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Early morning silence,

Colorado summer morning.

Into the Black Forest,

The Blue Heeler at my knee.

A wise being behind those animal eyes.

He quietly watches the squirrels,

The deer, the fox,

Not a sound.

Deeper and deeper,

Into quiet we go.

The sun rises warm,

And the children come,

Running and squealing.

Then, he barks and chases and runs

And laughs.



Soon, another trip, another house, another glorious four days in Colorado. Peg and I sat on her upper deck watching the clouds form and dissolve over Pike’s Peak and the surrounding mountains. There was cool air and bright sunshine with showers each afternoon.

I slept under blankets at night and snuggled with Amy and Paula. They were getting so tall and slim. Paula, prissy and girlish, Amy smiling and happy. She can run almost as straight and sure as her sister now. A new therapist has performed Myo Fascial Release and the inward rotation of the hips, knees and feet from her cerebral palsy is diminished. A lovely sight watching her run up a long hill to me as quick and sure as any five-year-old, laughing all the way. She and I had long conversations full of complete sentences and understanding. Peggy has always said Amy would go to college. How far can she go?

My beloved Scott, scowling with his pale blue eyes, still loving and sensitive, but cross and irritable, complaining.

Paula, PaPa and I went to Denver Sunday night to have dinner with Randy. Paula was a quiet but self-assured little girl. We were eating outside on the patio when a sudden shower drove us inside. We grabbed food and drink and took a table out of the rain and in the scramble, Randy knocked the remainder of a drink into PaPa’s lap. We had a lot of laughs.



By the time Anna and David finally gave in and chose adoption, we had two five-year-old boys, three-year-old twin boys, three-year-old twin girls and Mike’s three-year-old Dominee.  Anna and David invited me to go with them to the hospital to pick up their newborn baby boy John. At last, their very own little boy. When the nurse brought him into the room, joy overwhelmed Anna. David stepped forward and took John in his arms. He drank in the essence of that tiny being, kissed his head of coal black hair and quickly handed him to his mother. I felt so honored to be part of that beginning. Within a year, Anna was pregnant.

Wanting to show her son to her sister Peggy, Anna and I drove the fifteen hours to Peg’s house in Denver when John was about eighteen months old. John did not travel well so we had planned to drive mostly at night while he slept. Before dark as we were entertaining him, one of us would drive and the other would read to or sing with him. He was fascinated by the many big eighteen wheelers whizzing by. “Big Tuck,” he would chant. We chanted “Big Tuck” so many times over his first three years on the road it is still a part of our family’s vocabulary with adults driving down the highway announcing, “Big Tuck” as one of those behemoths roars by.

On that trip when John was finally fast asleep, we were eager to get to Pueblo, we were running low on gas. It was late, past midnight, and very dark. We had driven that road so many times we knew we should be getting close, but still the road rolled on into the dark hour after hour.

“We should be getting into Pueblo’s city limits by now,” I said.

“I know, it had better show soon or we will be driving on fumes,” Anna replied.

We began to peer into the darkness to see how wide the shoulder was in the event we ran out of gas and had to pull over and realized we were no longer on a four-lane highway. What tha - - - -? We had not come to an intersection where we could have turned off I-25. 

“Should we turn back?” Anna asked.

“No, we certainly don’t have enough gas to go back.”

“If we have to pull over, how long would it be before someone comes by to help on this road?”

We continued to drive as the gas gauge needle hit bottom.

“What’s that?” I soon cried.

“It’s a light. Thank God,” Anna said.

As we neared, we could see within that circle of light there before us, a little old service station with one gas pump. It was a very old gas pump, one with the glass top. Seated by the door of the tiny station was an old man in overalls with his chair tipped up in front leaning back against the wall and beside him lay a skinny brown hound dog, its long ears dragging the ground. It looked up at us as we drove in but did not attempt to rise. The old man did and walked to our van and began to open the gas tank. We got out and Anna said, “Boy, are we glad to see you. We are out of gas.”

I asked, “Where are we?”

