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Ankara

Ed O'Brien

© 2003-2013 by Author

© 2009 by Author

A Recent Occurrence must Precede My Story:

 
Above: Ed with grand daughter Katie……..at her High School Graduation, June 2009.'WAY TO GO KATIE! The redheaded kid in the background is her boyfriend.

Below: Katie, her mom Juanita visiting from AFB in Okinawa, and Debbie. Darned if I ain’t just so pretty...and Debbie too, and all the ladies! (click photos to enlarge)




(Many posts at this website are read by folks that don’t understand common American abbreviations, so I spell them out)

As I grow older and reminisce I have often thought about my past United States Air Force (USAF) military assignments. People I had met, and favorite or most exciting places I had been. These thoughts had taken on much more meaning when I realized I had spent almost all of my military career with my late wife Jan (I was in the service two and a half years when I married her and together we completed the 25yr military stint together). I wanted to share with my children the places their mom and I had shared before they came into being, during their time with us, and after they moved on with their own lives.

With the newest technology I was able to Google Earth most of the homes Jan and I had occupied. Many had street views which aren’t the best but it saves me a lot of travel!

On my first assignment, at Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) near Rapid City South Dakota USA, Jan and I were there for a little over four months, and then the USAF assigned us to Ankara, Turkey. Our time there I detailed in my blog.

BUT...

I have always wondered about the buildings I occupied while stationed in Ankara: The first six months were in billeting; and the rest of our two year assignment was in a 5th floor penthouse apartment not far from the billets. And I wondered if the hospital and clinic where I worked were still there as well.

BUT...

Google Earth was no help……..I couldn’t read Turkish and I had no clue as to where we lived and worked in this sprawling major metropolis, which has grown so much in thirty years. I was baffled and stumped as to how I would ever find anything.

Further searches on the web brought me to Jan Claire and his wonderful MerhabaTurkey.com website (now Merhaba-USMilitary.com).

After reading virtually the entire site I realized I was no nearer to finding my answers than when I had started, but was smiling at the wonderful memories many of the site's contributors had given me.

So, I wrote Jan. He suggested I write my story and maybe someone out in cyberland might be able to help me. Little did I know it would be a lot easier than that.

Jan Claire suggested that I email a Turkish internet friend of his, Mehmet Ekizoglu. So I did.

WOW! Instant Friendship! I remember now: this is how Turkish people are: More than willing to help! And Mehmet was extremely helpful. His emails included many pictures way beyond what my wildest dreams envisioned! The in depth personal discussions in emails we have exchanged; the family pictures... I can never repay Mehmet for what he has done for me and my children. Our first real home and we have great pictures of it now, that they can pass on to their children....


And Mehmet Ekizoglu Chimes In:


 
At left: Mehmet Ekizoglu, his wife, daughter, and recently born son. All of us at Merhaba-USMilitary.com hope they will meet in person as Ed plans a trip to Ankara! (click photos to enlarge)

"When I first received an e-mail from Ed O'Brien, I thought that he was a true family man. that he was a man of traditions and really liked the idea of leaving a legacy on earth. I was right in my first thinking. He is really a man of family traditions and I still think that he knows very well what the life really means.

Getting to know him has been a pleasure for me. We exchanged pictures and memoirs.

The thing that he was asking from me was simple. However it easily became an embarrassment for me as I stuck in the daily work routine and our doctor visits (we’re going to have a new baby).

I first consulted a friend who worked for TUSLOG in the 1970s. He provided me some e-maps with the exact addresses of the old American offices in Ankara. I shared the maps with Ed and he agreed that they were correct. I finally could get out there, and searched for the apartment where Ed and his family spent their time in Ankara.

It was very close to Tunus Street. I took a friend of mine, Alper, and went to walk around that neighborhood. Ed had sent me some old pictures of the buildings nearby but they were hardly giving a clue because the city has changed enormously and the view of Ed's building is completely different than it was in the old pictures.

We walked around and finally found Ed’s apartment1 I was very happy because Ed’s waiting would finally be over and, also, I had been able to keep my promise.

