I Thought it Was an Ulcer, Turns Out it Was a Gift

When I choose to marry Grant I did so knowing we would be childless, and I would grow old with this young man. Grant had gone through Nephritis during puberty, a serious medical condition which is the eighth highest cause of human death. The doctors told him it was very likely he would be sterile. We were so young. I didn’t even know who I was yet, let alone my needs. Grant had a sense of humor, handsome, and although he went through periods of being estranged from his family, they were wonderful, and I Love them to this day, very much.

My father woke me up the morning of November 29th with “God sent you a rainbow for your wedding day”. He was always so sweet like that. My parents over extended themselves with an upscale coastal venue reception, around the corner from where we were married at the SB Mission, the Santa Barbara Women’s Club Rockwood. The night we returned from our Cyucas honeymoon to our cottage on Bates Road, we were woken by a phone call from my parents. They said that the concierge of the SBWCR had called. That someone, or persons from our wedding party had stolen antiques from the venue. The SBWCR wanted to call the police and investigate our entire wedding guest list. Once I heard “antique” I knew it was Grant’s best man Juan. I said his name out loud. I recalled seeing and commenting on a beautiful antique bench at their apartment, he and his girlfriend recently acquired. Stunned, as they were struggling, no way could they afford such a beautiful piece of furniture that she claimed they bought at a yard sale. I was mortified. My parents were amazing. They talked the concierge down from outrage and requested that if everything was returned could the incident be dropped, no charges pressed on Grants friends. My Father said to me “honey, I remember what it was like to be young. I made mistakes too. Grant’s friends just need to return everything and none of the guests will be investigated. If they make good, we won’t be held responsible to reimburse the Women’s Club for the loss.” It took about a month, with long distance phone charges we too couldn’t afford, to wrangle the two other groomsmen who lived out of town.

We were hippies, I worked in a Mexican restaurant in Carpinteria, Grant surfed. On our way home from a party in Gobernador Canyon in our VW Bus, with our dog Buddy, two friends, a surfboard & fully loaded tool chest, we rounded a corner a bit too fast and rolled the van 3 times before settling on it’s side in a ditch of the most powdery soft dirt. I remember bracing myself as I watched stars, black, stars, black, stars, hearing the metal scrap the asphalt, and thinking I have to stay alive to make sure everyone else makes it. I was stuck & couldn’t get out at first. It was bad, could have been a whole lot worse, thankfully we all survived, especially Terri as it looked as though the entire bus was resting on her head. Grant and his friend Adam flagged down a car, asking if they would take me & my girlfriend Terri to the hospital. My Mother always said (in a New York accent), “make sure you wear clean underwear because you’ll never know when you’ll be in an accident”. Thanks Mom. Should have listened. I was wearing the biggest high waisted old lady choners. My good friends showed up in support and proceeded to watch as I was stitched up from a horizontal two-inch cut on my right mid back. All I could think of is they were seeing me in granny panties.

Within a couple months I started getting sick, loosing my cookies almost daily. Shouldering the economic responsibility was taking it’s toll. Honestly, I thought I had an ulcer. Grant suggested I see a doctor, but I dismissed it as I was still having my periods, and because of his childhood illness. Finally he convinced me. On our way up to my gynecologist he said “they have a pill now and it makes the pregnancy go away” Circa 1976, this sounded dubious to me. When we got to Dr. Horton’s office and after testing, the doctor brought us into his private office. He said to us “you have company”. I was stunned. Grant asked about the pill he invented and the doctor said no, there is no pill. Grant expressed that knowing now he can have children he’d like to wait. Dr. Horton replied, “If you want to terminate your pregnancy you’ll need to decide right away because you are already 2 1/2 months along.” He proceeded to tell us a story, tenderly, about when he was a medical intern and his wife got pregnant. They just couldn’t afford to have a child so they planned to drive to Mexico to get an abortion. Then he turned this beautifully framed 8 X 10″ picture on his desk around so we could see it. He said “this is my son”. “I’m going to leave you two alone for while”, and he walked out of his office and closed the door. I knew as soon as I heard I was pregnant I wanted to keep this child. I fell to my knees at Grant’s side and said “I have to have this baby”. I was so relieved when he agreed. Grateful I never indulged in drugs or hardly drank any liquor at that time in my life, my negative imagination would have been increased. For the most part I felt I should have a healthy baby. And, I’ll never forget Dr. Horton for, without judgement, taking the time to share his heart with this very young “deer in headlights” couple.

