Sarah was not happy because of the control her husband had over her, but aside from that, she enjoyed her life. She had two beautiful, happy children, an occasional job as a substitute teacher, and the world at her fingertips with the World Wide Web. But she was saddened by the condition of her father.
Her father was not doing well. He had developed early Parkinson’s with dementia from breathing in chemicals at the plant where he worked. Her daddy, Joe, was like a child. Her children referred to him as Confused Paw-Paw.
Born in September, 1927, Joe grew up in the country. Right at the end of WW2, he was drafted into the Army where he served as a medic in the first MASH unit. When the unit split, he was in MASH unit 2. The only time he was in danger while serving was when he tried to administer a penicillin shot to a wounded soldier. Back then, the antibiotic was given with a big needle and was very painful. When the soldier saw that he had the needle, he started throwing anything he could get his hands on. The poor man hated the shots so bad, he ended up hanging himself.
After the Army, Joe wanted to become a doctor, but couldn’t afford medical school, so he started working at a local dry cleaners. He became really good friends with the owner and would go to his house frequently. Years later, after Joe went to his reward, the owner’s son fondly recalled to Sarah the Christmas Joe came over and brought fireworks.
Joe also was engaged to marry a dark haired beauty, but for some reason, the engagement fell through.
He was good friends with a lady named Janie who also worked at the cleaners. Her and her husband were the youth leaders at a small Methodist church and they frequently had parties for the young people at their log cabin. Janie invited Joe to come to one of the parties.
At the party, he admired a lovely blonde girl with sparkling blue eyes. Her name was Judy. It was love at first sight! There was another boy who wanted to take her home, , but she decided to leave with the dark-haired, slender stranger instead. On the way home, they stopped at the drive-in and had burgers and shakes. Judy thought Joe was rich since he could afford to go to the drive-in!
They stated dating regularly. Judy lived in town with her sister and brother-in-law so that she could be near the college where she worked. One night, after taking her home, Joe picked up a rock and knocked out the street light, so that no one could see them kiss.
They were married on November 6, 1954. Judy was 19 and Joe was 27. Two years later, when the doctor thought that Judy may be carrying twins, Joe left his job at the cleaners and started working at the plant. He worked his way up to a supervisor.
Joe had a good, white collar job, but he was a farmer at heart. He had three acres of land and used them well. His garden took up most of an acre. If he wasn’t working, he was in the garden, except for Sundays. He also had a little orchard with fruit trees, grape vines, and scuppernong and muscadine arbors. He had goats and chickens and at one time had a bull and a pig. He also loved to fish.
In 1990, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He took early retirement and in a few years, the quiet, dry-humored father of four needed constant care. Judy cared for him diligently. In July of 2001, he was granted freedom from his trembling, frail body and confused mind.
That was the worst summer of Sarah’s life.