Tag Archives: divorce

Elaine Seeber: Through Hell and High Water, Perseverance & Faith

ElaineSeeber_w-1

A True Texas Girl… I was born and raised in Bertram, Texas.  I married Donny Brown, and we lived in the Philippines for our first 2 years of marriage, then back to Texas in Austin, Georgetown and Riesel.  We had two daughters together, Neissa and Shonna, who have now brought me 4 grandchildren.

Joe and I with our grandchildren Malaine, Claire, Durant and Cole

I now live in Hewitt, a suburb of Waco, (HA!) and have lived here almost 11 years with my second husband, Joe. 1 ½ years ago, I retired from a career at Hillcrest Hospital.

 

I’m inspired by… Daddy and Mother.  I regret I didn’t thank them enough when they were alive and would so love to be able to now.

My pet peeve… Negativism.  It drives me crazy!

 

If I had had a different career… It would have been Home Economics Teacher.

 

Outside of being with the kids and grandkids, my perfect day would be… A very warm day that starts with exercising (sweat profusely) , working in the yard and with my plants (sweat profusely), sitting on the deck and watching the birds and listening to my wind chimes, going inside to eat, taking a shower, and then with the AC turned down to about 68, taking a long afternoon nap covered up with a throw!

 

Growing up a farmer’s daughter… Daddy was a farmer/rancher/carpenter.  Mother was a homemaker.  We were 3 girls and 1 boy: Benda, Sharon, Connie (my brother, and he despises the name!), and the baby ME!

We were extremely close and truly lived in a “bubble.”   We raised chickens as part of the family income — the most chickens we raised at one time was 1,400!…and no, that isn’t a typo.  We had our after-school and summertime chores of gathering, washing, grading and cartoning the eggs.

When my brother and I got “older” (probably 10 & 12), in the winter after school we would burn the stickers off prickly pear cactus for the cows to eat.  In the summer we had hay, corn and maize to haul and put in the barn.  I learned at an early age how to drive the standard pickup truck and tractor pull the trailer.  Our garden provided food for canning, and our meat came from our own pigs, calves and chickens.  We milked our own cows, drank the milk and made butter from it.

Mother was an excellent cook and seamstress, and she made all of our meals from scratch and sewed all our dresses.  Our clothes were wrinkle-free when we wore them, and daddy’s and my brother’s jeans were starched stiff as a board.  I learned carpenter skills from daddy.  There was never buying a new appliance, as cords were repaired by mother. Major repair work, daddy did.  I remember mother getting a wringer washer and how proud of it we were.  Our clothes were line-dried, and in the winter we would hang wet clothes in front of the space heaters, and/or lay them in the oven.

We were in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  Our favorite time of day was eating “supper.”  We never sat down to eat until at least 8:00 pm, and we ate as a family. After eating was our “visiting time,”  and never did we get up quick from the table. We sat there sometimes until 9:30 visiting.

There was one bathroom for all 6 of us, that daddy added on when I was in the first grade.  Since we had our own water well, we weren’t allowed to use but about 2 inches of water in the bathtub.  Baths were quick, and while one of my sisters or I were bathing, the other one would come in and wash faces and brushed teeth.

photo 1-5The only vacation we ever had was going to Alpine and visiting my mother’s sisters.  Neighbors that were chicken farmers would take care of our chickens for a few days, and we would return the favor.  I remember one time I was about 12, Daddy wanted to take us to Inks Lake and spend the night.  So we packed up our car and pickup, and Mother cooked all the food for us (including fried chicken).  Plans were for us to get there mid-afternoon, spend the night, sleep in the back of the uncovered pickup on a pallet consisting of several blankets, a sheet and our pillows.  We were so excited and thought we were in high cotton!  Well, as luck would have it, early that night a thunderstorm came, drenched us and we ended up having to come home that night.  We were of course disappointed, but accepted it as just one of those things that happens.

 

My Story… I shared so much about my upbringing because it is an integral part of who I am and how I overcame obstacles in my life.    I was fortunate to have wonderful parents that taught us to (1) love the Lord; (2) love each other and be a family; (3) have integrity; (4) not covet our neighbor, and (5) have a great work ethic.

In Bertram there was little difference in family incomes.  We had only what we needed, and our community was close-knit and truly cared about each other.  I thought that was the way the entire world was.

Growing up, I never knew Mother and Daddy had arguments, and we as a family very seldom argued.  If we had a problem, we talked it over, settled it and that was that.  So when Donny and I had our first argument, I just knew we were headed to divorce court the next day.

Donny and I divorced after 15 years, and it was devastating.  Our girls were 7 and 11 years old. Like I said….no one was supposed to even argue, much less divorce I lived with a tremendous amount of guilt and failure, but my upbringing gave me strength.  I knew I had two ways to go: either (1) running around and going to bars (which had never appealed to me, nor does it now), or (2) continue going to church and make sure that was a vital part of my children’s and my life.

The age difference Shonna and Neissa was good in that they never competed against each other, but it did mean that every night and weekend we were busy.  Confirmation was 4 years long, therefore for 8 years, our Wednesday nights were taken up. Shonna’s basketball and football games were Friday night, Neissa’s were Monday and Thursday.  Weekends were track meets, tournaments and church youth groups (which of course met at different times on Sunday afternoon).   I had a little red Ford Escape — Margaret was her name — and she got us everywhere.

