Arnold Lane, Falls Church, Virginia 1988-2000
I returned to the house on Arnold Lane in Falls Church in the late summer of 1988 with the feeling that I should do something with my new degree in anthropology. Years before I had resolved that I would focus on being a mother to my children and be there for my daughters and sons when they had children of their own, yet when Tara was born school commitments kept me from flying to Virginia until she was several weeks old. In August 1988 all of my younger children were attending school and I applied for a position with the Smithsonian. There was an opening in the display creation department, what I considered a dream job for me. Years of designing and building scenery and costumes for plays and musicals combined with my interest in science seemed an ideal preparation for the job. I heard nothing in response to my application and I took a job with an opinion research firm. I had a knack for improving the way things were done in the office and courses I had taken in statistics and demographics provided me with a good background for the work. The office manager had quit not long before I took my job and I soon realized that I was qualified to fill the position. I made a proposal to the owners which they received well. They said they would consider my ideas and let me know what they decided within a week.
Meanwhile things at home were not proceeding well. I realized that I had let myself wander from a worthwhile ideal. I had been unable to attend the birth of David and Jing's first born, Taylor, in Provo because of my work schedule. My goal of being a nurturing person above all was undermined by the seduction of being a valued employee. I recommitted to the role I had assumed more than twenty years before when I married.
I told the owners of the opinion research firm that I was withdrawing my proposal for a more responsible position and gave them two weeks notice. Our family planned a winter trip to Utah for Christmas. We had not yet met our new grandson, Taylor, and I hadn't seen Richard, Tisha, Nancy or David for several months. With Mary, Lucinda, Eliza and Sam, my husband and I drove to Utah in our Toyota Van. We met the chubby little boy who was our first grandson and attended a concert of Tisha's Institute Chorale at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.
Ironically I was contacted by the Smithsonian with a job offer at about that time. My resolve to return to being a full time mother was unshaken, but it helped me keep to my decision when I found that I would have had a daily commute that would have taken me to the other side of the beltway where the facilities were located. This would mean a two hour of commute added to an eight hour day.
My daughter Meg was going through a period of instability. She was supporting her family because her husband couldn't seem to keep a job. He also couldn't seem to take care of their little girl. I became her caretaker. Meg's family had moved out of their apartment with the expectation that they would shortly be leaving to live in Idaho while Meg did research at Lake Pend'd Oreille. The arrangements took some time and Tara and her father lived with us while waiting.
During our first school year back in Virginia, from September, 1988 through June 1989 Mary attended eighth grade at Jackson Junior High, Lucinda was in sixth grade at Woodburn Elementary where Eliza was in fourth grade. Sam was having a hard time adjusting to his teacher. I asked that he be moved to another class, but the principal declined my request.
My husband was devoting many hours to dancing. It seemed that when he wasn't at work he was dancing, usually seven nights a week with extra practices for his country western demonstration team on Saturday and Sunday.
I tried to attend some of the dances, but our children could not be left alone every night. I had to make a choice. Richard was not as oppressive now, but that was little comfort when he was hardly ever home. Needed repairs on the house and cars were ignored and I was not authorized to have them seen to by professionals.
My daughter Nancy had been attending BYU studying immunology. After some thought and prayer she decided to apply to serve a mission. She was called to the Toronto mission and began her service after the birth of her brother David's first son Taylor which she and her sister Tisha attended.
I returned to Utah in February of 1989 to fix the plumbing at Bueno and effect other renovations and repairs. My sisters were planning an Open House to celebrate my parent's fiftieth wedding anniversary and my father's Eightieth birthday. My sisters had entertained often, but almost always casually with groups of friends bringing pot luck and drinks for an evening get together. With experience in planning meals for church banquets, special events, PTA dinners and wedding receptions, I had a good idea of what to expect. Jane had put an announcement in the paper but they didn't expect more than fifty people to show up. I put the estimate nearer 150. My mother had a wide acquaintance in the art community and had been a teacher in Davis County schools for many years before her retirement. The accident that had burned both of them three years before had introduced them to many medical personnel. There were also old friends to be considered.
Jane proposed that we purchase all the food for the event through her son who worked in a food vendor warehouse, but since she had placed the ad, she expected Kate and me to buy the food. I proposed that Jane could buy some food if she doubted the quality of what we could make ourselves, but I felt that we should plan to prepare most of it. Jane was angry and dismissive of my decision but I held my ground. I realized that neither Jane nor Kate had ever dealt with the logistics of providing for as many people as I expected to respond to the open invitation in the newspaper. Catering for 50 was one thing, but the expense of a group more than three times larger was a different story.
In the midst of repairing and renovating the Bueno house, I baked a mass of mince meat flavored meatballs, made a hill of wontons, filled several platters with raw vegetable and dips and bought a lot of crackers and cheese just in case even more people came than I expected. Jane purchased some tiny quiches through Bobby. Kate provided ham and rolls. My brother Mike agreed to fund the purchase of an
On the day of the party, the house was full to overflowing. People from my parents' early marriage days in Panguitch came up from southern Utah to attend the event. Artists, nurses, doctors teachers, some of my mother's former students, people from their ward, and friends of their daughters came to congratulate them on the double achievement of fifty years of marriage and 4 decades of life for my father. There were also many who were aware that my parents had nearly died in the fiery explosion of their camper. As lines of peopl filed through the house we were finally reduced to bringing out the cheese and crackers I had brought along as reserves.
The party was a crush and both of my parents enjoyed themselves greeting old friends and more recent acquaintances. My dad particularly liked the wontons and the mince meat flavored meatballs which I invented when I couldn't find any onions in the fridge, but discovered two boxes of dehydrated mince meat in my pantry. They have been a favorite for buffet meals ever since.
My sisters had believed that my estimate of attendance was an exaggeration while we were planning, but it proved a fairly modest prediction. We hosted almost 200 people throughout the afternoon.
David graduated from BYU with a degree in Economics in 1989. He and his wife Jing decided to move to Northern Virginia with their baby Taylor where David planned to attend George Mason Law School. Jing was near to obtaining her Master's Degree in Immunology, with only her thesis to complete, and she found a job in Maryland. I drove to Utah in the summer of 1989 and helped move David's household to Virginia. My son Richard came back to Arnold Lane and began to attend Falls Church High School that fall. Mary was a freshman there and began her participation in Drama Club with a role in "The Crucible" as a West Indian witch. Lucinda entered Jackson Junior High where she made friends that remain her friends to this day. Eliza had begun to play in the band and also had a silvery singing voice. After a performance at the PTA a woman expressed her surprise that Eliza had a good voice. "Why didn't you tell me you sing so well?" Eliza was amused at the woman's surprise. After all, she was the younger sister of a number of fine singers.
