Who Am I Besides A Survivor of Mob Stalking?

Huge blue bin is holding most of our family albums. The bins on top are taxes and school “stuff”. Those boxes hold hundreds of photos………………Many needed to go into my Munchkin’s albums, but now need to be scanned. Last – older albums. Early marriage. I also have boxes of slides – pre child.

You know what those pictures represent………….the ones since I moved here: my nephew’s Mike’s wedding (Battalion chief), my niece’s Brandi’s wedding (her son Ryan is a firefighter training to be an EMT) – Munchkin was the flower girl, my nephew’s Jason’s first and second weddings, plus multiple Thanksgiving dinners with that part of the family (he is a firefighter). Thanksgiving – Oh my! My nephew Damian is the king of Thanksgiving. I think some of the Sebastopol/Forestville people know him. Would give you the shirt off his back. Lots of nephews after a niece……………until Munchkin. Now a lot of girls with the next generation. Considering it started with four girls……………..boys were great………..but we needed some girls. I have driven up and down to So Cal and back so, so many times, but I grew up driving from So Cal to Nor Cal and back with my family. Born in Berkeley, but my dad told my mom that he was moving us to Ohio (when I was three months old) Told my mom. That is why I really think he moved up the moral ladder and it took him a lot of hard work and soul searching. He admitted he was the spoiled youngest of a family of four. A midwest Mom……………..from that era.

Here is my Uncle Robert Switzer:

“Mr. Switzer was also scrupulous about complying with environmental laws, often spending more money than was required to meet the legal minimum standards for pollution control, Tom Gray, the company’s longtime counsel, said.”   I was at my dad’s Northern California Memorial service – under the redwoods. We went to the Union Hotel – my family’s meeting place. One of the men who worked with my dad loved telling me stories. I had not realized that after Day-Glo color was put on our planes, not a single one was shot down by friendly fire. It mentions that in the book.

Oh yes. I have problems brought on by “Growing Up Day-Glo”. That is an idea that I have for a book. There is a book about the Switzer Brothers written by Chris Barton. I read it to classes that I would substitute in. One girl said that I must have had a special childhood. That stopped me cold. Yes, I guess I did despite some bumps. I got one of the first set of Day-Glo crayons, my dad gave me Day-Glo cones and hula hoops for teaching, I used Day-Glo paints. My dad came into the entry one night shaking a can of paint. We all thought …………I’m not sure. He started spraying it. It was a prototype can of Silly String. Just a plain silver can of “paint”. We screamed and laughed.

The photos. My dad, once a year, would get out the slide projector and screen and we would see our family history played out on the big screen. That is why those albums are so important to me. It’s our family history.

TAHOE- just in case…………….my cousins started meeting for a week each year with their parents to celebrate their parents’ first marriage anniversary (there were three – messy and dysfunctional both families, but hey – we turned out pretty good). When we moved her in 1996, we had arranged to go camping with friends (Patti and Ken Martinez) in South Tahoe, but we stopped by the West shore Martin cabin……..The following year, my dad rented hotel rooms at the north shore, then we also moved to the west shore. The rest is history…………….We have met in Tahoe almost every year since. Even though one of us was missing/sadly missed last year. Four plus four equals eight. This year my cousin, Izzy Martin, CEO of the Sierra Fund (started this non profit environmental group) won an award. The award stipulates that she must not work for three months…………she is traveling. No Tahoe this year. After a father’s death, a husband’s death, a sister’s death and her aunt and uncle’s death, PLUS the fantastic work she has done…………..the 90 days of travel was well earned. Yes, I am very proud of my family.

Cousin Izzy Martin

https://www.sierrafund.org/

I was making neat piles of 40 plus years of slides, photos, recordings of kids’ voices, VCR tapes, over 20 photo albums, many more photos in boxes, family history gathered by my dad in DVD format (he had made them on VCR, then that went out the window), family memorabilia, numerous family trees. Including the “baby” photo album that my mom made for me when I was an adult (she had done detailed ones for my two older sisters – I was fine with it………but she made me one), I guess the pictures go back at least 62 years with a few copies of some from before I was born. Some I had here, but as I went into a depression when we were getting ready to move, I was making sure everything found a “safe” home. I sent most with my ex. A year ago I went to the Denver, Colorado area to pick up the photos. The timing of the trip was basically determined by when my ex went to China or at least when he said he was going to China. I was off one day as I shot up to Arcata to be with my cousin the day before she died.

I have got to take another gander at that genealogy of my grandfather Switzer. I saw what looked like an Italian name. That would explain my uncle Joe’s coloring.

