The early months of 1978 were filled with marriage preparations for Anne Marie. If you have had this experience, you know the drill. In addition to the usual, Dom and Anne Marie had found a small brick home in the neighborhood and made a bid on it in December of '77. The real estate agent told them that the owner had rejected higher bids but the property was vacant and had been on the market for some time. He called the following day to inform them that their bid had been accepted. Preliminary papers were signed and earnest money changed hands. Everyone was excited. The house needed work but they should be able to close the deal in plenty of time to clean, paint, and get things in order.
Weeks dragged on, almost lost in the wedding planning. Then as the date got near, calls were made but the attorney for the seller kept making excuses. Dom finally called his cousin, an attorney, and asked him to do what he could to push things through. Five days before the wedding, it was revealed that the seller had not approved the offer but her attorney had forged her name to the documents, thinking he could convincer her to change her mind. She would not! The attorney, either convinced her or made up the difference and the closing was done on the day before the wedding. It was either that or possible disbarment for the attorney.
Life continued after the wedding. The newlywed's home was midway between ours and Anne's Mom an Dad's. It was a good arrangement giving them a half mile of privacy and yet close enough to help when needed.
The wedding photos remind me of an event that happened at the plant of one of our Kelso-Burnett customers. I was asked to meet with an engineer from a company that furnished a piece of equipment that was not functioning properly. When we met, he said, "I sure am glad to be meeting with someone with gray hair." It helps to look as if you have the experience of years in order to inspire confidence in business associates. It also helps if you actually know what you are doing. In this particular instance we were able to demonstrate that the problem was in the manufactured wiring of the machine and not in the connections made by our electricians. The bonus was that it was resolved in a friendly way and left the customer satisfied.
Anne was hurting, physically as well as in spirit. The diabetes was getting her down and I was too engrossed in my own world of work to be of much help. She put up a good front and always was there to support her family. Anne had started reading little inspirational books by this time. I wasn't aware of it at the time. They were sent bi-monthly for a donation to various Catholic religious organizations. In February of 2003 during my usual prayer time (see Favorite Time) I discovered one of these books dated 1976. It was well worn as if it was used often and several prayer cards were inside. I am led to believe that someone had given this booklet to Anne. Did someone recognize her hurt? Did she have a guardian angel in her life? I think so. Someone was moved to give her that first booklet. She must have found comfort in it for several years before subscribing to the series, copies of which I found later. This is the cover and a sampling from that 1976 booklet:
You can see how worn the cover is. It was used a lot. We both owe much to the person who gave it to her.
The rest of 1978 sped by. By the end of summer the project in Ohio was history and I went on to other projects which were not as stressful. One of the characteristics of Kelso-Burnett was the support given when you were in trouble. Everyone had an occasional project which was not profitable. It is the nature of the construction business. The culture of the company was to do a good job in spite of the problems in order to maintain the good reputation of the company and move on to better things. It seems to me to be a good attitude for an individual as well.
Remember Carol Jones and her sister Jan? (Chapter 6) They lived next door to Anne and it was by way of Carol that I met Anne. Well, by now it was Carol &John Beuink and Jan & Dick Halford. We socialized often with dinners and cards at each other's homes. Carol's son John got married and the wedding took place in New Orleans. It was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Anne and I drove down, arriving on Thanksgiving day. Anne Marie was working at the Hilton in Chicago and arranged accommodations at the New Orleans Hilton. It was GREAT! It was our first Thanksgiving away from the family but we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Hilton. We were treated like royalty. Of course we noted that the dinner cost a king's ransom but we didn't care. Friday, we met with Dick and Jan and did Bourbon Street. We went a little wild and had a fantastic time. The wedding itself was a delightful experience. The plan was to depart on Sunday but Anne and I stayed and extra day to do some sightseeing.
On the way home, we diverted to Evansville and visited Anne's Aunt El and her family. It was a shock to come back to Chicago and find snow on the ground. We came back to reality but the fantasy land had been terrific!
Shortly before Christmas of 1978, Dan and Karen became engaged. I have no idea where 1979 went. It was a blur. Tom was dating a girl from the neighborhood. Anne Marie and Dominick were fixing up their little home. New wedding plans were being made and I was busy at work.
After a honeymoon trip to Hawaii, Dan and Karen took up residence in an apartment in Woodridge. Anne and I adjusted to life with only one teen at home. Tom was working part time for Tom McNeil's father in his engine shop. He bought a '57 Chevy that didn't run and proceeded to rebuild it in his spare time. Many parts (Engine, drive shaft, etc) came from other junks. The McNeil's sold it cheap but I think they made up for it in selling the parts to fix it. The project lasted years.
I developed a very painful and swollen big toe. It was Gout! Anne hopped that I would be told to stop drinking and cut back on rich food. The Doctor disappointed her by putting me on a medication (for life) and said, "With these pills, he can eat and drink anything he wants." I found that while many things including food and alcohol can aggravate the condition, it is a hereditary blood disorder which deposits uric acid crystals in the joints. Of course, when it wasn't bothering me, I didn't take the pills. Then I would get attacks at the most inopportune times. It took me a while to learn and even then it would get me. I now take a much improved medication all the time and have no problems with it.
