Junior Red Cross Volunteer, Rapid City, SD

By Rose Klix

In 1964, when fourteen, I joined this volunteer organization. I didn’t find any photograph of me in my uniform. Here’s a web link for the mannequin pictures of the pinafore and Gray Lady uniform.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/166327178/40s-wwii-vintage-red-cross-uniform-candy

We dressed with a white blouse under the blue-and-white pinstriped pinafore. Often people mistook us for “candy stripers,” because of their similar pinstriped red and white pinafores. However, their duties included icky stuff like cleaning out bed pans and making beds. Even though my service was much more pleasant, I learned definitely not to pursue nursing as my career. Our adult Gray Lady manager said the nurses termed their cap as their pride. I proudly wore my cap and pinafore.

Our manager assigned us to various locations for our volunteer time. For my first assignment, I reported to St. John’s McNamara Hospital, later converted to a nursing school and then to a nursing home.

I loved walking to St. John’s because the building sat only a couple of blocks from my house and I didn’t need a ride. As a Junior Red Cross volunteer, I reported to the front counter. Sometimes I’d be assigned to greet visitors at a small desk with a Gray Lady. I would answer questions as to a patient’s room number and whether or not they were allowed visitors.

One day a Gray Lady didn’t see me wave at a visitor who bypassed our desk. She did grin and tell me, “I went to school with him. We called him “Piggie.”

I said, “I know. He’s my grandpa, Orion Swinehart.” She stopped smiling, seemed embarrassed, and sent me on my break. My great-aunt Maude worked as a cook. I often visited with her.

One of the nuns showed me how to operate their switchboard. She insisted, “Remember which way to push the switch. You want to ring the room, not deafen the caller.” I got mixed up and turned it the opposite direction. The supervisory nun put a stop to any further instructions to me and perhaps other girls. I was not destined to be a telephone operator.

I loved to take mail or flowers to the patients’ rooms to cheer them up. Even though shy, I enjoyed these talks with patients. Unless the nurses posted a notice on the door to not give liquids, I filled up their water pitchers or helped them sip from straws.

St. John’s denied teenagers access to the maternity ward where mothers labored behind a door with limited access. Policies banned us from seeing or hearing any birth pain suffering. I visited the nursery’s viewing window to see the beautiful babies.

My brother’s best friend suffered a motorcycle accident. He was recovering from surgery for a pin and plate in his leg. I cried when I saw him. I brought him bachelor buttons from my garden, an appropriate flower. He always bragged about his latest girlfriends. That day I realized he would never reciprocate my crush. Instead we “adopted” each other as brother and sister.

Next assignment took me to Bennett-Clarkson Memorial Hospital which is now a mental health facility. The hospital sat about two miles west from where I lived. Mom or Dad drove me there. I again brought mail around to visit with patients. Dad’s co-worker had an accident. I often visited with this paraplegic’s wife. As a family we’d been invited to their home on occasions and both families kept in touch over the years. I personally felt their tragedy, because it seemed too close to my own family.

I sat with a paralyzed young man. He laid on a revolving bed with huge bars, trapeze and traction hooks. I left the room while they turned him over. With only a towel draped over his private parts, I wondered how it stayed on while they flipped his “bed” over. Another day the medical team moved his hospital bed outside. They gave me no clue how I could help this young man. He seemed to be very angry with the world and wouldn’t talk with me. He told me, “Light my cigarette.” The wind blew out the match. I’d never lit anyone’s cigarette before, not even my Dad’s. The boy firmly said, “Cup your hand over the flame.” That worked. I’ve often wondered if the Vietnam War caused his injuries.

Another day I spoon-fed a man with badly burned hands wrapped in white mittens. He said, ‘Mash the peas so they don’t roll all over.” He looked miserable and helpless.

I disliked taking the patients’ urine specimens to the laboratory. However, the assignment allowed me an excuse to go up and down on the elevator. I often pretended I was the elevator operator. I’d punch in the floor numbers for those entering the elevator.