The old man just smiled and continued to fill our van with gas. We checked on John, used the restroom and asked the man how much we owed him. He gave us such a low number we asked if he had filled us up. He nodded yes and we paid him. I asked him again where we were and he simply pointed to the road and said, “You’ll get there.” We got into the van and drove back out into the night. Within the hour we drove into Pueblo.

We poured over road maps later finding no explanation. No clue where that was.


Baby John was a mama’s boy. He would have nothing to do with others. When he was about three months old his mom and dad had a function to go to and ask me to keep him. He began to scream when Anna handed him to me. He did not wait until they were gone. Robert was there and tried to calm him, I tried to calm him, nope. He would throw his head back, bow his back and scream. If he paused a nano second to take a breath, I would put him down to see if he might prefer that. Nope. That poor child screamed for two hours. Terrible experience.



While I was getting ready for bed August 8, 1988, my phone rang. I sat down on the edge of the bed to answer. My son Mike said, “Daddy’s dead.” His voice broke.

“Oh my god Mike,” my voice broke.

 He sobbed and said, “I’ll call you back.”

I sat down on the edge of the bed in the dark. The light on the bedside table spilled a pool of yellow light across the phone and my lap. My heart was pounding. Mike called back immediately, his voice in control. “He died this afternoon of a heat stroke. He was mowing the lawn and came in with a headache to get a drink and convulsed and died.”

“OH Mike, I can’t believe it. So young. I’m so sorry Mike.  Was this at his wife’s house?”

“Yes, I’ll get back with you tomorrow when I know more about what happened and what arrangements are to be made.”

As we hung up, I felt Joe’s presence in the room. Do our minds just create these things? We know nothing about what happens to that spark of life, that energy field that fuels our brain and heart, that breathing life flow that disappears and leaves the body to turn to dust. I felt Joe’s presence so strongly but would I have suddenly felt that had Mike not called? Probably not, so what was this feeling?

How could he be gone? So many years we were together. It was hard to remember that life. I had wanted so desperately to make him happy and felt guilty that I failed.. He seemed so empty. Did it seem that way to him?

I chose not to speak out loud. Talking to the corner of that dark room while I sat on the bed seemed a little ridiculous but Joe seemed so real to me. We just sat there. I finally thought, “You can go. It will be all right. It’s OK. You can go,” and he did.

Without the phone call, would I have sensed Joe’s presence? Our minds are capable of more than we utilize, yes, but our minds and emotions also play games with us. Or is it the other way round? 

My thoughts raced to Cris. She and her daddy had been close. Joe had taken on the management of a fish market before the divorce and Cris worked with him weekends. They forged a close bond. All of his children loved their daddy, but Cris might hurt the most. ?

Joe had not wanted the divorce and had called me daily for months after I moved out. He would ask to see me and I joined him for dinner at his apartment a few times. We had parceled out the cars and belongings and put the house on the market. When it sold, we paid off all debts and split the remaining paltry sum. After that, we included him in all family gatherings, birthdays and holidays. He eventually married and was living in his wife’s house when he died.

I don’t remember who told me this story, but I understood that this wife had asked him to leave because the marriage just wasn’t working out and he, not wanting to go, rushed out into the horrible Texas heat to mow the lawn to prove that it was good to have him around. Adult life, it seemed to me, was never what Joe thought it would be. I think he died of a broken heart.



Kimila Diane, the ninth grandchild, was born on a cloudy, blustery day. I received a call in Ft. Worth from my son-in-law, David, in Waco where they were living.

“We’re at the hospital Mom.”

 I’m on my way.”


I drive through the lashing rain.

Gray clouds sit atop my car.

I pass a small airport.

The planes are twisted and crushed.

An 18-wheeler lies on its side, wheels spinning.

Has a tornado just passed in front of me?

Low, thick clouds cover the windows and sit on my hood.

I drive hard and fast.

Waco is flooded.

Policeman helps me find my way to the hospital.

What kind of energy is entering this world in this storm?


I remember another birth.

Two little bodies,

So fragile.

Big eyes unaware.

Hardly any cries.

They tell us we can hold them.

I’m sure their bones will break.