Anne was busy "mothering" Anne Marie, soon to be a mother herself. In addition, her mom and dad's 50th Anniversary was coming and we decided to have a party. Anne Marie Montrym (Montrymas) was a 16 year old girl of Lithuanian heritage and Harry Daniel Lawler was half Irish and half Bohemian when they ran off to Crown Point, Indiana in 1930 and got married. Everyone said it wouldn't last. (Years later they were married in the Catholic Church so they could receive Communion when Anne received her First Communion)
Tom arranged to get the use of the chapel at Marist High School and a Marist priest to preside at a small gathering of family. The party itself was held in our basement. Several Marist Brothers put together a beautiful liturgy and we were honored by their presence at the party. It was a grand celebration.
On August 16, 1981 Dominick Joseph Albano, III was born. We were thrilled! The family now spanned four generations. It was a joyous Christmas and Anne spent a lot of time with our daughter and grandson.
In February of '81, Dominick was sick. Maybe a bad cold? He was having a difficult time breathing and Anne convinced Anne Marie to take him to the Doctor. She suspected pneumonia and the doctor agreed. He was taken to Christ Hospital for tests and pneumonia treatments began. A chest x-ray revealed that his heart was enlarged! A specialist recommended he be transferred to University of Chicago Children's Hospital. We were in a state of shock and terror!
He had a narrowed aorta, a defect of birth. Normally, they would wait until he was older before surgery but he was critical. A cot was placed in his room and Anne Marie lived there. She commented that the nurses there knew more than the doctors at Christ Hospital. The surgery that followed, opened a slit in the wall of his aorta and a plastic patch was sewn in place to provide sufficient passage for the blood to flow. We did a lot of praying, ... especially Anne. Our first grandchild survived heart surgery. Our daughter and her husband survived a major and unusual introduction to parenthood. We were amazed at their strength and her maturity. The doctors said that, with luck, the small section of tissue in the aorta would grow as he aged and maybe the operation would not need to be repeated when he was a teen. (It did and the second operation was not needed.) See Dominick And, as his body grew. it would catch up with the size of his heart so that would not be a problem.
I don't know why, but I was extremely depressed on my 50th birthday. I felt like I was getting old! Things were going well but what has logic to do with anything? Dominick was a normal little boy with no restrictions placed on his activities with the exception of frequent trips to the doctor to check his progress.
In Spring, Tom graduated from High School and had been accepted to Southern Illinois University. He started there in the fall. Anne and I both thought it was a beautiful campus and I wished I could go to school there.
Anne's Mom fell at home and broke her arm. Of course she walked around for a couple days before admitting it was broken and went to get it set. She would resist being sick at all costs and did not want anyone to know she had fallen. It was a sign of weakness! That was the major difference between Anne's mom and mine. And, the difference contributed to Anne's problem with my Mom. Where Anne Lawler would suffer anything to avoid inconveniencing anyone, Sylvia Plefka demanded attention and sympathy for the slightest problem. Anne's mom was the servant of everyone. Mine was the suffering one who needed attention. The truth is that I felt Ann's parents were closer to me than my own mother.
In 1982 Kelso Burnett replaced the SYS/3 with an IBM System 38 Model 5 computer. At this time we were introduced to the CRT terminal for data input. The company purchased a Commodore "PET" computer and I took it home to design the "input" screens which would be used by the estimators to replace the "Estimating Machine" and it's paper tape. I soon discovered that the "Pet" was very dumb and spent many evenings learning to program it. Anne was very upset because although I was in the same room, I was not there (for her). She would often shut off the TV and go to bed, leaving me to work for hours with the computer. I found a new love and Anne was hurt. I didn't understand. I didn't go out with the guys or even spend weekends on the golf course. (Also see K-B Computer History)
In October '82 Tom went to a house party with some friends. Diane Marx was there waiting for her date to show up. They saw each other, (... One enchanted evening, across a crowded room ...) and met. Later in the evening Tom left to take his friends home but he told her that he would come back to the party. When he returned he met Diane's date outside, not knowing who he was. When he saw her expression as they entered, he excused himself and left. They were able to obtain each other's phone number through mutual friends. Diane called him and a friendship started.
This five year period saw the Church with a new Pope and the invention of the cellular telephone in '78. In '79 AIDS was diagnosed for the first time and the US eliminated polio within its borders. Mount St. Helens, dormant for 123 years, erupted in 1980 and computer technology grew like a weed. In 1981 former movie star Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States, the Pope was shot, and the artificial sweetener aspartame was born. The breakup of the giant AT&T telephone monopoly occurred and a man got an artificial heart. There were many advances in science, the music was changing as usual and politics was politics. Oh yes, there was turmoil in the Middle East, but when has there not been turmoil there.
We leave 1982 with Anne Marie pregnant for the second time. This chapter included many happy events in our lives. There were weddings, a birth, and other normal family happenings. But, my failure with the construction project in Ohio was a blow to my ego. Yes, I survived it but the survival was more due to others than myself. Then there was the near tragedy of little Dominick. I had a feeling of total helplessness. There was nothing I could do but try to say words of comfort to Anne Marie, Dom and of course Anne. There was another thing I could do and I did, probably for the first time in my life. I really prayed, and I meant it! I asked God for His assistance. I was helpless and I needed God.