I wish I had asked more questions…

Please Read My Story-It’s A Little Background of Me…

I had the best childhood anyone could ever have. My parents were very loving, kind people.  All who knew them loved them. They did for anyone who needed help, no matter what they needed. Even though we had very little money, they still managed to do what they could for others.  We may not have been rich in money, but we were very rich in life.  They always taught us to help others, no matter what; to grow our own food if needed; and the best thing they taught us was “TO BE PROUD OF WHAT WE HAD, NOT BE UNGRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE DIDN’T HAVE”

As I grew up, my dad had asthma really bad. They had him in and out of hospitals, lying in what they called an oxygen tent, fighting for his life.  We’d spend nights there as we were told “he would not make it through the night.”  He was a good fighter, and he was not about to leave his family. He would get better, get released, and within a few nights, he would be back in again.  He was like this for a long time. When they came out with the inhaler, he would use it when he would start into an attack. This helped him breathe and kept him out of the hospital. This was one of the worst memories I have of my childhood, never knowing if in the morning I would still have my dad.  It was so terrible watching him fight to breathe.

My mother suffered from health problems as well, but managed to live a longer life than expected. She survived a broken neck. She also had heart trouble, and had to stay in bed all the time.  Dad would go to work and she would stay in bed, so he would not worry about her. We children went together and bought her a TV for the bedroom, so she would have something to do while Dad was at work. Dad would call and check on her every so often, to make sure she was doing okay. I have always had this feeling when something is wrong.  Either before, or at the time that things are happening. I knew something was wrong and it was with my mother.  I called her and she tried to get the phone to her ear, but she was having a heart attack at that very time. I could hear her breathing problems and I told her to hang up the phone. I kept telling her to hang up before I realized that it was not at her ear, and also that I could hang up and still call out. I then called by dad at work. He called the ambulance and still made it home before the ambulance got there.  This could have saved her life.

I use to go to my grandparents’ house to visit all the time.  I would help fill buckets of coal, and take it in for them. I would also go on the back porch and hook the water bucket on the hook, unwind the rope, fill the bucket, and wind it back up. I would be so proud of being able to get their water for them.  The well looked as a true wishing well looks.  I would also go out back, where my grandfather had raspberries, and pick for them.  My brothers and sisters did it with me. Grandpa use to pick right along side of us. He sold these berries, and would give us five cents a quart for picking them, including the ones he picked.  We were so proud. I use to watch my grandfather whittle out his name in wood. When he finished one, he would always start another. He always had me paint them, then he would hang it up.  I spent a lot of time with Grandpa. He was one of my favorite people. I have terrific memories, and am very thankful for them.

This brought another bad memory of my childhood was when we lost my grandfather.  My grandpa got sick, and was not doing so well.  My parents would be at his house the biggest part of the day. I never even gave it a thought that I might lose my grandfather.  I had a job delivering newspapers although I was only thirteen years old. There was a store on North Avenue where I delivered the paper to. When I was there, a vehicle, which we called a death coach, pulled in and the man asked the store owner where William Stillion lived. I knew then my grandpa was in trouble. I dropped my paper bag and ran too my grandfather’s house. I was in time to see my grandmother shaking my grandpa, crying “don’t leave me, don’t leave me.” It was a very sad sight to see, but one I will always remember and don’t ever want to forget. To see the love they had for each other, and to watch him leave this world. To see my grandmother feeling the loss. This was my first sight of losing a loved one.  My aunt took me to a car, and talked to me until I calmed down some. The only other bad memory was losing my best friend. She was hit by a car as she crossed the street, leaving the school bus.  If we are lucky to live a long life, we all will lose someone we loved.  This is the hardest thing we ever have to do here on this earth.

In childhood we use to plant gardens, pick it when ready, and can our food. We always had plenty of vegetables to can and eat.  We went to family reunions, and also get-togethers that our family had. Always enjoying every day, not realizing how hard it was on our parents with my dad’s medical bills, and his not being able to work for long spells at a time.  He was a proud man and never asked for help from anyone. We never wanted for food, even if there was not much. When times were bad, we would have what was called “Coffee soup” for breakfast. It was toast, with coffee poured over it, with sugar on top.  We would have a big pot of food for dinner; chili, spaghetti, cabbage rolls, etc.  On Sunday we would have a big meal; mashed potatoes, chicken, a vegetable, applesauce and fruit. We never realized that the chicken we ate was from our own chicken house. Dad was very quiet on that one.