I made the unfortunate mistake of wearing seamed nylons. I’d probably bought them on sale at Woolworth’s; more stylish seamless ones cost more. I overheard a couple of interns laughing and pointing at my crooked seams. The same young men also got on the elevator with me. One turned off the light and put his arm around me. The other one turned on the light in time to see me pull away. I didn’t like their mocking attitude.

I also served a short time at a nursing home converted from the old Donaldson’s Department Store building. One day the secretary told me to go around to the residents and write down their birthdays. It served as busy work, but gave me an excuse to talk to them. I asked one lady who looked at least 70. She gave me a confused look and then said, “I turned 40 last birthday.” Because I spoke softly, most of the residents could not hear me. When I’d raise my voice, I sounded angry. This frustrated all of us in that setting.

My manager assigned me to the Mother Butler Center, a charitable medical facility. The nun nurse didn’t know what to do with my volunteer skills other than to assign me to dust her closet filled with pill bottles.

Too bad I didn’t journal this, because now I don’t remember the names of any of the Gray Ladies or the nuns with whom I “worked.” My volunteer service taught me much about people and medical work from a novice standpoint. I hope I brightened a few patients in my rounds.

Thanksgiving Gatherings

by Rose Klix

My parents chose to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with Dad’s family. A family member would volunteer to host the event at their home. This required that person to roast the turkey. Others would volunteer for essential items, side dishes and desserts. Of his six siblings, Dad’s only brother and four sisters usually lived in Rapid City, South Dakota. This event also included all my available cousins. The host home served dinner around 1:00 pm.

Once I overheard an aunt and cousin discussing the pies they’d brought. One said, “The pumpkin looks like baby diarrhea.” The other giggled and said, “My cat licked the meringue on the lemon pie. Don’t tell anyone.” I didn’t eat those pies that year.

Another year, my aunt had volunteered to roast a goose. I looked forward to trying this new dish. Everyone exclaimed they were very hungry, but she hadn’t arrived yet. Dad called her phone and said, “Is your goose cooked yet?” That brought giggles. She promised to arrive soon. She did, but the goose meat was quite greasy and no one asked for an encore.

Mom always made her dinner rolls. She thawed out bread dough and let it rise, then punched it down to rise again. She pulled off a piece, rolled it in a ball and shaped it in her fist to be pushed up in the circle between her index finger and thumb. She left them to rise again and then baked them. They were fluffy, often requested, especially when hot at our house.

I longed to eat a turkey drumstick, but often others beat me to them. If she was hostess Mom dried the wishbone for Jim and me to pull apart. Jim usually got the largest half and his wish. I liked cleaning up, because I could sneak a few more nibbles from the dark meat.

Entertainment

Jim, Freda, Leo, Thurman, JosieTom Sultz, Myrtle, Freda, Leo and Josie

 While we finished dinner and dishes, many set up to play penny ante poker. They played a variety of games most of which used wild cards and rules known only to those participants. Once or twice I participated but couldn’t keep up with them. Mom and one of Dad’s sisters often played Scrabble. They knew words I couldn’t spell or define. When Trivia became a popular board game, Mom challenged anyone to play. She could be stumped with the Sports category. When she played for the last points, we chose Sports to continue the game, or another one if we wanted the game to end.

Ol’ Yeller played at Elks Theatre every Thanksgiving during my growing up years. It was tradition for us grandchildren. I bought the VHS tape of Ol’ Yeller and played it a few times during my adult years. It was a tear jerker. When I was a teenager in 1964, I said to Grandma Rose, “You’d like Elvis Presley. He’d be a wonderful boyfriend for you.” She smiled and we all enjoyed “Roustabout.”

Favorite Thanksgiving Memory 1973

Erik Thanksgiving

My son Erik was two-and-a-half years old. He loved to eat. We called him Tubby Tiger, because he always was a little paunchy. He sat at one end of a children’s table. He’d devoured turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, seven layer salad, Jell-O with pineapple, and who knows what else. He wiped a smear of whipped cream across his mouth. As I cleared the table I watched him sit and sigh. He’d smile, sigh, and look at the leftover food and sigh again and again. Maybe he thought, “I wish my belly could hold more.” Could be he was just satisfied. I’ll never know. That was his last Thanksgiving with us.