My grandfather died before I was born. He died from a heart attack. I had assumed that he had died from the damage to his kidney from a fall from the church tower………….in Fromberg, Montana. However, he died from a heart attack or something like that. THAT is why my dad ended up going on the Pritikin diet for the rest of his life pretty much, and hiked over 200 peaks with the “older” group of the Sierra Club. For my mom it was, Sheer dumb luck and good genes and for my dad it was a lot of hard work and determination.

As you can see, some in my family take genealogy VERY seriously. My dad and my cousin, Wiley Martin (knows Sculley Sullenberger – flew with him. I think Sully was the copilot – Wiley flew troops to Vietnam and then kids to Afghanistan).  Wiley connected with the Whites up in Redding where my great grandmother’s family was from (where the children and women went to after THE quake in 1906). Then, they settled in Petaluma, but ended up in Oakland – Hales Brothers’ Department Stores sort of dictating some of their moves. Anyway, one of the Whites is big on genealogy. Note the mention of Pennsylvania. And you thought I was joking about the Quakers, didn’t you?

I got to thinking. No one, except my family members knows who I am…………….oh, and my best friends since kindergarten and her family, the two good couple friends in Corona, kids I grew up with ………………..who really knows anyone except for those people? And my ex. We were best friends for a long time after we met. I was a senior in high school. He was attending the junior college across the street. We actually were introduced at an L.A. Sharks game (yes, really). My youth group went and I had invited a few friends who hummed, “Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear…………..” as he and the Sharks’ ??? manager’s son walked around the rink. That’s what good friends are for, right?

The pictures gave me an idea. You people certainly must think I have had a lot of random time on my hands. The only time that happened was the year I was depressed………….and then every second was torture, so I don’t think that counts.

I can’t find my phone at this moment, so I will describe one random item that tells about me, my family and why I really would have liked to attend many, many more inspirational Relay for Life events in Petaluma, but it’s at an awkward time. I put many ribbons on the “survivor” ??? medal. The blue one top right: prostate cancer, my dad and my uncle – both survived; three breast cancer: my cousin (eventually passed away from endometrial cancer), myself, my aunt; two green ones (supposed to be teal): my sister who is a 23 year survivor of ovarian cancer, my cousin on my dad’s side who had cervical cancer (it went somewhere else………..I think that is better than a different cancer) – survivor 3 years………Then I have a whole bunch of purple ones (supposed to be pancreatic, but I don’t know if they had the ones I needed): cousin who had endometrial cancer after the breast cancer who eventually died from the complications of all the surgeries – she finally said enough. She was diagnosed with breast cancer one year after I was, so 2006 – she passed away in 2016, so fought cancers for ten years                                   (NEVER get a laparoscopic hysterectomy unless you are 100% sure there are no cancer cells that will be cut up when they cut up the tissue – stupid, stupid, stupid doctors – my almost 80 something doctor expressed the same concerns I did – BEFORE someone did a study saying it wasn’t such a good idea. Really? The doctors do everything they can to make sure the cancer doesn’t spread and then tout the benefits of laparoscopic surgery (fine for ovaries and tubes – they come out okay………………why TMI……because I AM a teacher).                              Why the soapbox? Oh yeah – I had to think, my cousin Annie had a recurrence of the endometrial cancer. She went through this wonderful new surgery…………..

IMG_2453

I actually think that I have been to one whole Relay with Curves and then two partials. A boy who had survived cancer and went to my daughter’s school led us out one year. The first year, the doctor I had talked to about the possibility of radiation had passed away from a rare cancer. If anyone has an issue with me being at the Relay for Life in Petaluma. Tough!

One must stand for the great aunt that died at age 40 of ovarian cancer. Her children were raised by another great aunt. I’m going to stop there. My cousin had multiple surgeries and dozens of x-rays because of scoliosis and then had a metal rod in her back. I worried about the x-rays…………Mine and my sister’s? I have no genetic marker – that is known. However, the risk of many cancers rises when a child lives with a smoker. My mom smoked two to three packs a day for decades. After seeing a movie in middle school, I told her that I would never wash another ashtray again. She was fine – almost 93 and a recovering alcoholic – the dysfunctional in my family. Great genes and “Sheer dumb luck.”Between her smoking and all the chemicals in So Cal and around, who knows?

