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  • Writer's picturescamden8

The In-Between Sandwich...114 Days

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

Life is often like a sandwich with a lot of in-between moments and seasons. After all, aren't sandwiches typically eaten for the in-between meal we commonly refer to as lunch? In terms of my life, imagery such as the following comes to mind: a loaded sandwich like that of those ordered at the local Subway restaurant. There is the slice of bread on each side with the meaty events in the middle. Those life events can be described with the colloquial ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly,’ or with more contemporary everyday language that I refuse to let cross my lips or enter my mind. I do believe these 114 days were the most significant of my entire life, to include that of having four children and the nine months either endured or enjoyed until each of my newborn babies arrived.

Here is my life sandwich. August 13,1965 was the first slice of bread. December 5,1965 was the second slice of bread. White, wheat, or grain bread does not alter the journey or outcome, so select your bread of choice. Yes, I realize these are dates and not literal pieces of scrumptious bread, nonetheless, they are significant dates which transformed my life forever. Furthermore, and according to my elementary math, one must count to 114 to journey from one date to the next. Now to the in-between meat as I recall quite literally. We can all agree that sandwich meat varies in terms of a person's preference; turkey, bologna, beef, ham, and the list of these choices could go on and on. For me, however, I will choose turkey. The meat in this sad-but-true story is what really matters, or at least for me it does; and perhaps you will be picky about your sandwich meat as well if you have experienced a similar twist of life events.

First, my Daddy was now a single parent and he desperately needed to provide care for his two young children while at work. His schedule varied as a college professor, so to that dilemma the situation demanded someone to live in our home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We needed someone who at least liked children, and incredibly young children. Someone who could cook, clean, do laundry, and drive when necessary. That would be vastly different, as Mother did not drive; that is another story, albeit a funny caveat for down the road.

Daddy really looked to my paternal grandmother, his mother, for guidance and assistance in locating a single young woman to move in with us. She was happy to help, yet my grandmother, always called “Grandma,” lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, approximately six hours from Waco. Nonetheless, she would do anything for my Daddy, her favorite child; youngest child; only son. Grandma went on the search and interviewed several potential candidates. So, Grandma and Daddy agreed to hire ‘Nanny’ number one. What experience this nanny had I honestly cannot recall. She traveled from the Tulsa area to Waco and moved in. I vaguely recall what she looked like, and do not remember her name. She claimed to be from Ohio and during her short tenure with us I fail to remember any warm-fuzzies or loving playful moments with her. She was not “Mary Poppins” with a “spoonful of sugar,” now that is for sure; but Daddy was not Mr. Banks either. Yet what I do remember is that she could NOT cook at all. We were so accustomed to Mother’s wonderful southern style home cooking. One specific supper meal does come to mind, however. The reserved soft-spoken and sometimes rude nanny prepared and served supper, and there was Daddy and I looking at each other shaking our heads. It tasted awful. The main course was like a meat ball, yet was ever so dry, hard, and without any flavor. I do not believe any brand of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce or butter would have fixed this main entrée. I vividly recall Daddy saying, “she sure can’t cook like your Mother.” Oh my, was Daddy ever speaking the truth!

So back to Tulsa nanny number one returns by Daddy's request, and Daddy turns back to Grandma as he knew nanny number two would need to be located very soon. On the search Grandma goes reading every newspaper and calling every agency in the Tulsa phone book. This time Daddy decided to take me and my baby brother to Tulsa to be involved with the final interview process. I vividly recall walking into this potential nanny’s home. She was beautiful, young, blonde, and so exceptionally talented. Her name was Jozette. She sat down at her piano and played gospel music and sang every word and note to absolute perfection, or at least from my child’s ear that is what I thought and heard. I do recall my Grandma telling us before we met Jozette that she was from an Assembly of God church background, so church matters would not be an issue. She also drove a car so we would be able to go places when Daddy was working. From a little girl's perspective, this seemed to be a perfect interview, and she was a perfect candidate. Yet I do not recall anyone asking for my opinion when Daddy made the final decision to hire her. I remember feeling a little bit excited, thinking that she might come home with us, and that she did. I liked her most because she could play the piano and sing like an angel. Nanny number two accepted the position and took on the daunting task of two very young bright children who were curious about everything. Jozette packed her bags and traveled home with us to Waco, with the four of us leaving Tulsa in the rear-view mirror; thank goodness. I was ready to go home and be there before school started after Labor Day. Second grade was important, and I was going to start my first year of piano lessons. I just wanted everything to calm down and somehow normalize like it was before Mother passed away.

Jozette was affectionate, attentive, could cook, did laundry, folded clothes, cleaned the house, played with both me and my baby brother, and attended church gladly at 18th & Pine Assembly of God. She could even braid my long hair like Mother. Gosh, was this real? Could we be some sort of a family again with a normal life? Our pastor and his wife both loved her too. Jozette was just easy to love. She became involved with the church and sang in the choir. Daddy even purchased a second car for her to drive so that would free him up to be less distracted with taking me and my brother to the park, to church, or to a movie if we spontaneously wanted to go.

Daddy was still a ‘daddy,’ and I was still ‘Daddy’s little girl.’ Yet he was under such incredible pressure to publish or perish at the university, plus teach classes. We must have missed Mother, but I know Daddy did not have time to grieve her passing, nor do I recall any real time of sadness expressed. Stress, and the daily demands of life did not allow him the luxury of just taking a few deep breaths and spending time alone with his children in the grief process. Children as young as my brother and I certainly did not know how to grieve. Yet, Daddy was not on vacation in any regard. He had two small children, and a brand-new career that provided for our family. Like all fathers, Daddy had to work, pure and simple. At this point the meat to my life-sandwich, however, was okay; not perfect, but still okay.

As an adult, and according to what Daddy shared, the Baylor University faculty gossiped about Daddy hiring a young live-in nanny to provide care for his children. He began to experience stress and profound embarrassment. He was being accused of living with another woman; of having an affair with a young blonde. Oh, my goodness! To hear this and all the while be teaching at a Southern Baptist university made life miserable for Daddy. He felt trapped. He was single, and with two young children. What was he to do? Gosh, I sure could not tell him, even if I had I wanted to. Yet a graduate student in one of his night classes had an aunt who had been a widow for about nine months. So hang on, for the ride is about to begin and the sandwich entirely spoiled or eaten; I will let you decide.

For now, let's agree that a lot has occurred in a very short period of time. No grieving. No mourning. No tears. But there is one thing we might certainly agree on, and that is this: I had to be smart to get through all of what was like a rollercoaster, and I have never enjoyed them in any regard. I was told by Mother's sister, my "Little Annie," that I often said when I was three to four years of age that "I was smart." Well, thank goodness for that; otherwise, I am not sure where I would be right now. Talk soon! ~Sonja


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