Mitchell, South Dakota 1976

Just before Thanksgiving my first husband and son Scott moved to Super Center Apartments in Mitchell, South Dakota. I hadn’t finished unpacking, but looked in the local newspaper. I read an ad for a farm-raised tom turkey. That sounded like just the right thing for our first Thanksgiving in this semi-rural community. I called the number and arranged for the farmer’s wife to deliver to us. When she arrived, the turkey was wrapped in newspapers. Although startled at seeing it transported this way, I paid her for the turkey and refrigerated it. My Betty Crocker cookbook was in one of the dozens of boxes. Mom was not a scratch type of cook. I called the Home Extension Office and asked, “How long do I cook a 20 pound turkey?” She said, “Look at the package.” I explained, “It didn’t come in a package.” I explained the situation to her. She asked another person in the office. I remembered that the directions usually said so many minutes per pound, but neither one of them knew the answer to the formula. I called Mom and explained my dilemma. She said she would call my aunt who was roasting the turkey that Thanksgiving. She called back with the minutes per pound and oven temperature from my aunt’s turkey package. I successfully roasted our turkey and we enjoyed our meal.

Greece 1991

I accompanied my ex-husband to be stationed at Iraklion Air Station, Crete, Greece. I’d yelled into the poor connection telephone booth to wish my parents a happy holiday. I missed them most during holiday celebrations. We made reservations for the Thanksgiving Feast. The Officer’s Club was beautifully decorated with fall colored streamers, mums in the vases, holiday tablecloth and napkins. We served ourselves at the buffet table to all the traditional holiday dishes. We sat at a table spread for just the two of us. Tears tumbled from my eyes. I’d never been so lonely before.

We’d made friends with the young man who managed the butcher shop next door to us. I’d bought a can of pumpkin and a frozen pie crust. I made a pumpkin pie and presented it to him. He didn’t know what pumpkins were. I learned pumpkins are not a normal vegetable grown or eaten in Greece. I explained to him and his sister who was visiting his shop that this was our traditional Thanksgiving dessert. Instead of taking the pie home, he and his sister dug in to eat it with their fingers. They loved it and she asked for the recipe. I explained I followed the directions on the can label. I didn’t promise to buy them a can at the commissary. But I enjoyed sharing the pie with them.

Glen Burnie, Maryland 1998

My parents traveled from South Dakota to our home in Maryland. I proudly spread the table with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings. I felt it was my thank you present to show appreciation to my parents and to introduce my soon to be husband our traditional holiday. I slightly modified the menu to include Tofurkey, because he’d convinced me that vegan was a healthier diet with this soy based product. We toasted with apple cider and enjoyed the company.

Morristown, Tennessee 2014

Rose, Rob Kim, and Scott 1999

I miss seeing all my relatives, many of whom have passed away. This year I looked forward to sharing the festivity with my son Scott and his wife. At least we now live in the same state. No one will need to drive the two hours we are apart. We decided on meeting about halfway at an O’Charley’s restaurant. I looked forward to a turkey dinner and maybe pecan pie. We’re making new traditions about eating out for the holiday – less: work, leftovers, and clean-up. I’m still thankful for all our blessings of food and family (not in that order).

Happy Thanksgiving to You – Don’t get as stuffed as the turkey!

Favorite Halloween Memories

By Rose Klix

Anyone acquainted with me knows I hate Halloween. Grandma Swinehart said, “Too strong a word for a young lady.” Sorry, Grandma, but I still dislike Halloween. The commercialism is maybe even more ridiculous than Christmastime with all the decorations, flags, orange lights, imitation spider webs, costumes, tons of candy, and rotting toothless pumpkins (which caused a shortage of canned pumpkin). The movies and TV shows try to scare us or poke fun at Fright Night.