Amy has tubes.

Is everything all right?

“Well maybe,

Early, but fully formed.

Twin Paula so tiny.

Everything will be all right.


Six weeks before

Twin boys.

Big, healthy Andy and Reese

Ten weeks before,

Beautiful baby girl


Population explosion!

Family explosion!



Randy, working for Frontier, was eventually moved from Salt Lake to Denver and Mike, suffering from a painful divorce, followed a few years later.

Through the years during holidays and vacations the long drives continued. We took as many cousins as could go and would all pile into Peg’s big house for five or six days. We skied and inner-tubed in the snow in winter and hiked and climbed and camped out in the summer.

Peg’s house had a big empty basement where the kids loved to play. Peggy’s son Scott had pulled an old mattress down there and rigged up a swing so that when you got the swing to its highest point one could jump off and onto the mattress. The children were all very close in age except Anna’s two who came later. The older kids looked out for the little ones so that no one got hurt.

One Christmas I gave all the boys buckets and paint brushes to paint the house with water. I gave them locks and chains and a hammer and nails and a two by four. The girls each had a suit box full of Goodwill petticoats, Jewelry, lacy slips, high heels and makeup.

Another Christmas when everyone was younger, they each got a box of red plastic cups for stacking and tennis balls to knock them over. Also in the box were rolls of toilet paper to decorate the house with and soap bubbles and the stuff to make those big plastic bubbles.  

When we were all together and bedtime came, all the girls wanted to sleep with Gran. I spent many a night in a twin bed with three five-year-old girls and Kimila all snuggled and giggling together. I knew I was the luckiest person in the whole wide world.



I arrived at the Plano office one morning to be met by the salesman. No one else was there. He handed me a final pay check and said the owner was closing the office and going out of business.

I was stunned. I sat in my car thinking, “Now just be calm, go right to the 7 to 11 and get a newspaper and start checking job openings.” I drove home with the paper. Nothing in the ads. I was so upset I could hardly breath. 

“Get a grip. If you have ever needed to use those meditation skills, it is now.”

I sat for a while and calmed myself until I could meditate. I sat relaxed in that chair in the quiet. I could hear cars passing in the street as minutes moved slowly by. The name of one of the customers I had done business with for years, a company that did AV rentals, massive rentals across the U.S., marched through my head. They were people I really liked and respected. I walked to the phone and called Tom Alford.

“Barbara Dunton here Tom. Schoolhouse AV has closed down. I’m looking for a job. Thought I would check to see if you have anything open.”

“I don’t. I don’t have anything. We are fully staffed.”

“Had to give it a try Tom. Let me give you my number. If you hear of anything I would appreciate a call.”

“Hold on, we’re starting up a sales department. My brother-in-law is running that, but I just won’t have the budget to hire more help for a few more months.” Long pause. “Why don’t you come in to see me in the morning?”

Well of course I got off that phone trying not to get too excited but very hopeful.

All they had to offer the next morning was a few weeks of invoicing. Brother-in-law Tom had said that he just could not keep up with hiring salesmen and ordering inventory and getting the invoicing done. I went in and cleaned up the back-log of invoicing and Tom, the brother-in-law, begged Tom Alford to keep me on.

“I need her.”

Tom A. asked how long I could hang on without a salary. “I can hire you in six months, but not now.”

“Tom, my friend Robert Lee and his son and daughter are in Florida working as insurance adjusters.” Hurricane Andrew had hit Homestead, one of the deadliest hurricanes in history. “They are begging me to come out to help. I will go out there for two or three weeks or as long as the work holds out, then, could you put me back to work at minimum wage until we could negotiate a salary in six months?”

“Done,” Tom said as he stood and stuck out his hand.

As I flew toward Miami Airport, I was stricken by the damage below. Everything was flat where the hurricane had roared onto land. Robert, his daughter Roxanne and his son Richard, had rented one of the houses still standing just outside Homestead and I moved in. They had more work than they could keep up with even though they were working from daylight to dusk. I assisted Robert with the paperwork so that he could evaluate more claims. We worked hard for three weeks, I made a little money and we managed to enjoy our evenings. Roxanne was an excellent cook and the wine flowed.

