When I turned seventeen, I was reeling from life in general. On Mother’s Day of 1966, my oldest sister passed away. Up until then, my life revolved around her care and helping my mom with her workload.
After this sad event, I admit to feeling alone and confused. I was dating a boy from Milwaukee, and he proposed in the early fall of 1966. I had no idea of how to put my needs first and to ask for time to heal, so I heard myself accept his proposal. The following August 1967, we were married.
There were many red flags, but I think I was in love with the idea of living in Madison and having someone in my life to really care about me. We planned the wedding and I can see now that I was going through the motions.
My husband-to-be had rented a beautiful apartment on Monona Drive. It was on Lake Monona and we enjoyed the view, swam and played. I loved the apartment and the process of putting it all together. What I didn’t love was the direction that our relationship was taking.
In early October there was a knock on the door early on a Sunday morning. It was a Dane County Sheriff and he served us with an eviction notice due to non-payment of rent. I had naively trusted my husband to pay the bills and to keep us out of harm’s way. He failed to tell me that it had been three months since he had paid the rent.
Not only did we leave our apartment, but also my husband’s promise to see to it that I attended the University of Wisconsin was dashed as well. I had been accepted for the second semester. Obviously, I needed to find work and help work our way out of debt. College was out of the question.
So, we left our beautiful first home and found an apartment off the beltline in Madison. It was fine but definitely not the same as the apartment we had left. He also committed to being the caretakers of the building so that we could afford the rent. I didn’t find out about this until it was time to start vacuuming halls and maintaining apartments. We also were responsible for painting and deep cleaning apartments when tenants turned over.
I was young. I was naïve and more than anything else, I was homesick. I missed my sister and her family, my mom and dad, and most of all the security I always felt with my mom and dad working together to keep things right.