Alper and I took several photos of the building and the entrance to the apartment. I don’t know if the building had changed over the years but the surroundings sure had changed! They tore down the older apartments and built new ones. It is now one of the most expensive streets to live on.

I couldn’t wait to send the pictures to Ed. Thanks to internet technology, he saw the photos of his apartment in Turkey in no time. I am so happy to be a part of a friend’s happiness and to feel the same excitement.

Now, if I can find it, I’m planning to take photos of the hospital and clinic that he worked in Ankara.

Peace to all,

Mehmet




    Ed in 1986
  • I was just a poor enlisted slob. When I enlisted in 1965 I told the recruiter I wanted to be a medic. Got through basic with the same request and before long I was bused to Gunter Air Force Station, outside Montgomery, Alabama. Attended two medical schools there before my first assignment, the aforementioned Ellsworth AFB, in South Dakota.
  • From there: Ankara for two years.
  • Then Fairchild Air Force Base for six years.
  • Then Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska for three (included a one month stint out on Shemya Island in the Aleutians).
  • Then back to Alabama, Maxwell Air Force Base for four years.
  • Then Korea for a year.
  • Finally Hill Air Force Base for six more years,and retired from the USAF there in May 1991
  • Moved from Ogden to McMinnville OR in 1993.
  • Went back to college in 1994 and earned two degrees, one of which is in Medical Administration.
  • Lost my wife Jan in Aug 1997
  • Retired in 1998 at age 52 and two months.
  • Found new love the next year - I finally realized there is nothing more powerful in this world than love. It took losing a wife of over 29yrs to come to that reality!
  • Remarried in 2001.
  • Bought current place July 2001.
  • Computers are a hobby. I build 'em, work on 'em, make 'em run faster, smoother, safer, like NEW! Got plenty of free software to do it!
  • Need help?

Click photos below to see enlargements!

Ed Owing Pic1
Overlooking Ankara 1969

 

Ed Owing Pics
King Tut archeological dig site 1970

 

Ed Owing Pics
Ankara, looking from our penthouse 1970

 

Ed Owing Pics
American billets 1968

 

Ed Owing Pics
American billets, 10th floor, watching a Turkish man and his bear dance 1969

 

Ed Owing Pics
Statue of Ataturk, 1969

 

In May 1968 I married my wife Jan, in Seattle, and she became pregnant virtually that night! I took her back to my base, which was Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota where we lived and enjoyed building our lives.

In August of that year, the Air Force offered me early reenlistment and we took it. Shortly after that I received orders to TUSLOG Detachment 37, Ankara, Turkey.

Since I hadn't reached four years service when I reenlisted, I couldn’t take my wife with me to Turkey, so we sold all our furniture and moved everything we had - including the cat - to Tacoma so Jan could stay with her sister while I spent 15 months in Turkey.

After arriving in Ankara in November, 1968, and on the trip to billeting, the first thing I noticed was the odor of the air….I had never been around coal-burning before. It sure was acrid. I got settled in at billeting which was an 11-story building and the medics were on the tenth floor. The dining hall was in the basement, and cop shop on the first floor. Many a day I spent in that dining hall waiting for Stars and Strips newspapers to arrive! Or watching from our 10th floor balcony as some Turk danced with his bear in front of the building and we laughed at his antics and threw him some change. Fortunately, none of the coins got close to him or his bear. Across the street was a wonderful barber shop complete with chai and a back rub!

At the hospital I was assigned to the main ward - there were two actually: obstetrics and the main ward.

Not long after arriving the local Middle East Techical University students decided to protest at the American Embassy and turn over and torch the Ambassador’s new Cadillac limousine.

I was fortunate to befriend other medics who had been there a while, and quickly learned how to barter and dicker when shopping. Using some basic Turkish phrases I became pretty good at it.

It didn’t take long for me to become lonely, and to miss my new wife. By now I had heard about the special charter flights from New York: the Christmas and Easter Flights.

