your aunts, and they both started screaming and jumping up and down when Paul came out with that baby. Paul couldn’t figure out how they knew it was a girl but that pink knit hat had given it away. Gosh, they were so happy. Taylor was the first Bennett granddaughter (followed by Lauren, then Hailey) and the second for my mom and dad. They took us home from the hospital, too. Mother let my dog, Buddy, smell that new baby, then told him that she was ours. Buddy was a very good dog and the only time he misbehaved was licking Cheerios off Taylor’s fingers.
In 1995, we had a 40th birthday party for Tim. That was a very fun day.
Mom and Dad had a good run living in Rancho Tehama.
Mother battled health problems for the entire decade.
Two more great events occurred in the 1990’s. Aunt Jackie and Uncle Roger got married on September 27,1997.
Jim and Stefanie got married on December 28, 1997 in Monterey, CA and then had a church wedding on November 28, 1998. Taylor was the flower girl in each of these weddings.
Eddie was supposed to be in Jim’s wedding but Eddie had enlisted in the U.S. Army and thus missed the service. Anthony filled in for his brother.
These were the last big events my parents were to participate in.
The last grandchild to be born while my mother was alive was William Jacques Bennett. I had toyed with the idea of naming him William Charles, after my grandfather but then I thought about it and really liked the idea of naming him our family name.
The one event that crystallized our family life in the 1990’s was the year we all celebrated Christmas at my mom’s house. I don’t think Jacques was born yet, but every member of our family was present. Usually there would be someone missing from a holiday, but that Christmas, each and every one of us was present. All nineteen of us, under one roof. And yes, one bathroom. That was a hell of a holiday. My mother was so damn happy. We sang songs, ate Christmas dinner, opened gifts, it was every holiday movie rolled into one, much to my mother’s delight. There were people sleeping in every room. Mother had the kids make Christmas lists for her and then she purchased every single item on the list. She said she needed to spoil them while she could.
In the last three years of the 1990’s, Mother’s health really deteriorated. She had a new tumor and we found that the cancer was active again and had spread to her brain. She was 69 years old and was coming up on a big birthday. By the new decade, she would be turning 70 years old. I had another great brainstorm…we should throw Momma a big bash for her birthday. It was going to be a surprise party and I had her invitations designed. Unfortunately, the party was never meant to be.
The turn of the new century was kind of weird. Everyone thought that the whole Y2K thing was real, that at midnight, all of our computers would explode, that the internet would self-destruct and that time would stand still. It didn’t. Paul and I went to dinner on New Years Eve with Momma and Daddy at Stockton Joe’s. Then we picked up the kids and took them back home. But in a way, time did stop for us. Momma had brain surgery, trying to eradicate the cancer. It didn’t work. She and Dad had been forced to sell their home in Rancho Tehama and move back to Stockton. We spent our last Christmas together, as a family, in a small rental home here in Stockton on East Benjamin Holt Drive.
Growing up, my mother had been very particular about her Christmas Tree. She always liked a Silver Tip Christmas Tree. I went out and bought one with elegant branches and that Christmas Tree smell.
I hung all of her lovely decorations and then tinsel, strand by strand. We tried to make it the best Christmas we could. But there was a pall in the air, one that we couldn’t run from, couldn’t hide from, one that would change us forever.