life as I know it

So, this week I’m thinking about Scott. His birthday is next Wednesday on January 20. He has been asking me to write my history, so I’m doing this mostly for him. I think back to the day he was born, mom running over the curb on the way to the hospital, the fact that for a first baby, it was a pretty fast labor and delivery, although the actual date was 10 days later than we expected, so that part wasn’t fast!! My first pains were around 4:30-5:00 on a Monday morning and he was born at 9:20 or 9:40. He was huge! 8 pounds 3 ounces. Born on January 20, 1969. I remember Grandma and Grandpa Rollins were on their way to their Louisiana [or maybe Montana] Mission and they came and saw me and gave me some much-treasured advice. Grandpa whispered in my ear, “Everything happens for a reason, don’t you give this sweet baby up. He will bless your life.” Mom stayed at the hospital with me for four days. She had been in the nursery every single day and even held him several times. She told me how beautiful he was and how the nurses made such a fuss over him. I was convinced that I needed to give him to someone who was older, wise, and in a traditional family — a mother and a father. My doctor told me to not go and look at him because I wouldn’t be able to give him up if I bonded in any way. But, on Thursday morning I was discharged and had a little blue bundle in my arms that I had no clue how to mother.

The next week I was back to school in Evanston and Mom brought Scott up every lunch hour. We sat in the car for the whole time while I held him and fed him a bottle that she had prepared. She was such an angel! Oh, my goodness I would have never made it without her. I took Scott to a few basketball games and to church every Sunday. People in the community were supportive and kind to my face. But I knew in my heart that I was living a scandal in our little Mormon town. I graduated in May, sixth in my class of 103. And it seems like I headed to Ogden the very next day. LDS Services had gotten me a job at McKay Dee Hospital and I worked in the lunchroom at the register and also did the birth certificates. I lived with Louise during this time. She was always sewing and cooking for us. She made so many adorable little outfits and rompers for Scott. And she babysat for me while I worked. Truly another angel in my life! That summer Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the moon. I remember we went to church and took the sacrament and then the bishop stood up and told us to go home and watch history being made on TV. Later in the fall I registered at Weber State and started taking generals for the nursing program.

I was still ‘running away from myself’ [either that, or trying to prove something to myself, I don’t know which . .] so we went to Palo Alto, California in the late Spring. I worked at the phone company in Redwood City for a couple of months. There was a girl, a young mom in my apartment complex who babysat during the day while I worked and life was a lot harder than I had imagined it would be in good ol’ ‘sunny Cali.’ Things got hard and unmanageable for this 18 year old mom. I wasn’t being a good mother. I didn’t think I could take care of Scott and so I called Mom and Dad for help. They drove down in a brand new car to get him. I called one day and they drove down the next day and kept him until I got my act a little more together in July, I think.

I started working again in Evanston and got a little apartment up on Center Street. Every time I drive past there I’m flooded with memories, some of them good, some not so great. I was struggling, that’s for sure. Mom always encouraged me, babysat, helped me with groceries and prayed for me. Oh, my goodness what a rough part of my life, and what a roller-coaster of just plain craziness. I remember a particularly low part of my life, I went to my bishop and he told me that I was a rebellious spirit. He said I had been sent to a good family but that some spirits just don’t ever ‘get it’  . . so to speak. Ugh. Not what I needed to hear at that time in my life!!! Still 45 years later, it haunts me.

