Arnold Lane, Falls Church, Virginia 1984-1986



Our house on Arnold Lane was being rented by a friend of a friend when I returned to it in early June of 1984 when I realized that Richard was unable or unwilling to change his attitude. She agreed to share the house with me. She was an artist and had a son and supported herself and her child by working as a dental technician, making bridges and dentures. She also continued to sculpt, making charming sculptures of fairies in various poses, such as helping a small bird learn to fly, and catching a ride on a turtle. We got along quite well. She smoked, but she kept it to her own part of the house. Eventually she had a boyfriend stay over and I left a note asking her to avoid such things in the future. A few weeks later she decided to move to a home of her own which she could share with her boyfriend. When I asked her if they were planning to get married, she smiled and shook her head. "He's not husband material." I wondered why she would share her home with him.

I applied for a child care license, thinking it would help with several things. The money would be welcome, but Sam was my youngest child and I felt it would help to have a younger child around to help him mature. A woman came from the county child care agency to interview me. After she had toured my home and observed me with my own children she confided in me. "I have visited a lot of homes in my job and I began to think it was impossible to be a good mother. Watching you with your children has changed my mind. You don't let them break into our conversation and dominate the scene, but you look at them and let them know that if what they have to say is important, you will listen. I am happy to give you my recommendation to have a home child care, and if you ever need someone to vouch for your fitness as a mother, I would be happy to provide it." Her words reminded me of the social worker who had said something very similar a few months earlier.

My husband didn't seem to really integrate the fact that I had left him. He drove up to Virginia and planned to stay the night. I told him he could sleep on the couch. I spent the night in a space called the 'cubby', an area at the top of what had been a flight of stairs where a single mattress made a cozy place to sleep. During the night I heard Richard searching for me, going to the children's rooms and asking if I was with them. He apparently didn't know about the cubby.

The next morning he told me he was not going to be continued in his position with the Second Fleet. They criticized his lack of reports. He would be returning to his job in Virginia after working for a while on a beach house he had purchased on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk. I told him he should find a place to live once he moved back. Finally he realized that I was serious. I said we could go to counseling and consider reconciliation, but he had to take my position seriously. We ended the discussion on good terms.

I started providing day care for a one year old who refused to eat anything but yogurt and bananas, she wasn't walking, talked hardly at all, and she couldn't sleep except in complete silence. She had been cared for mainly by a series of au pair girls from Europe. It was not long before she was walking, talking, and eating like an ordinary omnivore. She could sleep through vacuuming and doorbells ringing. She had become a little person instead of a spoiled infant.

I rented out the rooms that Suzanne had used to a woman who had recently separated from her abusive husband. In our first interview she told me she was taking lithium and sometimes had 'episodes'. I felt sorry for her, knowing what abuse could do to a person's self esteem. She soon proved to be a very dependent personality and I told her it was my goal to have her move to an apartment of her own.

Richard moved back to Virginia and took a room in the home of a widow. She had signed up to take Country Western dancing with her boyfriend, but they broke up before the classes started and she asked Richard if he would to take his place as her partner. He agreed and found a significant activity that would become a dominating portion of his life in months and years to come. He joined a dance team and practiced or danced almost nightly at one event or another.

The activity provided him with an instant set of friends, along with vigorous exercise. I liked to dance and began to attend a few events with him. He felt it was his duty to keep the other women entertained, which didn't bother me since he didn't show any preference and he danced every dance, whereas I could only dance part of them before becoming winded. Eventually he moved into the house that we had purchased on Columbia Road in Annandale.

I decided that it would be better for me to return to college and get a degree instead of continuing day care. A friend of mine agreed to take care of Sam while I was at school. She had children close to Sam in age and it seemed a better way of providing him with playmates than taking care of other children in my home. The mother of the child I had tended was intent that I continue taking care of her little girl who had made such progress in my care. She offered to pay me more and find others who would be willing to pay premium prices for my services. I wasn't really tempted to continue providing daycare.

That fall I began attending classes in the college of nursing at George Mason University, planning to become a Homeopathic Practitioner in time. My friend Judy Parsons had introduced me to the alternative medicine when Tisha was a baby. It proved very useful in a variety of circumstances and I soon discovered that I had a talent for diagnosis. I used it for my family and friends, and the idea of becoming a professional practitioner appealed to me.