When Sam was assigned to have the same teacher when school started again, I decided that something must be done. He was clearly miserable. I asked Katie if she could let him live with her while I worked on finding a way to help him have a happier school experience.
Tisha continued living at Bueno Avenue with various roommates. During one of my trips to Utah I was introduced to a friend of hers, a young man named Brad Voss. He had stopped by on his way to take flowers to another girl. I remembered him for his height, his full auburn beard, and a self-confidence that was apparent from the first.
Tisha was doing well at the U of U, managing her classes wisely to keep her scholarship. Meg had received recognition of her ability and value to the government by being rewarded with a jump to a professional grade level, with a significant increase in her salary. She was also attending school at George Mason University.
Meanwhile, her marriage was not successful. Her husband moved from job to job, usually spending more than he made. After returning from Idaho, they had purchased a home on Vellex Lane in Annandale with my husband co-signing the loan.
Meg had married someone she viewed as far different from her father the ways in which he was differed were all deficits and the ways in which they were similar were fatal to a happy marriage. Impulsive emotions, financial selfishness, and ultimately adulterous actions became a burden on both partnerships.
For some time I had suspected that my husband was doing more than dancing with his latest competition partner, but my suspicions were averted while I dealt with the immediate problems presented by Meg's situation. An auto accident left Meg bruised and subjected tiny Tara to hospitalization and the possibility of an injured spleen. Meg realized that if her child had died she felt she had nothing to live for. She tried to get help for domestic abuse from the police, but they lied when they talked to her,convincing her that they couldn't arrest a husband on a first report. Her appeal to church authorities met with a snarled line of communication. Finally, a Relief Society lesson on co-dependency made her decide to seek refuge at our home. I told her she should find another place to stay because when she didn't return home, Skip would head for our place first.
I drove her up to stay with friends in Maryland after we parked her car at a shopping center in Fairfax City to keep Skip from trailing her. She worked in a secure facility, so if she could get to work he couldn't track her to her office. In the days that followed he threatened to kidnap their child and tried to commit suicide by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills, underestimating the amount that would be needed and sleeping for two days instead.
I suggested that Meg contact him and ask him to take their baby to visit her grandmother and other relatives in Florida. By giving her permission, she drew the teeth of his threat and he returned Tara to her mother before the time arranged, not wanting the responsibility of taking care of a little child. Meg moved in with us and I took care of Tara while she worked.
In October of 1989 I drove Jing to Utah to handle some details of her matriculation from BYU. We took baby Taylor with us. Route 70 was burdened with ice and snow and we had some excitement, but finally arrived safely. I had discovered a way to switch Sam to a different school in our county and meant to take him back with me to Virginia. He had been in Utah for about a month. I arrived in Utah in time for his birthday. Sam was happy with school and had a number of friends. We arranged a party at a game venue with his friends and attended a Nintendo Convention at the Salt Palace. Meanwhile back in Falls Church our furnace had ceased functioning and all the children ended up sleeping in the large upstairs bedroom where Meg was staying with Tara.
I purchased a case of Books of Mormon and intended to drive up to Toronto to deliver them to Nancy's mission home on the way east to Virginia when Jing's business in Utah was completed. I developed a bad cold with a painful sore throat as I was driving and decided to drive straight home. I arrived to find my family living in a cold house and their father busy with his usual dancing schedule which he couldn't interrupt to fix the furnace.
He had attended a dance convention not long before and I found a motel receipt that provided evidence that he had shared a room with a woman. I looked her up in the phone directory and the next time he headed off to a 'practice' I located the address of the condo in Reston where his 'partner' lived and drove there. I found his Accord in the parking lot outside the condo. Wearing a dark coat and clothing, I made my way into the woods and watched the back part of the house. Soon my husband emerged and began chopping wood. He was accompanied by the son of his 'partner', a cute little blond boy a year younger than our son Sam. It was evident they shared a good relationship. I was both deadly angry, and wryly amused that his family suffered with no furnace while he chopped wood for another woman's family. His youngest son rarely saw him, but he was willing to act as 'daddy' for Linnea's son. Several times he seemed to stop chopping and gazed into the woods where I stood, a darker shape against the darkness of the trees. I felt a thrill of fear. He had an ax in his hands, and I had felt the pain of being beaten by him. While pregnant with Sam, I had been attacked with an electric drill that he had thrown at close range. What would he do if he discovered me?
Eventually he went into the house when Linnea announced that it was time for her little boy to go to bed. I crept closer to the house and managed to get a narrow view of the room where Richard sat watching TV with Linnea. His hands began to wander. They kissed. I backed away. I didn't need to see anything more. I was not a voyeur.
I was filled with cold rage, and yet I felt a sense of relief. I had long believed it was my duty to do whatever I could do to make my marriage work, but adultery was the breaking strain. I finally had the perfect excuse to end my torturous marriage.
Still, this woman had violated my home. My husband had betrayed me. Ideas of revenge ran through my mind. I could start up his car and run it into the small gorge just beyond the parking lot. I had his keys. Finally I decided to simply have a confrontation. I stepped up to her front door and rang the bell. I could hear the sound ringing through the house. I didn't stop until I heard the voice of one of the children calling down to their mother. A few more minutes passed before she opened the door a crack. Her makeup was messed up and running together and she seemed to be holding her blouse together at the top with one hand.
She peered up at me. "I'm Richard's wife. I think you and I and Richard should have a talk." I said.
She slammed the door and a couple of minutes later Richard hurried from the house adjusting his clothing. He took me be the arm and led me away from the house. "You scared Linnea. She wants me to get you to leave." he said.
"We need to talk," I replied.
He led me to his car and asked me how I had found the house. I said I had trailed him. He began to excuse his presence so late at another woman's house. He protested that nothing was going on, and in any case, I was not as good a wife as I should be. Linnea and he were simply dance partners planning their future performances. I knew it was a lie, but as usual I listened to him, willing to accept part of the guilt and finally agreeing that I would give our marriage another chance if he would stop seeing Linnea.
The next night when he came home from work I asked him to finally fix the furnace, but he said it had to wait until his dance practice was finished. He immediately left the house, wearing tennis shoes instead of the boots he wore to practice. I knew that he was headed back to Linnea's house.
The next day I called a lawyer, cashed out an IRA for the amount of the attorney's retainer fee, and began to plan. I didn't say anything more to Richard about what I had decided. By going to meet Linnea he had broken the agreement we had made and I felt no further obligation.
After a brief visit with the lawyer during which I learned that the divorce could cost a lot of money if it were contested, I gathered what I knew of the investments and properties we owned by means of years of scrimping and told Richard that I had seen a lawyer.
