Nervous much?

So we wait for Tuesday’s Social Security Disability hearing, with the judge from Raleigh coming in on video and the attorney from Orlando coming in on the plane. It’s nervous time here. Even my horoscope registers that I’ll be nervous today. Wow. The astral plane knows my anxiety?

Today is Oliver’s 14th birthday. The family is coming here to celebrate in about 2 and a half hours. I’ve cleaned up the kitchen a bit and Rob’s promised to clear off the coffee table. It currently holds his weights but he’s not working out any more. He’s exchanged that restlessness for picking on his cuticles. One OCD behavior replaces another. I notice he’s not ticking as much since he started picking on his cuticles. I wonder if it is a neuron pathway thing. I don’t say much to him about it. Figure he doesn’t need his behaviors pointed out to him.

Every conversation returns to the VA or disability … every sentence points to our eventual reality. I don’t allow myself to think negatively about it, as Melanie says, Only Positive Thoughts. We make our reality. We can make it good or we can make it negative. I choose the good pathway and don’t have any alternative plans if things are sorry. I just don’t acknowledge that they can be.

Since this blog contains my inner-most feelings, it seems strange. What’s strange? Talking to the world while talking to no one. If anyone ever finds their way to this blog, read it and know I am ok. The internet is acting up today, messages aren’t going through to Jane… then suddenly one will. I’ve told her about it. She and Andy came by today to bring Oliver’s presents so it would be easier to just arrive with food in a while. The big surprise should be here by 4:30 and it’s Anthony. C4 is coming at 4 but Anthony’s not due in Raleigh until 2, so he might be here around 5 or so. We’ll see how long we can keep everyone here, maybe just have Ollie stick around for some made-up reason if Anthony doesn’t show up in time.

Anthony is his best friend, has been living in OK and is returning to live with his Dad and C4 today and going to school here. School starts tomorrow, so he’ll have zero time to get ready for it. I betcha it’s a hassle … Dave tried to get him enrolled but the high school here is so slack, I doubt they’ve done anything about it. The high school in Enid OK is apparently a really good one but it has no ROTC and that’s what Anthony wants. He’s been talking to Ollie about his mom, so there are few secrets around here. She’s quite the piece of work, or should I say “trash”?

She was arrested for making a false “rape” charge against her ex last fourth of July. Her mugshot was on the front page of the Enid paper. It’s a good thing to get Anthony out of there, I can’t imagine going to school with that hanging over your head would be very pleasant. No one knows him here… it’s all ok … fresh start and all that. It’s a real tribute to Dave’s parenting that Anthony hasn’t gotten in trouble with the police. Most other kids would have acted out horribly. I hope he hasn’t saved up his bad for being here, but he’s a good kid, doubt that’s going to happen.

Jane just messaged me about her bringing paper plates, cups and iced tea. Yay. It’s all going to be fine, I’m just wiling away my time, typing useless junk in this blog. We’ve been asked to keep Maggie and Linus for 4 days in 2 weeks. The O’s are going to Ocracoke, they’ve rented a house, are taking the big dogs and we are tasked with the little dogs and the cats. It’ll be easier if they stay in the house over there, even though the O’s asked if we wanted them to come here. I told them we’d try keeping them at home, they’ll be lonely but they’ll know where they are. Moving those old dogs to a new house will probably really upset them, plus I don’t want them poohing in my house. I’d rather clean up theirs.

It’s a big inconvenience to do it, but how to say no? You just can’t. We are helpless against the tide of Ocracoke. Vacation land. God forbid they ask us to go there, I just realized that. We’re tasked with looking after their house and animals while they invite the whole world out there. Jennifer, neighbors, babies, Norm … everyone but us. How odd, I think. They didn’t even say we should drive out there. Selfish much? It does hurt my feelings, but it doesn’t surprise me. I’ll talk to C4 about it and we’ll trash the O’s and I’ll feel better in my odd way. I get over things quickly. I don’t allow the moods and whims of others to set my mood. Unless it’s Rob, if he’s out of sorts, schizo-affectively, I get ramped up. Of course I do. Much like when Mom used to lose it, as she got 90, she did suffer from depression — now I think she was dehydrated and underfed but I didn’t know it at the time because she insisted on being in charge of her own cooking etc. I fed her every evening.

