Old “Facebook Notes”

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

So, I kinda started the story telling thing on Facebook, but really, it was not built for that so they all got buried in my “Notes” section and I don’t think many of you got the chance to view them…  As a result, I will now re-post some of those here.

Reprinted by permission from Dr. Martha Diede.  (My Aunt who has taken on the task of writing down some of our family’s oral history…)  Here is one of her installments.

As promised, this is yet another episode. In this case, it involves one outhouse, two three-year-old cousins, and three unfortunate chickens. You have met the cousins before: they are Don and Charles.

One weekend, Victor, Marie, and their five children were visiting Emil, Elise, and their four boys. As it was Sunday, the families planned to attend church. But, there were too many people to fit in the cars. So, ten-year-old C* and her nine-year-old cousin T* were left home with the two three-year-old boys, who probably wouldn’t have enjoyed church much anyway.

C* and T* had chores to complete while the families were gone. C* was to wash the dishes, prepare for lunch, and help T* watch the boys. T* had outdoor chores to accomplish. He was FAR too cool to worry about his three-year-old brother Don and cousin Charles, so he told the little boys to “get lost.”

Don and Charles soon found that, as they played, the chickens had become quite a nuisance. In fact, Charles pronounced the chickens “stupid.” Now the question became “what do we do with the stupid chickens?”

Charles determined that the chickens should be caught and thrown into the outhouse. (Yes, this is a real working outhouse, not a real working indoor-plumbing toilet.)

Charles caught the first chicken. C* was still working on lunch. T* could not be bothered. The chicken went “plop” into the outhouse hole. Charles could not resist the internal satisfaction of having dealt with the stupid chicken!

Don and Charles caught the second chicken. It, too, went “plop” into the outhouse hole. Internal satisfaction rose even higher.

The boys caught the third chicken. Like the other two, it went “plop” into the outhouse hole.

The satisfaction of flinging the stupid chicken into the outhouse hole and the glee that this act produced could only be dimmed by the family members who arrived back from church, saw the boys laughing, and wondered what was so funny.

As Victor, Marie, Emil, and Elise came toward the boys to discover the source of their excitement, they heard profoundly distressed “BAWK, BAWK” noises coming from the outhouse.

“What have you boys been doing? Did you throw chickens into the outhouse hole?”
“Yes.”
“How many?”
“Three.”

Now, the adults had to figure out how to rescue the chickens.

Logically, T*, who was supposed to be watching the boys, found that he was to rescue the chickens with a chicken hook–like a shepherd’s staff, about 5 feet long, crooked at one end.

T* leaned in, head-first into the outhouse hole.

The women got the hose ready to remove the . . . waste . . . from the chickens.

T* hooked the first chicken under its wing. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken. T* went a second time into the hole. He hooked the second chicken in the same way. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken. T* went the last time into the hole, and hooked the third chicken. Pulled it up. The women hosed off the chicken.

Unfortunately, one chicken did not survive this adventure.

And now, punishment.

C* and T* faced the questioning of irate adults who had just spent a good portion of the time originally alotted for lunch fishing chickens out of the outhouse. How had the boys so run amok? Weren’t C* and T* supposed to be watching them? And Don and Charles – how could they think that destroying food was funny? More chores for C* and T*, who–of course–would never let this happen again. Spankings for Don and Charles.

But for Don and Charles, the worst was yet to come. For lunch, roast chicken.

At the time, Don and Charles were certain that lunch was “outhouse chicken,” unaware that before serving chicken for lunch, someone had to pluck the chicken, then clean it, then roast it.

But, they could not refuse. So they ate.

And, of course, no one ever forgot.

Next: the original Dorothy & her brother Charles, followed by, in no particular order, “How to shoot yourself in the back, by Emil Diede”; fencing by yourself; elopements and other family traditions; dorothy-isms; the 90-mile-per-hour prairie chicken; “hard day’s night”; “ice-driving, by Marie”; “the epic strawberry jello dessert”; “‘Did she say s**t or g** d***?”; and medicating the dog

Another installment from the writings of Dr. Martha Diede.  For some background, “the girl who got shot” was my mother, Mary Carol (known below as “M.C.”)…

In the cast of characters, M.C. is one of the most deceptive. She is the oldest of Marie & Victor’s children, and she is known for agreeing to any plan presented to her, smiling, then going off and promptly doing whatever she wanted to do in the first place. But this is in the family.

In Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota, she is known as “the girl who got shot.” The family awarded her this title when she was five.