After his initial dismay and threats that he would take custody of the children and bring 'thousands of witnesses' to say I was an unfit mother, I told him how much a messy divorce would cost. He finally agreed to sit down with me and divvy up the property. I learned later that he had concealed about $200,000 worth of mixed assets, including a CD for $40,000 and one of the lots of the property on Columbia Road, but in general I had good information. I decided to take those properties which had been paid off, including the home on Arnold Lane. He would have the Lehi farm and some other properties that were mortgaged. I also asked for child support of each minor child until majority and a modest alimony that would be permanent and constitute my bare minimum income. I knew he had the better financial deal, but I didn't want wealth, I wanted out of the marriage with a minimum of fuss.
Meg and I kept each other focused during the following months while our divorces proceeded. She had already resigned her interest in the Vellux house to her father and left some of the furnishings, including a nice water bed and living room furniture. I made sure the bed was made with fresh sheets and the heater turned on so it would be ready at any time.
For a while it seemed that Richard couldn't be bothered to take the time to move out. I moved his things into the back room, but we still rather uncomfortably shared our sleeping quarters. I wondered how I could convince him it was time to move. He had a nearly fully furnished house waiting for him.
For some time I had been thinking of having drawers in the frame of my water bed, but the expense of the sets I saw in stores discouraged me. One day as I was driving in Fairfax City I saw a set of drawers made for the purpose by the side of the road waiting to be collected by the garbage men. They needed a few small repairs, but otherwise would suit my purpose. My son David helped me pick them up and put them in the van. I took them home and immediately began to drain my water bed mattress while fixing the drawers.
I was in the midst of a deflated mattress and setting up the drawers when Richard got home. He yelled at me. "Where am I supposed to sleep tonight?"
"In your bed at Vellux Lane," I said. "I have the mattress heater turned on and the bed made with fresh sheets. All you need to do is pack your clothing and take it with you. I will help you pack if you would like."
He angrily rejected my offer and started throwing things into the suitcases I had placed in the room next to his chest of drawers. Eventually he left with enough to get him through several days and I packed the rest of his things in boxes.
I have a couple of aspects of my personality that are both virtues and difficulties. I like to be clever and helpful and try to consider the other person's point of view. I like to find solutions to problems. In the days that followed my separation from Richard these qualities created some ironic scenes. My car broke down one evening when I had several children, including my toddler granddaughter, in the car. For more than twenty years I had been under orders to let my husband take care of any car repairs instead of calling a mechanic. This happened even when I lived in Utah and drove for several winter months without a windshield wiper motor. I had Linnea's number and I called it. When she answered, I asked to speak to Richard and told him I was stranded and if he couldn't help, I would have to call a tow truck. I could almost hear his agony at the choice he had to make, and I could hear him arguing with Linnea when he almost made the choice to come and help me. Finally he returned to the phone and told me to go ahead and get a tow. "Linnea doesn't want you to call me when I'm here. She will change her phone number if you call again. You must respect her privacy."
Not long after this I was awaken by a call from Richard around 2 AM. He was stranded somewhere in Vienna when his car stalled on the way back to his house. He wanted me to bring my van and give him a tow. I did so. I savored the contrast between my helpfulness and his failure to help me, not to say the fact that he hadn't called his girl friend. She doubtless would have told him what I should have said, 'get a tow truck.'
Meanwhile, my children seemed to survive the changes in good order. Sam and I spent more time with each other because I drove him to Columbia School daily. As the youngest child of a family of very verbal people, he had not had much opportunity to venture an opinion. When he spoke, it was usually to offer a wry comment. When he started Columbia Elementary on the basis of being cared for after school by his brother, he continued to do well.
In the fall of 1990 Meg and I formed a caravan to drive to Toronto and retrieve Nancy from her mission. We drove through upstate New York and across to Canada. I best remember our ascent in the CN Tower and a picnic breakfast of strawberries, fresh croissants and Nutella with a view of Toronto across the lake from the campground.
When we returned to Virginia Nancy tried to find a job to tide her over until she returned to school but it seemed at first that the only job she could find involved driving a school bus for a charter school that required a recommendation from the parole officer of a prospective student before they could attend the school. When she was contacted about a far better job, I offered to undertake the bus
driving job for her. It proved to be an adventure. I prayed each time I started out to drive, asking for tolerance and love toward the young people whose lives and behavior left them with vocabularies that were only slightly less offensive than the words my former husband used. I had taken on the same terms that
Nancy had agreed to and resigned at the end of the Fall quarter. Nancy returned to BYU and I had a commercial drivers license that would allow me to apply for other driving jobs.
A few weeks before Christmas 1990 I got a call from Tisha who wanted me to talk to my mother and reason with her. Tisha was visiting my parents with a young man and they were both fasting. They didn't want to break their fast to have a meal with my parents. My mother insisted that it would be bad manners for them to decline her dinner invitation.
I asked Tisha why she was fasting and she said that Brad had asked her to marry him while he was home on leave from the Monterey Foreign Language training school. She needed to receive confirmation if it was the right thing to do. I told her I thought it would be alright with me. She then said that my reply had given her her answer. She felt that she could end her fast.
I had two weeks to get out to Utah with a wedding dress and attend their wedding which would take place between Christmas and New Year's Eve. My driving contract kept me from leaving Virginia much before the Christmas holidays. Our family gathered around the Christmas tree and opened gifts before my flight on Christmas Eve, complete with long white dress and a complicated schedule of canceled flights and airline changes that took me through several airports, but got me to my destination on Christmas day.
I arranged a wedding breakfast at my parents' home following the early morning ceremony in the Salt Lake temple on December 30. Tisha and Brad could use many of the furnishings that still remained at Bueno Avenue. Fortunately, the cold weather caused a plumbing emergency at the house on Bueno and I was able to turn off the water and close the house, thus removing any problem of continuing renting to a house mate of Tisha's who had been set to stay indefinitely. I might have been more positive about getting a plumber in to fix the pipes and letting her continue to rent if her dog hadn't destroyed my lovely little back porch which had been newly constructed of redwood only a couple of years before. He was quite a wrecker and I feared that with Tisha gone, she might bring him inside to continue his reign of destruction.
It really wasn't reasonable to completely abandon the house on Bueno, so I returned in the spring and put things in order and asked my Nephew Bob Mack to live in the place. Later I decided to sell it and it was snapped up for the price of $50,000, which meant that I had doubled the price I paid for it less than five years before.
Back in Virginia again, I began to renovate my house on Arnold Lane. I created a different arrangement of my kitchen and dining areas. I took down some walls and erected others. The huge area that encompassed my living and dining room areas was divided into a roomy kitchen and a large studio/family room. I began to create a formal dining room and purchased a set of Chinese import dining room furniture. Richard agreed to lend me the money for the purchase and stored it at his home until my dining room was finished. On the day we collected the dining set from the vendor and drove it to his house, a man saw us carrying it across the yard and
stopped his car. He offered to purchase them on the spot, thinking we were setting up a yard sale.