We train children to extort sweets as a favor for not pulling a trick on us. History forgot the original meaning for All Hallow’s Eve. I’m surprised churches embrace another pagan holiday. I say let community Trunk or Treat events take over, keep kids safe from going door to door, less disruptive for us residents and the protective barking dogs. Parents should be concerned about strangers’ influences on their children’s sweet tooth cravings. Should civic leaders dare legislate foolishness?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

However, in the 1980s as a Jaycee Woman in Montana, I hatched an idea to make the holiday a little safer. The news reported vicious people put metal objects, like razorblades or needles, in apples or popcorn balls to cut mouths. I obtained permission from the airport authorities. My proposal encouraged parents to take their children’s haul to the x-ray machine. Several families used this service. None of the treats contained metal. Our Helena chapter received a plaque from the state Jaycee Women organization for a successful Project of the Year. After 9/11 I’m sure TSA won’t agree to this project. Last night’s news claimed this as an urban myth; no one had been harmed in such a manner.
As a child in the late 50s, I admit I collected my share of treats, wore a mask or disguise and ate a lot of my cavity causing loot. From imagination and a lack of money, Mom created our getups. She used cigarette ashes to make Jim grizzled whiskers like a hobo or wrapped him in gauze as a mummy. She granted my wish to be a fairy princess complete with aluminum foil crown and wand. Jim pretended to be a cowboy and shot his toy gun.

Princess Cathy in 1959

Princess Cathy in 1959

Halloween - Copy

Me in mask with Cowboy Jim

Teenagers Jim and I belonged to our church’s youth group. He volunteered to help for the First Congregational Church haunted house. Curious, but afraid of where dead people lay, I walked with him to a neighborhood mortuary. He asked for boxes. The mortician smiled and agreed to deliver several. Jim thought up a cool idea to make a tunnel for kids to crawl through into the fellowship room. Of course, they looked like cardboard boxes and spoiled his spook effect. No one, but Jim, thought about the containers originally held coffins. At the party, the chaperones blindfolded us and said to touch the icky eyeballs (grapes) and squishy intestines (wet spaghetti). We socialized and ate cupcakes, cookies, and punch. I never liked haunted houses. Hayride events were okay unless too cold or scare factors modified the atmosphere. Spooky ghost stories produced nightmares. Not fun. I wore a cross to bed to ward of vampires.
My son Scott enjoyed trick or treating many times. In 1978, when he was seven years old, we used our camping trailer as a temporary home. We barely arrived in Mitchell, South Dakota and didn’t know anybody. I forbade him from going door to door. Instead I bought some chocolate bars, encouraged him to walk outside, and march around the trailer. He knocked on the door and said, “Trick or treat.” I dropped goodies in his plastic pumpkin. He repeated several times until bored with the exercise. Now he and his wife Kim love Halloween. She grew up near Salem, Massachusetts and embraces the concept of all the witches, ghosts, and goblin stories. Perhaps an artistic spirit feeds her imagination.
In the 1990s, I worked at Ellsworth Air Force Base. A co-worker invited us to his wife’s house party. I bought a flimsy female red devil outfit. My husband dressed as the Grim Reaper. The host wore his Air Force uniform long coat. His costume included a flesh-toned body suit. I don’t think he realized his guests saw his cheek bottom from the open split pleat in the back. He had stuffed a nylon stocking and fashioned a gigantic male extremity which dangled between his legs. When he opened his coat and flashed us, we viewed a much different side of this sergeant.
When I sold Tupperware in the 1970s, my manager held a party. She offered extras to anyone who colored their hair green. I sprayed dry powder in my dark hair. Color appeared by the part line. She gave out the points but skipped me. I protested and showed her my scalp. She relented. I stood up for the principle and brushed out the dye.
I’ve not bought a dog outfit for the occasion, but my grand-puppy played dress up this year. Their kitten would prefer to ignore clothing as a waste of money better spent on cat food. TV news stated pet costumes are a growing industry and much encouraged at pet stores. In fact this holiday helps both the US and Chinese economies for several billion dollars.
I dreaded last night’s doorbell for our first Halloween in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our neighbor lady said, “You’ll be mobbed by neighborhood kids. Also expect many driven in from other areas.” We stocked up on more bags of commercial sugary edibles. I remembered our previous neighborhood where a child told us to expect fifty kids. Not one showed up! But we lived on a heavy traffic street. Even that child went to a church event instead.
The rain discouraged some activity, but we greeted plenty of polite gaily dressed children and their escorts between 5:30 and 8:45 pm. My husband watched out the window to answer the door before they rang and irritated me further. Some ran between raindrops and others waited to go out a bit later. My neighbor found out many avoided the rain by reveling at the mall. Another neighbor didn’t turn on his porch light. At least my husband kept us from being anti-social.
Perhaps Halloween serves as a diversion from reality with a chance to imagine yourself as a superhero. I hope you endured a safe holiday – or maybe you enjoyed all the mayhem and candy corn. Happy Halloween! Do you know today is All Saint’s Day?

