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Annabelle Nabors Buchanan
Chapter 7
Back to Civilian Life


After my Navy discharge, I returned to Washington, D. C. My job with the Treasury Department was available. They welcomed me with open arms. In fact, Pearl Stovall had become the supervisor of the department. She once again took me under her wing like a mother hen. She wanted me to stay with her and have the baby. She was married to a Navy Captain, and she said they had plenty of room.

However, Fred would not hear of it. He insisted I go to Seattle, and be with his family. So, we made our plans for the trip.

Maxine Tucker, my old roommate had an apartment and she offered to share it with me until we would be leaving. We spent our first Christmas at that apartment. Many times, when Fred came up from the base for a weekend, there would be a couple of sailors with him. I would cook a big dinner for all of us. At that point, it was like we were playing house.

There was news from home that my mother had married a man by the name of Robert Altman. That pleased me very much, because in the back of my mind I had always worried about her. He was a good man and took care of her until she died in 1968.

Time passed, and I was seeing a Navy doctor. He would not give his permission for me to leave Washington. He said it was at my own risk. Of course, we paid no attention. Now that I am older and had the many years of experience, that their advice was well founded.

At the beginning of the eighth month, I once again left the Treasury Department. The girls gave a baby shower for me. There were tears again and farewells. Once again, I said good-bye to my beloved Washington, D. C. and boarded the train with my dear husband for the great Northwest.

The train ride was very hard and dirty. Trains were very different in those War days. The seats would not recline, and sitting upright for many hours caused my feet to swell so much. Fred would get off the train at all the stops and get snacks from the USO and bring them aboard for us to eat.

When we finally reached the Rocky Mountains, Fred started pointing out the window at the crack of dawn the beautiful Evergreen trees. It proved to be everything he had told me and more

When we arrived in Seattle, his relatives were warm and receptive. His mother treated me like a daughter. She was so excited about the coming event. The sad part was when Fred had to return to the East Coast. We all went to the train and bid him farewell. I never felt so alone. It was even worse than my first night in Washington. It seemed we would be worlds apart. It was getting close to the end of the war, so we knew it would not be too long before he would return.

Our first child was a beautiful baby girl. We named her Victoria Marie. When she was placed in my arms, I had to marvel that this tiny person had lived in my body all those months. It was overwhelming. I am sure most women have that feeling with their first child. I thought of my mother and realized she had perhaps felt the same when I was born. Fred did not see her until she was six months old.

Eighteen months after Vickie was born, Charles Frederick ID was born. He was another beautiful child, and very healthy. However, at 7 1/2 months, he died from acute enteritis. That was a terrible blow to both of us. It happened so fast without warning. I grew up very fast. There were so many things we were unfamiliar with, like cemetery lots, the funeral, and the sorrow. He was buried from St. Mark' s Cathedral. I was very glad that both of our children had been baptized. Vickie had been baptized in the Cathedral, and I wanted the best for him.

After his death, we were so protective of Vickie, not that we weren't before. We seemed to have a fear that she, too, could be taken from us.

Three years later, Judy arrived to delight us and ease our sorrows. She was followed by Debbie in two and a half years; two years later another boy named Charles Richard, and in another two years Cindy was born.

They were all such beautiful children. I always wondered how I would have enough love to pass around. I soon found each one was special in their own right, and it was no problem at all. Through it all, Vickie was always my little helper.

I did not realize at the time how much my early training helped. All of the warmth given to me by my grandmother was passed on to my children and husband. The sacrifice lessons and the discipline taught by Aunt Carrie were also a part of my profession as wife and mother. These things were tested and kneaded as my life grew to be the person I am today. Through my children I learned there was gray matter, not everything in life is black and white.

This story is not complete without writing something about my sisters. Even though we did not live together, there was a very strong bond among us.

Ruth married George Springer in 1946. They were happily married for seven years, and together had two lovely girls. Their names were Janet and Georgia. After seven years a tragic thing happened. Ruth was in fact, pregnant with Georgia at the time. He was working under an ice cream truck as a mechanic for Ford Motor Co. The hoist broke and the truck fell on him. He lived for four years as a paraplegic and then died in 1957. Ruth told me she had to have counseling on how to be the wife of a paraplegic. She was terrific in accomplishing that.

One year after his death, she and the girls visited Fred and I in Anaheim, CA. We were living there for the time being. While she was there, Georgia, the youngest became ill. Ruth took her to our Medical Clinic, and there she met Dr. Pete Wyatt. They dated while she visited us, and then had a courtship by mail. She soon came West and they were married.

They lived within walking distance from us. It was like a dream having her so near. Our children loved her and the cousins became good friends. It was such fun after all those years.

In 1960, due to a job change, our family moved back to Seattle. Ruth had one boy, David with Pete, but things were not happy with them. She learned that Pete could not just love one woman.

They divorced after a seven-year marriage. She worked and stayed single for several years. She then married Dr. John McBurney, a surgeon. They had a very happy marriage for two years, and then Ruth became ill with severe headaches. She called me from the hospital and said they were going to do tests. The result was not good. They found a mass at the base of the skull. They used dye to determine if it was operable. She never came out of that procedure.

I made a trip to Anaheim and saw her in the hospital. The nurses told me to talk loud to her and maybe she would hear me. I told her, "Please live to come and visit us in Seattle." Her arm trembled and a tear came down her cheek. I knew she had heard me. After one week in a coma, she died. It was a horrible shock to me, and her family. She was 47 years old. The whole community mourned her death. She had contributed so much to them.

Lottie married a young man she knew in school in Pennsylvania., named Harold Butler. They had a really good marriage. However, due to Rheumatic Fever at a young age, there was a serious heart condition. Each time she had a cold or sore throat, her heart became larger. She was forbidden to have a child. So, she and Harold adopted a baby boy, and named him Danny. They had moved to Michigan. Harold was a builder and proceeded to build them a lovely home. I was fortunate to visit them once. We corresponded regularly. She and I both visited Ruth in California once at the same time. It was a glorious reunion. That was the last time all three of us were together. We had so much to talk about.

Lottie was so sick for many years that Ruth and I had always expected to lose her. So, it made the shock of Ruth dying all the more so.

In 1974, Lottie had surgery on her heart. It had grown twice the normal size. They replaced a valve. However, the operation was not successful. One year later the doctors decided to operate once again. She died in surgery at the age of 49 years.

In two years-time, I had lost both sisters. The sadness consumed me for a while. I kept thinking the phone would ring and it would be Ruth or Lottie. We really had very little time together.

At the age of sixty-nine, I am still learning from our children and especially from our grandchildren.

My life seems to have been divided into chapters. It has always seemed that a plan was laid out for me. It has been a life of sadness, happiness and all of it wonderful.

Fred and I try to be thankful for all our blessings as we grow old together. Our marriage has been an on-going adventure and learning about life and each other.

Our love has grown stronger with the years and I have loved the Northwest, a gift he has given to me.


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Copyright 1984 Annabelle Nabors Buchanan

Republished on Minerd.com with permission.  Reproduction forbidden without written consent of Minerd.com.