Richard's girl friend objected to having him store the furniture and he told me I would have to pick it up and take it home. I quickly agreed to do so, but mentioned that the furniture might be damaged by the construction going on. He ignored Linnea's orders and kept the furniture in his house until I was ready to install it in the dining room.
One day my family gathered to watch a TV show in the family room. The TV was small and quite difficult to see. I went shopping for a larger TV and purchased one with a 36" screen. It has served me well for over more than 15 years.
My son Richard finally graduated from Falls Church High School in June, 1991. His autism had gone un-diagnosed and some teachers perceived him as being schizophrenic. He was bright and insightful and his scores on tests were as high as those of his four older siblings, leading him to be identified as a Merit semi finalist, but he was required to repeat his senior year because of his iconoclastic style of dealing with authority. In September he entered the MTC in preparation for a mission to Korea.
After serving for about eight months, in early 1992 he was sent home because of mis-perceptions about his mental stability. Once again his autism had been perceived as mental illness. I had planned to go to Utah to attend Nancy's graduation from BYU a few weeks later, so I didn't see him immediately. Nancy visited him at the Utah Valley Hospital and called to report that he was in good spirits and certainly not mentally ill.
I drove to Utah and visited my son at the Utah Valley Hospital psychiatric unit. He seemed in good spirits. He had been on day release to serve with missionaries in the Provo area. After fasting and attending the temple, Richard decided against renewing his mission and we returned to Virginia after I attended the events surrounding Nancy's graduation. Ironically, although she had been done well,it turned out she lacked one minor English class and never officially received her diploma.
Meg and her daughter Tara had been living at my home since her divorce, but a serious eruption of large rodents while I was in Utah led her to move to an apartment nearby.
My daughter Tisha and her husband had moved as his assignments changed. After completing his training in Arabic in California, they moved to a base in Texas before the Air Force posted Brad to a listening post in Crete. In June I flew to Athens, Greece. When the plane approached the city I was surprised to see how similar it seemed to landing in Salt Lake valley where I had spent my childhood. The relatively rocky mountains surrounding Athens and the sea, much like the Great Salt Lake from that point of view, felt almost like home, then we entered the airport and the illusion shattered. From the Greek music playing on the intercom to the signs for the restrooms, high heels for women and oxfords for men, sensible in a land where the guards at the presidential palace are dressed in pleated skirts, I knew I was in an exotic land. I made my way to the harbor and boarded a ferry to Crete where I would be a guest of my daughter and her husband who were expecting their first child in about 7 months. I spent two wonderful weeks visiting the countryside and enjoying Greek food. Tisha and Brad lived in a charming second floor apartment over a café. They lived up the hill from a commercial strip that catered to tourists, but the town above them was completely lacking in neon signs or bilingual menus. A white church with red roofed domes dominated the landscape.
Some people doubted my wisdom in visiting my daughter before her child was born. We drove around the island in their small red truck ranging from Chania on the northwest coast to a pebbled beach in Irapetra on the sea of Syria on the southeast coast. I took a lot of pictures and I painted various scenes while sitting on the roof terrace of their apartment house. We visited many of the ruins of the Minoan people, as well as the archaeological museum. I had dreamed of visiting the ancient site of Knossos since reading about it many years before. At the end of my stay we spent a day and a half in Athens, enjoying the views of ancient structures and the lovely gardens around the presidential palace. In the evening we returned to the Acropolis in anticipation of attending a 'son et lumiere'. A concert of modern music was taking place in a renovated theater nearby. We somehow became separated from the trail to the modern ranks of seats where other tourists were gathered to hear and see the 'son et lumiere' and found ourselves clambering up a house-sized boulder of red granite, polished smooth by generations of others who had ventured up the crude steps hacked into the side that led to the precarious top. I was surrounded by several young couples enjoying their relative isolation from the crowds. The concert music drifted over to us and drowned out the narrative as lights played over the face of the majestic ruins above us. It was an ineffable experience and I was happy that we had strayed from the common track. Afterwards we wandered through the village at the foot of the Acropolis and listened to the bazouki music pouring from cafes where men in pleated skirts danced and shouted with enthusiasm.
It was a lovely vacation, and while it passed, my divorce was finalized and my ex-husband married Linnea in Canada.
I applied to work as a substitute bus driver when school started again in the fall of 1992 but instead I began steady employment with a private school that catered to parents of children from pre-school to fourth grade. Many of the children were from elite neighborhoods or diplomatic families. We had a number of young Arab boys as well as children from Australia, Viet Nam, and India. I was called to serve as compassionate service leader in the Annandale Ward and mingled my driving duties with my duties during childbirths and funerals. I also managed to take courses in portraiture and life painting at the Alexandria Art Guild.
Mary became the president of the Drama Club in her senior year at Falls Church High School, which began in 1992. When a new drama coach at Falls Church High said there were not sufficient funds to put on the play "Blithe Spirit" I volunteered to help with scenery and costumes for the play. It turned out very well. Mary won significant awards for her work in drama during her years at Falls Church High. She had several friends who shared her interests, but perhaps the closest of all was Emily Stewart.
Meanwhile, Lucinda began her sophomore year at Falls Church where she allied herself with drama and chorus activities. Eliza was in eighth grade at Jackson Jr. High and active in the band where she played the tuba. My son Richard worked in a gym where his brother David worked after deciding not to continue in law school. David tailored his hours at the gym to his duties as the primary caretaker of his little boy, Taylor.
In early December of 1992 I received a call from Incerlik, Turkey. Tisha's baby had been born with an undiagnosed heart defect. In the days that followed the discovery of the problem, he was flown first to Germany, then on to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda Maryland. He died on the operating table and Tisha's days of stress and loss caused a psychological crash. The family gathered for a funeral and Richard Alexander Voss was buried at Arlington National Cemetery because he was the son of an active duty serviceman.
Nancy was making decisions about her further studies, eventually deciding to accept admission to an MD-Phd. Program at Priztger Medical School at the University of Chicago.
Meg and I signed up for a New Years Singles Weekend in Alexandria, Virginia to welcome in the New Year of 1993. I attended with my son Richard. Meg had signed up for the weekend but she wasn't feeling well and chose to stay at home for the first day of the conference. Richard and I participated in the talent show. He sang a Korean song and I did a comedy routine that was well received. My 50th birthday was just a day away and I decided to stop at a local big box store and purchase a trampoline to celebrate my half century mark. I removed an above ground swimming pool that tended to get dirty, especially when opossums and squirrels fell into it and drowned and I replaced it with the trampoline.