Christmas was really bad since my pregnant wife could only contact me thru the APO and back in those days mail to the west coast of the USA took two to three weeks turn around time; letters sent and answered!! I remember being in my room in billeting when a local Red Cross worker found me to let me know our daughter had been born. That was late January, 1969. I had met another medic, a first-termer, who had paid to have his wife come over and now he was sending her back home. I bought his return flight from New York for Jan, so all my wife had to do was get to New York. She did that by selling our 1959 Chevy Belair!

She mailed all our belongings to Ankara, and in the meantime I took over an apartment from the medic who was leaving and I also bought all his furniture. Now we had a place to put our things. This apartment was a fifth floor penthouse, with no elevator! At least it had a flush toilet and bathtub. It was located about two blocks up the hill from billeting where I had spent my first six months in country.

Before my wife and child arrived I had purchased baby furniture and a washer and dryer from Americans leaving. The apartment was ready.

The BIG day for my wife to arrive was very tense. I simply couldn’t sleep the night before. Then I took a taxi to the airport, arriving so early that I had several cups of Turkish coffee and was quite wired by the time my wife got there! But when I saw my wife coming off the plane: Child in one arm; diaper bag in the other; and my wife holding the baby pacifier in her mouth. I SURE was glad to see them!

Into a taxi we went and off to our apartment. I am sure she got pregnant again that very night, because in December 1969 we had a son. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

A Merhaba-USMilitary.com Hero:
MEHMET EKIZOGLU

    
   

Ankara is a massive, and beautiful city of nearly 5-million people. Ed O'Brien remembered a fragment of his apartment's address in Turkey but not enough to really zero in on the location using Google Earth or mapping programs.

Ed Asked us at Merhaba-USMilitary.com if we could help. We immediately forwarded to Ed the email address of one of the brightest Turkish movers and shakers who lives in Ankara, Mehmet Ekizoglu, a wonderful friend there who, when Ed contacted him, immediately set to work researching the sprawling 1,000 square mile city to find that little dot which may have been Ed's old apartment. Mehmet eagerly graciously volunteered to help and, after much research and no doubt walking, he found the place and took photos of it. Mehmet is pictured (above center), and the apartment building appears above right. We thank him for his efforts and it is gratifying that he, his family and Ed's family have already become fast friends - and Facebook friends, too! Click on either photo to see an enlargement.

For his tenacious work in tracking down Ed's old home, we have given Mehmet our "Turkish Hero" award for effort beyond anything we, or Ed, expected.

Tesekkür ederim, Mehmet!

We got comfortable in our apartment. Took taxis everywhere we went, when we weren’t out walking and enjoying the city (and being careful not to step in horse droppings). Taxi to Balgat for commissary and the Base Exchange. We bought fresh fruits and vegetables from a local stand around the corner from our apartment building. We learned to soak these in water with a capful of bleach before eating. We had bottled water (su) to drink. Grocery trips were always a chore, that is, the hiring of a taxi to take us and our food from Balgat back to our apartment, then having the building custodian (kapici) help us carry bags of food up the ninety four steps!

The apartment building had only two apartments on the top floor, and both were rented by Americans the entire time we were there, so we could speak easily to our neighbors. A few floors down lived a Turkish ob-gyn doctor who spoke fluent English, and his 17 year old daughter babysat for us on several occasions. We also hired a maid...five dollars a week. My wife was so spoiled!

Since we lived so close to the American billets, many of the single medics would come over to our apartment for a home cooked meal, to visit, play games, listen to music, and to party. More than once one of them would watch our children while Jan and I went out.

Our favorite place to dine was the Buyuk Ankara, on the top floor. This night club had wonderful food and various European artists who seem to know every Tom Jones song ever written or sung. No local American television or radio meant we had a lot of records and reel-to-reel taped music. Of course we had lots of parties. Every weekend someone was throwing a bash at their place. We found ways to entertain ourselves and each other.

All of us knew that on Turkish election days or holidays it was best to stay indoors and off the streets. One of their special days, Rahmadan, was quite different. I think this was the holiday where they bought sheep and slaughtered them in front of their homes and gave the meat away to a needy family? Or am I getting them mixed up. It has been over forty years!

