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Johnny 6

Johnny Jones, 28 February 2004

We didn't really want to move from Connecticut. We had good jobs: I taught at the high school in Norwalk, and Chip was a research metallurgist at American Cyanamid. We had good friends in Stamford, and of course we loved our ministry with the children. But it was clear that, if we were to ever own a house, we would have to move. Real estate prices were too much for us.

About that time an opening came up in Cyanamid's seven-person lab in Tucson. When Chip got the job, one of his friends remarked, "You are the luckiest guy I know!" We moved to Tucson two months before Bryan was born.

While I am pregnant I always see things that need addressing. In our first home, the kitchen cabinets were ugly! The wood was blonde, and contrasted with the pinkish counter tile and the brown floor.

 I took all the cabinet doors off and was in the process of stripping the wood when I saw my OB/GYN. He said, "You can't use stripper while you're pregnant!"

Oops! So Chip was left to finish the job.

The waiting room was full of new friends from church when Bryan was born. We had told them our first baby was stillborn at term 13 months ago, and how, in the process, they almost lost me.

They called children who liked to be outside in the hot sun "desert rats." Bryan was one from the time he was born.

The children next door came to visit Bryan a lot. I worked out a system so they could come when the drapes were open, but not when they were drawn. One day, as I was working in our yard, Linda asked where we moved from. I told her about Stamford, and how our apartment backed onto a park with a beach on Long Island Sound. Her eyes got big and she said, "Then you never needed to go on vacation!"

That was especially funny to me, since Tucson was like a vacation all the time. Sunny days, and spectacular sunsets. We lived in an uncrowded area and took Bryan for walks in the backpack through the cactus and aloe. And you could see Mt. Lemon, and go to the top for refreshment from the heat.

I joined the League of Women Voters and the La Leche League, and found wonderful friends in our neighborhood. Bill and Donna had a little boy Bryan's age, John, and they were so cute together, two little blonde boys playing in the yellow sun.

One day when we were over for a barbecue Bill's dogs started barking, and Bill yelled, "Get the kids inside!" Then we heard a gunshot, and saw a dead rattlesnake in the back yard where our children had been playing.

Shank and Frankie had children baby-sitter age, and they liked Bryan. One day Kelly came up on horseback and asked if Bryan could go for a ride. I consented, but I got more distressed as the hours went by. I thought they meant a few minutes!

The next day Bryan could barely walk. His short legs had almost done the splits on the back of the big horse.

When I became pregnant again, I knew we would have a girl. I didn't even choose a boy's name. I liked "Cara Lee" because that sounded like "Carole," my middle name, and "Dana Lee" sounded nice.

But when I saw our precious baby, she was to snuggly to be a Cara or a Dana. She was an Amy. Amy Frances.

Ten months later, we moved to a state I had never visited, to a place we could hardly find on the map. Viburnum, Missouri.