He was gone, her husband of 13 years. Like a robot, she moved through her days and nights. The church she had devoted her life to kicked her out because he left. Family members weren’t much help. Most considered her to be the problem. Of her siblings, only two brothers cared about what was happening, but they lived in other states.
She was on her own.
Winter came, and in Nebraska winters were brutal. Learning to put chains on the tires seemed impossible, but she did it. Since the only job she could find was selling Avon, she needed to be able to traverse the slippery hills. But she and the three children could not subsist on Avon income alone.
Slowly she sold the furniture, took in ironings and became a seamstress for others. Her future was bleak.
For two years she struggled to keep their heads above water. She needed a new beginning. But that would require more courage than she had; to climb in a car, drive to a new place with her children and begin again.
Then came the day, with help from a brother’s counsel, she reached the decision she had endured enough. Life had to get better. It would take planning and sneaking; something for which she had no practice. But the neighbors across the street were in constant contact with the children’s father. Even though he lived in another state, he had access to an airplane and could be there in a few hours.
His threat had been “If you try anything, I will take the children.” She believed him.
And so the planning began. More furniture was sold. Soon the house was almost empty. Moving out of Nebraska, across one state and into another required money she didn’t have; and so the saving began with scrimping on essentials. Her car was old and falling apart, but she had no other options.
The lawyer she consulted regarding the legality of moving had only confused the issue.
“Legally, you are required to stay in this state. But since he is no longer residing here, you aren’t actually taking the children away from him. I advise you to move. But if it comes to court, I will deny saying that.”
The time drew near. Even the children knew nothing of the plan. It was safer that way. Her destination was a town where a niece had made arrangements for them to stay with a family until they could get settled. The same niece arrived to help with the journey. She didn’t have the courage to do it alone.
As bedtime neared, the children were informed to pack what they could in a few suitcases. They were leaving this life. Anger, tears, begging and hatred were directed at her. But she knew something they didn’t. Life could be better.
As the sky darkened, they climbed in the car and left that house for the last time. Per the instructions from the lawyer, they headed straight south to cross the state line. That would give them some protection.
Two days later they arrived at their destination. The car still had four tires and an engine that worked. It took only another 24 hours for that to no longer be true. But they had made it.
Welfare wouldn’t take them; giving her the counsel to get in the car and go back. She had come this far. Going back was not an option. She fought and won. It was mortifying, but she was on Welfare and would have some food and money. Their housing was a one bedroom apartment. Determined that they each have their own bed, she purchased two bunk beds.
She still struggled. But there was a light at the end of this tunnel, so she labored on. Acquiring a job, the one-bedroom apartment became a two-bedroom duplex, with the children drawing straws to see who was stuck with sleeping in the same room as mom. Their next move was to a house, with each of them having their own room.
Life was getting better.
There was still anger and rebellion. Uprooting the children had been a difficult decision, one they might never understand. Yet she knew in her heart it had been the right one.
They were free here; free to breathe and live and grow.
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