More as I take pictures……………………..Really, people, really? My son, my ex and I ran into an Asian man from Riverside, CA when on top of the Jungfrau in Switzerland. I got to talking to him and he was a good friend of the doctor who performed endometrial surgery so that I could get pregnant (followed by three months of male hormones. Joy?) AND delivered our son. We also ran into someone we knew when both families were catching connecting flights. And I am guessing so much of this has to do with weird coincidences AND some set ups and a planted flyer from a school. By the way – after I got out of my depression and returned home from my parents’ 70th anniversary party, I started subbing.  I subbed for Bellevue, Rohnert Park, one day at Two Rock, Old Adobe district (where I had worked as an assistant in Special Ed), some for Petaluma, possibly Waugh (2014-15), Roseland……………oh yeah. I had plenty of time on my hands. I subbed mostly when I got a request in advance or was “called” a day in advance. Oh. wow. Bet you didn’t know all that did you. Only a few days were for Petaluma. And yes, I interviewed at Kenilworth. ooooh, aaaah………I hadn’t given it a second thought. ooooh, aaaah NOT.

The Patricia and Robert Switzer Foundation were my uncle’s and aunt’s dream for giving back. To think a traumatic brain injury and not being able to go to med school led to all this.

http://www.switzernetwork.org/

http://www.switzernetwork.org/about-foundation/grantmaking-approach

My dad and my cousin Ann Switzer developed the guiding principals for how the foundation should be run – include family but don’t let the family take over or change the vision. My dad was a bit mystified by my not being able to attend a celebration in his honor in 1997…………….he found out more later and took a class from NAMI (mental health) and found out what he could. I did a family search and sort of figured out who had “it”. It’s here and there. Regrets I have but few……..having to step back and say no and not get involved……………….not put down as someone who would have too much responsibility in settling my parents’ estate. Well, as my doctor said after first becoming a person with (but not defined by) bipolar disorder, I have to watch my stress level. Then I went out and started a Daisy Troop, volunteered in my daughter’s classes, went to Standford with my son’s GATE group – collider, became the treasurer for Boy Scouts (and bit my tongue – they do things……….like guys, but it always works out), started subbing when my daughter was in third grade, ………………..just like I was in Mom and Tot’s when my son was little in Corona – every Wednesday at a park or on a trip. Went many a time with my eldest to Knott’s no fee. Magical for a little guy………..

The pics……………parents’ 70th, 65th, 60th, 55th………………………plus their birthdays………..Oh yes. That plus jumping through hoops for the CCTC – credentialing group has given me plenty of time. Daughter – soccer 1st through 12th. Two years of basketball, sleep overs, projects, friends and magical gatherings on our top deck…………….argh. NO candles! Teaching both kids to drive. LAN parties in the garage. Birthday parties for both………never take 13 year old boys out to dinner at Mary’s. There were only three! …..helping here and there…………taking flack from parents who wanted girls who had never slept away from home to go camping. Sorry, the backyard for the first sleep over was just dandy. Oh, ask Judy K. how much of a stickler I was/am on following safety protocol. The Girl Scouts about did me in. I follow the rules…………well, before you people. We had to get permission slips to meet on a different day.

I did take two years to go through the program at SSU for my credential. I had just managed to talk myself into driving to the mandatory meeting in 2007 from an outpatient program…………..I was so detailed. Oh, I did a brief presentation on bipolar disorder in children. It happens……………….as did the 72 year old woman who never had it until her husband passed away. I should have said to my neighbor. It is like having a higher risk for diabetes………………………..I probably would have “had it” eventually, but 10 years of infertility off and on -three pregnancies and two wonderful children, fighting Reynold’s Metal and Whirlpool for city water in MN, culture shock and a tornado not too far away, giants hitting logs together on our flat room when my ex was out of town, taking care of wonderful pets……………, moving, “running” the track with the Petaluma Parent Cooperative Nursery School kiddos, going on field trips, leaving California, culture shock. Oh yeah. I mentioned the culture shock of MN……….probably not in the cities, but where we lived………..my. I looked at some of the old class photos. Where I taught, almost 1/3 of my students were “minorities” and I wouldn’t have had it any other way………….African American, Mexican (I should say Latino, but I think Mexican in the late 70’s early 80’s was okay_ and a few students who were Vietnamese. My students taught me so much. By the time I had to take the CLAD and asked to be included in a credential class taught by Professor Hee-won Kang, I could look at it from another angle – and still be so annoyed at the lack of Latino teachers in the area…………….

Anyway………………………………..I always have a snack and read my mystery books. I had trouble at first with reading but grew up with mystery books. I am in a rut. But maybe, just maybe……it was meant to be. Sherlock 55

 

 

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