Meanwhile Nancy and Tisha attended Falls Church High School where they became involved in the Latin club. Nancy took a national test in French and was ranked with the top few percentile which included native speakers. In turn both Nancy and Tisha were chosen to participate on teams that represented Falls Church High in a TV show called 'It's Academic'. Mary, Lucinda, and Eliza were in Woodburn Elementary. Richard started attending Jackson Junior High. Over the years my second son had been something of an anomaly. I enjoyed his personality, his inquisitiveness and originality. On the other hand, his school career had been quite mixed. Several 'tics' which he later identified for himself as signs of autism, were demonstrated in class, such as bouncing a marble in his desk or tapping a pencil. One teacher became almost distraught when Richard refused to meet her eyes, staring instead at her eyebrows or the bridge of her nose.

Sixth grade in Virginia Beach had been a good time for Richard. His teacher was very positive about him when we had conferences. In Jackson Junior High the English and Social Studies teachers were the type of people who seemed to feel a need to be acknowledged by their students, and Richard had a knack of deflating self-important people. Earlier in the year they had called my husband and me in to meet with the school counselor and my husband volunteered to have his namesake son live with him, feeding him and supervising his homework. In later years I found that my son's resistance to being bossed resulted in several beatings. The change of household didn't do much good and the same teachers urged the counselors to have 'little' Richard placed in the school for children with mental health problems. Although most of his teachers were surprised by the recommendation, the two teachers made an impassioned plea that he be given 'the help he needs' and he was transferred to the Burke Center where much of the staff was composed of psychologists and social workers.

Meanwhile I was seeing Bishop Simpson, a LDS Social Services counselor with my husband to see if we could reconcile our marriage. There seemed to be some slight progress and I began to have hope that our marriage could survive. Then brother Simpson told us that he had knowledge of a plan to put our son in the state hospital, after removing him from our custody unless my husband and I agreed to family therapy with someone the Burke Center selected. Richard replied that he would not submit himself to outside counseling. I was appalled that he would apparently rather put our son in jeopardy of being locked away than enter counseling.

I acted immediately, contacting my sister Katie in Salt Lake and arranging to fly my son out to Utah to live with her. She found a school for him, Realms of Inquiry, a private school that had an excellent reputation for graduating college bound seniors but had a different approach to education. After interviewing my second son, the headmaster said he saw no reason Richard couldn't attend the school.

We continued counseling with Bishop Simpson and I decided it was time to try living with my husband again. He had given me a Honda Accord to drive to college and seemed willing to manage his angry outbursts which had been the cause of my decision to separate. Perhaps I was also trying to find a way to ensure that my renter had no excuse to continue living with us. She had become somewhat oppressive in her dependence. When I told her I was getting back together with my husband and it was time for her to find another place to live she protested that she wanted to live with me from then on. Perhaps I took a coward's way of moving her along. My husband and I had a sort of honeymoon period when we began to live together once again. I would go to dances with him, including a major competition in Tennessee. We tried at first to keep to the guidelines established in the counseling, but old habits returned. Richard expended a lot of energy dancing at first, but gradually he stopped going to so many dances and began to rage again.

When my second semester at George Mason ended, I drove to Utah with my youngest son, Sam. It was delightful to spend the time with him, even though he required frequent rest-stops. His clear young voice joined mine in singing 'Valderi, Valdera," and other songs as we drove on Interstate 70 and Route 6 to Utah. When we reached Salt Lake City I found that my son Richard was thriving at "Realms". On the other hand, I was concerned that although Katie had provided him with the opportunity to attend a wonderful school and escape the threat of a mental institution, his religious training was at a standstill. He was coming close to the age of receiving the Aaronic Priesthood and I knew that although I couldn't take him back to Virginia, I wanted to have him part of our family again. The promises my husband Richard made when we reconciled had been forgotten or ignored and life got more difficult as his rages returned.

I decided that I would move to our farm in Lehi in the fall of 1986 in time for the school year to begin. It would mean that my son Richard could both continue with school at Realms and stay with our family. I told my husband that I needed a different car than the sporty Accord we had purchased when I started going to George Mason. We went shopping and purchased a used Toyota Van. It was 'barebones' but we found seats for the back at a salvage yard.

Nancy would be attending the Y as a freshman in the fall. She had been active in Latin activities in High School and had done as well as her older brother and sister on the SAT exam, being named a Merit Finalist. Her friend, Alana, was also planning to go to the BYU.

Meg returned from her mission to Italy and was living in the cottage at Columbia Road. My daughter Tisha was reluctant to move to Utah and leave her close friends at Falls Church High. We arranged that Tisha would move to Meg's house and stay there for the school year before we set out for the west in a caravan of two cars. Richard came along to help me get settled in the farm house before returning to Virginia.