I had met a young man during the dance that evening. Something about him made me think I should go home and encourage Meg to attend the next day. She met the young man and I introduced them. We sat near each other at the closing banquet. His name was Bryan Stout. He was working in Maryland designing computer game software. They began to court.
After Tisha recovered and was released from Walter Reed, she and Brad lived in Maryland for a brief time until he applied for resignation from the Air Force for compassionate reasons and they moved to Utah where they lived with Brad's parents until they purchased a small house on Green Street, a few blocks from Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
When Mary graduated from Falls Church High School in June 1993, she moved to Chicago to work and live with her sister Nancy. They lived in the area of South
Chicago that was near the University of Chicago. While visiting them, my Toyota van was stolen. David rented a car and drove up to pick me up. Later we were informed that the car had been recovered and we retrieved it. It apparently ran out of gas before it could be wrecked. Not long afterward David borrowed my van to drive to a weightlifting contest in North Carolina. While Jing was driving and David napping in the back, she panicked a little when she narrowly missed hitting another car. David woke up and lunged forward to try and help her recover from her mistake, but unfortunately his action only complicated things. He apparently broke at least one rib when he tried to reach the steering wheel and they rode the guard rail for some distance before stopping. Their baby, Taylor, was thrown free but suffered no injury. The car had a distinctive tilt to the right. David purchased it from me and sold it for a fairly decent price. David and Jing were renting the Columbia house from me.
Not long after the accident I was able to purchase another van that was quite similar, even to the color. Meg had become engaged to Bryan Stout at the Washington Temple a few months after their meeting. They were married in August 1993. The family gathered in Utah for the wedding at the Jordan River Temple and the reception at the ward house near Bryan's mother's home in the foothills above BYU. In the following week they had receptions in Maryland and Annandale. They lived with Meg's little girl Tara in the apartment Meg had rented when she moved out of my house the year before.
My schedule as a bus driver fit well with my duties as a mother and art lessons at the Art League School in Alexandria. Between driving, painting, and renovating, I kept fairly busy for the next few years. Most of the children I drove enjoyed the stories I would tell to keep them occupied and relatively quiet. One little boy who had at first been reluctant to ride the bus exclaimed one day, "This is the magic school bus!"
Now and then I was recruited to help with scenery or costumes for plays at the high school as Lucinda, Eliza, and Sam followed in Mary's steps participating in Drama and Musical events.
Eliza convinced me to enroll her and Sam in karate class and while her enthusiasm for the sport led her to participate in competitions and do very well, Sam probably had more total benefit from gaining a better sense of physical strength and confidence. One winter Saturday after dropping Eliza at a dojo in Falls Church, I drove south on Gallows Road with Lucinda in the Toyota Van. A sudden storm, starting with a drop in temperature and rapidly falling snow made the road dangerously slippery. At the intersection of Idylwood Road and Gallows Road in Vienna, I tapped the brakes and went into a spin that sent me into a fence on the west side of Gallows Road. The car rebounded, turned upside down, then rocked back onto its side. I was unconscious for a few minutes before waking up. It took nearly twenty minutes for a wrecker to right the car because of the slippery surface. Lucinda and I were driven to a Roy Rogers drive-in by the emergency workers who responded to our accident. The increasing load of snow led to a popped tire on Meg's car when she slid off the road when fetching us. We helped a man jump his dead battery after changing the tire, then popped another as we tried to drive away.
The last mile home was accomplished only by having the driver of the car we had started put his head out the driver's side door because snow was piling up so rapidly on his windshield that his wipers couldn't keep up. When we recovered my car, it ran well enough, although the side was flattened and damaged to the extent that I named it the 'Borg Lander' after the characters in Star Trek.
We gathered together for the Christmas season of 1993 and my children and their spouses did the temple work for several generations of their Chinese ancestors. The temple would only be open for one night and the next day before the holiday closing. All of the my children participated in the baptisms for the dead and confirmations. A family came in following us and when it was found that there were not enough officiators to help them, my sons who had the authority took care of the matter. Nancy had obtained the names from her cousin Allen Chiu who had gathered them as part of a medical school assignment. The next day I helped care for the little children and the adults returned to the temple to perform endowments and sealings for their ancestors.
In January of 1994 I flew to Washington State to visit my brother and his wife Mary, who had been my friend since college more than thirty years before. I enjoyed the visit and the flight back to Virginia which took place during a cold spell when the energy crisis was in full effect. I was surprised to see so many 'ranch' and factory lights glaring in the middle of the night below me as I made the flight. I had started at sunset on the west coast with a view of the volcanic cones of the Cascade range towering in gilded grandeur above the nearby mountains and arrived early in the morning of the next day at National Airport. David and my younger children met the plane, but they reported that my furnace was once again in trouble and the snow had closed the schools. As a result my school age children, Lucinda, Eliza and Sam, were staying with David's family at Columbia Road. I had them drop me off at home where I snuggled into my water bed and enjoyed delicious solitude.
That winter my son Richard walked up the road to catch a ride that would take him to basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. He hoped that this would be a way for him to give direction to his life. I attended his graduation from basic training a few months later and he went on to Fort Gordon in Georgia to be trained in electronics. I lost track of him after he called me and said he had received a profound impression that he should not continue in the army. I prayed and waited for some word, knowing his decision would not be
taken lightly by those in authority over him. I tried contacting the fort but frighteningly, they said they had no record of him. I prayed and received the feeling that I should have patience.
One day my friend Ruth, who had become a close confidant,insisted that I must try to contact Richard. I told her I had tried without any result several times. It was a holiday weekend and I knew that there would be even fewer people she could talk to at Fort Gordon. She called and was put through to the hospital. Within minutes she was talking to my son. He had been through the ordeal I had expected when he told me his decision. He had been harassed and assigned to duties that resulted in heat exhaustion which put him in the hospital.
In a short time he was able to be released on a non prejudicial discharge and I drove down to Georgia to pick him up. He arrived back in Falls Church just in time to rectify a disastrous attempt at landscaping by my son David who was renting the house on Columbia Road from me. With the help of a friend, David had managed to unearth most of the foundation of the house and denude the south side
of the house of vegetation. An inspector from the county had threatened court action if the ground were not re-contoured and seeded to stop erosion. With a small loader, Richard made the needed repairs,the inspector was astonished when he returned to find the hillside repaired.
Meg called one day in the spring of 1994 and I recognized from the sound of her voice as she spoke the word "Mom?" the same tone that had been in Tisha's voice when she called me from Incerlik after finding that her infant son was suffering from heart disease. Meg had undergone a sonogram on a pregnancy begun about four months before. Her baby had a heart defect, completely different from that which had taken the life of Richard Alexander Voss, but just as likely to be fatal.