Time to call my parents. When my Father answered and I announced I was pregnant, there was complete silence on the other side of the line. Finally I said, Dad? He responded with “I thought he was sterile”. Well, “obviously not”. We hung up and I burst into tears. Then he called back apologizing. My Mother had reminded him how his mother reacted when they told her they were pregnant with me. How she gushed. He was ashamed and asked if I would ever forgive him. “I Love you Dad” My parents helped me paint the baby room, bought all the furniture, and paid for a year of diaper service.

My baby shower was overshadowed by the untimely death of my 18 year old brother-in-law killed by a drunk driver. My father-in-law signed the papers to take Guy off life support the day of the shower. I wish we had cancelled. It was too difficult to pretend for the sake of my mother’s friends and family. Maybe my Mother thought the celebration would lift my spirits, and my in-laws, it didn’t.

The day I went into labor was the day we were scheduled to go to the doctor to assess inducing as I had gone into my 10th month. I was 185lbs, and not a healthy 50 pounds extra weight. I had to quit my waitressing job after looking “too pregnant” so we sustained ourselves on WIC government stamps, which was mostly dairy. This was helpful since I craved a gallon of milk a day. A small stipend of Food Stamps helped purchase a few vegetable for the midnight cups of salsa I would drink as if tea. I also use to hitch hike to my check ups at the clinic in Goleta, which was terrifying. I never told my parent about that.  It would of made them angry at Grant. Determined to look glamorous, I planned to wash, and straighten my extremely curly hair at the first couple of contractions. I heard it takes hours before going into hard labor. My labor amped up within a half hour and we were off to Santa Barbara in mid-week morning traffic. Grant was so excited he kept pointing to his writhing wife to the other work bound drivers.

10 months I had my baby girl on March 15th, 1977 at 2:04 in the afternoon, all 9lbs. 12.5oz of her. I was 22 years old, a baby myself with a freak show for a body. Terribly ill-prepared, I formed opinions by rebelling against what others tried to suggest to me. Pregnant during the car accident, interestingly, she imprinted, as my baby was born with a birth mark on her right mid-back that looked just like my scar from the accident. I was so in Love with my child. So much so, that I believed she was a sacred gift from God (indeed she was), and her thoughts and feelings were superior to my own, leaving her to be in charge much of her young years. My biggest, just one of many, parenting mistakes; not valuing and trusting my own good sense.  That being said, I was still her parent. Parenting, Motherhood, an act of selfless Love.

Grant and I both had our hearts cracked open with this new life. If he had any reservations, they melted away as he bounded with his daughter. More often than not when a young couple comes together before they are ready to share life’s obligations and responsibilities they unravel. We grew apart. More accurately, I grew past him. It took me a long time to get over Grant, and being thwarted into the workforce as sole provider. Even longer to forgive him. What do you call someone who is immature, flawed, and abandoned his own daughter….human.

Lotus Land

Scene of the crime.  No wonder I wanted to take pictures

Scene of the crime. No wonder I wanted to take pictures

When I was 19, still the innocence of a baby lamb, I was dating a surfer whom would become my first husband. We were hanging out at his rental at La Conchita beach, somewhat board, when he invited me to go to Lotus Land.

Upon arriving, Grant instructed me to park my car by the wall, away from the entrance. Grant proceeded to say “Come on’ ” and over the wall he went. I was shocked!  Under the impression we were going to a legally “open to the public” paid garden exhibit, otherwise I would not have agreed.   The parking situation should have clued me, but no; I peeked over the wall and the entire length was littered with beer bottles & cans, so I surmised, although uncomfortable, this must be a common occurrence.  There I was, falling in Love, and I hoisted myself up and falling over the wall.

