Begonias again

Hanging basket of Fuchsia from 2014.

Hanging basket of Fuchsia from 2014.

During the past few days, I filled most of the containers in the back yard and several pots hanging outside the porch.  Until Kathy and I get over to Fort Myer to buy more herbs, all I have left are a few pots of annuals, mostly begonias and coleus.

I tend to plant the same items every year, but this year I added a few new begonias.  After they grow and show new flowers, I’ll take photos.  I’m looking forward to the begonias most of all.  I placed many of them in small pots so I can bring them in the house next fall.


When I was a young wife, I was pregnant 6 times in 4 years, suffered several miscarriages, and became severely depressed. Although my mom had mentioned birth control to me, my first obstetrician was a devout Catholic whose own wife had 8 children and he disapproved.

One night  after my last baby was asleep following his 11:00 PM feeding, I was reading a book about overpopulation, and the thought, “I can’t keep having babies to cheer myself up” came into my head, and I suffered a severe anxiety attack.

I called my priest, and he asked to speak to my husband who was passed out but revived long enough to come to the phone. Later, my anxiety led to depression and eventually I was hospitalized. The day I was released from the Tampa General Hospital psychiatric ward, where I had been treated for depression via EST, Sherry, another military wife was there.  She took me to a movie, The Sound Of Music.

I was married to my first husband in those days, a U.S. Marine, who had a severe alcohol problem which eventually killed him.  When I was 8 months pregnant with my oldest son, I had fallen on the stairs in our quarters and broken my foot.  With a cast on my leg up to my knee, I hobbled around taking care of my 18-month old daughter.  One night when I was preparing supper, X, sitting at the table with a can of beer in his hand, told me I looked like a “peg-legged pregnant robin.”

That same winter, I developed bronchial pneumonia.  Because a war was on and most doctors were overseas or caring for wounded vets, I sat for hours at the naval hospital waiting for care. When the doctor finally saw me, he prescribed an antibiotic, which I refused to take, because the Thalidomide scare was all over the news, and I was afraid of medicines of any kind.  So, I suffered with the cold until I recovered.

Many of my friends, perhaps all, were military wives. One day, a friend brought me a pot of begonias, a cheery plant in my dark world.

When we were first married, X  (now deceased) had given me a sheet of paper he had been handed in his office which read “The duties of a Marine wife.”  I remember little of it, except it contained one line, “The Marine Corps did not issue you a wife.” This was pretty much the attitude of the Marine Corps in those days.

We married in 1959, the year the Vietnam War began (Ike was president), and our marriage ended in 1975, the year the Vietnam War ended (Ford was president).

We moved many times in the 1960s, but from 1970, we lived continuously in the Washington D.C. metro area where I went to college for the first time attending the local community college.  I  also held a part-time job because X told me I could not pay for classes using his money.

Because I was still fighting depression, my psychiatrist supported the idea I work outside the home and attend classes. He said I needed to get out of the house more. While X was overseas the second time, I lived in the neighborhood where I live today.  I remember backing out of the drive-way one day and being overcome with joy for the first time in a very long time.

Over the years X and I were married, we lost many friends, and many of the wives I knew lost husbands. Some husbands came home maimed. A friend named Eileen left her husband, and became a war protestor.  Another friend, a widow named Mary Ellen, was a school mate when I was a student at Mary Washington College. (I moved to Fredericksburg Virginia with my three children when X and I separated.)

In the end, two things helped cure my depression: my friend Sherry and a pot of begonias.

24 thoughts on “Begonias again

  1. You speak of things we were told to keep a secret…. Drug and alcohol addiction and mental health. I admire you for that!! I too am writing an honest biography to air out all the closets…. Thank goodness my husband is nothing like my former Mr X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Family secrets. Yes, we’re not supposed to talk about, much less write about alcohol and drug abuse, but its a scourge. Over my life, I’ve had a predisposition to become involved with substance abusers. David is clean and sober and has been for over 30 years. May it continue.

      When Washington DC voted to legalize pot in the District, it was the young white leftists who voted it in. Black moms and grand-moms objected, but unfortunately, they are not the majority anymore. Pot is still a gateway drug.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess begonias and a good friend would help me, too. Sorry you had such a hard life, but hubby keeps telling me not to live in the past, but to live in the present. Wise words for everyone. Good luck and best wishes to you. Aloha from Hawaii.


  3. I am so glad you had your friend Sherry and a pot of begonias. Trials and tribulations that would break many, but you came out of it a very strong lady. I will always think of you when I see a pot of begonias.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy 73rd birthday in two weeks, mine is the very end of may near and sometimes Memorial day and my wedding took place on that day!!!!!!!! We are good for each other and love each other dearly, buried his dad, buried his mom and a brother, never see hide or hare of the others now..Our only is single and happy as a clam, she has no use for drinkers as she uses the term and loves begonias and all flowers, she used to cut our neighbors flowers much to her chagrin but she never said one word as our only is a peach of a human being, kind and thoughtful and a dadblasted great cook and seamstress, she enjoys getting her hands in dirt doesn’t happen often in NYC where she resides but when she is home she goes for it, she is independent as a pig on ice and no one raises a hand to anyone or yells, she will tolerate it she speaks softly but carries a big stick a scorpio most of her friends are Taurus people who love the land and home and hearth single people on this terrestrial, she is understanding of all people, but would never tolerate people who act like yahoos, drunks, druggies or the like…Have a most wonderful 73rd and sending out loads of love and peace and joy to you, I read your blog early each morning with a cuppa tea and my two kitteh cats sitting around the computer one would think they owned the place that is how cats ingratiate themselves in one’s life, my hubs a non cat lover is affectionate and kind to them they adore him of course, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, what a story! I guess God cursed you with an interesting life. (But I think it was Eisenhower in ’59 and Ford in ’75 … I remember Ford being in the White House when I was at Time Inc and the Vietnam War ended).


  6. I am happy something helped you with your depression and being at the treatment of a man who was not there for you, alcoholics are that way..I am 67 next month I waited until my 26th birthday to marry a man only 7 months older than me but a prince in every sense of that word, his Mom had 9 kids both men bums in my opinion and she never even liked to cook, clean or do anything for her kids so her sons, primarily my husband took contro ofl the many kids acted like they were budding criminals but my husband whipped them into shape, he tended to his beloved brother who was developmentally challenged, he works as he has done for over 40 years and is sweet as sugar, my mother in law had no use for her 2 daughters so one married at barely 19 the other went batcrapcrazy with drugs and alcoholic men had 2 kids with no marriage and ended up working like hell to support them..I say a woman should know how to take care of herself and only marry when and if she would like to a like minded gentleman not just a fellow for a wedding production and all, that what it is today..Keep up your love of plants I think the flower you were given is the sweetest and you sound mighty sweet yourself, keep calm and carry on is my motto and always be kind to yourself, ciao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. I don’t like begonias. Too showy and waxy. But if they had the same kind of meaning for me as they have for you I would embrace them with all my heart.

    In those long gone days we women were not very bright, were we? Thank goodness it all changed.

    Liked by 1 person

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