In growing up, I never saw or heard my parents ever have a fight. If they ever disagreed about anything, it never showed. They discussed everything together, and made their decisions from that conversation. Never, ever, did I hear them even raise a voice to each other. They always sat beside each other and held each other’s hand. Always showing their love for each other.”    I was proud to be a daughter of theirs!

I met and married a wonderful man, my husband in 1958 and had four wonderful children and two children from his first marriage.  We had a wonderful 57 years of life together and were blessed with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My husband was a wonderful loving man as on January of 1996, I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. I went into a coma. When the ambulance attendants wheeled me up my gravel drive, it aroused me enough to hear the attendant say “It’s her brain”. I am really glad he said this, as it gave me the chance to talk to God.  I asked God to “Please Forgive Me” and said Don’t let me live if I don’t have any brain.” At this point, I remember them saying “She’s not breathing”.  From this point on, I can’t give you any story on what I saw, but I can say it was very peaceful.  I did not want to come back. The doctor had told my family that I probably would not make it. God had other plans for me. When I came in and out of consciousness, I saw angels all around my room. The angels were my family members, but all with wings. Within two weeks I was home. For months I laid around not knowing to eat, drink, or do anything. The first thing I do remember is that I noticed a spot on my arm which looked like a baby’s foot print. I was always questioning “What is this?”, each time still noticing it looked like a baby’s footprint. The next thing I remember is seeing Karen Peck singing “God like to work when nothing else will” and the Spencer’s singing “One day at a time” As you can see it was God’s will for me to be here, and to get well. He does answer prayers!!!   As for the footprint, our daughter told me that maybe it was telling me I was born again. As soon as I realized that I was born again, it disappeared. I give God all the praise, and all the glory, for the extra time he has given me, and for what I have in life.

After being released from the hospital, lying around all the time, not knowing anything.  I had to learn how to eat, walk, talk, think, cook, and so all  the things we always expected we would never lose. Never realizing that I had lost anything, at that point. I was like a little child, and my husband stood by my side through it all. He had to teach me how to do things again, even to take a bath.  At this point I have to say, I have the best husband in the world!!!  He loved me enough to work with me, to get me back to where I am now. It was a lot of hard work for him, as I can remember being a mean, old, unruly person. I did not understand what had happened, or why it had happened, not knowing why he was telling me to do these things.  Sometimes he had to order me to do them, as I would not want to try any more. Can you picture, all of a sudden, your spouse being like this and not knowing anything, and being like a child. Not listening sometimes, as you know children do. Having to teach them to do things they use to do. I am not so sure that I could have been as wonderful as he had been. He had more patience with me then I might have had, if the situation was reversed. It took a long time to start coming around. As time went by, I started learning more, and I could finally see myself as I looked in the mirror, not seeing the person that I remembered being. I wanted to be myself again and my doctor told me “You only need a piece of your brain the size of a dime. Work with it, and your will have more knowledge then you had in the first place.”  I believed him. This became the start of my new life.

I got into genealogy with the help of my brother Roger.  He met me at our library and showed me where to start. He asked me to help him on our family tree.  My brother was really trying to get me to do things for myself, he needed no help, and I loved him for this.  My husband has taken me, helped me, and found things while researching the family history. He stood by and helped me research. I really did not understand what I was doing, but was very willing to learn. I researched, and then had to turn around and research the same thing again, and then again several times, as my brain had to learn all over again.  I ran into so many wonderful people, who would see my problem and very quietly tried to explain things to me, even though they had already done so many times before. It is nice to know there are these kind of people in this world, being so nice, and trying to help a handicapped person better themselves. Anyway, it took me a long time, doing things wrong, and not wanting to quit and retrying several times more. I was a very determined person. I was going to do it one way or another. I would double check things to be sure I got it right, so it took me a long time. But the worst thing that came out of it, is that I never learned to document where I found the items I was getting.  I wish I had, but I am not complaining, as at least I was able to do it.  “I have come a long way, baby,” as they say.  I had put together a family tree.

So this site is for you to be able to get some of the info you need to help or start your family tree.   The two most important things to do are: document where you find every item, and don’t ever quit hunting an item you can’t find as it will pop up somewhere, someplace in your search.   Also another important thing is “talk to your elders, write down what they tell you” do it while they are still here on this earth.   Once they are gone, not here anymore you’ve lost all the important things they could tell you.  I was not interested in asking my parents about their past as I was too young to even think about genealogy. It was one of my biggest mistakes, they had passed when I got into genealogy and it was too late for me.   I wish I had asked more questions.   So any of you younger ones, even if you’re not into genealogy now, still ask as someday you will be glad you did…

I want to thank all of you, for reading my story, looking at my site, and being a part of my life.

~Betty Stillion Shinn