Submitted Date 06/13/2019


Jill and I get up from bed together this morning, for her to go to work. Even as I try to get frisky, she has a time for work and she will not be late. Besides, I have a college class later this morning – Calculus. Today is the final Friday in January, just three more days till next month. This is my only Friday class ever at Kent State, at our local branch campus in Tuscarawas County. We call it the Twig because of its small size.

She takes a morning bath because the apartment doesn't have a regular shower. Just a creamy-white, oval, cast-iron tub with a smooth, rolled-over lip around the top edge, with two silver-colored spigots, and those four goofy-looking, white, porcelain, claw-feet; one on each corner of the tub to support the weight of the water. After bathing, Jill visits the kitchen table, just beyond the bathroom door, in her frilly almond-colored robe. She drinks her coffee with me. That's a habit I've developed more regularly since working midnight shifts while I was still enlisted as an airman, just before I started college thirteen months ago. Grandma had started me drinking coffee while I was young. I think Grandma didn't want to drink her coffee alone every morning. Grandpa was usually out feeding the pigs in the large, red barn.

Soon, after finishing her warm cup of coffee, Jill drives her small, pale-yellow Ford Mustang across many bare and snowy city streets to get to work on time. She usually makes lunch for herself in her crock-pot, letting it brew while she works. But, I don't pay close attention. I clean up a bit, and wash our dishes that are on the table before I leave for college. My Calculus instructor just happens to be Jill's cousin. Go figure! I would see him soon.

Jill likes her forty-hour work week, usually. She is one of the first employees hired three years ago in 1980 when they opened that store on Bluebell Drive. It was fate to meet her when I did, after returning home from North Carolina where I was stationed for the final three years of my active duty. I was sort of a lost-soul with no direction when we met. She had just ended her relationship, so it was good timing for each of us. She invited some employees to her twenty-first birthday party last May. I was one of those invited. That is how we got started together. I am happy we met when we did.

Going to college was quite an adventure for me. A best friend from high school, Don, had graduated the year after I did, in 1977. I graduated during the bicentennial year, in 1976. He considered joining the military after graduation in lieu of going to college and paying the higher costs of attending. Money is always a problem when you are poor. I had exhausted much of the previous year searching for a way to pay those fees, after I had enrolled in a technical college in Columbus. But, I did not find a way since I was ignorant of the student loan process. I didn't know how I could pay and attend that technical college. I would not go without the needed funds.

Don found out I had met with the Air Force recruiter after he had graduated, a year later. I had taken the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery of tests following high-school. I did very well. Don asked me why I did not enlist. Because I'd never been so far from home by myself. So, we decided to enlist together using their Buddy-Plan. We entered the military together on 29 December 1977. Some plan. After completing six-weeks of Basic Training in San Antonio as buddies, I went to Biloxi, Mississippi for technical training. He trained in Illinois. So much for being buddies.

We learned to use military dates and times as airmen during our enlistment. Day number. Then month. And finally, the year. That, and the twenty-four hour clock. No am's nor pm's. Just the real time of day. We entered and left the military on the same date since neither of us decided to reenlist. Nope. The pay was not that good.

Our enlistments ended in late December of 1981. Then, we both enrolled at Kent State University, at the Tuscarawas County regional campus. We received credit for our Air Force experience and training, plus I had taken some community college classes at my base in Carolina. It all transferred. We started classes the next month, January of 1982.

Neither of us were married yet. Don had his girlfriends and I had mine. Lisa lives in North Carolina. She is from a small city called Princeton, near to Goldsboro where I was stationed during the final three years of my enlistment. Lisa, and her widowed mother came to Goldsboro often to shop. That is where we met, dancing at a Quality Inn nightclub near my base. I exited my tour-of-duty just months after we met. If I had met Lisa sooner, I may not have left the US Air Force when I did.

Our enlistments ended one complete year ago. Actually, thirteen months. I started working at Kmart last April, soon after Don began working there. Jeff, a fellow pitcher on the Kent State baseball team, told us about Kmart needing some part-time employees. His wife works at the store. Don and I both filled out applications. He got hired first, at the end of March, then I am hired in April. About a week apart. Kmart is our college job. Spending money.

We tried to get jobs in our career field of Avionics as we exited the Air Force, but that was nearly impossible where we lived at, in Tuscarawas County. Steel mills. Clay and sewer-pipe factories. Local coal mines. More and more gas wells were popping up. And, farms. So many farms. Those are all the biggest industries in this east-central part of Ohio. That is why we want to attend college at Kent State, even if our Air Force training and experience is more than enough for a job in our learned field of employment. But, our GI Bill funds never last long enough. We need regular jobs, too. Thanks Jeff for letting us know about the jobs where your wife works, at Kmart. That is where I met Jill. Now, we live together on Hance Street.

Jill left for work a short time ago. I get ready for my Friday Calculus class. After Calculus, I will probably pass Jill as she goes home after working her regular day shift hours. As part-time employees, and full-time college students, Don and I work mostly weekends and afternoons, when the regular, full-time employees are away. Jill was one of those regular employees. I was not. I did not want to be full-time, nor regular. I want to work in electronics.