I had been back from Florida for only two months, slogging out invoices at Alford’s, when Tom the son-in-law told Tom A that he hated what he was doing. He wanted to go back to rentals, to work there instead of the new sales department. The rental department was exciting and fast moving. Alfords would load up a couple of eighteen wheelers to take everything needed for a huge convention or training event anywhere in the U. S. Large corporations, GE or Este Lauder, would hire Alford’s to provide all sound, internet and TV technology for their yearly meetings. The sales department sold and installed the monster video and sound systems for athletic fields and designed and installed the training/meeting rooms for those same corporations, but that did not have the pressure, performance and travel required in rentals.

“I want back in rentals Tom, let Barb take over. She can do it. You know that’s what she’s done for years, manage branch offices.” And so it was done.


I left my beautiful little house on the lake in Plano, the landlord had decided to hire another grounds keeper and needed my house. Alice invited me to stay with her in her apartment in Dallas while I looked for a place to live. We cooked evening meals and sat by the pool on weekends. I soon found a lovely, roomy, second story apartment, full of light, in Bedford, Texas in order to be closer to work. The two-bedroom apartment was in a very nice part of town, half way between Ft. Worth and Dallas. I donned headphones each Sunday morning and walked and ran for a mile before breakfast to my favorite Billy Joe Walker guitar music. Being closer than Plano my women friends came to dinner once a month and Robert and I saw one another often and were still flying here and there frequently.

My family was growing and thriving. Robert and I were traveling, skiing and seeing more and more of one another. The amazing things my women friends and I were learning and experiencing together were very powerful for me. Learning to meditate (It took me two years.) was a life changing tool. My understanding of how to deal with the uncertainly of why we are here and what this life is all about gave me comfort.

Then the phone call. My father had had a stroke. He was visiting Anna in the small town where they currently lived.

“Mother, he won’t see a doctor, his face is drooping and his hand and arm are bothering him. What should we do?” He refused to see a doctor until home in Ft. Worth. When I entered his room at the hospital, he reached out and grabbed my hand. He was heavily sedated and hooked up to monitors and fluids and was of course, very upset. We talked until he could calm down a little. He explained in detail what he had felt and what had happened to him. I told him repeatedly that we would get test results tomorrow and talk to his doctor. I insisted that he looked good. “Your color is good and you seem very alert and aware. I think you are going to be fine.”

I stayed until he was calm enough to begin dosing off. I assured him that I would be back early the next morning to find his doctor and get a report on his condition.

The next morning, he was his normal reserved, aloof self. He had no memory of the night before. Thankfully, it was obvious that the stroke had not affected his thinking or speech at all, but it had left the function of his left arm and leg diminished. 

The following morning the hospital announced he was ready to go home.

“Uh, no! He can’t even walk, he lives alone. He cannot go home. Family members work. We have no one to stay with him. He cannot go home.” I insisted.

“He is Medicare. Medicare will not cover expenses past two days,” they sympathized.

After much discussion with more than one official, they found a way to keep him and with Medicare coverage. He was transferred to another floor and therapy was started at once. During his stay in the hospital and later in rehab after he was released, he was upbeat and worked hard. He did everything asked of him, painful or not. He was determined to recover as much use of his arm and leg as possible and worked diligently at therapy and home exercises. I had to go to work each day so, with a walker at first and then a cane, he rode the bus for seniors to the hospital no matter the weather, for his therapy. Besides, he really liked the pretty nurses and therapists who fussed over him.

He could no longer drive of course and selling his car, his independence, was so very hard. He stood on the curb, leaning on his cane, and watched the new owner drive it away. The pain on his face was heartbreaking to see. He had been through so much, losing his beloved wife at such a young age, the heart attack and then the stroke. He had not become bitter or withdrawn after Mother died. He made a concerted effort to live a full life. He continued to attended his church and long before the stroke became friends with a widow and they began to go out to dinner together. He had signed up for and took a group European tour. 