HALLOWEEN SCARE*
by Rose Klix

Halloween candy,
a dietary scare.
See this sweet?
Leftover candy corn
lasts forever.

*reprinted from Eat, Diet, Repeat poetry chapbook
Visit http://www.RoseKlix.com.

Lost in Kansas

1952 or 1953 - Copy

by Rose Klix

Summer 1953 I turned three years old. My parents owned a wood-paneled station wagon, termed a woodie. Dad planned to help his sister’s family relocate from their home in Leavenworth, Kansas. Mom, my five-year-old brother Jim and I accompanied Dad on this trip.

Once the car wheels stopped turning, we kids played outside in the Kansas summer. Mom and Dad tasked Jim with watching me. Soon a badminton game distracted him.

I wandered off. The inclined sidewalk, lined with concrete retaining walls for the raised track-house yards, continued slightly uphill. I watched tiny patent leather shoes as I placed one foot in front of the other. A dog barked. I screamed, ran a few steps, tripped, and sobbed.

I sat on a stool inside a house with unfamiliar people. A towering slender lady and equally tall lanky man looked like my Grandma Rose, only much younger. Someone called in a report to a radio station. I listened to the announcer talk about a lost little girl.

I wasn’t scared. Several times they offered me an ice cream cone. Trained to not accept food from strangers, I shook my curls, and tried not to be tempted by the treat.

My parents never heard the radio announcement. Mom said maybe I’d been missing an hour. Mom and Dad walked frantically down the street, knocked on all the doors, and combed the neighborhood. I’d only wandered about three blocks away. To each person answering a door, Mom described the white blouse and a bright orange skirt she’d made me. No one remembered seeing a stray toddler.

When my parents approached the couple’s yard, Mom told Dad, “I just know she’s in there.”

Mom started up the steps. The lady opened the door and said, “Here’s your little girl.”

The man carried me off the stool and set me on the porch. I ran to hugs and between sobs, I said, “Big black dog. I scared.”

I never learned the names of my rescuers. I often wished I could thank them.

On the way back to where my aunt lived, we passed one guarded yard. A black toy poodle yapped at us. Dad laughed. “A Toto dog frightened you in Kansas.”

Five kids and three adults crowded into the station wagon to return to Rapid City. The sun warmed my back while I slept and snuggled in the pile of their clothes behind the backseat.

Car seats and seatbelts weren’t yet mandatory. Many times through the years, even into our adulthood, Mom used a special safety belt. She thrust her arm across the passenger’s chest while simultaneously stepping on the brake.

I do appreciate God’s angels protected or guided me to turn such scary incidents into petal experiences in this lifetime. I challenged myself with several questionable adventures whenever I wandered away from safety.

Cathy Rose

http://www.RoseKlix.com

Girl Scouts for Mom and Me (1957-1967), Rapid City, South Dakota

By Rose Klix

Browni scout 1957 or 58 - Copy

Me as Brownie Scout in 1957
Aunt Myrtle led Jim’s Cub Scout den when we lived on New York Street. Even after we moved to Cleghorn Canyon, Mom drove him back and forth to the previous neighborhood. He continued to attend his weekly meetings. When we moved to Columbus Street, Mom became Jim’s Den Mother.

Cub Scout den mother Feb 1959

Mom in flowered dress; Jim 2nd from right

Captain Glenn’s Fun Wagon on local TV scheduled Jim’s den to appear. Because I rode along, the producers put me on the show. Jim grumped, because they included his little sister. Captain Glenn introduced me to his audience and laughed about me being a Cub Scout too. I sat on his lap when he asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” For my TV début, I said, “A bride doll.”