Work at the hospital was nothing different than I had already done stateside, except for small elevators and using the freight elevator to move patients to and from Surgery.

One day Tony Curtis, the actor, came by our hospital for treatment of his trots…..and the hospital commander brought him around……I got to shake his hand. Eventually I moved from the nursing unit to the Emergency Room, a place I had spent two years at when stationed at Ellsworth.

In July of 1969 another friend was leaving Turkey and offered to sell us their 1968 Volkswagen bug. I was glad to buy it, and gave him half what he wanted and together we made a contract at JAG for me to pay it off at $100 a month for the next several months. That VW got us all over southern Turkey. Of course we always carried toilet paper!

By then I had befriended a few patients from İncirlik. We got invites to come visit, which we did. Enjoyed drives along the Mediterranean coast and saw many ruins. We even took the boat ride out to Island in the Sea. Driving in Turkey is a lot of fun if you don’t mind playing dodge ball with trucks and buses! And speaking of sports...

At Balgat we played our inter-squadron sports, including flag football and softball. On game days I would go around the hospital and collect a dollar from everyone who was coming to the game…..then drive a field ambulance to the NCO club and get a keg, bring it back to the hospital, put it in a metal garbage can, ice it down, and have it ready for the game that night. We always drained the keg! I tried to remain sort of sober so I could drive the ambulance from Balgat back to the hospital.

The medics won league play one year and after the championship game the hospital commander showed up with several magnums of champagne and boy did we party! Keg empty, and magnum bottles finished!

One night, while working in the Emergency Room, I heard a loud boom, and found out the next day that someone had set off a bomb at the local CIA building a mile or so away from the hospital.

Night time duty in the ER was just one medic, a Turkish driver (who slept all night) and one of our military doctors. A few docs enjoyed ‘smoke’ while on duty and I never said a thing. “Smoke” was real popular back in the late 60’s……I even tried it and realized I didn’t like how it affected me. Quickly decided beer was easier to control!

Normally we were treated very nice by the local populace. However, one day when it was nice outside, I walked to work. Being dressed in hospital whites, black shoes, military field jacket, and my military hat I certainly stood out amongst locals. One time as I passed a group of young Turkish boys the smallest of the group came towards me and spit on my jacket. I thought the best point of valor was to just ignore it and keep walking.

 Mess Hall with new baby
Our young 20 year old gal with a baby 11 months old on what is available for a lap (soon to be born son takes up most of the space), and a 23 year old proud husband and dad!
   Our chowhall guys sure put out a great feast that day!

In December 1969, nearing full term, my wife was hospitalized, flat on her back for two weeks, until our son would be born. Finally, late afternoon on December 29th, after having spent Christmas in the hospital, he was born. Two more tax deductions in one year. Great!

Not long after this the local Turkish union struck Balgat and the commissary and BX were closed. We had two children under the age of two and they needed their milk. Our hospital, however, was exempt from the strike so we got a continual supply of food for the patients. The Dining Hall NCOIC made me a little deal: I'd pay for a lunch meal and walk out instead with a dozen half-pint cartons of milk. This was much safer than buying it on the local economy back then.

I remember snowfalls in Ankara - gray snow - weird! And that winter smell of coal burning. Our kids played on the balcony and got dirty every time.

Balgat was where we had a few hospital parties, bought our tobacco and liquor, and eagerly waited for clothes for the kids and the latest music for us. School age kids from throughout Turkey came here for their high school education too.

We left Turkey in November, 1970, for leave (vacation) prior to our next assignment: Fairchild AFB.

THE REST OF THE STORY

After spending Christmas with family in Seattle we arrived at Fairchild 02 January 1971 and got an on-base house immediately.

During the next five plus years in and around the base (eastern Washington State) we camped, hunted, fished (all months), hiked, dirt biked, and truly enjoyed the outdoor pleasures of the area. Many beautiful parks in and around Spokane, northeast Washington, and northern Idaho!

