Vol 1: Spellbound‎ > ‎Read‎ > ‎

Ch 03: Jody


1969

I can’t believe I am turning thirty-five years old this year.  I remember being a little girl and thinking how old twenty was, I couldn’t possibly even image being thirty-five. However, life moves quickly with five children.  Now I find myself thirty-five, feeling like I turned twenty-five yesterday.  When I think about my past, it seems that accidents, both good and bad, seem to dictate the path my life has followed.  I thought this was a bad thing until I met Loren Edwards, my second husband and the love of my life.  We met at a New Year’s Eve party in 1955. A mutual friend set us up. 

I met Loren a little more than thirteen years ago.  I was happy to be out that night, and not just because it was New Year’s Eve.  At the time, I had two small girls, Bobbie, who was five months old and Little Jody, who was one and a half.  My parents frowned on me socializing.  I was living with my parents in Preston, Washington, a sleepy farm town about an hour east of Seattle nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountain range. We all lived in the two-bedroom house I had moved out of not too long before.  My living arrangements were something I was hoping would be temporary while I figured out what to do next.  My parents, Hazel and Vernon, shared one bedroom, my younger sisters Vernie and Joy shared the other, which left me with my children in the living room.  

My dad was often off logging and my mother was busy milking the cows, putting up food, tending the sheep and chickens, and handling the other responsibilities of keeping a small farm.  It was great to have Joy around, who was fifteen at the time, to look after Bobbie and Little Jody for me.  But it really was a bore living with my parents and in such tight quarters.  I thought I had escaped the chores and monotony of farm life when I married Robert Peet, my first husband. Everyone called him Bob.

An accident is how I ended up back at my parents’ house at age twenty-one, a widow with small two girls. It was a heartbreaking accident that killed Bob.  We were visiting some friends when I was about five months pregnant with Bobbie.  We brought baby Jody along, as we didn’t have anyone to watch her and my parents lived too far away.  Thankfully, Jody and the baby I was carrying slept most of the night, so I was able to relax and chat with my friends, have a beer, and enjoy myself.

Bob was drinking with his buddies at the other end of the room.  I smiled at him and marveled that already two years had past since we were married.  I still wasn’t tired of looking at him.  We met at a dance when I graduated from high school.  Thinking about how I looked at him that night still makes me blush.  I can picture him at that party.  Imagine James Dean, with all of the bad boy attitude.  He even had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his tight white T-shirt.  Bob served in the Korean War, which gave his eyes that distant hollow look people get when they have seen too much suffering and death.  He worked with his hands – he was a bricklayer and it showed.  I loved those strong calloused hands.  

At the party, he noticed me smiling at him; he knew what I was thinking about.  The grin he returned signaled it was time to go. We said our good-byes to our host and I climbed into the car. I wasn’t too big yet from the pregnancy with Bobbie.  I've always been petite and watched my weight quite carefully. It was usually rice crackers for me.  Baby Jody slept in my arms, resting on my slightly protruding belly.  Bob teased me about my tummy, something he knew I hated. He had a few beers but this was nothing unusual.  He often spent his Friday nights, and a lot of our paycheck, at the tavern down the street from our small home in Bellevue, Washington.  This was the one thorn in our marriage.  Not so much the drinking, that just seemed to be social, but it was the money he spent that bothered me.  Half of his paycheck would be gone by the time he made it home.  Our house was too small for our growing family and I needed a car.  I didn’t have a driver’s license and had to rely on Bob to chauffeur me around to buy necessities for our home or to pay social calls.  I hated being confined to the house, out of touch from my friends, spending long hours with the baby, alone.  I’d had enough confinement growing up in Preston.

The drive home that night was uneventful.  We were just exiting off Highway 90 on to I-405 near our home when a light blinded me.  I instinctively wrapped my arms around the baby.   I heard metal grating against metal, a horrible high-pitched scraping sound, and then silence.  What seemed like minutes later, I could feel the windshield give way to the force of my arm and head as baby Jody and I crashed through.  Glass tinkled and glittered all around us.  I held the baby as tight as I could.  There was bright red everywhere.  My baby was limp and not crying.  I looked through the splintered glass at Bob; he was wrapped around the steering wheel not moving.  What happened?

No.  No.  I panicked inside.  What should I do? Time ticked away, in slow motion.  I held my baby close.  I wanted to yell from frustration and fear, but nothing came out.  My mouth was bone dry; the moisture had vanished in an instant leaving a dry hole in its place.  It was terribly quiet.  Baby Jody, please start crying, please, I sobbed to myself over and over again.  My entire being was focused on my baby girl.  Then I heard voices softly as if speaking from underwater.  The voices turned into shouting and I felt hands prying baby Jody from me and lifting me from the hood of the car.  Time collided with itself as everything moved from slow motion to lightening speed.  