After the stroke, I drove him to breakfast each Saturday morning and to get groceries and a hair-cut or any other errand he needed to run. Even as he became dependent on a wheel chair and help came to the apartment during the week, we continued our Saturday outings. I cleaned his apartment and made lunch. We went to see family often and I took him with me any time I traveled.

One of our trips was to Austin for a wedding. My daughters had been asked to serve at the wedding reception of a dear friend and I thought it would be a good opportunity for my dad and me to continue on down to San Antonio afterwards.


Out of town trip to a wedding.

A weekend out for my dad.

He no longer drives since the stroke.

Lovely wedding

In an old southern mansion

Surrounded by huge oaks,

Clipped lawns and flowers,

An elegant reception,

Lace tablecloths and curtains,

Silver service.

Late afternoon

Drove to San Antonio,

Oops, Holiday weekend!

No rooms anywhere!

Forty miles back out of town.

Dumpy motel.

Nervous father.

Pushed the bed in front of the door.

Interesting traffic all night!

Morning, found a nice hotel.

Got to the river walk early,

No crowds,Cool and lovely.

We walked slowly

With his cane.

I sketched.

Rode a river boat.

Had ice cream.

A great day.

Sunday morning mass.

An old Catholic cathedral

Surrounded by,

Dwarfed by, a great glass mall.

Families streaming in.

Little girls all in white,

Ruffles and bows,

White patent shoes.

Men and boys in suits and ties,

White starched shirts,

Hair slicked back.

Tourists in shorts and cameras.

All mixed in silence inside.

Full length stained glass windows.

Brilliant light shining through.S

parkling colors

Painting the worn wooden pews.

A powerful atmosphere of worship.

Folkloric Ballet,

Flashing production.

Late dinner by the river under the stars.

We two of aloofness and distance

In close proximity,

Forced to touch

Helping him up and down stairs.

Interacting out of necessity,

Laughing together.

What do we learn from one another?

It eludes me.

Except for the knowing

That it is important.

Most interesting of all,

During dinner,

After his long reminiscing

Regretting his life,

He asked questions about my own.

A first.

He seemed truly interested

And very surprised.

We have only known one another for 50 years.


He had to depend on me, not his favorite person, but we made the best of it. For seven years we made the best of it. His grandchildren loved and adored their PaPa and visited him often. Starting with a walker, then a cane he ultimately, through the years, had to go back to a walker and finally a wheelchair. Eventually I had someone visiting every day to help with food and meds and a bath as he became more and more diminished.  Peggy and I began checking out nursing homes. Peggy, his beloved granddaughter, had promised him over and over we would never put him in a nursing home, but we all had jobs and we had no choice. He simply needed around the clock care. The first few months after he was admitted, he would call me at 2:00 in the morning shouting, “You have to come get me. They are going to kill me.”

It was horrible, so horrible.



A couple of years after my father’s stroke, Robert and I were sitting on the couch in my apartment watching TV one night, Robert’s arm around my shoulder, the two of us as close together as we could possibly get. He always held me close, even when driving. No big console between driver and passenger then. He did not call and chat the days we were apart. We did not see one another or even talk on the phone every day, but when we were together, he could not have been more attentive. He was very affectionate and passion had remained strong through our years together.

I noticed his left leg bobbing up and down and as I began to really pay attention, I could see there was a tremor in his left hand. “What is that?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s just from the tractor thing. Nerve damage I guess.”


As time passed and the tremors worsened, I encouraged him to see a doctor.

“Hell no, those guys don’t know anything. They’re just trouble” was his reply.

The following Christmas we were at his sister’s house with her husband and their family when his six feet, two-hundred-pound brother-in-law looked Robert up and down and said, “Robert, you’ve got Parkinson’s.”

“No, way, this is just from that tractor thing.”

“No, you’ve got Parkinson’s. You need to go to the doctor.”

“Not doin’ that. This’al pass.”

The Monday morning after the holidays, that brother-in-law drove into Robert’s driveway, went inside, grabbed Robert by the collar and hauled him out to his car. He had made an appointment with his doctor for that morning and Robert didn’t say a word. He went. Parkinson’s took Robert down fast. He had waited too long to get treatment.


