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The Lost Mom
By Eva Achenbach
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Eva Achenbach
All rights reserved.
It was the summer of 1972, and I was a ten-year-old with a small build, blue eyes, and long blonde hair. I was living in West Plains, Missouri. My name is Ellie. I have an older brother named Dale and a younger sister named Lucy. My mom's name is Irene, and my dad's name is Floyd. My parents were getting a divorce. I really didn't know what happened between my parents and I did not ask.
My uncle Junior and his family, they had four boys and two girls, showed up one morning to take all of us to Emerson, Iowa, where they lived. My mom had decided that she should leave Dad. We quickly packed our clothes, but we had to leave everything else behind.
On the way from Missouri to Iowa, we stopped and camped at Lake Pomme De Terre, Missouri, for a week and a half. We spent a lot of time playing in the water, walking on the trails, and just sitting by the fire. We really thought that was a lot of fun. Then we all went to Uncle Junior's farm just outside of Emerson, Iowa. We were so excited because we had never been on a farm. It was all very new to us, but we shared in doing the chores. We worked hard. To make money, we walked beans in the summer. We played hard when the chores and work was done. We played a lot of games, chased the hogs to see if we could catch them, and even played hide-and-seek in the hayloft in the barn and also in the corn fields. We even got to play in the water, a big cow tank. We went for long walks down the dirt roads. One day, we took the salt shaker to the huge tomato patch and ate tomatoes right from the vine. All of a sudden, we were throwing tomatoes at each other. Oh yes, we got into trouble as the tomatoes were to be canned for the winter. When the time came to collect the potatoes, the ground was plowed up. All of us were just standing there with our mouths open as we had never seen these many potatoes before. My uncle put a wagon on the side to put the potatoes on. Some of us had baskets to put the potatoes that were cut in so they could be used first. It was a very long and hot day, but we got it done. Then, we went to play in the water to cool off.
Summer was about over, and Mom needed to get all of us ready for school. It was decided that we would move into an apartment in Glenwood since my uncle lived just outside of town and Mom had got a job at a laundry where they cleaned and repaired uniforms.
I was really scared about starting a new school where I knew no one. I was starting the fifth grade. Dale was in the seventh grade, and Lucy was in the third grade. All of us were in different schools. During the first few weeks, we had a hard time adjusting, as we all had a southern accent, but it didn't take too long for us to get settled in and to meet new friends.
When winter arrived, we were all shocked as we had never seen so much snow. It was very cold, and we were not used to that at all. I remember less than a half inch when I was about eight years. The icicles got about a foot long. And we got to miss school because of the snow. We finally knew what a white Christmas was.
Our first school year was over, and we all had made friends and were looking forward to summer. Mom bought us a summer pass to the city swimming pool. We didn't have a lot of money. Mom's job at the laundry wasn't giving enough money. So my aunt got her a job where she worked night shift at the state hospital. We got Social Security from our dad, as he was now disabled, and I never asked how much that was. But it was used to buy clothes and food for us kids.
Dale got a job delivering the newspaper, and I started babysitting. Mom helped me until I got the hang of things. Lucy was still too young to work. During the winter, Dale and I would scoop sidewalks so we could have spending money. Sometimes on the weekends, we would get to go see a movie.
I always had friends over and was going places with them, but most of the time, we went swimming at the pool. We lived about a mile away and would walk there and swim from about 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., walk home, do the chores, eat supper, and then go back to the pool from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Summer always went too fast, and before we knew it, school started again.
During the school year, Dale got a job at the local theater, running the movie projector and cleaning the theater. After school, I would help Dale clean the theater and get things ready for the evening movie. Those were the days of cartoons, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, oh dear, where does the list stop?
It's the end of 1975, and the girl working at the theater had quit, and Dale got me the job behind the concession stand. Mom told me as long as I kept my grades up, it was fine for me to work there. Dale and I would head to the theater about thirty minutes before opening time. I would start the popcorn and get some boxed up before the movie and check the candy cups. If I was off before closing the night before, I also would check the restroom. I would only be working until the people got their drinks and were seated or right after the movie started. And I would get to see all the movies free and get free popcorn and pop.CHAPTER 2
Ellie and Ray
I was still working at the theater the following summer, and I would watch and see who would come in every night. One Saturday night, I noticed a very good-looking guy buying a ticket. He had short coal-black hair and deep-set blue eyes, and he was about 5'5' and skinny. I noticed he was looking at me as well. I had long dark blonde hair, blue eyes, and I wore glasses. I was about 5' tall and skinny as well. Just behind him was another guy that I knew from school. His name was Todd. After the movie had started and the lobby was empty, Todd and the guy came up, and Todd introduced me to him. His name was Ray. After they got their popcorn and drinks, they went back in to watch the movie and asked me if I could come in and watch the movie with them. I asked my boss if I could go in and watch the movie, and of course, he said, "Yes." I got everything cleaned and restocked and told my boss I would be here at the end of the movie. Then, I went in and found where Ray and Todd were sitting and sat down with them.