Speaking of that, I’ve got to get into cooking again. I think Rob’s not caring about what he eats plays havoc on my motivation. I know how to cook, I just don’t do it. We have lots of pre-fab food but it’s frozen veggies — some frozen chicken breasts — not really that bad and no sodium in the frozen veggies and rice mixes, very little anyway. We don’t eat beef any more, just the occasional hamburger for burritos and spaghetti sauce. We splurged and bought Dominos yesterday. Interestingly enough, they undercharged us by $6 or more. Only $24 to have 2 pizzas, garlic bites and cinnamon nugget things plus a liter of Coke — delivered. Apparently I got some kind of coupon. Mark was here and enjoyed a lot of the food, especially the cinnamon things. I finished them off last night while watching TV. Speaking of a void — TV on Saturday night is a vast wasteland.

I was hoping for some mysteries on PBS but Doc Martin, et al, were replaced by fund raiser music videos and conversation. I hate watching music on tv, can’t explain it, I used to enjoy shows like Austin City Limits but not any more.

P is home with her family. That is one messed up bunch. I feel sorry for her sometimes but you get what you get. She tries to care for them but her 80 years are starting to show on her. Grandkids, great-grandkids … and M is home from prison, living next door to family and he wasn’t supposed to return at all. It’s a recipe for disaster and drugs … he’s addicted to ?? and finds it however he can. He’s 34 and has no future. He’ll end up in jail again if he keeps up his old habits. Sad.

A had to move her office to Wake Forest. It was a revenge move made by angry bosses who can’t stand her. She’s actively seeking other employment but at 50, sometimes that’s hard to do, I think she’s stuck in her current job. I just hope she gets her 20 years in with the state and can retire early. She and M really want me to come up for a visit, they’ve fixed up the guest room, they say just for me. I’ll go up there and spend the night soon. Gotta’ make sure the car is ok and make sure Rob is ok. I can do it, but it terrifies me to think about leaving the house, even going to the grocery store is weird. This is just the waiting and once the waiting is over, I think I’ll get my confidence back. Yup, I know I will. This knot in my stomach will go away and be replaced by a joyous demeanor.

Smoke a cig with Os and we talked about all the garbage E left in their attic … they’ve cleaned it out, two trailer loads and they still have more to go… O’s old mattress and a chest of drawers. I’m glad it’s all finally cleared out of their attic. I can’t imagine what a mess it was, kudos to the Os for getting it done. I imagine Oboy had a lot to do with moving it, although Little E is a good worker and stronger than he looks.

“For the love of God, get me out of this fern.” E classic line. I told A and he really laughed at that one. So dramatic.

Time to move on, this is getting to 1500 words so anyone who’s hung in there this long gets a prize. Here! Prize! Words! only 6 more to 1500.

There done. I’ve written enough.

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Sept. 9, 2018

That’s the date on the VA website. The date by which we will know the conclusion of our filing for Rob’s VA disability due to PTSD, his schizo-affective disorder, his OCD and other ailments. We’ll know about his Individual Unemployability and it will all be over. We’ve filed for RAMP, meaning Rapid Appeals Modernization Program. According to the Fact Sheet, this is the new VA system, just begun and filed by invitation only. Our attorney has advised that we use this system, so she filed on our behalf back in May, I believe. The VA says, in its acceptance letter, that results are conveyed within 126 days, so the Sept. 9th date makes sense.

Rob and I have both had an Ativan. The news sent me spiraling into the bathroom with diarrhea and Rob out to the porch to chain smoke. I’ll have to go buy him some more cigarettes later today, he’s on his last pack. My my, but I certainly do write some run-on sentences. Excuse me for not zealously editing today, I’m pretty freaked out.

The “what if’s” are huge in this. What if it happens and they pay Rob his back amount due? What if they say “no” and nothing comes of it. I can’t imagine that happening. We have independent psychological findings, two separate doctors, one hired by the VA and one hired by Carol Ponton, that find his disability is “more likely than not” caused by his trauma. Those are the magic words. “More likely than not”. Rob’s been through the mill with this and is justifiably freaking out.