During that time, Jewell began to drift away from us. She was ten years older and we noticed she was a little fey occasionally. She began to think about selling her business. We still had good times together but she came around less and less. Alzheimer’s eventually took her away.

Alice started an affair which became serious and she moved in with the man. Soon after, the man put his house on the market and announced he was moving back to Washing, D.C. where his family lived. Alice followed him. I grieved.

Alice and I stayed in touch. Her situation was not the best there and she flew down one summer to see her children and spend some time with me. Alice was a very fair skinned, strawberry blond and she got off that plane with very dark brown skin and very dark brown hair.

“What on earth Alice?

Her gentleman was a Black man. They were with Black people all the time. His family, his business partners and all of their friends were Black. She said she felt so out of place she was trying to look darker. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Losing Jewel, Alice and Betty was tragic for me. I, an only child, had never, never found people I felt close to. School chums had grown apart as we grew into different types of lives. I liked people, had acquaintances, but Jewell, Alice and Betty got me, admired me, we thought alike and they went away. I grieved. The loss was profound.


One year we took David’s church bus on one of our many trips to Colorado. Anna, David, PaPa, the six Texas cousins and I made that fifteen-hour drive to Colorado. (Robert and I could make it in eleven hours, but with munchkins the potty and food stops took time.) The ten-year-old twin boys delighted in harassing their cousin Dominee.

“Gran, make them stop.”

“Guys, cut it out. This is the third time I have asked you to stop bugging Dom. One more time and I’m going to dump you out and leave you beside the road.” Yea, they were quaking.

We packed a lunch one beautiful day while we were there and drove to the Pike National Forest. After hot dogs and chips and cookies gulped down with pop, the fifteen of us took a trail up the side of the mountain rising out of the camp ground. The ten-year-old twin boys, Reese and Andy, and I were in the lead and got far ahead of the others, then, I began to feel dizzy. Altitude had never bothered me before. In fact, I usually felt better at altitude than the low lands of Texas, but before I knew it, everything went black and I was going down. I rolled onto a big boulder. Those boys freaked out. Reese rushed to my side to hold me from falling further and Andy yanked off his t-shirt and ran to the little stream running down the slope a few feet away. By the time the rest of the family came into view he had that cold wet shirt on my forehead.

David and Donnie rushed to my side and David said, “Boys, run down and get the Rangers.”

“I don’t need the Rangers, I’m just fine,” I cried as those boys ran down at breakneck speed.

“Mom, Mom, can you hear me?” says someone.

“Of course I can hear you. I’m just fine. I don’t need the Rangers.”

“Here, lay her down on the ground. Easy now.” Says David.

“No, stop that. I’m just fine,” as I pulled away from their grasps.

The Rangers arrived with stretcher in hand. “Ma’am, just stay calm,” as they took both my arms and headed me towards the stretcher.

“I do not need a stretcher. I am just fine.” I said, a little more agitated.

“Can you walk?

“Yes, I can walk.”

OK then, they took my arms and began to walk me down the mountain with me saying again, “I am just fine.”

There was no getting loose from those Ranger’s vice grips on my arms until I saw the ambulance waiting at the picnic site. I stopped dead in my tracks and sat down on one of the benches. “Listen to me! I do not need an ambulance. I am not going to a hospital. I am just fine,” I insisted as the family caught up with us. We thanked the Rangers and apologized for all the trouble. I never ate before a hike at altitude again.



A beautiful summer afternoon, 1995, found Robert and me on our way to downtown Ft. Worth to attend the big, popular, annual May Fest. We were leaving town the next morning early and decided to spend our afternoon at the festival. Live music, vendor tents of food, clothing, books, wine and Jewelry. The jugglers, clowns and small rides entertained kids and adults alike. Buses had brought loads from outer parking lots and the adjoining streets were lined with cars. Robert found a spot within walking distance, parked along the road and we joined the milling crowd. We had been there about an hour when black clouds swirled up blocking the sun and the wind picked up. Quickly, hail began to pelt as everyone ran for shelter here and there. We joined others, packed shoulder to shoulder under a sturdy pavilion. Tents and those under them were shredded. We could hear car windows shattering. People were screaming, some joining us under our shelter with blood streaming down their faces. Hail stones four inches across continued to fall. The storm was a super cell that destroyed over a wide area. We later learned that downtown glass in most office buildings was shattered and the big, all glass, multi storied bank building was destroyed.