When the movie was over, I went back to the counter, but my boss told me everything looked good and he would see me the next day night. I said good night to my boss and went outside where Ray and Todd were waiting for me. Todd decided he would walk home, and Ray asked me if I wanted a ride home. I told him yes, but I only lived about two blocks away, and he would have to meet my mom. Ray and I only got to talk for about twenty minutes before Mom came out and said it was time to go inside. Ray told me that he would be back to the movies in a week or two.
I was only fourteen years old, and Ray was sixteen years old and had his driver's license. I could not wait to see Ray. I thought about him several times that week, and when the weekend came and he wasn't at the movie, I was very disappointed.
The next week seemed even longer. Finally, the weekend was here, and I was headed to work, thinking, "Will he be here this time?" I got busy making sure everything was ready. I looked outside as the door opened, and I didn't see Ray. I had several customers, so I was busy. When I looked over at the ticket counter, that is when Ray walked in the theater that Saturday night. My heart did a double beat, and for a few minutes, I really didn't know what to do. Dale was behind the counter working too, so I left, and when I got to the restroom, I took about three deep breaths, wiped my face with a wet paper towel, and went back out to the counter. As I walked out, I ran into Ray. I said, "Hi, I will be in later."
Ray smiled and went into the theater to sit down, and I went back to work. I finished serving everyone, and Dale left to start the movie. I stocked up the counter, checked the popcorn, and then I asked if I could watch the movie. My boss kind of laughed and said, "Yes."
After the movie, Ray gave me a ride home. We sat on the porch and talked. He told me that on Friday nights, he would clean fish and chop wood to have money to drive the twelve miles to see me on Saturday nights. Ray also worked for a guy named Tom, who owned a shop where they sold and repaired farm machinery. Ray was also a friend with Tom's son, John. Ray told me that he could not call me because it was long distance and his parents would not let him. I told Ray that Mom would not go for that either, so we sat it up to see each other on Saturday nights unless the weather was too bad to make the twelve-mile drive. I had to go inside, so we said good night to each other, and Ray left.
I went to bed that night thinking about Ray. I was having feelings that I really did not understand, but I knew the week or even two would seem very long until Ray would be back.
It was January 1977, and I just turned fifteen. Mom told me that we could ride around or go to Pizza Hut in town for about an hour after the movie as long as I would behave myself. I knew what that meant and that was not even on my mind, but I did want to kiss Ray, and I even had a dream about it.
Two weeks had passed before Ray returned to see me, so after the movie, I told him that I could go for a ride or out to eat. Instead, we went riding around and then to the city park and sat in the car and talked. I told him that I was from Southern Missouri and that my parents were divorced. He told me he already knew that because of my accent. We both laughed. Ray told me he lived on a farm and worked the land, and he had also done a lot of fishing. When Ray took me home that night, he finally kissed me. My first kiss. I went running into the house, and my heart was beating really fast. Then it just hit me; I think I am in love at fifteen years old. Ray was all that I thought of every day, all day long. Sometimes it was very hard to keep my mind on school work.
It's spring time once again. Also it was Friday, and the day seemed to be getting longer instead of getting over. I know why; it's Friday, and I just wanted to see Ray. Finally, school was over, and I was going home to get ready, as Ray would be here between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., and I had some homework I really needed to get done. I hurried home and got started. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 p.m., and that meant Ray could be on his way. I put my books away and got in the shower. Just as my hair got dry, I heard Ray pull in the driveway. I answered the door and let him in. I told Mom I would be home around midnight.
Ray and I got in the car, and he asked me where I wanted to go.
I said, "Let's just drive through and get a burger and fry and cruise around since it's nice out."
"That's fine with me, as I have something to ask you," Ray said.
After we had ridden around and ate, we headed to the park. We sat by the lake and were just watching the swans.
Ray then asked, "Will you go steady with me?"
"Yes," I said, without even thinking about it. Ray then gave me his class ring and told me he had only had it a couple of weeks. The ring was gold, square, with a red stone in it. I thought it was really cool. Ray then gave me a kiss, and we went riding around again.
It's just before Christmas, and I was waiting for Ray as we were going out. We went and got a pop and were going to just ride around for a while. We then went to the park, and Ray gave me a present. It's a small box. My mind starts going, "It's a diamond." That's what I wanted it to be. It wasn't. It was a gold cross necklace with earrings to match. I really liked it, but I was a little disappointed it wasn't a ring. I didn't let it show. I also knew I was really young. We then went to our friend's house to play cards and just hang out.
For the next year, we saw each other every Saturday night. Sometimes, Ray would come on Friday as well. I never told Ray that I loved him, and I didn't tell anyone else. Sometimes I don't know why I didn't tell Ray to see what his reaction would be.