I’ve been on the phone with Network Solutions all morning, trying to get the website to redirect. Finally got someone on the phone that knew what he was doing. I needed to clear my history (my cache) on my browser and start over. Then the correct settings came up on the screen. Now I don’t have a whole lot of faith in this working but I am cautiously optimistic. I signed Jeannette up for something called a SSL certificate which means her website will come up as “secure” when someone goes to it. It costs about $10 a month but she can pay it, I put it on her credit card. I started to make a website for her on GoDaddy but called to cancel it. Dealing with GoDaddy vs. Network Solutions is night and day. No 42 minute holds for GoDaddy, they just answer the phone. NS disconnects, transfers calls, doesn’t have answers and everything takes 24-48 hours to take effect.

Rob’s on the phone to his mom. Maybe she can help calm him down, he’s doing a lot of talking so maybe so. It’s a coin toss with her — she’s probably already had a couple glasses of wine so she should be gregarious. I just hope it’s in his favor. She and John and Aidan went out on the Black (?) River yesterday, at her niece Char’s house where they went out on what Jeannette called a “skiff”. Not sure what she means by that? What kind of boat is a “skiff”? I see that as a jon boat type small boat but she’s probably meaning something Jandy’s Boston Whaler, the small one.

Went to Oliver’s regatta last Saturday. Rode with Molly and Don (her dad) and we had a great time. Stephen came in a 3 way tie for fourth but Oliver got 3rd and received a medal. He acted like it was no big deal but he’s secretly very proud of it. Last year he was dead last so this is a good deal for him. Yesterday we unloaded the beds from Uncle Dave’s house in VA Beach. They  inherited the house and all its contents, so Oliver and Emmett got new beds. Really nice mattresses. Ollie’s bed is a really good one, won’t ever need a new one. He’s pretty pleased, especially since he’s been sleeping on the floor for the last two years. It really caused a lot of unresolved anger on his part and I did a lot of Nana counseling to get him through it. He couldn’t understand why his parents wouldn’t buy him a bed. Well, now he finally has a really nice one, has drawers under it and everything, so he can feel better about his parents. It was a real piece of work to get upstairs… poor Rob and Andy had quite a time of it. Ollie tried pushing but they didn’t give him any credit for helping.

Jane’s in Raleigh today with Stacy, picking out countertops. I hope the third time is the charm for her. She’s had a hell of a time finding them. She has to be picky, there’s such a huge expanse of countertop, it has to be just right.

Andy was a total asshole throughout the whole move to the boys, especially Ollie. He has the meanest voice when he deals with them. Never speaks to them in a normal tone, ever. He always blurts out angry orders to them, never listens to them, and is totally unpleasant to them while talking all polite and kind to other people in the room. It’s the oddest thing. Jane has spoken to him so many times about it. Uh oh, here’s Stephen. Rob’s not in the kind of head space to talk to him right now. It worked out fine, Emmett just showed up for Nana first aid, which I happily applied to his “sting” or whatever bite it was. He and Stephen then rode off together, both of them bored, both in need of companionship. Good. Stephen can behave, it’s just a matter of “will he?” Emmett is in need of a riding companion.

I have to drive down River Road to go buy cigs in a bit. I’m hoping that Rob is sufficiently calmed down in a while so he can ride along. I’m not in any kind of shape to go yet, but the Ativan will kick in soon. He’ll need lots of cigs to get through the Sept. 9 news. C4 said she was “here” if we needed her but so far I haven’t heard back from her today. Her life is in turmoil, so I don’t mind her being busy. Nothing more to say about that right now.

