Sherry Kirkpatrick Hardin - 2014 Personal Update
I am an unusual person so I am going to write this update in my own way. I think it is too long, but I have had a long and fruitful life. Apparently I have never entered anything into our home page to say where I have been or what I have been doing...so here it goes.
My first marriage, first child, first divorce. I started my lessons about life, love and laughter. We moved to Missouri right after the wedding, then to Colorado Springs, then to Denver, back to Loveland and then on to Longmont. I worked at HP in Loveland and after a couple of years in Colorado Springs, later I worked at El Camino Truck Stop outside of Longmont. I learned about male chauvinist, spousal abuse and that doctors of the 60’s thought all women’s problems were in their head and that Valium would cure anything. I received my freedom while living in Longmont. None of those situations took me out, so I continued with learning about the 3 l’s. Laughter is the important ingredient of this little story, if you can’t laugh about it, you might not make it.
My second chance at Life and Love, a second marriage, a second child and more laughter. My second husband, Glenn and I built a brand new home in Heatherwood, CO and we both worked at IBM. I married the love of my life, who happened to be a Paiute-Shoshone Indian from a reservation in NV. He was a kind and gentle soul, he opened doors for me, walked on the street side of the sidewalk, called me Babe and would say “Drunk or sober, Babe, I love
you”. I learned that not all men were chauvinists, nor abusive and that there were many natural ways to keep healthy. He thought I was beautiful (yeah, I know, he needed glasses) and had apparently fallen in love with me in 1964 when he first met me at the Loveland Creamery where I worked at the time.
He was on his way by bus to Haskel, KS and the bus had stopped in Loveland for a lunch break. He told his bus mate that someday he would find me again and marry me (this is information I was not privy to until years after we married). He lived by “Indian Time” which often became a contention between us and others. But we lived, loved and laughed to our hearts content. He adopted my son and we had a tiny, beautiful baby girl added to the mix. Laughter ended our days, even the fighting days. We were complete opposites in so many different ways, so there were a lot of fighting days.
Our life changed, our love grew and our laughter was to be heard all around. Because of his father’s illness we moved to, the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Indian Reservation in Nevada where he grew up. The reservation population at the time was under 400, the town of McDermitt, which was 6 miles away, was under 100. It was in the middle of nowhere, high desert, sagebrush, horses, cows, wild dogs and bobcats. It was like Little House on the Prairie Indian style. I drove 75 miles one way to buy groceries once a month. There was no television or radio reception. Instead of living in our beautiful new 2 story house we lived in his late uncle’s “shotgun” house of 4 rooms (3 of them 14 x 14) and a bath. There were no closets, Uncle Guy had been a lifelong bachelor. The kitchen was cobalt blue and contained one two door cabinet above the single sink and 6 drawers under the sink, with a wood burning/propane gas stove for cooking and heating. I began to grow and learn more about people, slowing down, enjoying nature, being true to yourself, a faith and trust in God I had never known. I was the only white person on the reservation, except for a Mountain Man married to Glenn’s aunt. I more or less learned a new language, not to point, to skin and butcher a deer, to make rabbit stew and to accept “its’ the Indian Way”. We had a 7 way party line, one car which Glenn used for work and the closest neighbor was up the hill and down the road. I packed our two year old around on my back as I walked up and down the rez exploring my new world. I bucked hay, ran horses, drove a 1951 ford pickup when I had to go to town for the mail. That was the first couple of years. Eventually we got our own phone line and a second vehicle and added another bathroom, two more bedrooms and our youngest child to the mix. Now we were 5 along with the 100 or so other relatives who lived on the reservation. I worked with the Ft. McDermitt Inter-Tribal Council Head Start Program as teacher/bus driver/cook, later moving to the local McDermitt Combined school as a Title I Teacher’s Aid and substitute teacher. Later I also worked in the summer as a Black Jack Dealer, change girl and waitress at the local casino, occasionally offering to paint bunkhouses and some homes on the outlying ranches. Oh, I think I sold Jafra Cosmetics during that time also. In 1980 I did the Government Census in the most desolate, uninhabited, 800 miles you had ever seen. Besides working his cattle and horses, Glenn worked for a construction company in Winnemucca and was a Rural Mental Health Counselor as well as being Tribal Chairman, Housing Chairman and started his work in law enforcement. We were healthy, busy, happy, content and continued to be poor. After school and in the summer our children ran wild in the sage brush from sun up until dark most days. We fished and hunted for our main source of food and attempted to grow a garden in the hard Nevada clay. What I learned about life, love and laughter would take pages and pages to explain. Reganomics hit Northern Nevada hard in the early 80’s. Our main source of income, Glenn’s job with Nevada Mental Health fell victim to the cuts. So Glenn went back to school, going to Boise State University from 1983-85. He lived up there and the kids and I stayed on the reservation. We all put a lot of miles on Highway 95 between McDermitt and Boise in those 2 years. In the spring of 85 he was recruited by the State of Idaho for their Law Enforcement Program and began his work as a Probation and Parole officer. He moved to Pocatello and the kids and I followed in the summer after our oldest son graduated. Another new beginning.