Our beloved 1968 VW Beetle that we had bought used from a friend while we were in Turkey was needing major repair. Plus our family was outgrowing it!! So, to the Chevrolet dealer where we purchased a new 1972 Chev Suburban 4wd Carryall. PLENTY OF ROOM!!

In 1973 my family and I drove the Alaska Highway to Anchorage, Alaska, to spend vacation time with her folks (little did I know then this would not be the first time we would drive that highway).

Our third child, our second son, was born at Fairchild AFB Hospital in April 74.

We attended the worlds fair (Expo 74) in Spokane and the kids never tired of all the sights, sounds, FOOD, and RIDES!!! (neither did we!)

In September, 1976 we were assigned to another base: Elmendorf AFB, Alaska (located directly northeast of Anchorage and beside Ft. Richardson USA Post).

Once again we drove the Alaska Highway, only this time loaded with tools, hunting and fishing gear, and kids clothes! (I never trusted any commercial mover with my tools or fishing/hunting stuff!)

During the next three years there we again enjoyed the wonderful outdoors. Fishing, camping, hunting, off-roading, and SIGHTSEEING! Alaska is so immense and breathtaking.

While in Alaska I was sent for a thirty day temporary assignment: Medical assist (one of their medics had to leave due to family illness) on a very distant island, the second one closest to the Russian border. Shemya Island: A tiny island measuring about 2 by 4 miles, with the highest elevation above sea only 135 feet!! Good thing the period was for one month only, in August, because I didn't like being away from my family! I was so bored I took up jogging/running, which I continued during the rest of our time in Anchorage, even in mid winter!!! (Once I was treed by a momma moose near the end of a winter run!!! I got between her and her calf!)

While I was gone to Shemya my wife Jan had finally decided to get her driver's license. Yes, ten years we had been married and she never drove on her own!

When I got home, she picked me up from the airport! So very proud of her. Now, I wouldn't have to go grocery shopping! HOORAY!!

(Note: For those who want to see the pictures on a return visit to Alaska, in 2009, I posted them on my Facebook page).

Later that year we took another vacation: Drive (cheaper than flying) the Alaska Highway AGAIN to Washington State (we both had family there), and south to northern California (where Jan's folks were living).

By now we had graduated from camping/sleeping in the Suburban to a tent trailer. Enjoyed the provincial campgrounds in the Yukon Terroritory and British Columbia, four of which became our normal stops. (Leave Anchorage on a Monday, and arrive in Seattle Friday evening, camping at those same sites: The total distance of the trip was @2500 miles).

On the way back up the Alaska Highway we gathered Jan's brother Russ's three kids: Now we had three boys and three girls for the next five days! He was working in Anchorage and his kids stayed with him that summer: Although Jan daycared for them while he worked!

Many USAF members want to be stationed in Alaska, so the assignment length is limited to three years.

During our last year in Alaska we were informed of our next duty station: Maxwell AFB, Alabama, which is located immediately northeast of Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, in the southeast of USA.

September 1, 1979 we left Alaska for our long trip to Alabama. This time we were pulling a seventeen foot travel trailer, which was our home for the next thirty days!! Back down the Alaska Highway we went AGAIN, making this our sixth time we had driven it!!

During this thirty day cross-country trip we stayed with family, friends, and free stops/campgrounds. By the time we pulled into Maxwell we had not spent one dime on lodging!!

We stayed/camped in a FamCamp (a government provided campground), on base for about ANOTHER thirty days while Jan and I looked at homes: We decided to buy our first one! At the FamCamp the school bus, for on base schools, would stop right next to our trailer and pick up/drop our two oldest children. Jan and I found a nice home @twelve miles away from the base.

We moved into our home, got the kids enrolled in local schools, and we settled down for another wonderful assignment. Alabama is different, in that they speak with a southern dialect (hard to understand sometimes), use different words, ('fixin' means getting ready to do something, ['I'm fixin to stack some wood'], 'winder' is window, ya'll is you all or everyone, carry means to take ['I'm fixin to carry the kids to the store'] and more I don't remember.