We didn’t get very far when we happened upon 87-year old Madame Genna Wilaska.  We were caught! (I always get caught if ever doing something out of character) I tried to act outwardly calm by asking her if I may take some pictures.  She turned slowly, looked at us, raising her cain yelling  GUARDS – GUARDS!!!!.  Right then I heard dogs barking, in my mind I just knew a pack of dobermans had been released & headed for us to take us down.  Grant took off, leaving me – omen. I, running in a different direction, came upon the huge metal driveway entry gates.  A quick exit stage right, & I was able to follow Grant back over the wall, hearts pounding, speeding off before the entire Montecito police surrounded us where we would be booked, forever a stain on my family, a slammer statistic.

In retrospect, Madame was frightened herself.  Her reaction was quite shrewd and effective.

Years later, with my wonderful husband that deserves my heart and hand, we made reservation, and visited legally for our 20th wedding anniversary. I asked the tour guide about the guard dogs. She said the Madame didn’t have dogs. I guess my negative imagination was on overdrive…I could have sworn I heard them chasing after us.

The grounds are stunning. If ever near Santa Barbara, take the time to enjoy walking in a botanical wonderland…Lotus Land.

A Good Neighborhood with a Few Bad Apples

My parents purchase a brand new home in a soon to be constructed tract that was a former citrus grove. We moved from two rentals awaiting this house to be built. Moving to 19051 Tranbarger was exciting, and although everything was spanking new, in true form, Nancy and Joe customized and added to this home with trending details; vivid in my mind, like subtle gold glitter sprayed into the popcorn ceiling treatment.

Dad often worked in upscale neighborhoods, sometimes in opulent mansions where he would salvage classic pieces to bring to our home. A client in Beverly Hills was replacing their marble goddess sculptured fireplace facing. Dad tried chiseling the marble figures himself to reclaim them, but one slip of the hand tool and she was ruined, leaving to the owner’s demolition plans.

He did successfully dismantle a bold wooden antique banister. We figured it was constructed between 1790-1890 because of the square nails. Dad sanded and tooled each spindle, finials, and the railing, stained and re-assembled it replacing the metal original banister that came with the house. Once complete, my sister and I were allowed, under supervision, to slide down it only once, which was amazing. Just like in the movies.

There was the time when my parents were gluing tile backsplash behind the stove. I guess my parents forgot to read the label as the glue, and it’s fumes where flammable. The entire wall burst into flames. They still completed the design after much yelling, and managing to keep the home from burning down.

Dad also built an elaborate waterfall and pond. He was mesmerized by the black light water falls at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction, so he bought a large outdoor black light which illuminated the pond. Found and purchased florescent tablets to put in the pond water, and also painted the outline of some of the rocks with florescent paint (which could not be seen during the day, only with the black light illuminating the rocks). By now, one can tell my father had a flare for panache. The five-tierred lighted pagoda in the front yard, quazi-Asian landscape, Romen themed furnishings in the formal living room (bust of Caesar had perfectly shaped lips so I practiced making-out with him when no one was around), the music room, the dazzling deep rich blue carpet in our family room, just a sampling of the upgrades, as tacky as they sound, surprisingly worked well, and uniquely made this house their home.

One of the weekend parties/jam sessions, resulted in the band and vocalist moving to the family room for more drinks and card playing. I, walking by the music room, noticed smoke coming from the mattress day bed. I examined closer and a cigarette burned right through the top of the mattress, smoldering deep inside. I ran and notified my father; he, with guests looking on, pulled the mattress outside, stuffing the hose into the bed, drowning out what could have been a tragic situation if we had all gone to sleep developing into my Mother’s greatest fear.

As the neighborhood homes filled one by one, we made friends with some very good people and as with human nature, some flawed, as we each embark on our own personal journey; The Ravens, hard working Mormons. Their daughters invited us to attended their Vacation Bible Study during the summer, which overall was very fun because my sister and I enjoyed singing. I even attended their Bible study at 6a.m. before school once summer ended. However, it was the comment that one of my girlfriends said to me that didn’t make any sense and at my very young age seem judgmental and cruel. She told me that the mark that God made on Cain for the sin of murdering his brother was that He made him black. That all black people were decedents of Cain’s sin. And,”if you notice how black people were getting lighter…that’s because God was starting to forgive them”. My nature was so naive and trusting, but I was able to determine this was total bullshit, and I found myself pulling away from this doctrine and, in time, them.

There were the Cliffs, which turned out Peggy was the younger sister of one of my parents good friends who happen to be an usher in my parent’s wedding. She had four wonderful children, all growing up to be decent, worthwhile, community contributing good adults. Peggy stood up for me when I made my Confirmation in the Catholic church, forevermore calling her my Nina and considered family.

The Peppers were our best girl friends. My sister and I learned to skate because of them and spent many weekends at the skating rink. Diane was always favored by her skate instructor, she would be pulled into his office and when she emerged she always had a present from him, although never a smile. I remember feeling left out, but then learning much later that there was a sinister reason why this instructor favored Diane and found a way to keep her quiet.

The John’s had an adolescent daughter close to my age, Christy. They often babysat for our immediate neighbor’s to the right of us who had two beautiful children Randy and Kimberly; Their parents, Beverly and her husband Chris, were young and very attractive with a black Great Dane dog. I’d never seen a dog that big before . Mrs. Johns often left her babysitting responsibilities of Randy to Christy, and although I never witnessed the abuse; my sister and Diane told me of numerous times where Christy would lock Randy in the closet, or slap him across the face for no reason just to make him cry, he couldn’t have been more than 3yrs. Old! Then they told me Christy would take him to the top of the stairs, hold him over the banister let go of him from the second story then catch him by his ankles. It was too horrible to believe, and I said nothing. I so regret that I was too young and immature to not have said a word. Over the years I have reflected and wondered if Randy’s life has been a tragic outcome because of all he endured and may not even know why.

From the outside the neighborhood looked middle-class and wholesome, and for the most part it was, and then there were the Makkas’. The parent’s immigrated from Greece, nice but ill-prepared for their unruly kids. Maleta was the oldest who became our baby-sitter when my Dad had a late night gig far from home. I was nearly 11 years., my sister 8 when we first started hanging out with Irean, the middle daughter. She was boy crazy and had a slight influence over me. She and her sister Maleta wanted to go shopping with us when they heard my mother was taking us to the mall. Irean told me to bring my big straw purse from Mexico that were very popular in the late 60’s, so I did. I watched her put the purse up the the bow and jewelry counters whipping out the entire inventory into my purse in one swipe. I just stared in shock… dumbfounded. Then Maleta in the dressing room pulled on layers of cloths underneath her skirt as I watched in disbelief. Both putting my Mother, sister and me at risk, let alone it was just wrong! Afterward I witnessed Maleta lie to her mother when her mom asked where she got all these new cloths with tags still hanging off them.

One summer, around dusk, all the kids in the neighborhood where playing in the street, as usual. Irean and I were sitting watching from the tailgate of my father’s truck. One of the older boys, Steve, was getting ready to hit the ball, then he threw down the bat and started chasing after my sister. My father came outside and grabbed the boy to stop him from chasing Julie. Steve said that one of us said “I want to see your balls”, my father pulled my sister and I into the house taking my sister first, spanking her, she admitting quickly what she hadn’t said just to make him stop spanking her. Then when he started to spank me I refused to admit it, nor would I cry because I was so angry that he would believe this boy and not us. When my father realized I wasn’t going to relent, that I wasn’t lying, he stopped and he never spanked me again. I think it was Irean who said what upset Steve and my father, because it certainly wouldn’t have been beyond her level of crassness, but honestly I never heard it.

Finally, my inner strength and morals tested, when Maleta was babysitting as my parents went to San Juan Capistrano for my Dad’s band’s engagement. They felt too far from home to leave us unattended. The doorbell rang and when I opened it a girl sized me up and down and said snidely to Maleta “you said you were babysitting. This isn’t a baby”. Maleta was going to let her in, and the car full of friends. I said no. Maleta went out to the car to party with her sidekicks and I locked her out of the house the entire night. When my parents came home she had the nerve to collect the money from them in spite of the fact she did not do what they were paying and trusting her to do. So I told my Mom and Dad everything. They never hired her again and I stopped hanging out with her younger sister too. We were labeled square.

Maleta and Iren had a middle brother, George. George bought a junker car, then parked it on blocks in front of our house using it for his party hangout. He and his friends would dump their cigarette butts and beer cans in front of our house. My Father had it! He went next door to talk to George Sr., but they nearly came to blows, so the next day our house, the home my parents spent years transforming and spending much of their second job’s earnings, went on the market. The day we moved George Jr. died of an overdose in the bathroom of his parents house. Sad for their family, certainly not the end of their drama, however, it made our departure liberating no matter how much we all Loved that home.

There were many good memories too; all the parties with Dad’s band, our Christmas Caroling around our safe neighborhood, playing in the street, on the stilts my Dad made for us, softball, riding bikes, skateboarding, roller skating, our go-cart, another of Dad’s handmade toys, all until dark. Running through the field and pomegranate orchid, which would become the 60 Freeway. And then there were many of the talent shows my sister and I would put on in our garage, charging the neighbor kids a quarter while we used the Alumium Christmas tree four color rotating wheel light as our spot light. We would coordinate wearing any matching outfit, usually our red poke-dot dresses, adding to our lip singing presentation of “Stop in the Name of Love”. We were a good family, living in and Loving our home, and each other very much.

EPSON scanner image

Life Change; Saved by a Career of a Lifetime

When I decided to make a life change I looked in the paper as to what jobs were getting posted. It seemed Word Processing came up a lot and offered a decent wage. Enrolling myself into Sawyer Business College, and choosing legal word processing (realizing later the school chose this direction as it garnered the most government funding), I quite both my waitressing jobs. My manager at the time gave me a look of judgement and a snicker assuming I was going to rest on my laurels and take advantage of the state. As a single parent I always had food stamp or WIC assistance. Making poverty level wages, in spite of working two jobs at the same time gave me little choice. I was going back to school, but that is not how his subjective eyes saw it.

The day after I graduated from Sawyer, as promised, they had a job placement for me. No matter what the position, I felt I should take it. Walking into what would soon be my new office, the gal I was replacing was right there packing up her things. This told me the owner of this business waited until the last minute to find her replacement. The owner/manager rented out office space to various people & businesses, and their rent included the receptionist’s time-that was me. My office was a 12X12′, windowless cell. The only art in my office was a photo of a deep water oil platform, and the view included the entire drill to the ocean floor. The men from the other offices felt coming to my office to smoke was the norm. I had to request twice to NOT smoke, in this space…I could feel the eyes rolling as they would exit the room. Although it was the 80′s, it felt more like 60′s “Mad Men”.

My first day I had several tapes to transcribe, which were extremely difficult for me because of the dictator’s heavy Louisiana accent. It turned out he was, indeed, a dictator-condescending, dismissive, abusive. In less than a month, I had had enough. I went to the owner, broken. Preempting my declaration, he said there was clearly a problem, however the Louisiana oil fellow said he could work with me. Emotional, I stated that I could not work with him. “I had worked really hard to get my self esteem where is today, and I’m not going allow someone to chip away at it. I will stay as late as it takes to finish everything on my desk, but today is my last day.” Although my spirit was still fragile, choosing not to take this abuse was a huge step for me. I didn’t feel I needed to give the usual two weeks notice, because he didn’t use the previous notice for diligent reviews or employment searches. I knew when I left that job, that the good employment I would end up securing was the one I found myself. And it wasn’t going to be just any job. I was ready to find my career.

I Love cloths. No really, I L-O-V-E cloths. Our town isn’t exactly L.A. (thankfully), but it did have a small outdoor clothing business. The stickers on the parking lot cars said “SoftWear”. I had just had foot surgery, a result of waitressing, being on my feet, that required inappropriate shoes for such a demanding job. A friend, Mary, had worked at this company, and she was cool with me using her as a reference. I applied, and when I got a tour of this beautiful campus, with a daycare, on site cafe’ and within walking distance to the beach, I knew I had found my home. Now to get hired… I followed up with calls often, careful not to be a nuisance. At one of those calls where I got through I said I’ll take anything. I’ll work as a temp, but I can not do that for too long as I’m a single mother and need to secure a job soon. I was told to come in and I soon started in the company’s R&D (Research & Development) Dept. cutting and tracing patterns.

After a month, I was moved to the retail store basement to receive & stock goods. This was extremely difficult for me in the beginning. I’m claustrophobic, (trauma induced) and I had anxiety about being in such tightly-packed enclosed quarters. I used “Bradley” labor/birth breathing and “The Serenity Prayer” daily to get through it, and in time, I had no problem being in what became a familiar place. Within a month I was hired as GPIW retail store cashier at a starting salary of just under $9k a year, even less than the $14K annual income I made waitressing. Coincidentally, I was hired around the same time as a girl climber who would become my best friend at Patagonia, touch-stone, confidante, eventual manager/work wife. For years it was just the two of us in the Photo Department; “Felix & Oscar”, “Lucy & Ethel”.

Prior to Jane picking up the torch as managing Photo Editor, there was Jennifer. Jennifer interviewed and hired me; yet another taking a chance on this young, business novice, socially unpolished, with little decorum, terrified single mom. Patagonia’s own Jackie O, taught me the Love of words, among many other things, as her vocabulary is vast. As well as helping me navigate through the valley of frogs to find my prince.

Most of my life, I felt I was a misfit. The business world seemed unattainable to me, so if I couldn’t make it work here, I wouldn’t be able to make it in the real world. And, if I failed, I was certain I would be pushing a shopping cart. After a couple of years I started to feel somewhat confident. One day, after stepping out of the ladies’ room, I remember thinking to myself “I’m doing it! I have a good job!” “I’m supporting my daughter!” In my mind, I’m blowing kisses as I confidently strutted down the halls of the corporate headquarters. At the time, Jane was working in another department, but our desks faced each other. As I walked past her, getting ready to sit at my chair, she stopped me and said “what’s that?”. I made 2-3 circles trying to look behind me to find out what she was referring to. The toilet seat protector paper had gotten caught in my pants waistband!!! I had walked the ENTIRE hallway with it attached to my backside! Any false feelings of awesomeness were quickly diminished, humbled, once again. Jane and I had a great laugh out of that faux pas.

There would be nearly 30 years together; laughs till we cried, secrets, marriages, birth of her daughter, divorces, many family and friends, professional and personal, passings, (including the deaths of both our precious parents), and, later, an unforgettable trip to Italy together to attend a wedding at a thousand year old castle. I have often said I’ve been with this company longer than all my husbands put together. (By the way, my wonderful husband accompanied us on our 2011 Rome vacation)

In less than a year after my hire date, my second husband, what I like to refer as the “Speed-Bump” in my life journey, was acting out with extreme immature selfishness – imploding into a fight – whether or not “women who get raped deserve it, or are “lucky” because they wouldn’t get laid otherwise?” That was just too much… I told him to leave. He must of been planning it himself, or maybe even picked the fight, as he had already drained my savings of my $10,000. Before he left he also took a hoist to rip-out the engine out of my car – leaving hoses, tubes & electrical cords dangling. Additonaly, he stole my valuable jewelry. With the help of my neighbor I was able to keep my sewing machine, otherwise he would have taken that too as he chased after me when I was caring it across the street to give to Dennis. Dennis stopped him and said “you’re kinda being an asshole. Why don’t you just leave?”

After Charles left, I spent my lunches taking his cloths or whatever was left by him, to consignment stores. At the same time, my first husband, Grant, hadn’t paid child support in seven years. I was privy that Grant’s sweet grandmother had paid up all his back child support. So, along with trying to sell my second husband’s possessions, I was also trying to reach my first husband’s probation officer for due child support. Grant’s probation officer wasn’t any help – convinced I was just trying to get Grant thrown in jail. Why on God’s earth would I want to do such a thing to the father of my child? Beside, Grandma Dale’s generosity prevented that from happening. Today, because of homeland security, I would never be able to walk past the probation officer’s offices and go directly to their supervisor, which I did with no problem. Their I found a empathic ear. He said to me, “it would be nice for you and your daughter to get your due child support for Christmas” and assured me the paperwork would be fast tracked.

The unreliable AMC Pacer my girlfriend Gigi gave me (noted one of “The 50 Worst Cars of All Time”) to get around had stalled, yet again, in front of the work parking lot as I was leaving to go pick up my daughter from day care. It was all too much and I lost it. It had nothing to do with the car and everything to do with everything that wasn’t working. The first, and founding CEO at the time,  Kris, stopped, listened and comforted me. Soon, I was called into the retail office, and I was certain I was getting fired. My eyes welled as my manager and his assistant proceeded to tell me “You’re just too sad…, and it’s Christmas”. That did it, I was full blown weeping and agreeing with them. Then Mr. J said, “we’re not firing you. We are moving you to the back of the store”, and he handed me an envelope. I was bewildered. Then opened it. It was a card of a cartoon-sketched women-half “Super Women”, half “domestic mother”. The hand written inscription said, “in a year this will all be a bad dream”, signed the steering committee, which I knew was the co-owner, then found out later, along with our retail VP, Peter. Also, there inside, was my rent, $400 cash – making it possible to go to my parents for Christmas, as I’d never missed one with them yet. Although my Mom & Dad owned the house I lived in, I just couldn’t face asking them to pick us up, still no reliable car, at Christmas, AND with no funds for rent. My daughter and I were able to spend the holidays with my family, which is what I needed most.

I also had to come to grips that I couldn’t afford the company day care that we were lucky enough for Marguex to be accepted into. I went to the daycare administrator to tell her that I couldn’t afford to keep my daughter in the daycare and would find an other option. But, before I could speak, she told me not to worry about it. I didn’t understand completely, nevertheless, Anita assured me that my daughter was welcome, and anything could be worked out. I was stunned.

Well that did it! I’m loyal to this good, kind women and company she and her husband founded. I never forget an act of kindness, and I have this philosophy/part religion, that “the greatest sin of all, is NOT appreciating one another.” Whenever possible I make an effort to repay, or honor each heartfelt kindness. It took quite awhile before my wages as Patagonia Art Buyer increased up from the original $8,643 retail annual salary, but after some years I was supporting my daughter and myself. Once, I got a bonus that exceeded paying off my credit card. I took that $400 first given to me as a vote of confidence, assurance and support, and donated it to our company’s daycare. Additionally, every year since around Christmas, or sometimes New Year’s, I make a humble donation to our daycare.

I am forever grateful for the kindness that came at such a difficult time when I was trying so hard to turn our life around. The owners of Patagonia are the real deal. I am just one of a hundred(+) personal stories of generosity, not to mention all the global good they do through their company, in addition to the 1% for the Planet program. Patagonia’s corporate policies are an enormous economic boost to our local economy, be it; events, venues for meetings, catering, English lessons to some of our Spanish speaking employees, high quality daycare, daycare provider training to satellite child care facilities, free yoga class and film events through our retail stores, the list goes on and on. They are a pillar of positive change, both socially and environmentally.

There are many employees who I’m honored to call my friends. This tribe can be more supportive than some churches I’ve attended, and more than just a job. For me personally, no one inspires me more to be an environmental and political activist than this very humble, somewhat shy, passionate, small in stature, powerhouse. She is the “women behind her man”, giving credit to everyone else, who cares as deep as the ocean and as wide as the sky that she so earnestly is trying to save. I am forever grateful for Malinda giving me a chance, and more than once lifting me just enough.

And then, there is Jane. Through it all, I just couldn’t imagine working the day-in and day-out without kind, compassionate, Loving Jane. “There’s an old African proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

On our 20yr. anniversary  PHOTOGRAPHER:  Tim Davis

On our 20yr. anniversary
PHOTOGRAPHER: Tim Davis