Nosebleeds and the Cello

Becky in UtahBecky turned 5 and started school the fall after we moved to Ogden. Doug worked the night shift at the Post Office, so he took care of her when she came home from half-day kindergarten at noon. One day at school, Becky complained about stinging on her back. Her teacher took a look and found red welts; Becky got sent home early because they thought she had chicken pox. It turned out she had a wasp inside her dress, but nobody found out until after she got home and changed out of her school clothes. Becky has a high tolerance for pain, a talent she employed to stay in control through the periodic emotional and physical beatings Gen and Doug administered when they needed stress relief.

Utah's arid climate didn't quite suit Becky. She had frequent nosebleeds that were positively frightening to me, but she bore them without complaint. She had to lubricate her nose with A & D ointment (euwwwww!) for years. The nosebleeds came come on without cause and lasted (it seemed) for hours. Eventually, a physician found an ulcer up there, which he cauterized. That took care of the problem for a while.

Becky always pulled straight A's. The Ogden City Schools provided instruments and group music lessons, taught by some of the most-respected musicians in the state. Becky started cello lessons in the 5th grade. Her teacher was Mr. Fried, first-chair cellist in the Utah Symphony. She blossomed. Becky at the celloShe played cello in the school and community youth orchestras sponsored by the arts-conscious culture of northern Utah. Becky carried her cello on stage like a queen--tall, poised, graceful, confident. She sat at first chair in the Central Junior High School and the Golden Spike Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Gen recognized Becky's artistic potential, so she and Doug bought her a beautiful cello, with a deep red, almost burgundy finish. It was an act of stunning sacrifice and generosity on their part, given the ever-present financial struggle they faced. Of course, they eventually squandered the gesture.