For nearly six months we feared that Arthur would not live to be born. Meg gave birth to her son William Arthur in December of 1994 and he lived six days. We gathered at the funeral home for a viewing and our apparent joy shocked one of the children who had come to visit with his parents. In the hospital when they brought his tiny body to his parents to be held, I seemed to see him and his cousin Richard Alexander ready to set forth on a mission to those who needed the gospel.
Mary wasn't able to attend the funeral because she was attending school at BYU Hawaii. She had considered attending SUU and we drove down and attended the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City where the school is located. Afterwards we drove around some of the family heritage areas of southern Utah, including Marysville which is probably named after Mary Bell, my great-grandmother.
With spring 1995 came wedding season, at least for Nancy. I had continued my renovations to my home on Arnold Lane and decided we needed to install a spacious deck on the rear of the house. My son Richard helped me with that and other needed renovations, including putting a new roof on the older part of the house and making the front porch look good.
On May 12 I drove up to Chicago with everything from lace tablecloths to roses to prepare for the reception that followed Nancy's marriage to Robert Clark on May 14. He and Nancy were purchasing a co-op apartment in a tower near the university. It had been built in the early part of the century and had high ceilings and good views. It had a kitchen from the forties and needed a lot of fixing up. We put together the feast after enjoying a wedding breakfast following the ceremony in the Chicago temple. I managed to get a singe trim of my hair when I made a mistake lighting the oven.
Following the reception in Chicago, we held an open house in Falls Church, finishing up the back deck just as the first guests began to arrive. In June, after attending Lucinda's graduation from Falls Church High, I took the train from Virginia to Portland, Oregon and joined my sister-in-law Mary Heywood for the trip to Seattle where we met my college friend Nancy Iwaasa. We attended an open house for my daughter Nancy and Robert at his parent's home. Afterward we three friends went north to Canada and returned Nancy Iwaasa to her home near Vancouver. We visited the area, including the museum of Kwakiutl art and Victoria Island. I purchased a pendant at the urging of my friends. It depicts the raven as interpreted in Kwakiutl myth where he is considered a story teller and a creator, even trusted with bringing forth mankind from darkness under the earth.
I took the train back to Salt Lake City, a much more interesting trip than the one I had made from Washington DC to Portland, during which we went through most of the scenic areas in the middle of the night. The first leg of the trip went from Portland, to Martinez,California, a town on the deep inland arm of the San Francisco Bay. I had a couple of hours to wait for my train to Salt Lake City. It was the Fourth of July and the town was in holiday mode. Only a few stores were open, but the streets were pleasant and the architecture an honest version of California Spanish. The train trip through the sierras helped me understand the dangers of building the first railroad across the rugged peaks. Wild rhododendrons were a grace note on the rocky slopes. I watched fireworks from the train as we passed through Reno, Nevada. Early the next morning I left the train in Salt Lake City and eventually made contact with my son Richard who was waiting at the wrong train depot. We headed back to Virginia in the Toyota Van.
Lucinda had served as the Drama President in her senior year at Falls Church High School and performed with the performance group called the 'Jazzy Jags'. Her plans for college were indefinite at first, but her college board scores, particularly in math, made us think she could apply to go to the BYU. She was a distinctive individual in her interesting wardrobe which could vary from a set of painters' overalls to a pink circle skirt worn with work boots. I overheard some other girls commenting on her when they saw her in the hall between classes. "I just love Lucinda, she's so nice and funny." When other members of the cast of the 'Pajama Game' held up beer bottles, she held up an apple. She was involved in both the construction of scenery and the cast of various productions including 'The Music Man'.
Lucinda was accepted at the BYU and in the late summer of 1995 I drove her out to Utah to go to school. She moved into the downstairs at the home of Billie Stout, Meg's mother in law. In retrospect I realize that she could have easily found housing in a far more convenient place, and after facing the steep and twisty road known as the 'wild mouse' twice a day on foot or bicycle, she found a place with some other girls at Cinnamon Tree Apartments near Bulldog Boulevard.
Eliza came into her own as she started her junior year at Falls Church High. She played the queen in "Once Upon and Mattress" and served as Drum Major of the band. Sam benefited from her benevolent influence as he started High School. He joined the band and played a small role in the musical. I helped design the set and provided one of Eliza's costumes.
Eliza participated in track events, going to state in discus and shot put. Sam was more inclined to math and science, although he seemed to enjoy both band and the activities of the drama department.
Mary decided to serve a mission and was called to Spain. She entered the MTC to train in speaking Spanish in 1996. She served in Wyoming while waiting for her visa.
On March 2, 1996 I accompanied Meg and Bryan to Fairfax Hospital where she gave birth to Margaret Elizabeth Stout. Meg had planned to give birth without narcotics, but the scar from the caesarean that was required for the birth of Arthur was too painful for her to prevail. The additional family member gave them good reason to purchase a home. They bought a condominium on Airlie Way in Annandale. I helped them move and helped them prune away a lot of things they had been storing with no purpose. Tara began to attend Columbia Elementary School.
Eliza was interviewed through several levels of selection and finally was chosen to attend the Virginia Governor's School in the early summer. One of interviewers heard her play her tuba and asked why she was wasting her time on being drum major. Several others of my children had started the selection process but only Eliza made it through to the final choice.
In August 1996 I spent time in Salt Lake City with Tisha and Brad as they waited for the birth of their second child. While we waited, I created a set of banners for the Falls Church Marching band, a dove on a blue background, a hawk on a red background, and two swans on a green background. When the baby was born she was a little girl, and they named her Rochelle.
While I was in the west, back in Virginia Eliza started her senior year and Sam became a sophomore. I was hoping they would work together to get themselves up to go to seminary and attend not only school, but the various meetings and practices that were associated with their activities. When I got home I found that they had done very well, getting up and off to seminary regularly. David was their teacher and helped them keep on track.
I became involved in the planning for the Graduation All Night Party during Eliza's senior year. I was in charge of decorating the Providence Recreation Center to fit the theme chosen by one of the seniors. The budget for the project was limited but I have always enjoyed a challenge. The theme was jungles and I was able to obtain a roll of craft paper for free from Home Depot after asking how much it cost and explaining what I planned to do with it. I also bought several gallons of "mis-mixed" acrylic paint at about two dollars each along with tissue paper and panels of lauan plywood. The decorations were labor intensive. I created stand alone murals of jungle scenes from around the world. The party included a casino area and I made signs of the various Las Vegas Casinos. My oldest grand-children, Tara and Taylor had begun to come to my home for art classes and I enlisted them in helping with the murals. Although both of them have talent, Tara is more imaginative and Taylor more realistic.
