How it all began 40 years ago … a journey back in time Part 2 of 4

26 Nov

A little over a year passed.  I didn’t want to attend my high school senior prom.  It just wasn’t my thing.  My mother wanted me to attend.  I told her I would go with another person I knew and at the last-minute he couldn’t go.  I never attended dances of any sort.  It just wasn’t me!

Edie West Technical High School 1971

Edie West Technical High School 1971

Al and Edie  1971 Senior Prom

Al and Edie 1971 Senior Prom

Al jumped at the chance to take me to my high school prom when he learned of the situation.  So, on June 4, 1971 he arrived late picking me up.  So late, we couldn’t eat dinner.  Dinner was served and cleaned up!  I had a horrible time and I told him such.

In spite of the fact I had a horrible time he convinced me to attend after-prom festivities!  We were lost for hours.  I can’t tell you how many times we crossed Pettibone Road.  I wasn’t familiar with Solon, Ohio and either was he.  In the dark of night, it’s not fun getting lost with someone you hardly know!

We finally arrived at after-prom early morning hours around 2 or 3 am. Many classmates were just arriving because they were lost!  That was a sigh-of-relief!  After-prom was fun!  It wasn’t just a style show, so I didn’t regret going.  We stayed only a couple of hours because by time I got home it was 6:00 am and my dad was waiting for me!

Believe me, I was naïve and there was nothing happening of a sexual nature.  I didn’t even like my date! It was clear as day we were honestly lost and no excuses! We were just lost in the dark of night in a strange area! I haven’t even kissed this young man. I had no interest in him and I told him.  There was no place in my heart for him.  Trust was very difficult for me.

We went to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio on Sunday for additional after-prom festivities.  That was more like me!  Laid back, relaxing, picnic and fun-loving events!  He wanted to buy me a huge bear and I didn’t want anyone to spend anything on me.  On this bear’s red ribbon was a huge bumblebee.  It was an adorable feature! I reached out and touched it, and it flew buzzing into my face!  Who would have ever thought it was real?

Edie and Al 1971 (Edie's High School Graduation)

Edie and Al 1971 (Edie’s High School Graduation)

After that, he simply could not resist buying me this big brown bear with a red ribbon! I was so stunned, I accepted this kind gesture.  Even though prom weekend turned out  fun, I still wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship of any sort.  I was totally honest with Al.

Edie 1971 High School Graduation

Edie 1971 High School Graduation

With my high school graduation just a week away Al wanted to attend.  I informed him that I have invited another male companion but if he wanted to attend with him that would be okay.  I didn’t expect him to attend. He showed up at my home before my high school graduation.  The other male companion did not!

I did not know why he remained so persistent to see me until one day early in the relationship he told me he’s never dated a young woman who was as honest and forthright as I was.  I didn’t pretend I was having a good time at the prom.  I clearly let him know I had a horrible time and was not interested in going to after-prom with him.   I let him know I did not like him, and I did not make excuses. He encouraged me to just give him a chance.

I gave him a chance and here we are nearly 42 years later and now married 40 years, December 9 1972.  Our courtship was not easy.  He lived 60 miles away, or about a 90 minute drive.  There was no direct route from Alliance to Cleveland on the highway.

Al's 1970 Dodge Charger

Al’s 1970 Dodge Charger

We depended on the United States Post Office and wrote daily letters during the week and saw each other on the weekends.  He worked full-time at Gem Clay and attended Kent State University part-time with a major in political science. I worked full-time and many hours overtime at Hauxhurst, Sharp, Mollison and Gallagher, a law firm in downtown Cleveland and attended night classes.

He was a perfect gentleman.  A couple of months passed and I began to fall in love.  He was already in love with me. Our favorite song was “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor.  The lyrics were perfect for our situation.

For a year or more he sent flowers to my place of employment every Friday, but I asked him not to continue his kind gesture.  First, it was costly but second I appreciated all I meant to him and couldn’t continue to accept them.  Since then, I get roses every anniversary and I do appreciate his kind gestures.

