1000 Ways to Die (Our Stepmother Picks The Worst One)

Every summer Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) had a steak fry. It was something of a tradition in our part of the state, a giant gathering with steaks and political speeches. My sister and I always attended. After telling our stepmother Beatrice how much fun the steak fry was, she made plans to come out for […]

Notorious Nicknames

Dad and his band of brothers liked to make up nicknames for people they encountered in life. Old Dan Fiddler was quite a character who frequented our Grandmother’s farm while the boys were growing up. The boys would sit at the dinner table and stare at him, which Dan hated. Then they would call him […]

Mother’s Vacation Trip To Iowa

Although Mother did not attend either my wedding or my sister’s wedding, for some reason she felt a strong urge to fly to Chicago for the wedding of one of her nieces. After the wedding, she decided that it was the perfect time to take a vacation trip to visit me in Iowa. I drove […]

The First Blended Family Vacation

A few months after marrying our stepmother, Beatrice, Dad thought it would be a good idea for our blended family to go on a family vacation. I think he considered it a forced opportunity for us kids to bond. Our first trip was to Chicago. Since we had grown up there, my sister Abby and […]

Every Day Was Independence Day

Both Lindy and I are very independent women and I think some of our friends wonder how we became so self-sufficient when we lived in such a Far From Normal world. The answer is both simple and complicated. Every day with our mother we were able to practice our problem-solving skills and gain knowledge of […]

A Surrogate Mother Unlike Any Other

Growing up with Mary for a mother, I realized at a very young age that I was going to need some other role models. During the time we lived in Chicago, Aunt Olive filled that position. She made new clothes for me, took me shopping, arranged photo opportunities, and tried her best to teach me […]