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Thursday, September 20, 2018


Maggie and me in my library

Last month I turned eighty years old, and as the title says it isn’t all that bad. At least not for me. I’m lucky enough to still be pretty healthy except for the occasional little bit of arthritis in my knees if I sit too long, and the glaucoma in my eyes which is no big problem for me, either. I can still see well and read a lot, too. Last year I read 97 books and so far this year it’s 67 books and then there is the daily newspaper, Time magazine and Reader’s Digest, too.

Mom and Dad and my brother Jerry and me.

I was the oldest child in my family and was so lucky to have a very good family. My brother Jerry was born 16 months after I was born. Then 7 years later my sister Elaine was born followed two years later by my sister Suzanne. I was thirteen when my youngest sister Catherine was born, and oh how much I loved that little baby girl. I was already married when my baby brother, Phillip was born. He’s 21 years younger than me. My mother thought she was in menopause and surprise, surprise, along came a baby boy.

My grandma Jones on a trip they took me to Canada.
It wasn’t just my immediate family that was so good. My father was one of eleven children, the 2nd in the list of kids, and my mother was one of four in her family. We lived closest to my grandparents on my mother’s side. They lived on a farm and had given an acre to my parents to build a house on and another acre across the road for my mom’s oldest brother. So we had cousins to play with on the farm and were free to run through the fields and the woods nearby. My mom’s sister lived less than a mile away so there were more cousins to play with, too.

Cutting the wedding cake.

John, Joey, Susan and Mary

After I married Jim I eventually started having children. I had been sad every month that I wasn’t pregnant and finally a little over a year later, I had my first child, John. Joey came two years later, Susan 18 months later, and Mary 14 months later. My husband was working two jobs so I was the one who cared mostly for those children.
Every summer we went on a camping trip with my parents and siblings still living at home. I even went when I had babies. My husband had built a backpack to carry John in. In fact if he had got a patent on it we would be right now because people walking behind us on hikes all commented on it. We traveled to places all over the Eastern United States and had a wonderful time. Those were the good years.

John leaning on a backyard fence.

Then came the saddest time in my life when my seventeen year old son, John, died of cancer in at home in my arms. He had been diagnosed with it about ten months before and spent a lot of time at the Cleveland Clinic and at the doctor’s. So many people were praying for him, I was sure he would survive. John was a reader like I am. He also was an artist, played the piano and a trombone in the high school band, and what he enjoyed most was being a magician. He went to nursing homes, hospitals, children’s parties and even when he was at the Cleveland Clinic he would go to different rooms to do his magic. I still have all his magic tricks saved in the hopes that one of my grandchildren will decide to be a magician someday.

A year later I went to college for the first time. I was 42 years old and totally loved it every bit. My major was elementary education, but so many of my professors thought I should go for high school English or even plan to be a college professor. But I had been a Cub Scout leader when my sons were in Cub Scouts. Then I became a Brownie leader and stayed with them when they became Girl Scouts for twelve years. Finally, when they were seniors and busy with other things we quit Girl Scouts. 
During those years I also taught CCD at my church, too.

When I graduated from college, my son, Joe had a party for me with my parents and my other children and siblings, too. I did some substituting for a while after I graduated and then I got a Third Grade position at Hiram Elementary School. I had wanted fifth or sixth grade, but when this came up I took it, and was so happy I did. Third graders are such great kids. You don’t have to wipe their noses and they are so much fun and love their teachers. I had so much fun teaching this grade that I was so glad I got the class. Then Crestwood School District consolidated all four elementary schools into a new there were four third grades instead of two, and the new principal wasn’t fond of kids. She had us switching classes so instead of having my homeroom kids all day for all the classes, I ended up teaching science to three classes in the morning. Now I love science, but I no longer could teach math or social studies, and my language art class was only a half hour long and some of my students went to advanced classes or special ed. That class was after lunch and recess. One of the biggest problems is I didn’t have time to read to my students as much as I had done when I taught one class all day at Hiram. I had planned on retiring after twenty years, and I did without feeling too bad about it.

My daughter Sue and Megan.

Then another unhappy event happened.  My daughter Susan’s six-year-old daughter Megan died. I won’t go into all the details only that she fell and when was x-rayed sent off to the Pittsburgh hospital to the children’s ward where it was discovered she had a brain tumor and was in a coma for months before she was sent to a rehabilitation center near where we live. Eventually she regained consciousness, but she was blind and always would be. When she was going through therapy learning to walk again and they were removing her breathing trace for short periods .that led to her death eventually. She had problems breathing and the doctor wrote a note not to remove the trace, but that night the nurse either didn’t read the information or the doctor ‘s note wasn’t legible. The nurse removed it for the hour it was normally removed and she suffocated., .She was buried next to my son John.

The house I bought after Joe fixed it and added rooms on upstairs.

While I was still teaching my husband had a midlife crises and left me for another woman. We refinanced our house so I had enough money to put down on a 28 acre farm with an old house with two basement walls collapsed, a roof that leaked. But it had a barn, a large field and woods beside the house, a pond out back and another woods back there, too. I had two horses and a small flock of chickens and some peacocks. I had to sell the horses because I needed the money for fixing up the house that badly needed it inside, too, and I didn’t have money to put in the fencing for the pasture. I sold 8 acres to my son and he did a great job of fixing it up. By the way, it’s very therapeutic to take an ax to walls. J

After I retired I substituted at local schools once or twice a week. I was a little upset about rarely seeing any chapter books that the teacher should have had on his/her desk to read to the students. I usually had at least two or three chapter books I read to my students. One shortly before class started, one right their reading their own books, and one after they came in from recess. I know now a lot of the problem is teachers have to teach to the tests and they are not happy about that.

