Places and People I Remember

Places and People I Remember

A Story by Shelley Warner

Last month I talked about southern hospitality and about racism. The next stop in our life journey was Tacoma, Washington, where we dealt with the disappointment of infertility.


Chapter 2, Tacoma, Washington

It had been a year since we left Boise for Arkansas and now we were back, visiting Tom’s family. Tom’s dad, Jim, put his arm around me as we stood in front of the kitchen stove one afternoon. “When are you going to give me grandchildren?” he asked.

“We’re trying,” I answered.

 So far, I hadn’t been able to get pregnant. There would be a long journey of doctor appointments for infertility, efforts to adopt that didn’t work out, and finally the joyful adoption of our two children from India. By then, Jim would be gone.

We got our passports so we could plan our trip to Nicaragua, where we expected to assist some missionary friends. After a couple weeks with Tom’s family, we left to see my family. As we got close to Vancouver, we pulled into a gas station and turned on the radio. News bulletin: earthquake in Nicaragua, the airport in Managua destroyed. What? Oh my goodness! What should we do?

We visited my family, wondering what was next.  Meanwhile, we decided to visit some friends, Terry and Jackie, in Tacoma, Washington. “We are trying to start a Missionary Baptist church here,” they said. “Would you like to help?” We felt like we were deserting our friends in Nicaragua but we had no way of reaching them. This was before the days of social media. We moved to Tacoma.

We began a house church in our friends’ home with two couples�"Terry and Jackie and Tom and Terri.  We  were able to buy a home down the street from Terry and Jackie. It was the nicest home we’d lived in. On the main floor, we had two bedrooms, a roomy living room, and a big kitchen/dining room. Downstairs was a big finished basement, which we turned into a chapel for our growing church.

We were located at the end of a dead end street, where wild blackberries grew in a field. I picked them and learned to make jam. A plum tree grew in our backyard,  so I also made plum jam. I grew a vegetable garden for the first time. An older neighbor passed by our yard one day and saw me working in the garden. “If your corn is knee high by the fourth of July, you’ll be doing good,” he said. The corn did grow high and produced sweet ears of fresh corn. 

Tom worked as a security guard at a hospital and I worked at the hospital switchboard, the old-fashioned kind with long chords that you pulled out of one socket to answer the phone and plugged into another  to connect the call. We enjoyed our friendships. Sometimes, there were cookouts at Terry’s and Jackie’s home. Terry grilled burgers. Jackie made chocolate cream pie from scratch. I remember talking one Sunday afternoon with Terry about the passing of time. “I can’t believe I’m already twenty three!” I exclaimed. Fifty years have passed since then.

Our friends began having babies. We didn’t. 

Sometimes I felt like the odd woman out. Decades later, Tom and Terri visited us in Boise. “I want to apologize,” Terri said, “for not being more aware of how infertility affected you.” I was deeply touched by her empathy. “I appreciate that,” I answered. “It was hard. I’m just so thankful that we were eventually able to adopt our children.”

After a couple years in Tacoma, Tom and I realized our theological beliefs were changing. At that time, too, Tom’s father had been diagnosed with cancer. We decided it would be a good thing to move back to Boise. We did a “quick sale” of our house to Terry and Jackie so they could continue to meet there. Their new pastor could also live in the home. 

I grieved for that house for quite a while.

© 2024 Shelley Warner

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Added on April 11, 2024
Last Updated on April 11, 2024


Shelley Warner
Shelley Warner

Camas, WA

I like to write about my life. Sounds a little narcissistic, right? But it's the challenges, the griefs, the joys, the faith struggles, and the enjoyment of nature that inspires me. I have published t.. more..