Sitting alone I could only think about baby Jody and Bob. There was so much blood and Jody wasn’t crying.  I couldn’t cry, my body felt scorched as well.  A paramedic came to examine me.  When enough moisture seeped back into to my mouth, I asked the paramedic about Jody and Bob in a bare whisper, but he wouldn’t talk.  He wiped blood from my face without looking me directly in the eye and I feared the worst.  His evasiveness confirmed my worst fears.  I can’t remember the drive to the hospital.  As a matter of fact, I am not sure how I got there.  It must have been in an ambulance. 

It was 1:00 am when we arrived at the emergency room.  The bright lights snapped me out of my fear-ridden trance.  I insisted they treat everyone else first.  A nurse told me Jody was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, but the paramedics were able to revive her.  How long she was dead for, they couldn’t say.  Soon, she was back in my arms crying.  It was the only time I was deeply glad to hear her cry.  I burned inside with a warm glow knowing that I was able to protect her.  Sitting in the hospital, rocking my baby who had been dead not an hour before, I relived the accident.  I was surprised that in the instant I saw the headlights a fierce desire swept over me to protect and save my baby. The feeling was so raw; I felt it to my very core.  Without my iron grip and my body wrapped around her, she would have flown through the windshield alone - the impact would have certainly left her beyond reviving.

Bob was another story.  He crushed his lungs and broke his clavicle, and had many other minor injuries. The doctors didn’t think he would make it through the night.  As I rocked the baby, I mourned for my husband.  Somehow I had escaped without significant injuries. I broke my wrist and needed 150 stitches in my face.  The baby I carried was uninjured, confirming there were such things as miracles.  I sat on a gurney as the E.R. doctor, who was also a Korean War veteran like Bob, sutured my face.  I was sure I would have a bad scar, but once the stitches were out, I looked almost as good as before.  The only noticeable difference was my left eye; it now wanders when I am tired.

After the accident, I stayed with my parents.   My empty house was too much for me to face.  I was grateful for my family's love and support.  I went to the hospital every day to hold Bob's hand and to pray he would recover.  I missed Bob's smile, his voice, and his hands touching me; I loved him so much.  My loved saved baby Jody, perhaps it could help Bob, too.  One morning, the police came to his room to tell me the driver of the car that hit us was drunk.   I was angry with this stranger I had never met.  What right did he have to take Bob from me?  That anger burned in the pit of my stomach.  It could have consumed me as I sat by Bob’s side holding his hand and hoping, but knowing there was nothing that could help him.  During the days and nights I sat with Bob it was quiet.  Eventually, the long hours of sitting and waiting helped peace replace my grief.   After one month of fighting for his life, Bob died on my 21st birthday, April 30, 1955.  Bobbie, actually Roberta, who I named for her father, was born three months later.

I met my good friend Sandy at the recreation center in Bellevue while I was pregnant with baby Jody.  She worked as a school councilor.  Once a week, in the evening, we bowled together. I loved those breaks with the girls.  After Bob's death, Sandy helped me pack up my house.  It didn’t take very long, since the house was so small.  I wasn't sure what I would do next. Sandy was there to listen and distract me, and I had my parents and sisters for support. This gave me time to think about what I wanted to do next.  I moved in with my parents while I thought about things. 

I got my driver’s license and bought a 1954 blue and white Ford Crown Victoria with the money I received from the insurance settlement for Bob's accident.  I didn’t want to rely on anyone again or to feel stranded anymore.  I decided to look for work to keep me occupied.  Being busy helped me to avoid thinking about Bob, and of course I had to support my little girls.  I took a job at the Seattle Credit Bureau, where I had worked when I graduated from high school before I married Bob.  It seemed to me that my life had come full circle now that I was living back at my parent’s house again and working at the same place I had before.

While Bob was certainly my first love, Loren is my soul mate.  At the New Year's Eve Party where I met him, I got up to find the friend who’d told me she wanted to introduce me to someone.  I saw her and reached up to wave, bumping into someone.  I muttered an apology and something about getting a beer.  A strong voice answered that he would be happy to get a beer for me, and I looked up into the smiling face of Loren. Accidents have a way of changing our lives.  I smile every time I hear his reassuring voice.

On our first date, Loren took me to a movie in Kirkland.  We sat and held hands and watched Spellbound by Alfred Hitchcock.  It is the story of a woman psychologist named Dr. Edwards, a funny coincidence, as Loren’s last name is Edwards.  The woman falls in love with a murder suspect who she believes incapable of murdering someone, and helps him to discover the truth of what really happened.  After a few twists in the plot, he is exonerated and they live happily ever after.  We both loved the romanticism of the story.

Everyone thought we were a match made in heaven, and this was true, but in some ways it was also a match of necessity.  Loren had two small boys, Larry and Gary, who needed a good mother.  He divorced his first wife, Phyllis, the year before we met.  And I needed someone to provide for my girls and me.  After a short courtship, Loren and I were married on June 15, 1956.  I was, and still am, devoted to Loren.