The lobby of the recreation center was decorated with vines twisted from lengths of craft papar, hung with bright tissue blossoms and shiny leaves made from gloss paint in various shades of green on craft paper. A 15 foot python made of reptile patterned fabric from an old dressing gown hung from a sturdy vine above the staircase. Other details were scattered around the large building, adding up to a colorful and varied scene.
Eliza was chosen as a 'senior mentor' and was accepted into the music education program at BYU. I drove her out to Utah in the summer of 1997 and she moved into Cinnamon Tree Apartments with Lucinda.
My last child in public school was Sam. I had been driving school bus again during the school year and Richard joined the group of drivers.
Sam continued playing with the marching band, played lacrosse and had progressed from small parts to substantial roles in school plays and musicals. He played the part of Doctor Einstein in "Arsenic and Old Lace", the Constable in "Much Ado About Nothing", Farmer Carnes in "Oklahoma", Fredrich von Trapp in "Sound of Music" and Oberon in "Midsummer's Night Dream". In addition, he was the fourth member of the family chosen to represent Falls Church High at the broadcast of an academic quiz game called "It's Academic." Nancy, Tisha, and Mary had preceded him.
Nancy and I decided to join Maryjane in Barcelona, Spain at the end of her mission in late 1997. We decided to use a 'catch as catch can' method of seeing Spain, Italy, and Paris and made no previous reservations. In each city we called ahead only a day or so, if that and found that we were able to stay in truly charming accommodations. On our first day in Spain after meeting Mary, we took a train to Madrid and then on to Toledo. The ancient city on a hill was truly charming. We purchased trinkets at the shop of a friend of friends of Mary, ate amazing marzipan and paella, and viewed the wonder of the Toledo Cathedral's sculpture of the Annunciation. We didn't really have time to visit the Prado as we again passed through Madrid, but instead took the subway to see the Madrid temple and ate fresh fried bread from a stand nearby. Our night was spent on a train as we traveled back to the coast, getting off at Tarragona, a city where Mary had served during her mission. The mix of Roman and medieval architecture, a cathedral and an open market in the old city provided plenty to see and do on Saturday. That night we stayed in an American style hotel after learning that friends we had planned to stay with were unavailable because of sickness.
Ruined Roman columns marked the site of a forum near the hotel. On Sunday we attended church and ate dinner with a convert family who stopped near a Roman viaduct on the way to their home.
The afternoon train took us back to Barcelona where we spent time visiting the works of Gaudi, both the Pedrera and the Cathedral. We then took the night train north and east. We had expected to go along the coast of France, but instead, we went up through the Alps, changing trains in Geneva Switzerland and traveling along the shores of Lake Geneva in the early morning with the Alps shining in the early light. At last we came to Florence where we settled into a small second floor hotel before going out to find pizza and gelato. The next day we visited the lovely city of renaissance fame. The sculpture in the Bargello, the David statue, the works of Fra Angelica in the monastery where he painted scenes in every cell. I proved that I could make it to the top of Giotto's tower.
We took a train to Venice the next day and met a young man from the area of Venice who knew someone in Chicago that Nancy and Mary knew. He was a second-generation member of the church, and we learned that there was a stake in the area around Venice.
We arrived in Venice and found a charming hotel across the bridge from the railroad station. We left our luggage and set forth to see the city. It was wonderful. Perhaps it was because the winter water would not support the fabled stink that I have heard is a problem in summer. There was only the smell of sea. Our water bus driver raced a tanker as we crossed the lagoon to let off workers. After breakfast in the charming dining room we set out for Rome. Our home in Rome was the 'Fawlty Towers' and gave us a large room with a roof balcony. Mary's friend, Barbara, who was working as an au pair in Rome met us on the night that we arrived and we visited the Trevi Fountain late at night. She also showed us the best place to find a delightful lunch and the best gelato. Instead of crowds, we had quick access to the Vatican palace and its museums. I spent a long time contemplating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel after viewing the 'Pieta' with hardly anyone around but my daughters and the driver of a large machine much like a zamboni that swept the marble floors of St. Peters. We visited an obscure church where a lovely statue of the risen Christ by Michelangelo was found as well as another rather small and dingy church (by Roman standards) where the statue of Peter was the chief decoration. Of all the buildings I saw in Rome, I liked the Pantheon with its great circle of air and light best of all. After two nights in Rome our flight to Paris took place fairly early in the morning and we had a wild ride to the airport with a taxi driver who swung us around the Colosseum and down an ancient Roman road with no regard to traffic signs. Fortunately, it was so early that no traffic challenged his driving. After a bit of fuss at customs because of a few souvenirs such as small swords and a whip that we had purchased in Spain and left in our carry-on luggage, we proceeded onto the plane and made our flight to Paris and the final chapter in what had been a delightful adventure. Our lodgings in Paris were in a youth hostel built in an old building on the left bank. Our room was in the garret where we shared the bunks with a girl from Australia. Breakfast was
hot chocolate and fresh bread in the cellar.
We walked for miles through the Louvre where Mary and I sketched the Nike of Samothrace and received more attention than the statue. We visited Notre Dame and the Musee d'Orsay. While we waited for the museum to open we sat on a stone wall and ate creamy strawberry yogurt and crepes for breakfast while a violinist played a tune from 'Exodus.'
When we returned to Virginia, Mary applied to BYU. She started school there after the Christmas break, moving into an apartment with her sisters Lucinda and Eliza.
In late 1997 David's wife Jing learned that the child she was carrying had Down's Syndrome. There was a lot of counsel from doctors that she should end the pregnancy, but the only choice to be made in the circumstances was to accept the baby with whatever handicaps it might have. On February 4, 1998 Talitha Chiu was born at Reston Hospital in Virginia. Although she bore clear physical indications of her condition, she had few real problems. Her heart and vitals were in good shape. Over time her eyes and her thyroid presented issues, but she bloomed and grew and has been a joy to all of us.
I had once again been involved in preparations for the Graduation All Night Party for 1998 which included fund raising and committee meetings once a week throughout the school year. We carried out a theme based on 'Night Court'.
Patricia Anne Stout, another granddaughter, was born on July 10, 1998 in Fairfax hospital. The first of my grandchildren to be born with blue eyes, she was a delightful little minx from the beginning. Meg succeeded in giving birth without
narcotics when Annie was born.