Once again I found great fishing, hunting, and motorcycle riding areas! One afternoon we and a few friends ventured out for a day picnic at a hidden swimming hole on a stream. While us adults set up the picnic area our boys immediately found an overhanging tree to jump off into the deep water hole. The second climb up the bank to jump off the tree, our oldest son stepped on a copperhead snake, which bit Eric on his foot. This is a poisonous snake so we immediately banded above the bite marks, applied ice, killed the snake (for identification) and carried the boy through the woods to the car and drove him to the base hospital.

There he was given vials of antivenin and hospitalized for four days. He recovered just fine and as he hobbled around school on his crutches he was 'the man.' Bragged about his snake encounter to all his friends!

Our southern states are rich in history. Many old structures, parks, and monuments. One in particular my oldest son, Eric, and I enjoyed together was a week-long Boy Scout campout to Shiloh National Military Park, in western Tennessee. During America's Civil War, an important battle was fought here between the North (Union) and South (Confederate) armies, which the Union soldiers won. April 6-7 1862: The two-day battle of Shiloh, the costliest in American history up to that time, resulted in: Union casualties of13,047 (1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded, and 2,885 missing): Confederate casualties were 10,699 (1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, and 959 missing or captured). The Park had walking tours, with written intrepretations, throughout! The Scouts earned their five-miles a day and ten-miles a day hiking badges! Yes, us three adult men also did those walks!!

Our boys were involved in Scouting and baseball, while our daughter was busy chasing boys and learning the violin at her school. This kept Jan quite busy driving kids from one event to another. I commuted to work and back on a street bike during our stay in Alabama.

We sold our travel trailer in Alabama, as well as our trusty Suburban. A new 4wd Subaru station wagon became our major mode of transportation.

Jan was reluctant, at first, to drive the Subaru because it didn't have an automatic transmission. It didn't take her long to master the manual shift of the Soob. Soon she was driving it everywhere and enjoying the much better gas mileage, too!

In February 1983 I received orders for a one year assignment. A remote location in South Korea where I could not take my family. This was a 'special duty' assignment, meaning I would first go to a very extensive medical school prior to my departure.

November, 1983 we packed up and left Alabama for the long cross-country trip to a community south of Seattle, Washington, where Jan and the kids would stay until I got back from Korea.

My assignment, in Korea, was a very boring one: I WAS THE ONLY medical person for the care of @sixty USAF personnel. My duties included inspecting the facility, dining hall (including food flown in by helicopter), and sanitation (check our water daily to make sure it wouldn't make anyone sick).

Rarely did anyone get sick (all the assigned USAF personnel had extensive medical checks prior to going to Korea), so after an hour or so each morning, I was essentially done for the day. Spent many hours reading, or playing games with our Korean help. After duty hours I would go for a three hour walk.

On weekends I would often hike into our range (we were there in support of a simulated tactical air strip: Where airplanes of many nations would fly in and drop fake or sometimes REAL bombs and shoot at targets). Again, just for something to do!

Early December,1984, my duty in Korea ended and I returned to my family in Seattle. We boxed up all our belongings and moved to Ogden, Utah (Hill AFB, my final military assignment).

Utah is a gorgeous state: Full of natural beauty and wonder.

Again, I found areas for camping, fishing, and hunting (notice a pattern?). By now our growing children were busy with their own friends, and family outings were becoming rare. All three of them learned to drive with the Subaru.

Jan and I bought a large touring motorcycle while in Utah. We had learned, way back in Alabama, that we enjoyed riding/exploring on two wheels. So, in 1987 we bought a new 1986 Honda Gold Wing. Toured all over Utah, Colorodo, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

It was because of this bike that I found my daughter's future husband. And lost Jan!

Jan and I met and joined a local chapter of the international Gold Wing Road Riders Association. One evening meeting we met Alan and showed him the high school graduation picture of Carole. That's all it took! A year later I walked her down the isle into Alan's waiting arm!

Not long after this glorious event our oldest son, Eric, joined the USAF. He wanted and got the medical field. I distinctly remember Jan and I watching him depart Salt Lake International Airport to his future career. It was a happy and sad day!