When we could safely leave our pavilion, we, along with our fellow shivering, cold acquaintances, crunched through the ice-covered field to find Robert’s truck. Empty space. No truck. Had we forgotten where we parked? We pushed through the crowds loading onto busses or climbing into their dented and shattered cars. Robert approached the policeman directing traffic close by, the policeman that had been there when we parked.

“You remember that Chevy Silverado parked right over there? We parked late.”

“Yes sir, I do. That truck was towed. It was parked in a no parking zone.”

 “No, you are mistaken. There was no sign that said no parking when I parked there,” Robert said angrily. “You saw me park there.”

 “Sir, the car has been towed. You can go down to the lot tomorrow morning and bail it out.“

“And where is that?”

The officer gave Robert directions.

“And how am I supposed to get there? I have no truck.”

“Buses, right over there, buses are loading up. One can take you downtown where you can find a bus to take you home.”

The day was fading by then as we loaded onto a bus along with many others. Tight lipped Robert was very quiet. The bus driver directed us to another bus with transfer in hand to get us to the lot where Robert’s truck was supposed to be.

The man behind the desk at the lot was telling Robert it was too late that evening to get the car released. “Come back tomorrow.”

“No, I’m leaving town early in the morning.”

After a lengthy “discussion” the man realized he was not going to get rid of this five-foot three whirlwind without physical violence and sent a runner for the truck. He wanted to close up and go home.

‘Thatul be a hundred dollars.”

“No, there was no No Parking sign when I parked, now they might have moved it there after I parked, but it was not there when I parked.”

“You can take that up with a judge tomorrow.”

“No, I’m leaving town early in the morning.”

An hour later we drove out of the lot in the truck and Robert E. Lee had not paid a fine. The poor man just gave up so that he could go home.


As Mike’s Chuck and Dominee grew into their teens, they became less and less inclined to spend time with dad. They wanted to be with their friends. Mike and Donnie had always been good friends and Donnie had mentioned a few times that Mike should come up to Colorado and help him with his guiding and hunting business. Mike began to think about moving to Colorado and decided to drive up and spend some time with Donnie to see what they might work out. Mike and I had talked often about our love of Colorado and about his desire to live there, but he did not want to leave his children.

When Mike and Lynn divorced, Lynn’s family, the church family, that church that had been the center of every aspect of their lives, turned their back on Mike. Lynn had chosen someone else. Mike was heartbroken. As Chuck and Dominee were more and more involved in lives of their own, he felt very alone and decided to make the move. The day he was packed and ready to drive out of town, he came by my apartment to say good-by.  He was broken hearted leaving his family behind, he sat at the wheel of his van and cried. He was ready to drive away and couldn’t move. Mike continued to support his children until they were grown and drove to Texas many times each year to participate in their activities or bring them to Colorado to visit. He drove to New Mexico to pick them up after church skiing trips then drive them home to Texas after a visit and Chuck lived with him for a while during high school years. Mike stayed close and devoted to his children.

As he did drive away that day my tears were selfish, I would miss him.




Love and sorrow have come our way,

We’ve both known life - - and death.

Our hearts, grown strong, today

Are filled by joy’s great depth.


To see your devotion and your smiles

Brings warming pleasure indeed,

And traveling the future of many miles

I know you will take heed


Of pot holes of daily living,

Of mountains yet to climb,

Of taking as well as giving,

Of weathering the passage of time.


The winds of time have blown our way

Both peace and challenge day by day.

We’ve basked in one and faced the other

Drawing strength from one another.


Now comes a new exciting phase

Of other interests, other ways

To think, to live, to be, to see.




