I don’t remember much about the circumstances, but in the Spring of 1995, Milton and I drove up to Washington State. Over the years we have been together, we have gone up to Washington together several times. We drove a couple of times and took the train once. Otherwise, I fly up by myself now and then to visit.
I usually do not enjoy long car trips but we took our time driving up and back and it really was enjoyable. When I was growing up, Roger and George and others always seemed to want to drive straight through from Southern California to Washington State, which was pretty miserable. Milton and I took two days up to Yakima and two days back to Vallejo.
We had a nice drive to Palouse after we left Spokane. It had sure changed in the short time since Nola and I had gone out there a few years ago. I was saddened to see that the train station where Bert had worked was no longer there. Several new houses had been built on what used to be Bert’s property. But it was all still wonderful to be there and reflect on some of the happiest days of my childhood again and to share it with Milton.
Billie told Milton and I about an article in the Spokane paper about Palouse Falls and we tried to find it on our way to Yakima. We got off the main road and drove quite a ways but I thought we were getting pretty close to Idaho and we saw some “skinheads” and it made me a little nervous as I had a “rainbow flag” bumper sticker on my car and Milton being African-American in this back country of red necks and crazy Republicans. There was very little traffic and I was not sure if it was safe for us to be out there. We finally came to a rock covered road- the pavement ended. It was a pretty rough road and out in the middle of nowhere and these rocks were hitting the bottom of my car and I was not sure if my car was built for that kind of terrain so finally we turned around and got back to the main road and went on to Yakima.
A couple months after we got back, Donna Jean called to tell me that my Dads mother wanted to see us kids. She is 92 years old and I had not heard from her for years. Two of my aunts, Faye and Jesse, flew up to Seattle with her and they all drove over to Darlenes. Roger came over to Darlenes and I flew up for a few days. David, Hebert and Donna Jean were there too. It was fun to get a little acquainted with my grandmother and aunts from that side of the family. I have a separate story about that trip.
At this point, I had been having problems at my job as a Registered Nurse at Saint Francis Hospital. Healthcare in California, like the rest of the country had become a mess. “Managed Healthcare” was the term of the time which essentially meant increased healthcare profits for greedy C.E.O.’s and decreased patient care.
At Saint Francis and many other hospitals, they had laid off many of the people with experience and skills and replaced them with young, inexpensive, inexperienced kids. Some of them appear to have the same expertise as those that are flipping burgers at McDonalds. The hospitals are making record profits but the quality of care declines and there are fewer people that can afford to get any care at all. Although I have an exemplary record and have made many contributions to the Saint Francis, the new corporate administration has made it clear that my days are numbered. I am sending out my resume.
I am still doing a little computer consulting on the side at the Spinal Cord Injury unit at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Palo Alto but it has never been a big money maker for me. Besides Saint Francis’ psychiatric unit, my computer program, MacNursing, continues to run down at the Veterans hospital in Palo Alto.
I could be wrong, but I believe that it was on this trip that I visited with Ole and Billie for the last time.