At Calculus class today, Professor Bill told us that Friday meetings would be used mainly as extra-help sessions, to understand some of the new concepts. He would be there, but we did not have to attend unless we needed help. He had taught physics. Calculus can be used to explain ideas and concepts used in physics.

Jill and I first met shortly after I began working at Kmart, only four months after I ended my Air Force enlistment. Once I returned to my hometown of Uhrichsville and started going to college, I had a different idea about how my affairs and living arrangements with Mom and my step dad would be. That is another reason I was lucky to meet Jill. And, she really made me happy. We traveled together to visit her relatives in Cincinnati. We even went to King's Island near Cincinnati. And, we did all sort of different things together. I met her mom and dad. After a short time, Jill and I spent so much time together that we moved into the apartment. It is hard to share a bedroom with my twelve-year-old and my fifteen-year-old brothers, at Mom's house, after living in the Air Force barracks for four years.

Today is just another college-class day for me, albeit a short day. It's a work day for Jill. I will go to work later on, but she will leave when I arrive. Her shift would be ending at the time I go to work.

When we crossed paths at the discount store, I asked her to visit a local hangout with me and to watch some friends from the college play and sing in a local rock band. We can go after I work. There is only one good friend in that band with the others, but he is ex-military, too. Just like Don and I are. Jill does not want to go, so I told her I would visit her later tonight. Before, then after the show. We agreed and she went home after working her normal eight-hour day.

Tim, another employee who worked within our department, agreed to watch the band with me this evening. Tim is five years younger than I am, but we are friends at the store. Tonight, we each close our departments. He will meet me at Jill's and my apartment on Hance Street, and then drive us to the lounge where we can watch the band play. I can leave my mid-sized, clunky, brown, Ford, four-door sedan at Jill's home if she still does not want to watch my musician friends. Tim and I will watch them. Don should be there, also.

One of our Electronic classmates is in the band. Schmuck is his nick-name. That is what we usually call him when we're at the college. He has another name, Mark. That is the name used by our Electronics class professors.

Many friends from college are at the club tonight. Schmuck is a popular guy. Nearly all my friends are younger than I am because of my four-year enlistment as an Airman before enrolling at Kent State. Some students, like Jeff and Schmuck, are about the same age as both Don and me. Jeff served in the Air Force, like Don and I did. Mark was a Navy man before college. I think he learned to play the guitar as a sailor. I know I had learned to play chords on my Yamaha acoustic guitar as an airman.

At the club, acquaintances were talking with us about a Geodesic-style home being built near to Deis Hill Road, close to the city park and to the Dover swimming pool. Geodesic means constructed to conform to nature. I don't drive that direction too often. Even if Jill and I are living on Hance Street, that is still out of my way – in a nearby city. Tim knows his way around. He is from Dover and lives not too far from Deis Hill park. Besides, he is driving.

When the end of the night comes, I hope to return to our apartment and relax. It's been a long day, and night. This morning, I got up with Jill before she left for work. Soon after, I attend my college calculus class at our local Kent State campus, four hours before I start to work. Because Schmuck played in the band tonight, and even if Jill didn't go, Tim and I were with my college bandmember friends having fun for a while. We drank a few beers listening to them play music. I was tired. Jill was waiting for me to return. Oddly enough, we decided to visit the Geodesic-style home on County Road 81, near to the Dover park and the swimming pool. That is where it happened. The car wreck. The end of my life as I knew it.

The local newspaper report states that the accident happened at 1:45 am on Saturday morning, January 29th of 1983. Precisely five-years and one month, to the day, after my Air Force enlistment began in 1977. Of course, I don't remember much of this. Everything that I just told you is a recreation of that episode, based on what I have been told, what I have read, and what I have learned ever since. I will never know what really happened, not entirely. Yet, I will forever live with the consequences of that dark and snowy early morning in late January in 1983.

Many bits and pieces of memories are still floating around inside my mind, right now as I recall this story. But, I am not always sure of where those memories belong. Many are completely gone. I have recreated those when I am able. My thoughts are forever altered since that car accident and the brain injury. I suffered two separate and severe cases of contrecoup, when my brain bounced inside my skull, back and forth, repeatedly. Over and over. Like a mechanical paint-mixer.

They said I was fortunate to have survived my Traumatic Brain Injury that night, and lucky to just be alive. All these years since that freezing and snowy early morning, I cannot find any fortune, nor luck in my newest and current life; enduring the never ending effects of my ever changing condition. The real battle had just begun that early morning. Even now, I am still waging a different battle of that same war. And, it goes on inside of me, and all around me. Forever. Yes, I am fortunate that I can walk and talk well enough. But, how lucky am I?


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  • Alexander 3 months ago

    That's pretty incredible!

  • Kiersten Felch 3 months ago

    Your descriptions really put the reader there!