My friend VA put me on the the shelf for a few days last week. She wants to move here, back to NC, and wants to live with us but Rob is too damn odd for that to happen. That’s what we’re saying … and there’s just not enough room in this house for another person, even if we did know her. We don’t know her at all. She’s been a very good internet friend for years and I remember when she was homeless and Phoebe and I talked about her, about who could take her in and we decided neither of us could. I can’t support another emotionally fragile human being while taking care of Rob. It just won’t work. Besides, she is, in her own words “morbidly obese” so living upstairs would not work for her. I understand her plight and won’t go into it here but I can’t help her. We have decided to support her, financially, when the money is here. Just like we plan on slipping Ollie money when he’s in college. He doesn’t need money now, he wants for nothing — he’s got clothing, he’s getting a new Mac for his birthday, he finally has a decent bed, life is good. I promised VA I would send her some cigs towards the end of the month, so I might as well buy 6 packs and send her some. The things I get myself into. I’d said that we would send her $20 but she didn’t want it, wanted cigs instead. Damn it. Now I have to go to the post office rather than just mailing a $20 bill. This is who she is, a complicator.

Life is filled with complicators. Oh good, Mark is here! This is who Rob needs!

I’ll sign off and go speak with him.

About today

Yeah, it’s all starting to get to me. Rob sleeping, the waiting … even caring for Rob 24/7 can get to me. I went to pottery last night, I don’t go for the clay, I go to get out of the house for 3 hours. I have my pottery, and then I have Wednesdays when I go to the therapist and then spend a few hours with Caroline. Aside from the grocery store, these are the only times I leave the house. I started taking Rob for rides a while back and I still do that, we go down river road and end up, after about 5 miles, at the cigarette store. It’s something …
Intellectually, I know that Rob is ill and requires care. But emotionally? I sometimes think he just needs to get moving. But I squelch that feeling.
Then there’s Carolyn who is facing Danny’s death spiral and I think — who am I to complain?
Danny’s going to need dialysis 3X a week. He went in to get his “shunt” (?) placed today so he can do the dialysis. I’ve told Carolyn that I will drive him so that she can continue taking care of her mom, Alice, who’s 93 and failing mentally. Carolyn makes her money off selling her pottery, so if she can’t be in the studio making art, she can’t make any money. She also makes money off her classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Her future is so much grimmer than mine, it’s set me into a tail spin.
When they die, it will leave her with only her social security for income alongside her art/classes. I remember when Mom went into RiverWalk and her social security went to paying for that. We lost $1700 a month, that’s when Rob got fired/quit from BCDC so we got behind in everything very quickly. The situation was dire, believe me. I somehow managed to keep us from losing the house, don’t know how I did it… paid our bills and used up what we had in savings.
This was before Rob was diagnosed, so I was just angry for a few years. Why didn’t he get a job? Why wouldn’t he save us? It was the VA that stepped in and helped. It may be taking years for a resolution but the most important thing the VA did was provide psychiatrists and diagnoses. Odd… it’s a love/hate relationship.
So I think of all these things today. I fear for Carolyn, I know what her future holds and so does she. I always leave last from pottery “class” so that we clean up the studio and talk alone for a few minutes. Last night was brutal.
I keep remembering and then I think of the right now and the only thing I can do is to love my family unconditionally. To reach out to friends, like you, who help make this bearable. Real flesh and blood family and friends. Not online unknowns and for that I am also grateful… I realize, because I have a friend in this condition, that some people only have online friends and they’re virtual shut-ins.
Today I’m concentrating on the positive. Staying away from the dark pit. I’m grateful for the A/C units in my windows. I’m grateful for this wonderful falling down house, it continues to function despite its age. Maybe it knows we’re going to spruce it up as soon as we can. I’m grateful, oh so grateful, for the Volvo, long may she run. I may not solve any of my problems today but I’m also not going to sit here and meditate upon them.
Sounds like one of those positive affirmation exercises people do, but I’ve been sitting on the front porch, channeling my inner-Ruth and knowing she’s here, somewhere, in my psyche and if I can just pull her and Dad out of brain, I can do this. I didn’t sign on to care for a mentally ill spouse. He could just as easily be Danny and the end result would be death in a few months. I need to look at caring for him in a bright light, not a negative hole.
Oliver’s doing well in sailing school. I told you he’s been volunteering down there all summer. It’s right near their house, they owe so much to Caroline for that house, not that they’ll EVER in a MILLION YEARS admit it. Those boys personalities, their where-with-all is deeply tied to living next to downtown. Ollie came by yesterday, Jane dragged him down here, because I did his laundry for him. Such is the Nana mode I exist in. He had over a dozen pairs of shorts, a dozen t-shirt and no underwear in his laundry basket! What a boy… he’s such a teenager, it hurts! ha.
Emmett is a little firecracker. Every time we see him, he makes us laugh. He came over every day that Jeannette was here, kept talking to her, it was like he was taking care of Rob, I suspect he was, actually.
Jeannette sent us $250 for the website and has promised $250 more. This is 2 months of house payments. I don’t see an “end” to our financial problems, I just figure they could go on forever and that keeps my spending in check. We need stuff like clippers for yard, etc but we keep using the old dull ones because there’s no need to spend money we might need. I’ve managed to save almost $1000 since selling the car and paying off Visas, slowly. I know I can make 4 hour payments out of that, so we’re good through December. I even splurged and ordered a  $7.99 t-shirt that was a lightning deal on Amazon. Made me feel almost normal! And I ordered $17 windshield sunshield things — saved me from going to walmart.
Now if I can just get the website to load. I keep telling her to concentrate on the alternate site I built, it gets more traffic, but hey, as long as she’s happy and sends more money, I don’t care what website she looks at.
Will find out about SNAP (food stamps) this week. I always get nervous when I have to re-up for benefits, every 6 months, but it’s the same form with the same numbers every time — we couldn’t have survived this past year without the $350 month we get from our EBT card. I remember buying the bruised/old veggies/fruit from Pig before we got the card. One morning, I looked at the kitchen and realized there was NO food in the house and I had no money. It was unbelievable, you can imagine it — total panic. That night, Monday, I went to pottery and told them how I had no food. I wasn’t complaining or asking for anything, I just was telling them about it and we all kept on talking.
The next day, Carolyn and then another friend, brought bags of groceries. All of Carolyn’s classes took up money to buy us food. They all know me. Talk about a humbling moment. They continued to bring groceries for the rest of the money until the food stamps were approved. They even brought me homemade preserves/jams/tomato sauces.
When I have time, I’ll get more political, when this is over … get more into making my voice heard about the VA, food stamps and more. Right now I’ve got to take care of Rob. I’ll try to volunteer, like at the nearby Blind Center or something.
wow, long email. Thanks again for being there to talk to — it really helps. When I type this all out, it stops spinning around in my head and fucking me up.