Loren and Jody's wedding picture on June 15, 1956. 
Loren is holding Little Jody and Jody is holding Bobbie. 
Larry is standing on the left in front of Loren with Gary on the right in front of Jody.

 

Loren had a small house in North Seattle that we all moved into after we were married. Larry and Gary attended Lakeside elementary school while I kept house and cared for the girls.  Living in the small house brought back memories of my isolation and claustrophobia in Bellevue with Bob.  I was afraid my second married life was starting to resemble my first marriage and I wouldn’t allow that to happen.  I told Loren I wouldn't do it again.  But Loren, who is a carpenter, showed me a lot in Juanita he purchased and described the house he was going to build for us there.  We sold the small house we were living in to finance the building of our home in Juanita and looked for some place inexpensive to stay while we built our dream house together.

At the time, Loren was assisting in the construction of a new mansion for the Marymoor family.  The Marymoor’s had the tiniest two-bedroom house on the corner of their property and invited us to stay there while we finished building our home.  The house was so small, a family of mice could barely have fit into it comfortably.  Larry, Gary, Little Jody and Bobbie slept in two sets of bunk beds.  There was just enough room in between the bunks to place a crib for the baby I was already expecting.  I laugh now at the thought of it.

See, this was another accident.  Loren and I had decided not to have any children, as four seemed quite enough.  But, Kerry was born in June, 1957 a year after we were married. Loren worked all day for the Marymoors and we built our house in the evenings.  I helped when I could, but I was busy with five children all under the age of nine.  When I couldn’t stand the cramped quarters any longer, we moved into a tent pitched in the backyard of the unfinished Juanita house.  I thought it would be better to live there so we could work more and finish the house quicker.  There was a ravine in the back the children could play in rather than be cooped up in the tiny mouse house.

When our home was finally finished, there was a large playroom in the basement with a fireplace, a bedroom for the boys, and a sewing room for me.  Upstairs on the main floor we had three bedrooms, one for us, one for Little Jody, and one for Bobbie and Kerry to share.  I loved the house from the instant we moved in.  I decorated our home with care. Little Jody had the cutest pink gingham pattern for her room.  Bobbie and Kerry's room was done with orange and yellow – everything matched.  They were such darling girls. Gary and Larry had a princely blue room, suitable for two handsome young men.  Back then, I often sewed clothes for the children.   Each Christmas I made matching pajamas for everyone.  I sewed partially out of necessity, but also because I loved the creative process and the feeling of accomplishment when I was finished with an outfit. 

When all of the children were finally in school, I joined the Orthopedic Guild to raise money for the children’s hospital and was active in the Lady Elks and the PTA. I played volleyball one night a week and continued to bowl on a regular basis.  Having lots of friends and doing charity work helped me to keep my sanity while raising five children. Perhaps I should say acquaintances as I rarely confide in anyone; this was how I was raised.  My mother was a quiet woman who rarely showed her emotions – very stoic. 

Blending Lorens boys and my girls was more difficult than I anticipated.  I tried to create a family where all of the kids were treated the same, but that never quite seemed possible.  Too often it was my girls and his boys and our little girl, Kerry.  Little Jody and Larry, the oldest from each camp, took the blame for more than their share of childhood mishaps.  Sometimes Bobbie would run to the bathroom or her room to avoid punishment or chores.  Loren and I did not scold her, as she was so small and often sick, plus I harbored a bit of guilt about the accident.  She was always my darling petite Bobbie and I didnt have the heart to scold her.

It was usually a battle with Gary to get him to help.  Gary was too thorny to force him to do anything and I learned early on to pick my battles with him.  Besides, Loren didn’t want Gary upset and neither did I, as I felt a bit sorry for him.  He didn’t have the easiest first four years of life.  I wanted to show him how a mother should be, caring and loving.  So, we also let things slide with Gary, too.  

And then there was Kerry.  She certainly was, and still is, daddy’s little girl.  When she was young, she was so sweet with her golden curls.  Being the youngest, she listened to what her siblings told her so she could be included in their games.  This wasn’t always a good thing.  Once, her brothers told her to put her hair barrette into an electrical socket. Which she did.  Another time, Little Jody and her friend put her in my old pickle barrel and rolled her down the ravine in the back of the house.  Sometimes I think she was lucky she made it through childhood.  I always thought the older kids gave her such a hard time that I didn’t need to.  It is hard to believe she is quite a lovely young lady now, ready to enter her teen years.