May 1991 I retired from the USAF after a wonderful twenty-five year career. So many beautiful places we had seen, so many wonderful people we had met, and so many friends we made.

October 1993 Jan and I packed up our belongings and moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where her folks lived. By now our home was very empty: Carole married and on her own; Eric in military schools; and Lee busy living/playing with his friends in Salt Lake City.

In McMinnville I went back to college and earned two degrees: One is in Medical Administration.

June, 1996 I got a job in the local area as a Quality Assurance Coordinator for three medical clinics. This meant a daily commute from McMinnville to Portland, which I hated because of the terrible traffic! But, the money was a good start!

THEN THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN IN MY LIFE OCCURRED!!

August 16, 1997, 2030, a Saturday, Woodburn, OR: An evening ride like Jan and I had done thousands of times before on our Gold Wing motorcycle. We got T-Boned (hit on the side of the bike) by a lady who did not yield at a stoplight. I went down with the bike like I was trained and Jan was thrown over my shoulder onto the pavement. Somehow her full face Bell Helmet came off and she struck the curb hard, HEAD FIRST!

I was taken by ambulance to a local hospital while Jan was Life-Flighted (medical helicopter) to a major trauma center in Portland. By the time I got to Jan five hours had passed: She had already been through surgery, where they discovered she had a massive brain injury, as well as major broken bones.

Sunday morning, the neurosurgeon came in to check on her and discovered she had still not breathed on her own. He gave me the grave news and I consented her over to the donor program (which Jan and I both strongly supported). Monday the donor team took Jan back to the operating room where they extracted much of her to be used on living people in need!!

Tuesday our local mortuary brought Jan back to McMinnville, where by now all of our family had gathered. Carole dressed her mom in her favorite outfit. I placed several mementos in the casket with Jan, saw how swollen her face still was, and decided the service would be a closed-casket affair: I wanted everyone to remember how beautiful she was in life, not how disfigured she was in death!!!

After the funeral family and friends left to continue on with their lives and I was alone!! I had to heal.....both body and soul!! Broken bones needed time to mend while my broken heart would never heal (yes, even as I write this!).

BUT: Please don't grieve for me, for I was blessed. Thirty years with this wonderful woman (all the traveling we did during that time...an accident could have happened anytime), three wonderful children, doing what we loved to do together, being with her on her final day when she took her last breath with me and her first with Him!

During my recovery I was comforted by several local church groups who brought me food and would sit and pray with me. I reread the New Testament daily, restricting myself to only so many pages a day so as not to read it all at once! I cried, screamed, cursed God and Jesus, nearly killed myself to stop the pain.

God Brought me through the darkness to where I felt almost human, but it took a few months!!!

I returned to work in December, 1997, and felt the overwhelming warmth of my co-workers. All were so understanding of my moods (crying came easy), and helped me by just LISTENING!!

March 1998, after receiving monies from the accident and paying off all our debt, I decided I didn't need to work anymore. So, at age 52 and three months, I stopped working and started playing, and have been doing just that ever since. THANK YOU, HONEY!

At work, one gal in particular, Debbie, caught my eye and full attention! GOD TOLD ME...she was the one He and Jan Had Picked Out for me. (yes, actually told me with a very bright light while I was alone thinking about Debbie)!!!

Debbie and I married January 2001 and are still so very much happy together. My three children, and her two boys, have blessed us with ten grandchildren. In July 2001 we found our present home: In southwest Washington, about 25 miles north of Portland, Oregon. (See Facebook for pictures).

Just a few days ago we had all ten grandchildren in one place (Carole and Lee still live in Utah)...Jan is so very proud of her children, and three of the grandchildren were born before we lost her!

Debbie and I enjoy traveling, just like Jan and I did. We have been to Hawaii twice, Alaska once, and several trips to Utah.

The luxury of where we live now allows us to visit beaches in Oregon and Washington, or Cascade mountains/forest or the Columia River Gorge....all simply on day trips.

Presently I keep busy on our five acres: Mowing; horse and fence; four dogs; helping neighbors; and errands.

I have mastered the art of: PLAYING!!


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