Ruth Quote

Found this in a book of quotes belonging to Mom. Ruth Heinold wrote this, copied it from a book, in the 1940s.  “If my companions on the planet’s crust choose to rage about, they cannot affect me! I will not let them. I have the power to maintain my own calm, and  I will. No earthly being can force me to be false to my principles, or to be blind to the beauty of the universe, or to be gloomy, or to be irritable, or to complain against my lot. For these things depend on the brain; cheerfulness, kindness, and honest thinking are all within the department of the brain. The disciplined brain can accomplish them.”

The quote is especially powerful during the gloom and doom of the desperate voter, the online nastiness, the mis-quoted words, the mis-reported deeds of insignificant moral value.

Life moves on

here’s to another post no one will read. The Mother in Law came for a four day visit. We managed to get through it without any arguments, drunken stupors or idiocy. This is refreshing. She can be quite entertaining when she’s not drunk and she kept a lid on the wine consumption, drinking only one bottle per day.

We’ll be creating a new website for her business. Hers is a good site, but it doesn’t load correctly with the proper smart phone type format. It’s made for a computer, not a “hand held” device. I formatted the deadmule.com site to fit any format. Good on me. It’s such a great little literary journal, 23 years online, so it gets lots of credit FROM ME. I love The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and enjoy working on it every month. A new website every month, created and formatted by me — quite an accomplishment and I’m proud of myself for maintaining it all these years. The internet archives have pages from the 1990s which amazes and amuses me.

Yes, the Dead Mule is amazing.

