Frank: Be firm and be very kind

“I’m not worried about tomorrow anymore.”

For Frank, now in his 70s, life has been hard but he accepts what comes with each day. Frank married his wife, Gloria, when he was 22 and she was 19. Their first daughter, Laura, was born the following year. After serving in the National Guard, Frank was reactivated for the Cuban missile crisis. After he returned home, he recalled, “We were very poor.” Gloria soon became pregnant and lost this child at birth following a very difficult delivery. After a long recovery, she miscarried when she was four months pregnant. Following these losses, Frank and Gloria had four more children who all survived.

In her 30s, Gloria’s health began to decline.

When she was 32 years old, she had a hysterectomy because the doctor said she cannot have another one because her health is not good. From then on it started going downhill. . . She didn’t feel good. When I was going to school, she was home taking care of the kids. . . I had different jobs. I’d go from here to there because I’d have to get home. I was on the road doing construction. Then she was taking a lot of pills because doctors said it was fibromyalgia at first. Then they gave her medicine, then it was this, and then she couldn’t sleep. Pretty soon she found out if she drank some of my whisky that she could sleep better. Well she was taking alcohol and medicine. Eventually she got hooked on both of them.

Both Frank and Gloria confronted their substance abuse problems. After getting off alcohol and drugs in 1975, Gloria decided she wanted to be an alcohol counselor. She went for training but started to relive the loss of two babies. Becoming an alcohol counsellor was not an option for Gloria.

She just kept on getting worse. She was sick, physically and mentally. We lived in a little town and we had a big garden because we had these kids. I was going to plow the garden and plant potatoes. Well, I started planting them north and south. She came out and she said, “You’re not allowed to plant those potatoes north and south.” I said, “Well, how come?” She said, “You have to plant them east and west.” I said, “I have these furrows in there and I’m going to plow them.” She went in the house. I had a gun in the house. She got the gun and she said, “I’m going to shoot you if you don’t plow the other way. I said, “You got to be kidding me. I can’t do anything about this because I’ve got them going this way.” She goes in the house and gets my gun, brings, it out and pulls the trigger on me. There were no shells in it. I thought I better get her to the doctor. They said, “She’s got a mental problem.” . . . Pretty quick, it didn’t take very long, they said she was bipolar, along with her fibromyalgia.”