Story telling about my daughter's life of 19 short years, I started a recollection thread, a series of posts looking at my life with Angel that ended twenty years ago - May 31, 1989.
In this story of Angela's life, my sisters' children are integral to childhood stories. By 1976 my older sister and her children had moved to Omaha and my mother too. My younger sister would be following soon thereafter from her Iowa home, but Independence Day 1976 for her was about her new baby boy about to be born. Her daughter, perched on the oldest cousin's lap, stayed with us while her brother was being born. She was born on exactly the same day as Angela's brother Matthew - but she was a full-term healthy baby. It took Matthew awhile to catch up with her.
I remembered some little dresses my sister and I had when we were little with our names embroidered on the front. I felt inspired to make little summer clothes for the cousins to celebrate the 200th birthday of the United States. These photographs aren't clear enough to see the red embroidered names or the little flags for each outfit. I was always political and was so happy Jimmy Carter was running a populist campaign for president. The corruption of Nixon was still galling and Ford was a dope. I had high hopes for our country and some of the steps forward in women's rights and civil rights. It felt like real change was happening. My mother and a couple of friends were able to get employment through Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and I had knowledge of women using the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to finally bring attention to workplace abuse.
It felt like a time of great promise. I loved my children, my life and my place in the world. My work with the mentally challenged kids was gratifying and I was pretty firmly on a spiritual path - studying all kinds of esoteric wonders and world religions in a non-traditional way.
When I think of Angel in these years, I think about how much pride I had in her. She was not a child who seemed to struggle to understand things, to enjoy herself, to get along, to be a part of things. She was a happy, loving and helpful kid. Her eyes would light up and she would giggle with ease. There were only two things I recall being very concerned about with Angela. The first was a tendency to get bloody noses while sleeping and the second was the difficulty she had with crying and talking about what upset her. She couldn't be persuaded that she didn't have to be sick or injured to cry or ask for mommy or daddy's help. Just remembering this now is painfully bittersweet to juxtapose this little girl with my recollections of those days following her death.