My parents took me to San Francisco where my eyes were operated on. That kind of thing was not common back then. I came home, and my mom told me I would never see. I told her after a while that I could see shapes and colors, but she said I was just imagining it. I was right, though, and I gained some of my sight back. The doctors were happy but told me it probably wouldn't last, and now here I am finding life hard because I can't see so good.
I had to wear glasses, and they were thick like Coke bottles. One boy at our school in Morris Ravine was from Oklahoma. He was bigger and older than me, and he kept calling me Four-Eyes. He just wouldn't stop, so I clobbered him and he never called me that again. I was just a tiny thing, too. Remember, when I married at twenty-six, I was just five feet tall and ninety-eight pounds.
My dad would take some of the greens that he fed the rabbits he raised and take them and other food down to the tents so the people would have greens and wouldn't get the gout. He chopped firewood for the school to keep it warm. It had a pot-bellied stove, and every morning the teacher would start her day by putting on a pot of beans that was part of our lunch. Dad also brought gravel to put in front of the school so the kids could play outside on rainy days and not get muddy.
I never drove, even though I took the written test and got a one hundred percent. My eyes were just too bad. I liked to draw, though, and was good, and I liked to sew. After graduating, I became a Practical Nurse. You had to take a test to get a certificate from the state of California. Years later, Dr. Boom sat me down and just chewed me out because I didn't become a Registered Nurse. I just raised you kids, though, and now I'm too old and my eyes are bad. I'm eighty-eight years old now and too old to go back to nursing. I just can't see.
I worked as a nurse during World War II in the county hospital. I did a lot of different things, but my favorite was working with the babies. That's where I learned everything I needed to know to take care of you kids. I always made sure you got your shots, too.
There were babies who came to us all dirty and uncared for. Back then, there were still parents who weren't good and didn't care or who didn't know any better. We took care of them all. I was still working there when I met your dad. The other nurses gave me a ride to work, since I couldn't drive. All you kids were delivered by Dr. Craviotta, a woman doctor. There weren't many of them back then.
Now my eyes are getting worse and worse, just like the doctors said. I'd be able to do a lot more if I could see better. There are things I can't do that I used to. You just have to keep doing what you can, though, and not give up. I do a lot by touch.
It's sad getting old, but I keep doing things. I've worked all my life. My parents adopted me by paying a man from the state who came around with kids in a wagon. It was a lot different back then. They were my parents, though. They loved me and cared for me. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had more than some. We shared what we had to help others get by.
That's what people did back then, and that's how I tried to raise you kids. It's a different world now. People seem to always be going a lot faster and don't take time to rest. Some things don't change, though, and those are the things I tried to teach you.
Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved