Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hollowed Out Woman


The sword of time will pierce our skins.
It doesn’t hurt when it begins,
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…”*

Wilmington Trust opened the new Operations Center in the beginning months of 1988. This would mark my third address since coming to the bank in 1980. From my first days with the company until my last I had private offices. My first was on the mezzanine of DuPont’s Montchanin Building facing 10th Street. We rented the building for our headquarters, but it was already becoming cramped. Our Savings Division was on a floor of One Rodney Square, about two blocks away and our Wire Transfer Division was a block away in the Farmers Bank. There a new headquarters being built on the day I started and we consolidated all our divisions and departments in 1981 to the new Rodney Square Headquarters, a high rise build from the inside of the old post office. My own office got a little bigger and moved up a few floors in the new place. Now less than a decade later we had outgrown Rodney Square and needed more space. A separate Operations Center had been constructed outside of Wilmington in the News Castle Corporate Commons and there my divisions moved. My office got bigger and I had a nice view of the New Castle Airpor runways There was an open house held and in the photo my mom, the kids and I are entering the front door. I do not know who took the photo. Lois was home sick.

It brings on many changes 
And I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make

All our little joys relate...*
This new year was to be less than enjoyable. It brought a number of changes and griefs.
The years 1987 through summer of 1988 had indeed been full and busy times. Linda and I had created a whole new communications and employee development discipline throughout Walt Whittaker's Divisions. In the photo on the right (recently taken) I am holding a couple of our publications. The white volume contains copies of our ACTion News for the year 1987. This was the regular newsletter she and I created, edited, mostly wrote, published and distributed to the Deposit Service and Data Preparation Divisions' employees.
This sample ACTion News copy on the left happened to feature my Lunchtime Video Training Program. I would teach courses using videos of various business practices. This training took place in a large conference and was strictly voluntary. Any employee could attend. and many did, even though these presentations were done during the lunch hour. People were encouraged to bring their lunch and eat during the sessions. Certificates were award at a little ceremony (with cake) to those who completed each series. The picture on the front of the paper shows Walk Whittaker, vice-president and my direct boss, during one such graduation ceremony.
These newsletters were written and put together by us at Linda's apartment.  As I have said, we did a lot of work at her place during this time.
The blue binder I am holding contained the Action Concept Teams Training Manual. Its section dividers are shown here on the right.

Not only did we have to create the program, we had to train nearly 300 employees in its use. As you can see from the photo (recently taken) on the left it was a fairly thick manual.
(Yes, I still have a lot of these materials. I warned before that I was something of a packrat.)

The move to New Castle Corporate Commons brought many changes. First of all, I lost my assistant. This was probably a good thing considering the feelings I had developed toward her.  Linda went on to other projects in her life, mainly within the Episcopel Church. This included the publication of several books: A Guide to the New Church’s Teaching Series, The Marriage Journey – Preparations and Provisions for Life Together co[authored with a Delbert Glover (although as far as I know she never married), Transforming Disciples and Pocket Bible Guide.

Linda in 2009, left.

On March 19, Lois began working on a new job at Wilmington Trust, Automated Lockbox. On Mother’s Day, May 8, she felt too sick to join the kids and me at my parent’s. Just over a week later I was rushing her to the Riverside Hospital (right) in West Wilmington, she was hemorrhaging. The doctors decided to do a dilation and curettage (D&C) and they discovered she had a tumor the size of a tennis ball. They couldn’t operate because she had lost too much blood. They gave her a transfusion and sent her home to build herself up before they could do anything further.