So many times I wouldn’t have the money to pay our electricity bill on time.  On the cut-off date, I would leave the house at 6:30 am and get the payment to Marlin, come home and get the girls to school.  (That was back when you could write a check and know it wouldn’t get to your bank for at least 2-3 days.)  I made phone calls to utility companies and banks, begging for a few more days.

 

A particularly challenging Christmas… The houses in Riesel we lived in were always COLD in the winter and HOT in the summer.  From living on a farm, I knew to leave the faucets dripping at night to keep the pipes from freezing.  But it seemed no  matter how careful I was, it always froze.  I remember one Christmas it froze on either the 23rd  or 24th…

On Christmas afternoon, we were taking our naps, (a true Watson tradition) and I woke up to a spewing.  The water had unfrozen and the pipes had burst.   Ice cold water was everywhere.  I went outside, turned it off and started  mopping it up.  I always wrapped my outside pipes and prayed they wouldn’t freeze… but they did just a couple of times.  But I knew how to do that because I had seen and helped Daddy do it many times.

One winter night it was icing outside —  I had bought plastic to put on the outside of our windows to protect from the north wind.  I went outside after the girls went to bed and nailed the plastic to the windows.  The wind was blowing hard and it was literally freezing.  As I was coming back in the house, the sidewalk had frozen and I slipped and fell flat on my back, my head missing the corner of the step about an inch.  Scared me to death, but nothing was broken, so I got up and went back inside.

How did I make it?  My faith and my parents! 

 

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We Thought Nothing Of It: A Mother’s Day Tribute

Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.
(Unknown)

About Neissa

by Neissa Springmann

During one of Amy’s recent yoga classes, she closed with this quote: “Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.” I was instantly touched by the quote because it reminded me of my mom—the eternal optimist—who inspires me to write this journal.

My childhood in Riesel (a small farming community outside of Waco) was at times challenging. But being raised by an eternal optimist meant times rarely seemed grim. When I was in the first grade my mom divorced my dad. At the time, my father was an alcoholic. Thankfully, the day my mom moved me and my sister out was the same day my dad divinely quit drinking—cold turkey. He has been alcohol free ever since—another journal for another day.

It was too late to reconcile as mounds of damage had already been done. My mother was no longer in love with my father and knew she had to get me and my sister out of our negative environment so she moved us into an apartment in a nearby town. My sister and I were able to stay in the same school so life barely changed. If anything, life got better!! We thought nothing of it.

Everything seemed normal with the exception of our father not living with us. Within a year, my mom began dating and my dad became reacquainted with a college sweetheart. Dad married my stepmother, Brenda, and they’ve been married ever since. We became a very civil divorced family who attended the same church and even sat in the same pew together. Can you can imagine how strange this might have looked?!? We thought nothing of it.

It wasn’t too long before we moved back to Riesel. Our new home was old and with no central air or heat. The three of us shared one bedroom and changed our habits to suit the season. In the winter, Mom would get up extra early (4:30 a.m.) to light space heaters for us. And when the water heater ran out of butane, she’d boil huge pots of water on the stove for our baths. We thought nothing of it.

During the school year Mom always prepared and delivered our breakfast to us on the couch. There the three of us would eat, put on our makeup together and talk about EVERYTHING! Mom would iron our clothes for the day and see to it that our lunches were made. By 7:30 a.m., we all looked like a million bucks and headed out the door. We thought nothing of it.

I could go on and on with more stories about the eternal optimist, but what I love and appreciate the most about my mom is her spirit. She protected and nurtured us. Only later in life did my sister and I learn the truth about the hardships she endured.

The apartment she had moved us to was government subsidized housing. We thought nothing of it because there was no more fighting, and we found fun in climbing the stairs and meeting the new neighbors.

The clothes she gave us were mostly hand-me-downs or painstakingly handmade. We thought nothing of it because we loved going to Wal-mart to look for patterns and material so we could have a new Easter, Christmas, or banquet dresses. Mom even made my sister’s Jr. Prom dress which was ALL RED SEQUINS!!!

The times we ran out of butane were because she sometimes couldn’t pay the bill. We thought nothing of it because she boiled water on the stove for us. And the school cafeteria food was awful, but we thought nothing of it because Mom always made our lunches to spare us.

We were financially poor. But thanks to Mom’s faith and eternal optimistic spirit, we were spiritually rich. Throughout the many struggles she endured, we never saw her cry or heard her complain. She reinforced the importance of faith, family, health and humor. She stayed focused on making the best of every situation and after every game, event or activity we participated in, even if we lost by fifty points, she was always the first to greet us with her BIG smile and optimistic attitude. She always told us how great we did and never what we should or could have done to win.

Financially, life is better for us all now, but we wouldn’t trade our poor upbringing for any amount of money in the world. We are grateful and very often reminisce and laugh.

Difficult and challenging times are always inevitable in life. What’s critical and is the difference maker is our optimistic attitudes, as our spirit will most likely determine the outcome of our situations. Mom has proven this to me time and time again. But don’t just take my word for it; a 2008 Duke University study showed that cardiac patients who were pessimistic about their recovery we’re twice as likely to die early as those who were optimistic.

As you go about your week and even life, I encourage you to confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. The truth is that life is going to happen with some good and some bad mixed together. The question is: will you have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even through the most challenging situations? I’m optimistic you will!

Point To Ponder:
How do you typically react to situations that don’t go your way?

Action Item:
Confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. Have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even when the outlook appears grim.

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