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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: November 14, 2020      Views: 64
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BethShelby is retired from the printing and commercial art field. She is married and has four children and three grandchildren. She and her husband presently live in Tennessee.

Painting, photography, and writing are her passion. She has ha - more...

She is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #6 spot on the rankings.

She is an accomplished poet and is currently at the #39 spot on this years rankings.

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Chapter 78 of the book Remembering Yesterday
What it's like to be a parent long-distance.
"Long Distance Parenting" by BethShelby

For new readers, who may not have read my author notes, this is written in a conversational way as I talk to my deceased husband. When I refer to someone just as "you" this means I am addressing my husband, Evan.

Our house seemed strangely empty when three of our children were away at school. We missed them terribly, and I know Connie felt the loss as well. She especially missed Carol, who had always welcomed her into her room and read stories to her.

I felt the need to talk to them often. I called Carol every week, and she gave upbeat reports about  everything. She always seemed glad to hear from us, but knowing her the way I did, I knew she wouldn’t want to have us worry about her, since we were so far away. She was the only one of our children who wouldn’t tell us if anything was wrong. So in spite of assurances to the contrary, I was never quite convinced that I was getting the whole story.

The twins would quickly tell us if anything was bothering them. Usually, it was a need for more money for one thing or another, like a new suit or long dress for campus banquets. Both of the twins had signed up for gymnastics. After a few weeks there would be tryouts, and they were hoping they would make the team. The twins had also been accepted as members of the school chorus. Both of those activities would involve trips away from school, where they would be required to pay their own way.

Christi had changed roommates. She was now rooming with a senior student, named Michele. Her original roommate, who went by the nickname "Sunshine," was too bubbly and needed to be rooming with someone in her own freshman class. Christi had already been scolded by the supervisor of her on-campus job for being late for work. 

Another problem was that Christi wasn't happy with her nose. She was the only one of the three older kids who hadn’t gotten cosmetic surgery on her nose, and now she was wearing a clothespin on it at night, hoping she could make it turn up.  I have no idea how a clothespin was supposed to help. That sounded painful, but someone had suggested that she try it.  I thought her nose was perfectly fine, but you told her to wait until the Christmas break, and she could have the surgery if she wanted it that much.

A couple of weeks after we left the twins at school, there was a mother/daughter banquet, and I had to make a trip to attend that. The school staff suggested matching dresses because pictures would be made. I settled for matching colors and bought a suit that matched the colors of one of Christi’s long dresses.

Don already had a girlfriend, whose name was Ce-Ce. He liked his roommate, Milton, who was a preacher’s kid. The two of them had decided they didn’t like the twin beds in their room, and had managed to get permission to build bunk beds for their room. Don didn’t like the dean. The man was keeping an eye on him and Ce-Ce, and had scolded him, because he felt that Don was being too friendly with her. Holding hands and kissing were frowned on. He told them that touching wasn’t appropriate on a Christian campus.

In late September, we got a call from the boys' dean. He said Don had suffered an injury and was being taken to a hospital in Hattiesburg. He told us it looked like Don might have broken his hand, and we needed to come and get him. We didn’t waste any time getting on the road. When we arrived at the hospital, Don was sitting on a bed in the emergency room with a large cast that covered his hand and his arm up to his elbow. The dean seemed apologetic, but he didn’t give us any details, other than to say we should take him home and bring him back the following Monday for classes.

On the way home, Don told us the story. There was a student banquet planned for Saturday night. Don and Ce-Ce had a date, but Ce-Ce wasn’t feeling good and was in her dorm room. Don wanted to see her but the girls’ dorm was off limits for boys, except during certain hours and only then, in the lobby. Don had asked another girl to get Ce-Ce to come to the side door so he could see her.

The dean was watching and he told Don that he and Ce-Ce were dis-socialized, which meant they were not to see each other for six weeks. Don was so angry that he went straight to his dorm room which had a metal door. He drew back his fist and hit the door with all his strength. I’m sure the dorm door was a surrogate for the dean. He broke three fingers and several bones in his hand.

We were pretty upset with him, but it did seem the punishment for seeing a sick friend was a little harsh. It wasn’t a cheap lesson. He had the pain and broken hand, but we were the ones who had to pay the hospital and make two trips to the school. I have no idea how Don was able to continue his gymnastic training, but he did, and when tryouts came around he and Christi were both on the team. This meant they had to have the proper teamwear for the sport plus traveling money for the trips the team made to other schools to put on shows and go to competitions.

Don was supposed to wear the cast for six weeks. Instead of going back to the doctor to have it removed after two and a half weeks, he went to the campus metal shop and cut it off himself. The twins were still just sixteen. We wondered if we would survive until they grew up.

We were trying to spend more time with Connie. It was hard to keep her at home because she preferred playing with friends.  We rode bikes with her and took her on walks over by the levee. First grade was going along okay as far as we could tell, but she occasionally brought home frowny faces for talking too much in class. She complained that her teacher didn't like her. She probably thought that because she was being scolded for talking. We went to the school on parents night, and her teacher didn't have anything bad to report.
We also had more time for each other now. For a while when you wanted to talk about our country property, you talked to Carol, because she would listen without expressing an opinion. Now that Carol was no longer here, you turned to me again, even though you knew that I didn’t want to move there. Since our expenses were so much more now with the children in expensive schools, you realized that now was not the time to think about leaving our jobs and moving back. I knew you were frustrated, but it would be a while before our children were on their own. We wanted them to have an education. That meant sacrificing some of our own wants and needs for them.

My job, which had gone along well for some time, was starting to get on my nerves. The company had grown, and they had moved to a new building out of the Metairie area. One of the new employees was making my work days unpleasant, and I was tired of coming home worn out from excessive overtime. I found another job in a smaller shop where the people were friendlier and the pace was less hectic. Here I would have an opportunity to do more art work, so once again, I changed jobs. This company was called Christian Print Shop.  I thought at least the language used by the employees would be cleaner. The owner’s son, who worked there as a negative stripper and plate-maker, was a lay preacher for the Assembly of God Church.

In National news, Ronald Reagan, long time actor and former governor of California had just announced that he would be running in the 1980 election as a Republican against our current president, Jimmy Carter a Democrat.


The book continues with The Family Together Again. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I'm continuing to recall memories of life with my deceased husband, Evan, as if I am talking aloud to him. I'm doing this because I want my children to know us as we knew each other and not just as their parents.
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