Being little sister, I played the Cub Scout games, made crafts, and participated in many of their activities unless they rough-housed. Often Mom’s scout programs did double duty when she combined the boys’ Halloween party and Christmas caroling with her newly formed Brownie troop. Once Jim went into Boy Scouts, Dad took over as Boy Scout troop leader. However, Jim got out of scouts much faster than my turn as a Girl Scout. Instead, he became involved with the high school drill team until Mom denied permission for him to go on a team trip.

In September 1957, Mom first became my Brownie Scout leader at Cleghorn Canyon School. After the move in January 1958 to Columbus Street, her scouting “career” truly began.

At first I liked being a brownie scout. We had a little ceremony meant to teach self-reliance to the new member. Mom decorated a mirror for a pond with greenery to represent a wooded scene and narrated a story about a little girl asked to help with family chores. Her grandmother tells her a brownie will help once the girl finds her. She tells the girl to go to the woods, stand by the pond, turn around three times and say, “Twist me, turn me, show me the elf. I look in the pond and see – – myself.” After the ceremony the new Brownie is given a Girl Scout pin to be worn upside down until she learns the pledge, “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

Girl Scout investiture 1959 - Copy

Mom is 1st leader in back; I’m 2nd girl on right

In the investiture we performed “Itsy-bitsy Spider” and followed the lyrics with hand gestures. At meetings and camp, we sang a lot of songs. Like most children we particularly liked songs with hand gestures, rounds, or ones with nonsense words. A few come to mind: “She Wears a G (spells out Girl Scouts),” “My Hat It Has Three Corners,” “Bumblebee,” “Merry-Go-Round,” “Sippin’ Soda,” “Hinasaurarius,” “On Top Of Spaghetti,” “Five Little Ducks,” “Hello, Hello,” “I’m a Nut,” “Little Skunk Song,” “Found a Peanut” and “Little Green Frog.” See a video of me singing “Little Green Frog” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ck0_TCat-k

Mom bent over backwards to be really fair to the other girls. As a result I felt slighted. If she asked a question or requested a volunteer, she ignored my raised hand. Soon I decided not to raise it anymore; she didn’t notice.

They grilled me on the Girl Scout pledge. Mom and Dad made sure I earned my badges after they drilled and tested me until both were positive I’d learned the requirements. No favors for their daughter. They taught me integrity. I still have my Girl Scout sash with the 37 badges I sewed on it.

Mom created a ceremony, where we literally crossed a bridge from Brownies to Girl Scouts. We continued into Junior and Senior Girl Scouts. Mom was always our leader; Dad helped.

Dad loved to take the troop camping. He could show off his survival skills he learned as a Master Sergeant in the National Guard. We dug a latrine, braided rope and also created a bridge over a creek. I sanded and sanded my driftwood art project until it met Dad’s standards. Often he’d say, “Apply more elbow grease.” The flag must be folded into a triangle without any red stripe showing. He taught us to march and make square corners, drilled us on flag ceremonies, and the correct way to handle the flag or retire the colors. Often community events asked our troop to present the flag at their gatherings.

Senior Girl Scout 1967

I’m Senior Girl Scout far right

After my high school junior year and much begging, I succeeded in quitting scouts. Mom continued with the troop for two more years without me – sort of. Not trusted to stay home alone, I traveled with them on their Yellowstone trip. Dad bought a used school bus; they painted “Ramblin’ Rose” over the front windshield. We saw a moose. A few snowflakes in the air prompted Christmas carols in August 1967. We waited for the Old Faithful geyser to erupt. The other girls painted a sign to hold up in the back window, “Just Married.” They laughed and waved at cars behind us. Oh, such games children play!

To be fair, I did glean a lot of knowledge and benefit from troop experiences. Because of Girl Scouts, I became a Junior Red Cross Volunteer (this is a story in itself) and a Museum Aide for the Minnelusa Pioneer Museum. I not only earned badges or pins, but these were wonderful opportunities for future career choices. I knew at age 14 I did not want to be a nurse, because I’d “worked” in hospital and nursing home settings. I enjoyed being Program Aid at camp and leading the younger girls, storytelling, and singing at other troops’ meetings. As a result, I considered a teaching vocation.