She was back in Riverside Hospital at 8:00 AM on June 2. The operation was performed at
10:00 and lasted until 2:15. On the third my parents came down and we went to the hospital to see her. Lois was having pain, but they had already had her out of bed and walking. My mom stayed overnight, but my dad went home. They had removed the tumors, which required her to have a hysterectomy, one that a nurse later told her was the worse butcher job she had seen. The botched hysterectomy would lead to other complications in the near future. (Left, Lois in April 1988, before the operations.)
The next morning, we were up early. I took Noelle to her dance class and dropped, Mom, Laurel and Darryl off at a yard sale and I went to see Lois. I came home and dad was out back trimming our rear yard with a weed whacker. I mowed the front and mom made dinner. After dinner mom and I went back to the hospital. Dad took the kids to a carnival. (Right, Laurel, Noelle & Darryl, summer 1988.)
Lois came home on June 6. She was getting along okay, but couldn’t do much. On the 28th she went to her doctor. He told her she was leaking fluid from somewhere and made an appointment for her to see another doctor. She had to wait awhile to get to see him. Meanwhile, on July 6 we installed an above ground pool in the backyard. We had had a plastic wading pool, but this new pool would accomodate us all at the same time with room to spare. It was a good way to keep cool.

It wasn’t anything elaborate. It was 12 feet in diameter and could be filled to a depth of 3 feet. It was big enough for the kids to do some actual swimming, but not enough for diving. This didn’t matter. The kids loved it and it kept us all cool. It also got me out in the sun a lot, which helped with my psoriasis.
But on July 20 Lois had to be at the hospital at 7:30 AM for an examination at 3:15. During this it was discovered she had a leak in the track to her liver.
She was back in the hospital for more tests on July 26.
On August 11 her doctor called and informed her she would have to go into the hospital again for another operation. She had some kind of blockage to her kidney causing the organ not to be functioning correctly. The operation wouldn’t be until September. We could try and do some summer stuff before then.
Well, maybe.
Mom came with us as we took the kids down to Wildwood, New Jersey. It wasn’t a bad day at the start, but by late afternoon dark clouds began rolling in above the waves and those waves were getting fairly choppy. We packed up and left. We were chased all the way back to Delaware by those dinosaur clouds and then a terrible storm hit just as I crossed the bridge from one state to the other. I could barely see the road, but we were able to see a number trees down. We had no electricity when we did get home. My mother stayed over.
Lois and I slept in the living room with the kids because they were scared. No one slept well.
There were sirens blowing all night. Turned out lighting had set a Purina Feed Plant on fire and it burned down. Years later I worked in Southwest Wilmington at a printer and I could see the remains of that Feed Plant a few blocks away. The electric came back at 9:00 AM and that is when my mom went home.
The next night, a Friday, I dropped the kids off at my parents to spend the night. We didn’t pick them up again until 7 the next evening. Lois and I were both on vacation. The following Monday my mom again joined us and we all went to the Philadelphia Zoo. Lois made spegetti for dinner and my mom stayed the night.
The next day, the 23rd, we tried Wildwood again. My mom was along again, but Lois stayed home. She said she didn’t feel good. On the 26th, the kids and I went to my parents to celebrate Darryl’s 7th birthday. Again Lois wasn’t feeling well enough to come along. On Sunday, the 28th, we went to my cousin Bob’s farm for the Wilson Family Reunion, except for Lois. She was sick and throwing up. She had a fever of 103.
Lois went back into the hospital for an operation on September 8. The Doctors expected to remove her kidney. It was a three-hour operation. As it turned out, they didn’t have to snip out the kidney. It was nice they were leaving something inside her. She was becoming a pretty hollowed-out woman.   She had went in for the procedure at 10 o’clock AM, but she didn’t finally wake up until 9 that night. She remained in the hospital for over a week and came home on the 18th. She seemed pretty good.

On August 20, Lois transformed into The Road Runner, the mascot of the Darley Road Elementary School where all three of my kids were attending at the same and only time. Lois’ physical health was improving. We kidded there was nothing left inside her to take out anymore.
The scars on her body by now made it appear as if she had already been subject to an autopsy. There was a long scar down her from mid-chest, left from when she had corrections to her womb and her gull bladder removed. Another long scar crisscrossed this one, turning it into an inverted cross. There were other scars, who knew anymore from exactly what, the caesarian birth, the near kidney loss, the hysterectomy? And despite all this cutting up of her body by doctors and having had three children (and ten pregnancies), she still had a great body at age 47. Now for the time being it looked like she would avoid the doctors and the hospitals for some time. 

My turn was coming.

* “Suicide is Painless” (Known as “The M*A*S*H Theme)
Music by Johnny Mandel; lyrics by Mike Altman


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