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.