After Al finished studying and I worked overtime on Saturday’s we would spend time together.  He stayed at my grandmother’s house on 75th Street on Saturday nights. Our dates consisted of going to the laundry mat on Saturdays to do our wash.  Can you believe we enjoyed doing the basic things in life? I was a fairly cheap date.  All we needed was quarters, dimes, and nickels for laundry machines!

Sunday’s we usually went out to dinner at The Mark Restaurant at Burke Lakefront Airport.  In the late afternoon or early evening we’d go to our favorite ice cream place, Helen Hutchley’s on Detroit Road in Lakewood, Ohio.

It was a great place to sit and chat in privacy.  Albeit, as private as it can get in a public place! We should have been forewarned because it was just down the street from my mom’s favorite place, Franklin’s Ice Cream. That was convenient for all the actions yet to come!  Who would have ever thought?

Our first movie that we saw at Westgate Shopping Center on Center Ridge Road was Lady And The Tramp!  It was a pleasure to watch something so light-hearted!  One of the first goofy things that happened in our lives occurred at Big Boy’s in Westlake.

We ordered a dinner and Al decided he needed to use the restroom.  Without looking, he stood up just as the waitress was passing our table with a full tray of food over her head.  The entire tray of dinners went flying and crashing about!  This was an embarrassing moment, but a memorable one!

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20 responses to “How it all began 40 years ago … a journey back in time Part 2 of 4

  1. markinidaho

    November 26, 2012 at 1:02 am

    In the beginning of 1971, I was just beginning to understand the academic struggles brain injury can cause. I was a straight A student the year before (9th) but soccer caused cognitive, memory and seizure problems that left me with mostly B’s that year (10th). Saw Love Story with my first GF during Christmas break and had a petit mal (absence) seizure while eating pizza after the movie. It was a rough Christmas break as I had an exhausting EEG and old school brain scan with a mercury based contrast that same week. I am still in touch with my girlfriend of those years. She likely has had some PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) problems from her youth, just not to the extreme as mine. My grades recovered for Junior and Senior years then crashed in college after a few mild head traumas. Left college and got started with self-employment where I could have control over the things that aggravated my mTBI symptoms. Been learning about living with mTBI since 1971. Married 32 years to a wonderful woman who puts up with my mTBI symptoms quite well, especially now since we both understand it much better.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      November 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Congratulations for a lasting relationship of 32 years! It’s interesting that we need to learn about the personality of our partners on a deep level and I don’t think that happens in many relationships, but I’m not a relationship expert! Flexibility, understanding, and compassion seem to be just partial features of lasting relationships, especially after TBI. Having issues to deal with is not a character flaw, but an asset when it comes to relationships, life-situations and personality traits. We all can learn from experience.

      I see you are able to go back and know when changes in your life occurred. Hopefully, someday healthcare professionals will listen and incorporate our life-experiences into practice to offer better understanding and alternative treatment I think self-employment is a better option to controlling special needs-challenges and circumstances. There doesn’t seem to be much flexibility in the employment sector.

      What do you think worked to help your relationship?

  2. philippinewanderer

    November 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Edie, I enjoyed reading this because I too married in December of ’72…the 23rd and married my prom date as well. 16 years later, however, the TBI happened. 16 1/2 years later I found mySelf. Lying in a hospital bed in a nursing home and received a call from her, “Steve, I saw an attorney today…” Sickened, I hung up and slapped the wheels all the way back to my room.

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      November 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

      Steve, What a coincidence that our months, years of marriage were same. Unfortunately, even loved ones and other people don’t help others! What a sad story! I’m sorry to hear that during your struggles with TBI also came heartbreak and family being destroyed! Sad fact, you will always be the “fault”! Once, a TBI it seems like the blame is always put on that person and no one else takes responsibility for anything. How do we get others to listen and know our clarity of thought is most likely better than others because our brains have worked harder at recovery and compensation. Professionals encourage divorce, and splitting up relationships: first because it’s based on money and second, because they lack the knowledge of NOT understanding brain injury!