As was customary, the men often went hunting to provide meat for the family. About a year after Dorothy was born, Victor and his brothers, two more of which you will now meet (Roy and Ray) had gone hunting in the early November morning. Finished with the hunt, they returned to Ray’s house for breakfast. They pulled the four-door sedan up to the front of the house. They left their guns, loaded, in the front seat. Because they lived in Eastern Montana, they left the car doors unlocked. Who would want the car or the guns? They have their own. So, the men went inside to talk to the women, get something to eat, and drink plenty of coffee.

MC & LP and their cousins, LJ and Ronnie, being young and inventive, got into the car first to get their gloves. “It was cold.” But then LJ (yes, he does share a first name with LP, LA and LH) & Ronnie point out that the car is a great place to play. Five-year-old MC and three-year-old Ronnie headed into the back seat, while LJ pretended to drive the car. Three-year-old LP clambered into the front seat, intent on the guns. MC, oldest sister that she is, repeatedly warned him not to play with guns and informed all the boys that “the car is not a place to play.” She could not, however, compete with the Montana November cold.

And LJ, LP, and Ronnie, as little boys are wont to do, completely ignored her.

LJ, Ronnie and MC played like they were riding in the car. But LP, was still intent on the guns. Unable to cock the rifle with his tiny three-year-old hands, he placed the rifle butt on the floorboard of the front seat with the barrel of the rifle against the back of the seat. He cocked the rifle with his foot, using all of his budding engineering problem-solving skills.

Then he pulled the trigger. Also with his foot.

The rifle fired.

The bullet went through the car seat, through MC’s back, much to their mutual surprise. MC climbed out of the car, went into the house, walked up to the adults inside with her hands over her midsection and announced,
“LP shot me.”

Bleeding, she collapsed, on the couch.

With great speed, Victor swept MC up. But the car with the rifles in it had been shot, too. So, Victor and MC got in the back seat of Ray’s car. Ray drove with Roy in the front passenger seat. Regina, Ray’s wife, stayed home with LJ & Ronnie trying to figure out what had happened. LP disappeared.

The men, meanwhile, drove down the ill-kept roads to the nearest hospital. On the road, they met Marie, who had taken the then-youngest child, Dorothy, and gone to town with her in laws, Bertha and Mike. Marie could not guess why Ray’s car was speeding toward her, so she stopped. Ray stopped, too.

Upon hearing that MC had been shot, Marie wanted to return to town with her, but Bertha didn’t drive. At this time, neither did Dorothy. So, Ray traded places with Marie and drove Bertha, Mike, and Dorothy back to the house. Victor handed MC off to Marie and drove to the hospital.

When Ray, Bertha, and baby Dorothy got back to the house, Bertha inquired after the whereabouts of LP, whom no one had seen since the shooting. After an extensive search, the adults found him hiding in the barn, his three-year-old brain telling him that he had done something very, very bad. While MC lay in the hospital, Bertha and Mike took care of LP. They could not help lecturing him on the bad choice he had made, and their every glance in his direction accused him of having tried deliberately (at three) to kill his sister. His sanity, such as it was, and future freedom from the psycho-analyst’s couch was preserved by the transfer of his care from his grandparents to the original Dorothy (one of the few people in the world who could give the Dali Lama lessons in gentleness and longsuffering).

While the adults at the house sought and found LP, Victor, Marie & MC reached the hopsital. Surprisingly, MC survived the thirteen-mile drive into town. When the doctors examined MC, they discovered that she would survive being shot. LP’s bullet missed every vital organ in her body by 1/8″ here, 1/16″ there. Considering that the bullet came from a twenty-two rifle, LP found perhaps the only trajectory that did not kill her. The doctor did find, however, that he had to remove the bullet through her front.

MC’s story spread among the small community, but just how far, no one was entirely sure.

Fifty years later, the entire community gathered for Emil’s funeral and wake. At this event, MC was approached by a community member, entirely unknown to her. Their conversation went something like this:

Man: I know you! You’re the girl who got shot!
MC: Yes.
Man: I trained all of my boys in gun safety using the story of you and your brother.

MC was stunned to discover that she and LP, LJ, and Ronnie had become the gun safety lesson for at least one generation of hunters in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.

MC still has scars front and back. LP still credits the original Dorothy with his sanity (such as it is). LJ and Ronnie don’t talk about it.