That fall I moved back to Utah and started going to Stephens-Henager College. I really needed to get an education and get my life straight. I somehow managed to graduate in May of 1972 with an associate degree in Executive Secretary. Dad had talked to me several [many] times over the past several months and told me I needed to get married and sealed in the temple so that I could have Scott sealed to me. He spent some time pretty mad, disgusted [even embarrassed] and frustrated at me but was finally coming around and loved Scott like his own. Mom and Dad both adored him. Long story short, I was introduced to Carl Ellis and married him in the SLC temple in March, 1972. It was good for a while. I really thought I could get turned around and have a ‘normal’ life, but, ummm no. I kept proving over and over that I had no clue what normal was. We separated in June and got an annulment in October. I should fill in here a couple of details at this time. We lived in an apartment on 2nd West 2nd North. We attended the church that has the stained glass window of the first vision. Carl worked for the Church Security Department and we went to the underground parking area for the general authorities one day. It was pretty fascinating. There were parking signs for each one. Of course I touched all the cars. He worked right with the leaders of the Church and some of them knew his name. This was the time frame when Scott and I visited the Church Offices one day and Arthur Haycock, personal secretary to President Joseph Fielding Smith walked over to us and said, “Would you like to meet the Prophet?” I was thrilled. Shortly afterward, President Smith came right over and shook my hand with a warm pat on the arm and then he patted Scott’s head and shook his little hand. Scott kicked him right in the shins. It was momentous! It one of those times that I apply this formula: Tragedy + Time = Humor. We’ve laughed a lot about it since then. I would like to add here that Carl didn’t deserve what he got from marrying me. He was a good person with a good soul. He wasn’t equipped to deal with such a broken girl that I was at that time. One day recently I was looking on Family Search and saw that he had passed away. I hope to talk to him in the afterlife, if possible, and apologize for what I put him through.

I moved back to Ogden to finish school at the Stephens-Henager there. We lived in a little apartment on 24th street up by Madison Avenue. I remember we had a little puppy. Our family had bought Treasure Foods by this time and I worked there off and on while going to school. I did a few demos in grocery stores throughout the Ogden area of the salad dressings we made. That was actually how I met Barry.

We met at Macy’s in North Ogden and I was totally infatuated with him. He was ‘just what I was looking for.’ He was in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency, he had a great job, and he had a Porsche. We totally fell in love and got married November 20. We had a very cute house in Ogden and I loved making it a home. I really, really thought this was a marriage made in heaven and felt as if Heavenly Father had guided me to this part of my life, to someone who held the priesthood, was financially secure and was fun to be with. We attended church together, said our prayers together. I cooked meals and cleaned and tried to make everything absolutely perfect. [Kind of how Mikelle is right now.] I felt like Scott and I were finally safe, and sound, and happy, and good. We read books together and sang songs. He was in Sunbeams [or the equivalent.] We went to the Ogden library which was only a few blocks away, and the park. We rode on the public transit system during the day if we wanted to go anywhere. I worked at the Criminal Law Department at Weber State College. I loved my life, my job, and most of all, my family. Life was finally so good.

Just a couple of months later, Barry quit his management job at Macy’s, sold his Porsche, bought a VW bus and we moved to Evanston where he worked at the State Hospital. We had a really small, old house that we, seriously, bought for $6500. He borrowed the money from dad. I worked at Brown School [the same neighborhood school I had attended as a child] as the Principal’s secretary/assistant and Scott often went to work with me and ‘sat in’ on the first grade class that Roseann Revelli taught. One memory about this time is that we all went sledding one day over at the same hill I sledded on as a child. It was near the tracks on the old back road. We had things in the VW bus and for some reason the door wasn’t shut all the way. Scott fell out of the door while I was driving and landed on the road in the snow.

I so wanted to have more children and finally found out we were expecting a baby to be born in May 1974. I was thrilled and so content and finally ‘getting’ what life was all about. There are so many, many details that I have forgotten or purposefully blocked out but I do remember loving being pregnant again. I sewed lots of maternity clothes, and thought I look like a pretty ‘hip’ mama.