During these years we became acclimated once again to clocks, traffic, buying our food at the store and in general helping our children learn to live in a totally different world. We handled all these changes with a lot of laughter and tears, we had lots of ups and downs and we were still poor. The move to the city was a lot harder than the move to the reservation. Glenn transferred to Twin Falls with P&P and I worked for the Idaho Migrant Council Head Start
Program and started my 20 years with CSI (no, no, not Crime Scene Investigators----although that would have been sweet). Actually I went to work with the College of Southern Idaho, where my coworker and I began and expanded the campus Child Care Program. We grew it from grants for single moms to an actual program on campus for students and faculty/staff children. I started college at age 40 and got my degree in Early Childhood Education, working at CSI until my retirement in 2007. Glenn worked for P&P until 1994 when he decided it was time to start helping his people again. At this time he became a Tribal Lawyer and Prosecutor for Tribes in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. He later became a Nevada Supreme Court Judge and a Tribal
Judge working first with the Owyhee Indian Reservation then later the Ft. Hall Indian Reservations full-time. He then became a traveling Judge, working from Twin Falls and going where he was needed while continuing to be an advocate and consultant for the local tribes. By 2000 his health was failing, but he never faltered and continued to work and travel on a weekly basis. My mom almost died in May 2000, a month later my daddy did die. Mom moved to Twin Falls in 2001 and lived in a home next door to us until her death in 2012. I loved the 11 years I had with my mom next door, we got to know one another as we never had and I learned so much about my parents/family. We laughed until we cried and then we laughed some more. Glenn’s tardiness drove her up the wall and her penchant for being 15 minutes early drove him up the wall. I felt like a tightrope walker at times just trying to keep the balance (peace).
We lost Glenn in June of 08, a loss that was expected but one which I was not ready for no matter how much we had prepared. All of the 38 years he had been teaching me about the cycle of life and that death is part of that cycle. This was a devastating time as in July one of our nieces died on the surgery table, in August our oldest son almost died and had triple bypass surgery and then in January my oldest sister-in-law died. Death was all around me and I was almost lost. We were a family with many lives, built on love, laughter, tears, misspoken words, ups, downs and change. I pulled from all of this to survive. I don’t even remember much of anything from the first 2 or 3 years, I am always asking the kids to fill in lost time slots. I was trying to help the family heal with the loss of Papa and in that way I began to heal. We laughed at his funeral because, being Glenn, he was late to his own funeral, we laughed about things he had said and done, we laughed at how mad we would sometimes be with him. We cried for our loss of someone who meant so much to us. We survived and kept living, loving and laughing.
I have worked some during the past 5 years, both at the child care center and doing catering with a friend, but my heart was never in it. So I retired again and learned to live my next new life as a widow, orphan and grandmother. We had 3 children who gave us quite a ride, what with one being bi-polar, another one with a teen pregnancy and one dropping out of high school his senior year. They all turned into college graduates, holding full time jobs with families and children of their own. They have given me 12 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. I know I am not poor not with all this, nor have I missed much, and I have learned more about life than I ever thought was possible. I much prefer spending my time with them, living life, loving, and laughing at the past, the present and the future.
I am looking forward to seeing all of you in September.