I must tell you something about my personal history – that also includes my family’s history, and my family’s church. They were all mixed in together.
I will start with my family’s church, the RLDS church, that for my parent’s generation was their whole world. My family lived in a small town on the Mississippi River, in Illinois – but close to Iowa and Missouri. As Midwestern a location as you could get – but they were nothing special for their time – too religious perhaps, but nothing exceptional.
But they knew a Blumenschein family that was exceptional The father was a doctor, and they ran a medical mission in Honduras to provide medical services for the poor. Awesome!
But the father died, and his wife and children came back to the States. Their oldest daughter, Beth, lived with my family when she went to high school. She was the same age as my youngest sister. I was nine years older, had left the family, and only came home occasionally. Beth and I became sexually intimate – we didn’t have sex, but we got as close to it as we could.
Then we parted ways – she went to college in Iowa, and then in France. I worked for the military in the Cold War. Beth, however, had set her eyes on me, and we started living together in NYC. And then got married, in 1965.
It immediately became obvious, in retrospect – that Beth had severe mental problems. But I overlooked these at the time, and figured I could live with them.
Beth insisted that we move to California – and when she insisted, I had no choice in the matter. In California, her mental situation worsened – and in Santa Barbara, she had a complete breakdown – and was committed to the County Hospital. People sometimes ask me what her diagnosis was – it was schizophrenia – but that diagnosis was worthless. Whatever it was – she ordered me out of her life, and we got a divorce.
She remained in Los Angeles – and I went to a new job in Denver. Two years later, she killed herself. And it took me twenty years to get over her death!
I thought perhaps this was proof that I loved her – but like many marriages, this was not the case. There was some love, but not very much. We had too many problems.
Why did her death have such an impact on me? I have to say, I don’t really know! But it did have an impact, and it took the services of an organization in San Jose, California – who concentrated on Living with Dying, for me to recover.