It was January 1978, I had turned sweet sixteen. A lady I babysat for and my family had a surprise birthday party for me, and even Ray was there. I had a great year. I had quit work at the theater and went to work in a fast food place because it was more money. In the spring of 1978, Ray turned eighteen. Ray and I went to his Senior Prom in April. I wore a long ivory white gown with small straps that tied on the shoulders, very small orange flowers across the bust with layers of pleats that went down to the waist. With it, I wore a light tan shawl. Ray wore a brown leisure suit with a white and brown shirt. After we put our corsages on and Mom had taken several pictures, we went to a friend's house so she could see us all dressed up and then had pictures taken again. Then we headed to his house, and I met his parents. After that, we headed to the school. We danced and had lots of fun. I got to meet some of Ray's friends. Then in May, Ray graduated from high school.
We had never talked about it, but I knew without a doubt that I was in love with Ray.
Dale had gone to work for the state since he had enough credits and graduated in January. When Dale's class actually graduated in May, he graduated with his class, and he continued to work. In July, Dale and I had gone to the rodeo, and there was where Dale decided to join the Navy. My brother and I were very close, and it was difficult when my brother left suddenly for basic training.
Shortly thereafter, Ray joined the army and left for basic training. With both Dale and Ray in the service, I was very lonely. I missed Ray very much. We had been together for the last two years. I never wrote Ray a letter, and I really didn't know why. I guess I thought Ray and I were through because I still had two years of high school left.
Ray called from basic, and we got to talk. I was so excited that when I got off the phone, I put the dog's water dish in the refrigerator and spent the next few days thinking about him. After that, we didn't talk anymore.
When Ray returned from basic, he came to the fast food place where I worked. I got really excited when I saw him walk in the door as I didn't know he was coming back at that time, but Ray had a funny look on his face like he was not that excited to see me and I really didn't understand that. I then asked my boss if I could get off early. I was able to get off early, and we spent some time together at a friend's house, which I didn't know why as we always went for a ride or just went to the park to talk.
Ray officially broke up with me that night. I gave him his class ring back, and as I blinked back tears, I told Ray I would walk home since it was only three or four blocks, and I just went out the door without saying anything. Ray was standing there just watching me. I wish I knew what was going through his mind at that time. Did he love me and didn't know how to tell me? Or was it something else that I don't know about? I started to cry, and I did not want him to see that, so I walked a little bit faster. After I walked about a block, I sat on the steps of a church and cried until I could not cry anymore. I had had dreams of getting married and raising a family with Ray for the last year. Now I wondered why I didn't tell Ray that. Maybe he was having the same dreams. I continued my walk home and wondered what I was going to do now. All my dreams were gone, and it's hard to think of marrying anyone else. I guess I will see what happens.
I will never forget my first love, and now, I wished I had wrote to him when he was gone to basic training and I had told Ray that I loved him and wanted to marry and raise a family with him. I really didn't think that would have made any difference. But maybe, it was best that I didn't tell him. I thought maybe Ray never loved me anyway. For the rest of the summer, I worked at the fast food restaurant and did some babysitting. I talked to my girlfriends about Ray when we would have sleepovers. Several times, I thought about Ray and would see us together, but it was just in my dreams. Now I just want them to go away as I know it will not happen. I would see him uptown, and my dreams would come back. I tried to keep them away. It didn't matter they are still there. Oh, how I would have loved to talk to him! One night, I was riding around with my girlfriend Gina, and we saw Ray riding around in his car, so we followed him, as Gina knew that I did love him and I needed to tell him that. After we had driven about four miles, Ray finally pulled over and got out of the car. I got out as well and just said, "Ray." He then just turned around and got back in his car but not before I noticed that he had a girl with him. I knew then that I lost any chance to get Ray back. How do you make your dreams go away? How do you stop loving someone that you have loved for a couple of years? I would always remember Ray as my first true love and the one I got my first kiss from. I will never forget him. It was time for me to move on with my life and to finish school and enjoy myself. I will have to just let the dreams fade away and find new ones. But how do you do that?
Excerpted from The Lost Mom by Eva Achenbach. Copyright © 2014 Eva Achenbach. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Ellie, 1,
Chapter 2 Ellie and Ray, 4,
Chapter 3 Ellie meets John, 11,
Chapter 4 Ellie and John Marry, 15,
Chapter 5 The Marriage, 18,
Chapter 6 We Have a Baby, 21,
Chapter 7 And Baby Makes Three, 25,
Chapter 8 Baby Completes Family, 31,
Chapter 9 It's Family Time, 34,
Chapter 10 The Grandparents, 43,
Chapter 11 John, 49,
Chapter 12 Ellie Struggles with the In-laws, 65,
Chapter 13 Ellie Struggles, 78,
Chapter 14 Ellie Starts a New Life, 95,
Chapter 15 The Big Move, 110,
Chapter 16 Tom Takes the Girls, 123,
Chapter 17 John's Estate, 130,
Chapter 18 Ellie's Having Problems Again, 139,
Chapter 19 Ellie Goes to Court, 152,
Chapter 20 Close John's Estate, 159,
Chapter 21 Ellie and Ray get Married, 166,
Chapter 22 Ellie and Ray, 171,
Chapter 23 The Ending, 184,