Once I retired I finally found a book club to join. I’ve been with them about twelve years now, and have also joined another book club. I also signed up for delivering Meals on Wheels every other Thursday.

I'm at a craft show selling my books which all have flowers on the covers.

And the best thing of all, I started writing my first book THE BLUE ROSE. At first one of my sisters suggested it although I had been thinking of it, and we started it together. However she lives 50 miles away so it was hard getting together, and we sort of have a different way of writing, too. So within a month I took over the writing. When I finished it I started sending out submissions to different agents. And then a Guppy whose name I can’t remember right now talked about self-publishing so I did through Create Space and have been quite content with that. I have a step-granddaughter who makes beautiful covers for me. The first book is a June book, then I wrote a July book, and on and on until I’m now working on the tenth book Daffodils in March. People ask me what I’ll do when I use up all the months of the year. Well, I’ll just start over with another June book and continue on with each month.

Jerry with a weird sense of humor. I miss him.

So I feel quite content with my life. I have my beautiful collie, Maggie, two ponies, two cats, three old hens and a rooster, and I bought a pea hen for my son’s peacock that I walk over to feed every morning. I have my old farm house that I feel quite comfortable in, and I have a house full of books upstairs and down. I have a woods to walk in, too. Yes, there have been other events that I’ve suffered. My parents died two years apart. My best friend since high school that we did so many things together with died, and nine days later my brother Jerry, who was closest in age to me died. I’ve had cousins, aunts and uncles who have died. But that’s life. Right now I have two daughters, a son-in-law, a son, six grown grandchildren including the step grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, and I’m close with my sisters, sister-in-law and brother, too.

Also, my ex-husband’s third wife died and my son brought him home several years ago to live and we bonded as friends. I had gotten over my anger within several months, and I supposed it helped that my son was remodeling the house inside and I was helping by taking an ax to the walls. That was rather therapeutic I guess.

Anyway that summer while living with my son before he died that fall, Jim bought me an expensive gift of almost $1000.00. It was a tombstone for the remaining plot in the Champion Cemetery where John and Megan are buried.. Jim was cremated and his ashes scattered both in Florida and on my son’s property where he wanted them to be spread. Now my tombstone is beside Megan’s and John’s with an epitaph I wrote on it as well as my picture. I have no intention of being buried there anytime soon. Shortly away from these three tombstones are  my parent’s grave site as well as many relatives even going back into the 1800s. I put flowers every year on my son’s,. granddaughter’s and my parents graves in memory of them.

Do you worry about dying?

What parts of your life do you remember fondly?


Paula Gail Benson said...

Gloria, you are one of the most amazing people I know. Your life is an inspiration. You ask about death. The older we are, the more we encounter it, having to say goodbye to people who have been such important parts of our lives. I think you have the right idea, to celebrate all relationships and to keep going forward, living and creating. To live hopefully is the best way to face the future. Thank you for being such a great example!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Happy Birthday to You! What a fulfilling life you lead. In recent years, four close friends have died. I think about them every day. I used one of them as a minor character.

Have another wonderful year full of friends, family, travel, and morning walks with Maggie.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Paula. You are right the older we get the more friends and family pass on. I'm fortunate that I'm still pretty healthy at least as far as I know.

Margaret, it's always sad to lose those friends. I know I really grieved for my best friend Phyllis, but then after joining two book clubs and writers groups I made new friends, too, and I'm lucky enough to have three sisters and a sister-in-law who are close friends, too.

Judy Alter said...

Gloria, congratulations on a life well lived, rich in so many ways. I turned 80 recently too and agree with you--it ain't all bad. My thirteenth mystery, Contract for Chaos, launches today--a birthday gift to my oldest daughter.

Warren Bull said...

Many Happy Returns. Congratulations on a life well lived.

Gloria Alden said...

Judy, welcome to those who are 80 years old. I'll be looking for that book because I like your books.

Thank you, Warren.

KM Rockwood said...

A beautiful look back at a full life. Happy birthday, Gloria, and I wish you many more, without the sorrowful events.

Gloria Alden said...

thank you, Kathleen. I hope I don't lose anymore family members or friends, either.

Shari Randall said...

Happy birthday, Gloria! Your positivity and energy are an inspiration to me always. We cannot control what life throws at us, but we can try to control our attitude. Yes, I've had some hard losses, we all have. It's particularly hard when friends pass. You've faced challenges and losses with grace. I hope I can do the same.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Shari. I'm sure if you have to face challenges and losses, you'll do it with grace, too.

Grace Topping said...

Happy birthday, Gloria. Sorry this is late, but we were traveling yesterday. You have had an amazing life and have touched so many people both by your daily living and through your writing. It has been a privilege knowing you. Wishing you all the best.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Grace. I was lucky most of my life except for the deaths of dear ones, but that is to be expected unless we die before the others do.