My dogs are suffering this summer. Bad skin problems. Not so much fleas as something in the yard. It’s been raining so much, the stuff we spray on the yard to kill bugs just doesn’t stick around long enough to do any good. So they have little sores and itchy spots. I gave Ziggy a Benadryl a day for 3 days and it seems to have helped her a bit. She’s better now, I say as I watch her scratch and jump around trying to get to her back to scratch at it. Biting at it. I may have to shove another Benadryl down her throat but it really traumatizes her when I do it.

Dogs are outside playing to the neighbor’s stereo. Just hanging out in the much needed sunshine, pooping and walking around. Better there than in the house.

I’m waiting for Jane to tell me they need Rob today but so far, so good. They like their Mule, he works for free and doesn’t complain when you ask him to help you throw your garbage into the dumpster. We’ve had a full trailer in the back driveway for weeks now, filled with kitchen sink and more from the demolition of their kitchen. They tried to empty it on a Sunday, weeks ago, but the dumpsters were full and not taking any more garbage. That’s what happens here, everyone goes to the dump on Saturdays and the dumpsters get filled up to the brim, not to be emptied until Monday or Tuesday. You’ve got to go on a weekday, I think. I’m curious as to when they empty it, because they’ve got a mountain of stuff to throw out at the house, just waiting for the empty trailer.

Then again, I’m surprised they didn’t come get the Boston Whaler for a boat ride today. They will justify “needing a break” and then not do the necessary housework. It’s who they are and I love them for it. I understand them better than they understand themselves. And I appreciate who they are and how much they love me. While I may seem to be complaining, I’m really not. I need to be careful and not say hurtful things. I need to remain level headed and right minded about who they are and how they accomplish / don’t accomplish things.

Dogs are ready to come in. Guess that sunshine only felt good for a short while. Zoey was lying in the sun but Ziggy was barking. I should have left them out there — oh well.

We have the Social Security disability hearing, with the judge and the attorney coming up on the 28th. Rob is freaking out, daily, about it. Lots to be panicked about so I’m making sure he takes an Ativan when he gets too freaky. I don’t get to go into the hearing with him, only the attorney attends the interview. Rob will have an extremely difficult time and I know he’s dreading doing it on his own. But the attorney is flying up from Orlando to be with him, which I consider pretty significant. There can only be one video, so it has to be the judge, therefore, the attorney must be here in person. She seems well-versed in social security jargon. We had a very long conversation wherein she asked Rob the questions the judge will ask. It noticeably freaked him out, but she did not talk about the rape, she asked him about his psychological problems and he responded just fine. He’s so unsteady, it was very difficult for him. This is year three of our initial filing. Three years! And now the new US budget wants to take money from vets and deliver it to the pentagon for more boom boom guns and less benefits for those who gave to the country. It’s sinful.

So today is sunny. The first sunny day in weeks. We are enjoying it the best we can, what with Rob having a panic attack every 20 minutes. The Ativan ought to start working soon, but sometimes I’m tempted, I swear, to give him 2 instead of one. I only take 1/2 of one when I’m panicked and it helps. His metabolism is just so different from anyone else’s, of course it is. enough of this nonsense. I’ll sign off now and hope no one is reading.

Watching the River of Strange Overflow Its Banks

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So he gets up on the roof of their house every chance he gets. It started with retrieval of a frisbee, then an intentional roller skate toss, then his friend’s shoe. He gets a chair to start the ascent. Leans it up against the HVAC unit, climbs onto the unit, then pulls the chair up onto the unit, sets it on top of the steel box, then climbs on it again — this time ascending to the roof of the one-story house. The shingles are worn off where he climbs and the roof has a path-pattern where he walks the skies.

His grandmother, elderly beyond my knowledge, older than dirt, with white/gray hair down to her waist, wears man khakis and worn-out white cotton shirts, no shoes, comes outside when she hears footsteps above her while she works at the kitchen sink.

“You want to meet Jesus?!” she hollers up at the young kid. “You want to meet Jesus? Well, get down here or you’re going to meet Jesus when you fall off that roof. You ready to meet Jesus?”

He slowly ascends the chair/ladder and shakes his head, “No, ma’am,” as he watches her round the corner to the back door. He takes his shoe off, throws it onto the roof, and begins his ascent again.

