Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Things Turned Out, from HOME IS WHERE THE STORY BEGINS


         I want to tell you just how life turned out for the people who played the most important parts in my life.

         I'll start with Grandma Blake. She raised us to become the people we are, and we even learned some things. She lived to see us all get married, but only knew of Doreen's baby. She was 94 years old when she died and has been greatly missed by all. It was strange to go into the house and not see her rocking by the kitchen window and humming "Rock of Ages."

         Daddy retired from the railroad and wanted to travel. Mom and he went to Florida two times, and then he got sick. He lived to see all five grandchildren---two girls and three boys---before he died in 1973. He was only 67. He would have loved and greatly enjoyed the grandchildren, and they would have enjoyed him, with all his stories and tricks. As I said, we had the best dad.

         Mom stayed in the big house for 10 more years before selling it in 1983. She also worked all that time. In 1978, Tom and I and our kids moved in, so she had help, but that didn't work out; perhaps two women cannot share the same space. After three years, we moved. Mom sold the house in 1983 and moved to senior housing. She loved it and had many friends and trips. We talked every day and went on many shopping trips. Mom died suddenly in 1990, and it was very sad not to see or talk to her daily.

         The house is now a business office and apartment house but is empty. It is sad to see the house and yard empty, when they were always so full of love, happiness, and activity.

         Doreen married her high school sweetheart and had two children – a boy, Greg, and a girl, Vickie. They built a home in Walden, where they live today. They have three grandchildren, and Doreen runs a day care center and takes care of husband Bucky, who has a muscle disease. We speak every day, and when I visit, we all get together.

         Nancy married Bucky's best friend, Bobby, and had one son, Kevin, born three months premature, weighing only 1 lb. 12 oz. He stayed in the hospital for two months, but now is fine. They have one granddaughter. Nancy worked full-time and was the Walden Village Clerk until she retired. In 2004, Bob found out he had colon cancer, and Nancy cared for him for a year at home. He never wanted to be in the hospital, and she made that wish come true for him. Bob died way too young. He was always healthy until that point. In the 10 years since, Nancy has become a runner, hiker, skier, bike-ridervery active. She has a new companion and is very happy, a great friend, sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt. My two grandsons live close to her and adore her. We also talk every day.

         As for me, I was the first to get married, at the age of 16, after meeting Tom on a blind date. We went to the drive-in to see Love with the Proper Stranger. How great was that! We married four months later, and we just had our 50th wedding anniversary. We have a daughter and a son and three grandsons. One grandson will graduate from high school in June 2015.

         Tom worked for IBM for 30 years, and after he retired, in 1993, we moved to South Carolina, where we have many animals that we love.

         Our daughter, Claudine, named after Andy Williams's wife Claudine Longet, one of my husband's favorites, is married and has two sons, Tom, 17, and Kiernan, 15, Irish redheads like their father. Claudine is taking college courses for gardening and landscaping, and is living in Walden, NY.

         Our son, Christian, lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and has one son.

         I go up North often to see everyone, but my husband won't fly, so we drive there once in a while. I talk to both of my sisters every day, and we are there for each other, in good times and in bad. They had been with me through my illness, as I've been with them in their bad times.

         Earlier, I told you about three crushes and one serious boyfriend I had in school. Then, after being unattached for almost four months, I was asked by a girl in my class if I would go on a blind date with her boyfriend’s brother, Tom. After a day of thought, I agreed…for just one date. Well, this turned into a marriage of 50 years to my best friend, companion, and care-giver.

         In February 2011, after being sick with I-didn't-know-what, and having gone to three different doctors, I had a lung biopsy and was told that I had a terminal lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, a death sentence within three to five years. Dad said (I call my husband "Dad"), “Oh, hell no, you are not going anywhere.” I had been going to this doctor for two and three-quarter years but switched to one closer; on my first visit, she told me I didn't have pulmonary fibrosis, and it doesn't have to be a death sentence, anyway.

         My husband has been my support and cheerleader. Thank you, God, for that blind date!

         As I finish this, I am recovering from triple-bypass heart surgery and doing well. It has only been a few weeks, and I'm stronger. Tom has been a godsend to me, doing everything. I'm hoping this is a new lease on life, which I plan to use to the fullest. It was a dream come true.

         One thing I have wanted to do for a many years was to write this, and I finally did it, with the help of my new friend, Douglas W. Cooper, my writing coach and editor.


This ends our serialization of Kathleen Blake Shields's delightful upbeat memoir about growing up in little Maybrook, NY, in the 1950s and 1960s. It is available from online booksellers like and and from its publisher Outskirts Press. 

It was my pleasure to serve as Kathy's coach and editor. See

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