Next installments: Chickens + Outhouse; and the Original Dorothy and her brother Charles

Here is a reprinted article our pastor wrote in our church’s weekly newsletter. (When reading this, it will be easier to understand knowing our church campus has two worship areas. The historic Augustana Chapel and the main Immanuel Sanctuary. Also that early service is in Augustana and late service is in Immanuel. Finally, that at the time we have late service in Immanuel, Grace Anglican has service in Augustana.) I am proud to be a member of such a great church that accepts ALL for who they are and for what they can teach us. Our church is part of an either bigger movement that accepts all, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America–God’s Work. Our Hands.

On the Steps of Augustana–reprinted from “In The Loop”, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Boise, Idaho. September 18, 2009.

You might have noticed our new friend, Ron, who sits on the steps of Augustana during most days and nights. Ron has been attending our Centering Prayer Small Group on Tuesdays and Grace Anglican services on Sundays and Thursdays. Those of us in Centering Prayer know Ron as a sweet, considerate, and loving person who also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. We would like to tell you about him and ask for your patience while his social worker attempts to get him into a safe place.

Ron apparently attended Talbot Seminary and Biola University in La Mirada, CA in his earlier years. He is very knowledgeable of church etiquette and the Bible. He strongly believes that the central (and only important) message of the Gospels is to treat each individual with love and “never harm anyone”. He instructs us on the definition of agape each week. He has a great appreciation for starry nights, squirrels, birds, and all living things (including very small ones that live in the grass and on which we should avoid stepping!). He is intelligent, clever, and funny and has an uncanny ability to put words together in new ways. He knows a lot about cars and likes good music. When he is talking with us, he is calm and pleasant. When he is alone, he sometimes bursts into yelling matches with the voices in his head. You might also find him giving animated sermons, usually on the meaning of love.

Ron’s paranoid schizophrenia includes a delusion that he is God or the biological son of God. He believes that God (whom he often calls Daddy or Syrach) is coming to get him in a few days to take him home to his planet where they will live together. In the meantime, an evil mafia is out to get him. Augustana is particularly important to Ron because he believes that it is his Father’s house (literally) and the stones protect him from evil voices that mask his Father’s. Although some nights are filled with those voices, others are filled with long talks with his Father about how wonderful life will be when we are all together again. Victims of paranoia are usually suspicious of people, doctors, medicine, rules, and institutions, and they often have safety systems, like Augustana’s special stones or Ron’s ever-present hood, used for protection.

Schizophrenia has been linked to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It has a strong genetic component (i.e., it runs in families) and usually manifests in the late teens or twenties. Antipsychotic medications can greatly reduce the symptoms, but most patients do not remain on medication permanently, especially those without a stable family environment. As a result, schizophrenics often end up homeless, and a large proportion of our homeless are schizophrenics. Treatment is a combination of medication and some form of therapy or oversight to deal with the remaining symptoms and increase chances of staying on the medication.

Ron has spent time at the Boise Rescue Mission, Interfaith Sanctuary, and the Corpus Christi day-shelter. He has complicated reasons (which are rooted in his paranoia) for why he can’t or won’t return. We ask for the congregation’s patience so that Ron’s social worker can move him forward in the least traumatic manner to best improve his long-term health. The Church Council is closely monitoring the situation. The odds of a perfectly happy ending are not great. It is possible that we can do nothing for him but be his friends. We are encouraging him to accept the generous offer of the Boise Rescue Mission before cold weather.

In the meantime, feel free to say hello. One of us is often with him on Sundays and we can introduce you. Like everyone else, Ron likes to be approached with respect and understanding. He likes eye contact and handshakes, to be told that he is an interesting, entertaining, and loving person, and the sense that you have all the time in the world. However, unlike most of us, Ron forms an immediate opinion about whether someone is on the good or bad side of his personal cosmic battle. We can’t figure out why he views some perfectly friendly and compassionate people as the enemy. If this happens to you, please don’t be offended. It has nothing to do with you or your intentions. He may turn his back to ignore you. If you are asking him to do something he doesn’t want to do, he may resort to yelling and vivid descriptions of what God does to bad people. This is his illness speaking and you can’t reason with it. It is best to back away and give him space. Perhaps a member of Grace Anglican, or Cami, or one of us can help.

Ron rarely accepts food or other assistance. He prefers to get his food from St. John’s Food Bank and day-old items placed outside by the Boise Co-op. Neither drugs nor alcohol are part of his life. He worked most of his life until about 7 years ago. He tells us how much he appreciates our friendship. We’ve been blessed by his humor, compassion, and love of life. As we part for the day, he is quick with “God bless you” and “I love you guys”. We love him, too.