For a short time when she grew up, Mom had been a Girl Guide. When Lord Robert Baton-Powell founded Scouting in the UK he intended it to be a boys’ activity, but a significant number of girls wanted to join. His sister Agnes Baton-Powell founded Girl Guides. Juliet Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts founder, modeled her organization after them.

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Trainers: Evelyn Rose (Mom) and Mrs. Davies

Scouting seemed to be more for Mom’s development than for mine. Mom volunteered, not only as our troop leader, but a trainer for other leaders. Many nights, I tried to do my homework on a back table while I watched her teach. She took her role very seriously, developed her material, and professionally trained the new leaders.

She served as a neighborhood and district chairman for other troops and the area Day Camp Director. For another step on her Girl Scout journey the Black Hills Girl Scout Council appointed her to give leadership and direction to the Neighborhood Association. Mom applied to be the Girl Scout Executive for the region. She didn’t quit when they didn’t select her. She grumbled that the “old maid” Executive lacked experience, because she didn’t have children of her own. The lady’s Home Economics degree gave her extra points. Even in the late fifties and mid-sixties a college education gained a career ladder rung. When I wanted to go to Our Chalet in Switzerland, the Executive denied my application. Mom’s attitude towards her possibly influenced the decision.

Once the last of Mom’s troop graduated from high school, she resigned as leader. The Girl Scout Council asked her to be on the Girl Scout Board. She turned down the opportunity as she thought it would be “a pretty dull job after all the fun of scouting.”

As our troop leader Mom really developed her own leadership and teaching skills as well as her self-confidence. For that, I’m glad she became my troop leader. Thank you, Mom and Girl Scouts, for providing me the opportunity to learn a variety of responsible adult skills.

(The above is an excerpt from Rose Klix’s memoir “Petals and Thorns of This Lifetime.” Please visit www.RoseKlix.com)

 

Chemotherapy Eve by Rose Klix

    April 8, 2010 I stood at the window staring into the black night, on the edge of a deep end, afraid of drowning. If I didn’t take the plunge into the best medical advice for this era, I would risk dying younger than I planned. That night, I revisited another fear:


     In 1968, I had enrolled in the required Aquatics class at Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. I learned swimming strokes in the shallow water and almost enjoyed paddling around.
One day, the instructor demanded we gather at the deep end and line up. When prompted, everyone but me jumped in. The churned water splashed against the sides and brought my attention to the six-foot mark. I subtracted a height of five-foot-four-and-a-half inches. Nope. Water would be over my head.
Fellow students eagerly returned to the queue for another chance to swim. I edged to the back and continually stationed myself at the end of that line. The instructor’s assistant stood by with a hooked rod to rescue us, if necessary. No comfort for me. I likened his tool to a fishing hook to skewer and drown worm bait.
Once the teacher thought everyone had jumped, she instructed us how to dive. After the other twenty students individually dove and swam to the ladder, she dismissed them to the locker room.
I was caught sucking air. Gills didn’t appear. My heart raced.
In the diver’s stance she’d taught us, I stood last with knees bent, arms overhead, thumbs interlaced, fingers and head pointed down. I took several deep breaths and held one, but could not thrust myself into the water. Legs threatened to fail me. Breath returned with a gasp. Tears streamed down my face.
The instructor stepped towards me. I cowered, because surely she intended to shove me over the edge. She said, “What’s the matter with you? You just jumped. Go ahead. Dive.” She gestured at the swimming pool.
My head shook with panic, but this also served as a negative answer. I didn’t tell her I’d crept to the end of the line. I thought, “If I dive, I drown. If not, I fail the class.”
After I perched for what seemed like hours, she pursed her lips, groaned, and glanced at her watch. With a disgusted wave she dismissed me to the locker room. I didn’t argue about the “C” final grade.