I’ll just say here, that Barry had an affair while we lived in Evanston [I later found out it wasn’t his first] and that was the start of my life falling absolutely apart. I had no coping skills except to try to be better at everything. I became such a perfectionist. I’d sit on the front porch and wait for him to come home to a spotless house, with dinner in the oven and wanted to hear all about his day. A few months later, I had Tracy and I absolutely adored her. She was born on May 7 at 7 pm and weighed exactly 7 pounds!!! I felt like the luckiest mama in the world! Two adorable kids that I was so grateful for! I have pictures of her and Scott sitting on the bed in our old house. I also have pictures of her just after projectile vomiting! She would nurse until she was stuffed and the slightest  move [or no move at all, really] would provoke this enormous spew of milk. I felt like I worked very hard at providing the perfect setting for a perfect little family. I also believed deep in my heart that I could love Barry so much that he couldn’t help but love me. That I could be enough. That I could make things absolutely perfect. If he would just give me a chance

We moved to Pennsylvania when Tracy was about six weeks old. At this time I don’t remember why we moved there other than Barry wanted to be home with his family back east. I think I remember that I thought it was only fair that he spend some time with his family because I had always had mine and I knew how important family was. Barry said that he wanted to mend fences and reconnect. We lived with his sister, Shirley, for a while and then were politely asked to move out and move on after six weeks. Looking back, I don’t think that we ever got close to his family after all. There were a few dinners together at first but they waned after a little while. It may have been different, but this is how I remember it. I eventually realized that I was completely isolated, very far away from my own family and too young and vulnerable to know what to do about it.

Our first home back east was in Howard on a little back road. I don’t particularly have a lot of memories about this home. It was cinder block, painted white. There was some acreage and it was a beautiful area. There was a dam or a lake down at the bottom of the hill. We got involved with church right away. We had some lovely neighbors on up the hill; they had two children, one close to Scott’s age and they had a pool. We spent time with each other. One day Scott walked up through the tall grass to their home and had a heat stroke. They cooled him off and took care of him and, I believe, saved his life. I don’t remember much about Scott’s school. I know he did well and was a super-good student. There was a family that lived across the road from us and they were total hillbillies. Sometimes when we reminisce we still talk about how ridiculous it was that there was this backwoods ‘Deliverance-type’ family in our otherwise nice neighborhood. I always picture them piled up in a wheel barrow.

One fun memory in this house: We played a trick on the kids at Christmas time. We kept telling them that Christmas was on Monday [it was actually on Sunday] and so when they woke up on that SUnday they were so absolutely surprised. They ran in the bedroom and got us. I thought it was just the funnest ‘trick’ but my kids still say, “Remember the year you lied to us about Christmas!!”

Scott and Tracy ‘played’ Primary all the time. They had about six little chairs that they set up in a row in our kitchen. They sat dolls or stuffed animals on the chairs and took turns ‘conducting.’ They had a little podium and would lead the music, say the prayers, and ‘teach.’ It was so adorable. I don’t think I ever got tired of their pretend-play

This is where I found out about more affairs and a current one that was just beginning. Barry started seeing an old girlfriend that he had dated in high school. I kept trying so hard to hold it together for my children and for myself. You seriously, could eat off my floors. It was that clean. I became anorexic, and then later bulimic, trying to be the perfect wife with the perfect body. [Notice how many, many times I have said ‘perfect’ so far.] Barry had complained about my weight, although I weighed 123. He also said I walked like a duck and that it embarrassed him. We would go to a store and he walked ten feet in front of me. My self-esteem took a nose dive. I became insecure, self-conscious and I really never measured up to his expectations. I started shoplifting so that my kids could look adorable. I eventually couldn’t hold it together and fell completely apart, moved back home and cried for at least a month straight. Mom and Dad let me stay at their home while I worked as the secretary/bookkeeper at the new lumber yard in Evanston. Tracy was just eight-nine months old and she learned to walk while we were in Evanston.

. . . to be continued.

One thought on “life as I know it

  1. Tracy


    Thank you for writing this down. Thank you for living it and becoming who you are today. Thank you for mothering five children and loving each of us. Thank you for continuing to try to be a disciple of Christ. Thank you for being you. I love you.

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