      • philippinewanderer

        November 30, 2012 at 10:37 am

        You are so right Edie! And to think she once wrote an article that won first place i the local newspaper eleven years into our marriage about, “How I Fell in Love” and at the end of the article she wrote, “I am one of the lucky few whose first love will also be their last” yeah, unless he should get a head-injury! I lost not only a wife of many years but also my two teen-age daughters’. In my case the doctor had told her that I would be an invalid. And while at divorce court I had asked her to talk to me outside and we made it as far as the front door before her attorney came rushing out and said, “I want you to know that if you go for coffee with him all will be lost….” Needless to say she did not go and our conversation ended. Just allow me to say that I hold nothing against her for that, however, prior to divorcing me she took everything out of our names (because I had named her my guardian) and placed them in her name alone. House, cars, she allowed my truck to be repossessed, she swindled me out of my paltry SSDI checks, reasoning that; since I was living at my parents’ home they should be responsible for all my living expenses, rent , food, and on and on even though I was 34 years old. I had better stop now because it is upsetting me and besides there is so much more that I could easily spend the entire day feverishly writing about the situation and all the ugly parts.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        December 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm

        Yes, head injury changes everything and it shouldn’t. The real problem is those without the head injury fear all the devastation and suddenly we become “stupid” rather than listening to us, and learning from us. We are all watching these things unfold, and I’ve been in touch with the most intelligent people (including you!) surviving TBI!

        I want to add a section that includes personal stories of brain injuries. I just don’t know how to go about it right now. If anyone has suggestions and believe they will be interested in writing their story please let me know.

        So what happens to marriage vows when healthcare professionals and lawyers are taking advantage of the vulnerable predisposition of TBI survivors? They should be encouraging rather than discouraging. Maybe they want to personally care and help survivors when their loved ones leave because of their suggestions? Too bad they can’t be held accountable.

        In 2007, sixteen years after injury I had a social worker tell me “Your husband could have left you!” My response was “I could have left him as well.” Nothing more was said! The same social worker wanted to know why we would make a police report on an elderly man for sexual battery. We didn’t file charges even though we could have; but nonetheless it’s a criminal act and is punishable by law. What are these so-called professionals thinking? I would encourage everyone to make a police report on anything that is not acceptable behavior in society and cannot be worked to some sort of resolution.

        It’s time people speak up and quit running to lawyers and professionals. We can all use some self-confidence. Even the most difficult times, make us stronger and better human beings but you need to work together not divide at a time of sickness or injury.

  3. buckwheatsrisk

    November 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    that’s so cool! i let my Hubby of 9 years know it would never “be” between us and didn’t treat him very well for three years…

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      November 27, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Many of us regret how we treat others, but we do our best! Your hubby is still by your side so you obviously you have a personality to love and care in many ways. Your perception might be very different than your hubby’s. He’s staying by you and he loves you, as you do him…you deserve love and trust in your life.

      • buckwheatsrisk

        November 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

        yes i treated him badly back then and i regret that but i’m so glad he saw me as someone in pain and has stuck by me , what gift!

  4. Maria Tatham (Elizabeth Ott)

    November 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I love hearing about both your lives and getting a chance to see pictures – love the prom pic (you both look happy!), and I showed Tom the photo of Al’s car. Edie, may you both have a happy and safe and lovely 40th anniversary!

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      November 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

      It’s sweet that others can have pleasure knowing me a bit more deeply! It’s fun to look at old pictures, at now older people! Guys, always love car pictures! Thank you for the Anniversary wishes! I just thought I’d share this journey, it’s been up-and-downs and not a perfect relationship but we’ve grown and love each! The injury and personality has made it a challenge, but life is full of challenges and many spouses just walk out related to injury and chronic illness alone. Any suggestions to help others in relationships?

      • Maria Tatham (Elizabeth Ott)

        November 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        Actually, I do!
        Forgive 70 times 7,
        if possible take time to sit close up beside them on the sofa,
        if possible stop whatever you’re doing to listen – give them your undivided attention,
        don’t accuse them,
        don’t embarrass them,
        and put your ultimate trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
        If you have been so unhappy as to have experienced a failed marriage, He will fix you and love you and never leave you. He is completely worthy of our trust.