When the children were young, they made their own lunches, helped clean the house, and assisted with the canning and cooking.  Loren and I believed that kids need chores to learn responsibility, but we also believed in having a little fun. We built a cabin on Trail’s End Lake in Mason County which we visited when Loren was between building projects or when we had a long weekend free.  We took the children waterskiing on Lake Sammamish.  Did I mention how much Loren loves the water?  He also liked to take the family to see farm equipment museums, old boats, and go camping.  I am not sure the children enjoyed all of these adventures, but at least we did those things together.  When Loren was too overwhelmed by the chaos of the children, he retreated to his shop.  I am sure I have already mentioned how much I love to entertain!  Our friends come over for dinner almost once week. We send all of the kids to play downstairs and have a wonderful evening of beer and cards.

Sandy and I are still great friends.  She stops by often for a visit.  One particular visit troubles me.  She dropped in as usual and we chatted about this and that.  I mentioned something was upsetting me and I wanted her opinion.  She is the only other person besides my sister Vernie with whom I feel comfortable talking about anything personal.  Perhaps it’s because she is such a good listener.  It took a bit to figure out how to tell her what was bothering me.  I practically blurted out that my underclothes were missing and I wasn’t sure how or where they were going.

Sandy’s quick answer was even more surprising than my question. “Did you look under Gary’s bed?” Gary’s bed, why? I asked meekly, thinking what did my son have to do with my undergarments.  My friend nodded at me with a grave face.  Before she could answer, I quickly changed the subject.  This was too personal for further discussion.  We visited for a bit longer and then Sandy left to meet her husband for dinner.  I waived goodbye still pondering what she had said. 

I wanted to prove Sandy wrong as well assure myself my son was not doing what she suggested.  As soon as I closed the door behind her, I went downstairs and looked under Gary’s bed.  Much to my horror I found almost all of my dirty underclothes.  Of course I quickly collected and immediately laundered my missing clothes.  I spent many troubling days thinking about what to do about the whole thing.  Should I tell Loren, I wondered.  I decided it would be best if I kept this to myself.  Gary was probably just being a teenage boy.  Nothing could come of it but embarrassment to Loren and Gary and the family.  Later, when I noticed I was running out of underclothes, I would go to Gary’s room and collect my dirty laundry.  Gary joined the army not too long ago, so I don't have to worry about it anymore.  It’s in the past.

When Larry finished high school, he moved on to campus at the University of Washington to attend college.  We asked him to stay with us but he declined.  Gary and Larry have always had a troubled relationship.  I think he lived on campus because he wanted to be away from his brother. Also, his sisters were rebelling, making our living environment quite tumultuous. The basement is now quiet with the boys gone.

Ahh, the girls. We discovered Little Jody and Bobbie were smoking pot not too long ago.  One day we came home to find that Little Jody ransacked our house and stole some of our belongings.  She would disappear for days and then would come home with nothing to say.  Loren and I made the difficult decision to put her in SeDrNaR, a live-in drug rehabilitation center in Seattle.  Loren and I did not know what else to do with her – she was out of control.  About six months later, Bobbie joined her.  We certainly weren’t ready for the rebelliousness of teenage girls!

Loren and I drove to group counseling every Friday night in Seattle to listen to Little Jody.  This was required for her program, but not Bobbies.  The sessions lasted for hours.  During one session, Little Jody told us she was angry about her childhood.  She said she was angry that Loren treated her differently than the rest of the kids.  Loren told her this was not true, that she wasn’t remembering correctly.  I could see how upset she was.  Loren needed to know there was truth in the accusation.  I thought that perhaps this would help Little Jody grow into the woman I knew she could be.  At the next session, when Little Jody started yelling at Loren again about how unfair he was to her, I told Loren I felt it was true, too.  I explained to him how he had treated Little Jody and Larry differently.  He had a different standard for the older children.  After thinking about it for a week, Loren agreed, and apologized to Little Jody at the next session.  It was wonderful to see them smiling together afterwards.

Bobbie doesn’t seem to have the same issues with Loren as Little Jody.  She hasn’t complained about her childhood, Loren, or me for that matter.  I am happy she has such fond memories of growing up in our busy house.  Bobbie will always have a special place in my heart as my little girl, even though Kerry is the youngest.

While Kerry seems to be showing signs of the same teenage defiance as Jody and Bobbie, she does not seem to be quite so out of control as her sisters.  Loren and I have learned a lot about parenting teenagers from Little Jody and Bobbie.  Perhaps, since it is just Kerry living at home now, Loren and I can help guide her through her teenage years better than her sisters.

Amazingly, through the chaos of raising all of the children, my love for Loren has only grown.  When Bob died, I was broken hearted.  I thought I'd lost the man of my dreams. It was hard to think there was another man out there who could be my dream man as well.  Loren, it turned out, was so much more than the man of my dreams, he was my soul mate.  I am amazed, that after thirteen years my love for him has only grown and deepened.  Is it possible to be even more in love after another thirteen years? What will we do with ourselves once Kerry moves out? To the future – happy 35th birthday to me!