With three daughters in BYU, their father decided it would be a good idea to find a house that they could share with other coeds. He purchased a home on Maple Lane in the tree streets above the campus. It had belonged to an elderly couple who lived there until they died. The decor was mostly from the seventies. The kitchen was unchanged from when the house was built in the nineteen fifties. Although Richard planned that there would be two girls in each of the four bedrooms, the downstairs had no real kitchen aside from a sink and microwave. I spent some time in the late summer of 1998 getting the house ready to be occupied. Lucinda and one of the other girls had already done a great deal of painting and laying of linoleum and carpet. I concentrated on the lower level, upgrading the kitchen area with a tile counter-top and setting up a double lavatory area in the bathroom and dividing the room in two, with privacy provided for the toilet/shower area.
My ex-husband called me one day and asked me what he should do about his wife. He said she had been angered by his purchase of the house where his student daughters lived and further upset by the two weeks he spent with his elderly mother when she was hospitalized. Perhaps she was resentful that he had never moved to adopt her two children, or the long time it was taking him to improve and finish the home where they lived. I advised him to call a lawyer. I felt that his wife knew she didn't have much legal stance since she worked as the legal secretary to a powerful Washington DC attorney. My ex said he didn't think that would be necessary because his wife's father was acting as a mediator in arranging a fair settlement. In time he took my advice and in the end they shared the value of the Vellex house which they had shared for about 7 years.
Sam had began his senior year as a member of the student government. It started out as a whim when he decided that there should be at least a choice in the vote for Student Body President. He ran a campaign that didn't win, but gave him recognition. As a result, he was voted onto the Student council and won the post of Vice President of the Senior Class. He continued Marching Band, drama club, and played la crosse.
When Sam was a junior I quit driving a school bus and began going to the Washington DC temple for several sessions every Wednesday. Eventually I said I was willing to be a worker and was assigned to the first shift on Wednesday. The hours were similar but less than I had put in when I was a regular patron. Sam was only sixteen when the word came down that mothers of minor children could no longer serve as temple workers, but I was told that since Sam was already a senior, I could be an exception. For the final time I decorated the Providence Recreation Center for the all-night party with scenes of cities.
Sam was chosen as one of America's 400 top graduating seniors and on the same weekend that he would have been practicing graduation, he spent several days in Washington DC eating dinner with the likes of Colin Powell and George Lucas. On Sunday he received the Melchizedek priesthood and was ordained an elder, and on Monday evening he graduated from Falls Church High School.
Sam moved to Provo to attend school at BYU and lived in a home about a block away from his sisters. They attended the same student ward and he spent a fair amount of time visiting them.
In the summer of 1999 Eliza was a counselor and teacher for a BYU summer camp for High School tuba players. Her opposite number was a young man from Florida. Her girls were very excited about the possibility of a romance between their mentors and when the camp ended he asked her out before returning to Florida. Their connection was immediate and they began to correspond.
With all my minor children gone from home, the house on Arnold Lane seemed far too large for me. It was never really finished after my husband abandoned the project and his family. I had made a lot of changes, erecting walls, installing parquet flooring, doing plumbing and other repairs and renovations, but the air conditioning had never been installed and there were other deficiencies of design.
Property taxes and the sheer cost of capital bound up in a house that brought in no income mandated a sale. My son Richard helped me make a lot of repairs, but it seemed a huge task and I was feeling more and more that I should move to Utah.
My parents insisted that they had no need of me. They had long since made arrangements for a special legacy to my sisters in return for expected elderly support and care, of which they had already received a good deal. On the other hand, two of my good friends had moved to Utah. I had a number of friends I loved in Falls Church and Annandale, but few who truly shared my interests like Margy whom I had first met when she was assigned to be my visiting teacher. Margy and I regularly met to paint or attend art exhibits. I missed her when she returned to her home in Utah when her husband's assignment with the National Guard was completed.
When Christmas of 1999 came, I suggested it would likely be my last in the house on Arnold Lane. The family gathered from their various homes. For the last time we joined together for the Christmas Eve carol program, with my nine children standing on the stand and singing together. Mary, Lucinda, Eliza, and Sam had all been members of one of Falls Church High School's various choirs and choruses and Meg,David, Nancy, and Tisha, as well as Richard also had fine voices.
For the last time we joined the neighborhood friends in caroling. We gathered all the descendants around the decorated tree on Christmas morning, with Richard H. Chiu, present for the occasion, and handed out presents. Tisha was expecting her second child. Eliza had become engaged in October on a trip to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with Phillip's family.
I was resolved to move to Utah, even if it meant finding a small house or apartment somewhere. I considered selling or giving away everything but what I could carry in a couple of suitcases. On the other hand, I liked the thought of moving into the house on Maple Lane that Richard had purchased for the girls to use. It was located in a good neighborhood and would suit me for many years. The design was of the same era of the home where my parents had been living for more than 40 years with easy access for an elderly person.
I made arrangements with my ex-husband to exchange properties. I would sign over the house on Columbia Road in Annandale, Virginia in return for the house on Maple Lane in Provo, Utah. Meanwhile, I would try to improve the house on Arnold Lane until it could be sold.
In March of 2000 I was present when my grandson Russell Voss was born in Salt Lake City. While in Utah I made careful measurements of the various rooms I would occupy in the house on Maple Lane. There were a number of young women including Lucinda still renting downstairs and two of my daughters, Mary and Eliza, shared one of the bedrooms in the upstairs of the house.
I claimed the larger bedroom for myself. It could serve as a multipurpose room where I could set up a studio, work on my computer, and sleep. My measurements insured that when I moved the various pieces of furniture they would fit efficiently. I even removed the cupboards and shelves from my studio in Falls Church and reconfigured them to fit the room in Provo. I built a special table to hold my TV on top of my studio map file so it would fit the space. Lucinda had decreed that the TV would not be welcome in the living room, and although the house would be mine, I didn't want to impose my ideas on her when she had spent two years as supervisor of the house and those who rented.
The day for my move to Utah was set to accommodate preparations for Eliza's wedding on her birthday, June, 30, 2000. I had been planning the menu, the erection of a gazebo in the back yard and other details that would be set in progress as soon as the move was completed.
My plans to take only a couple of suitcases of belongings had been scuttled when I knew I would have a house to move into. I did some serious sorting, giving some of my things to Meg and David and paring down to the essentials and the most valued of my many possessions. The bounds of what I could take were set by the truck I rented. It had to be large enough to accommodate my Chinese dining furniture. Eventually I ordered a larger truck than I had originally planned in order to take my outdoor furniture. A lot of things were left behind when my son Richard and I pulled out of the driveway of Arnold lane and set forth to drive to Utah. He drove the Toyota van and I drove the moving truck, usually in front of him. At one point in Wyoming I told him I was scared when the truck went up on two wheels. He said it wasn't the first time he had observed it happening, but we arrived in Utah in due time and without accident and I began my life on Maple Lane after living on Arnold lane for nearly 12 years, the longest time I had spent in one home since my birth 57 years before.