      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        November 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

        You have given me the best advice for relationships. Thanks so much. Blessings, Edie

  5. Maria Tatham (Elizabeth Ott)

    November 27, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Edie, please visit my front page – an anniversary surprise…

  6. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

    November 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    How I WISH I could get my community to CLICK MORE LINKS — especially to click the ones here!!

    As I read the comments on your blog, Edie – no matter the article – that thought gets louder and lounder in my head.

    TBI experience would be so *normalizing* for those with ADD-affect. We were BORN with those “brain not supporting us completely” struggles, most of us, and have had to learn how to cope with the unkind and downright cruel reactions (really – that’s what it IS — failure to understand does not excuse it) to our attempts to learn and to cope. Many of us internalize the life-long make-wrong “tough-love” and conclude that we are difficient to the core of our being.

    The comments of ADDers would give those of you who can remember being different HOPE that you can and will find ways of working around whatever it is (and practical tips that will work for more than a few of you). TBI abilities to note the difference in ABILITIES and the treatment from others post-TBI will give the ADDers perspective that will help them build self-esteem. Our communities have much to learn from each other.

    Anyhoo – I *loved* this glimpse into your history. In addition to sheer awe at your husband’s willingness to be patient and continue to show up, I was struck, too, by your resolve to own your experience of life (what your husband calls “honest and forthright”). I believe that was what kept you going all those years when you couldn’t get a pro to LISTEN, much less solve.

    I, too, have always hated being “dismissed” — ESPECIALLY by supposed professionals – but I spent many too many years “being appropriate” vs. “speaking my truth,” because I had no touchstone to tell me that it wasn’t “me” (and no history of it being ok to continue to ask for clarification and/or insist that they were missing what I was saying). Sure wish I could have those years BACK – which is why I’m an advocate. I want to give those years to those behind me!

    Can’t wait for more of this article.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
    – ADD Coaching Field co-founder –
    (blogs: ADDandSoMuchMore and ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

      December 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      I totally agree that both communities of the TBI and ADD could help each other. Most are “over-achievers”, because I believe they all keep struggling for their best. Their best just never satisfies anyone, including themselves so it’s ongoing battle. Usually these battles make the person stronger but not without cost to the emotional being.

      I think the mix of brain dysfunction is interesting. TBI, has the before and after. ADD, it never has been. and has nothing for comparison. In both cases, societies expectations never change. You either fit the mold of expectations in school, work and society, or your disposable!

      It’s sad “being appropriate” is expected but I understand that everyone needs a job and they aren’t willing to rock-the-boat because it might mean financial disaster! Where do you go to get the truth anymore? Nearly everyone is afraid to speak the truth.

      I’m right with you wishing I could get those years BACK! Instead we advocate for the future generations and hoping it will help others to travel a smoother journey in a complicated system.

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        December 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        Disposable. “Throw away kids” Yet some – maybe even many – seem to succeed despite the odds and the lack of support. So, say the nay-sayers, stop making excuses.

        To THEM I say, how are you measuring SUCCESS? If Einstein had stayed at the Patent Office, we would never have known the potential wasted there.

        What might these “despite” successes be if they’d GOTTEN support? How far might they have flown if they hadn’t had to flap against the wind?

        And the others? MAYBE if you’d stop knocking them down with the make-wrong, they’d get to that “limp-along” success level too. But my stand (indicated by the name of my training company) is OPTIMAL functioning as a birthright.

        I may never live to see it, but I’ll never give up that stand as long as there is breath in my body.


      • brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

        December 1, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        I think Henry Ford failed 5 times before he got it right! He also suffered severe depression. OMG, another “invisible”, and “mental” illness! What great men they were in spite of limitations.

        Of course Thomas Edison was right there with Henry Ford! Thank God these human beings were persistent and didn’t listen to others. They’ve changed the world and still are many years after their deaths. Could you imagine what this world would be like without Einstein, and other inventors?

        Many years have gone by, and still we’re fighting the same battle … people are labeled! A few keep ruffling the feathers and it’s getting louder and louder. Voices will be heard and change will occur. Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will happen. I will also advocate till my last breathe and someday someone will listen and get it right for generations to come.


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