Gen did really well getting us all ready. Look at us--we're all beautiful, if squinty, in the Kansas sunshine. Look how Becky (in Gen's arms) grins at the photographer, Dick. Becky doesn't remember much about Dick, but she obviously knew him back then and thought he was just fine. Have I mentioned that we always went to church? Dick built a little chest that doubled as a stepladder. It had two steps. The treads were hinged and opened into separate compartments. I had been promoted to a real bed because they needed the crib for Becky. Gen thought the bed was too high for me, so Dick put the chest next to it so I could climb in more easily. During my first night in the bed, I rolled out and bashed my face into the corner of the chest. Next morning, Sunday, I had a shiner that would get a parent arrested today. We went to church anyway.
In spite of the episodic violence and Dick's departures, we had a degree of stability that Gen always managed to provide. She seemed to be at her best a couple of days after Dick would disappear. Her rage would dissipate. She would pull herself together, do what needed to be done for her daughters, and we would settle in to a routine that included hugs and laughter, bedtime stories, nutritious food, and everything else a family needs to blossom and grow.
Dick returned after a while. He and Gen resumed a life of domestic tranquility. Gen worked until he found a job (his last one having disappeared at the same time he did). Dick took on home maintenance chores, built stuff in his workshop, ran errands, took the kids on outings in the country, and took us along with his own parents while he hunted for work in the Kansas oilfields. He re-shouldered his responsibilities to as a playful companion and a gentle disciplinarian. Like Gen, he kept us clean, dressed, and fed. He was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there.