After college, Mike had worked for an oil company in Houston. His work in the field involved explosives. His supervisor was occasionally called out of town to work and Mike only knew that it was because of his knowledge of explosives. When the supervisor became ill, Mike discovered that work had been for the FBI, because they contacted Mike to replace him. Those work trips were highly classified and the jobs continued through the years even after Mike married and moved to Ft. Worth. He was sworn to secrecy and was not to tell anyone about those jobs, not even his wife. Perhaps an issue that helped lead to their divorce. When the FBI called on him, he would board a plane, fly for hours, land, often at night, set charges, complete the demolition work, get on the plane and fly home. He could not tell his wife where he was going or when he would be back. He often had no idea what he was blowing up and never knew where he was.

Mike eventually told the FBI he no longer wanted to do their work.

“I have no idea what I am blowing up. Sometimes it’s a structure, a building. Are there people in those buildings? I don’t like the mystery. I will not do that work for you anymore.” They released him with the admonition that he must never tell anyone about the work he had done.

The FBI continued to visit Mike, checking on him periodically throughout the years even after he was no longer affiliated with the oil company, even after he moved to Colorado cautioning him to tell no one of his past work for them. One sunny Colorado day they drove onto Mike’s property in their long black sedan with darkened windows. Four men in black suits on that eighty-degree day, wearing dark sun glasses, stepped out and approached the porch. Mike met them there and said, “You guys badger me about secrecy and you drive up here in broad daylight looking like that in your big black car advertising who you are? Get off my property and don’t you every contact me in any way ever again.” They never did.


Peggy and Donnie divorced; he had a wandering eye. She was living in Colorado Springs struggling to raise three teens on little child support. On one of my visits, I found her with a house full of teenagers, her own and their friends. They wanted to go camping. We borrowed a huge tent from Donnie that he used for his hunting trips and packed bedding, cooking and fun stuff into Peg’s big old four-wheel drive SUV and headed for the mountains. The kids were packed in, around and on top of stuff. We were almost to the city limits and had a flat. Of course, the spare tire was under everything.

By the time AAA got us onto four good tires again and we had everything packed back up to the roof of the car and drove into the mountains it was getting dark. We set up that huge wall tent in no time with all the good help, had dinner and piled into sleeping bags. It was a great weekend out in the wilderness.

A camping trip years before that, not too long after Mike moved to Colorado, when the children were younger, we, the Texas crew, drove up and Mike had a camping site picked out and everything we needed packed and ready. Far from civilization, we drove our multiple four-wheel drive vehicles to the top of a mountain up a very steep rutted road. The ruts were so deep, jolting almost threw me out of the jeep. We set up multiple tents and prepared dinner. As the sun began to lower toward the earth, we all sat along a steep cliff just to the west of our campground. The ten of us sat on huge boulders or hung our legs over the cliff as we watched the sun going down beyond the forest far below. As we sat there, holding the children on our laps, enjoying one another’s company, a huge black cloud began to form to the west. It grew and boiled and we could see the rain begin to fall between us and the setting sun. The cloud was moving toward us and fast. The thunder rolled and lightening flashed. We dashed to the campground and put everything under cover and fell into our tents. Peggy and I were on bedding on the floor of the ten with Amy and Paula between us. Amy removed her hearing aids but could feel the thunder through the ground and was terrified. We put the aids back in and explained what she was hearing and feeling but it didn’t help. With or without the aids she screamed and shook at each rumble until the storm was gone. That feeling coming through the earth was just not something she could deal with.



Even though the nursing home we had my father in was the best we could find and there were really good people caring for him, night crews concerned us sometimes. Peggy and I alternated surprise visits to the nursing home at all hours of the day and night throughout his stay to make sure he had the best care possible. I began to talk to my father about the possibility of us moving to Colorado when I retired. He was ecstatic, he had something to look forward to. His beloved grandchildren were there in the land he loved beyond measure. After their first vacation there when I was thirteen, a trip he took out a loan to make, he and my mother went to Colorado every summer. To cling to that plan, he counted the days to my retirement. He never made it. He died December of 1996.


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