Great-Grandfather John William Chapman

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My great-grandfather, John W. Chapman, served with the Ohio 121st infantry during the Civil War. He was a private. Turns out, as he marched with Sherman to the sea, he came damn close to where we live in North Carolina. I hope to one day follow the route of the 121st through NC but that requires gas money so that’ll be a while before it’s implemented.

My grandmother told my mother (Ok, so this is Florence talking to Ruth) that my grandfather (this is John Theodore Chapman) was abandoned by his parents at the age of 11. This was the horrific story, often told. Florence cursed the Chapmans for such an act.

Flash forward to 1998. I sent off to the military records department, seeking the records of John W. Chapman’s (great-great-grandfather) War of 1812 military record. What I received was John W. Chapman’s Civil War record in the form of a petition to the Ohio Soldiers and Sailor’s Orphanage. Pretty much blew everything my mother (Ruth) knew right out of the water. Apparently John W. died, leaving second wife with three kids. My great-grandfather was the oldest. The age of maturity, in 1893, was eleven, so he was set free and apparently not allowed to enter orphanage. According to the Wikipedia page, “children” lived at the home until the age of 16, so I’m not sure why my grandfather didn’t go there.

What he did do was work his way through college and graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1899. Apparently he worked as a waiter. Got degrees in Latin and Greek and he became principal what would now be a community college.

So, at age 11, he went to live with his grandparents (so the story goes). The two minor children, Vera and Sumner, were sent to orphanage to live. All the back VA Compensation money for JWC’s claim went to the orphanage, not to the mother. Vera died within a few days of entering orphanage. There was an outbreak of typhus in Ohio around this time but it could have been anything. Diseases were rampant in the area then, even cholera I think. Sumner, we assume, left the orphanage when he reached the suitable age. No one ever mentioned Sumner to Ruth.

I found Sumner in Oakland, CA in 1920s in a marriage announcement. I can’t find it now, the long ago link, but he married a nurse and the ceremony took place in the hospital. It was the correct Sumner Chapman because it said he grew up in orphanage. Apparently this had something to do with the poignancy of the wedding story.

The mother (Margaret Chapman) went on to remarry, it’s in the documentation and then left town for the Oregon Territory.

The most amazing thing about the documentation is how the petitioner (Margaret) had to prove John W. fought for the Ohio 121st and died from injuries sustained during War. He died in 1893, war over 1865, do the math. Well, she proved it. Proved he fell into a swift running frozen creek in 1864 and was never the same. Proved he had lung problems, stomach problems and the physical complaints killed him, it just took a few decades. She proved, through testimony of the men who fought with him, that he fell into creek. That he developed bronchitis. That he entered the infantry hale and hearty and left it a battered, ill man.

John Theodore’s mother died when he was four. The only thing he remembered about her was her in bed, asking for water. She told him to get it from the “cool side of the well.” What a sad story, eh? John W. then remarried, a much younger woman, who bore him the two children, Sumner and Vera. I can’t find any trace of a Vera in my family tree, so the name must have come from Margaret’s family. Sumner I can find. There was even a Sumner Munson (Chapman name) who was one of George Washington’s personal physicians and Ruth always thought there was a relation to us in there.

I hope to scan the records or at the very least transcribe the war record because it’s fascinating. Another fascinating aspect of the entire file (over 40 pages) is that it closely resembles what the VA looks for, the documents requested, today in 2018, for compensation cases. 1893 was the first year, if memory serves, that one could seek compensation for war injuries (death related to service).

As we enter into year three waiting for R’s VA Compensation claim to run its course and him to be granted compensation, it seems especially noteworthy that nothing has changed with the VA in over 100 years. Same proof required. No wonder the VA is so far behind. The documents may be submitted as PDFs but they’re originally hand-written or typed. There’s a real paper trail. Our attorney is paper free and we receive PDFs of all documentation/letters written to VA.

We’re also waiting for social security disability. Apparently you get to have both, thank God.

Now I’m going to start a new blog series, as I look up the John W. Chapman files and scan them. I have a 1945 diary, it’s boring but succinct. Written in school teacher handwriting with every day noted in some way.