     I thought about following the doctors’ instructions tomorrow. Fear again surfaced. The surgeon’s answer had been mutilation to remove the tumor. The oncologist convinced me I must face being poisoned with chemotherapy. Poison and mutilation are the twenty-first century’s best options?
I valued my life and wished I did not have these harsh choices. Medical science already failed me by not detecting the problem early enough to give complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies a chance. My preference involved gentler energy work.
I struggled with trusting medical treatments. Dad had died of lung cancer nine years before. Surgery and chemotherapy didn’t save him and diminished his quality of life. My mother and Jim, my only sibling, both suffered fatal heart attacks last year. None of my birth family was physically present for me. Spiritually, they called me to join them. Instead I chose life and decided to depend on my husband Rob, son Scott, and friends to remain supportive.
I spent a few hours re-reading all the documents the cancer clinic provided me. I also reviewed some recommended computer links. The more I read and highlighted side effects, the less I was prepared. Dire results might last the rest of my life.
Months ago I prayed for this life lesson to be removed from me without surgery or chemotherapy, if it was God’s will. I thought His answer came from the guidance I received about CAM therapies. I mentally chastised myself. I should have been more diligent with self-help much sooner.
I’d been paddling around for a couple of years in the shallow end of CAM. Once this serious medical need appeared, I ramped up my efforts for two months. I practiced all the physical, nutritional, spiritual, and emotional support known to me. But they were too little, too late.
When at first I refused to dive in to medical advice, I still survived. But my body didn’t receive a passing grade on the MRI. The tumor grew anyway. I surrendered to surgery.
Defeated, I faced also submitting to chemotherapy. Tears found familiar channels over my cheeks. I looked out our window into blackness.
I thought I’d had enough life-altering events for one lifetime. My desperate prayer on that eve was to ask all my spiritual guides in the light to assist me. I whispered, “Help me through this life lesson.” I wanted to learn as gently as possible, repair my cellular damage, and look forward to the next third of my life, God willing.
“I’m willing. Are you, God?” Silence answered me.
As I contemplated the darkness, I heard Rob snore and smiled. He wouldn’t let me face this alone.
I couldn’t stand forever staring at the night. I needed to dive in, but wanted to strap on flotation devices. Could I be strong and enlist the clinic to support my CAM plan?
The computer cursor blinked and I resumed my research for what I intended to incorporate. Many tools were already in my arsenal: energy work, crystals, positive affirmations, essential oils, antioxidant foods, supportive family and friends, an iron will, and future plans. I pledged to be disciplined in using all available to me on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis.
For positive affirmations, I said, “I am strong and healthy.” I promised, “I will smile, laugh, and sing. I will encourage others and gain encouragement from those learning from cancer as patients, caregivers, and survivors. I love life and I’m not done yet.”
As I crammed for my first treatment appointment, I hoped to weather the stormy days as well as the fair sailing times. I remembered that on the day I discovered the tumor, Rob and I sailed on a cruise intersecting Tropical Storm Erika. We survived then and will again.
With heavy tear-ravaged eyes, the bed called me to sleep. I resigned my search. Rob stirred when I pulled back the covers, crawled under, and tucked them under my chin. We dozed into tomorrow.

(An advance excerpt from book “Cruising with Breast Cancer.” Publication date expected in 2015.

http://www.RoseKlix.com

Pruning Rose

As you watch the video, I invite you to read my poem printed below. I celebrate survivors of breast cancer. Today is the first day for Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year. http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month
I salute all cancer survivors, empathize with those struggling, and mourn anyone who lost their battle this lifetime. Unfortunately, there are far too many who are touched by cancer.

Pruning Rose
by Rose Klix

Roses thrive with careful pruning,
send out shoots a foot longer than the ones cut off.
Then their blossoms blush with a youthful newness.

With my doctors’ help, cancer pruned me.
They stripped away my control
and attempted a complete removal of my dignity.

They replaced my once noticeable femininity
with long scars and promised to rebuild my breasts
after my physical healing was complete.

But proud, I stand with the Amazons, who chose
similar transformation for better archery skills.
I am readied to fight for my life with chemotherapy.

I endure side effects and digestive discomforts.
People say I look good in spite of skin blemishes.
Even on my worst days, my husband takes care of me.

Today my crown is devoid of hair. My friend and I cry.
I’m not ready for my world to view a GI Jane style.
She encourages me to shop for feminine sassy hats.

I am not strong. I am not brave.
I am a survivor, who refuses to hide.
God pruned me. He expects I will blossom more fully.

- written in 2010

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