Blog Post # 39: My Mom: Miriam Elizabeth Hall Gateley, Part 8 – Life After Marriage

Life After Divorce

I graduated High School Spring of 1971. I lived at home while I took a year off school and worked as receptionist in my Dad’s Volkswagen dealership to, as my Dad said, “gain some real world experience”. 

Mom and Dad were divorced in July, 1972, after 22 years of marriage. Us 5 kids were stunned, we had no idea divorce was even being considered. We had never even heard them argue. We got home from school one day, Dad sat us down, announced Mom had moved out to Vero Beach and they were getting divorced. I remember the feeling of being in shock. I saw my younger brother John crying and thought it strange he was the only one.

So Mom was in Vero Beach, while us kids stayed in Orlando with Dad, and visited Mom frequently on the weekends.  We loved visiting her in Vero Beach and spending time on the beach.

Fall of 1972 I started college at University of Florida in Gainesville. Mom took me shopping for new clothes for college.  For years she had saved green stamps and yellow stamps. She gave them all to me so I could buy supplies for college. Among the things I bought was my first suitcase, which I still have.

I remember one time while she was living in Vero Beach, her stove died and she was cooking with a hot plate and toaster oven. She decided she wanted a microwave.  At that time, microwave ovens were a new appliance that had just become available.  

At least in my life, Mom had always been a smoker. I remember our cars always smelling like smoke, and lots of ash trays around.  Anyway, Mom had been thinking about quitting smoking, so she figured out how much she spent on cigarettes in a year, and then she used that money to buy her first microwave. She never smoked again, although if someone nearby were smoking she would go stand next to them and inhale deeply.  So buying a microwave was also her way to quit the smoking habit.

One time my Grandma Hall, who had moved from Oklahoma and was living with Mom, told her that she had turned on the microwave oven and put her arm in to see what would happen. She said it just got hot.  It scared Mom, so she asked Grandma Hall to show her how she did that. Grandma Hall went to the toaster oven and put her arm in, but said she wouldn’t turn it on because she didn’t want to get hot again.

Mom had been thinking about college since she was 19. At age 45, she decided to finally go for it.  She had time, since us kids stayed with Dad. and she had the funds, from selling the rental house in Oklahoma (discussed in an earlier blog post).  So she started at Indian River Community College (in Ft. Pierce which is close to Vero Beach) in 1974. She graduated in 1976 with her AA. 

Then she went to the University of Central Florida in Orlando and graduated in 1979 with her BS in Business Administration. She continued on at UCF and graduated Summa Cum Laud with her Master’s in business. Then she pursued and achieved her CPA.

She taught Accounting at Valencia Community College from 1982 until 1999. You might remember how worried people were as the year 2000 approached because so many computer programs were written using a 2 digit year instead of a 4 digit year field. They called this problem the Y2K bug. Mom said she solved the Y2K bug for herself by retiring in December 1999 (she had just turned 70 years old).

Throughout her time attending college, working and after retirement she continued doing the things she loved. She sewed (when she died, she had 5 sewing machines!), as she did her whole life, making cute clothes for her grand babies, clothes for herself, and quilts. She watched the NASA channel on TV. She listened to Prairie Home Companion on the radio. She loved her cat (first Margo, then Felix). She china painted tiles, dishes, and Christmas ornaments each year for her family and friends.  She even had a couple of kilns she used for firing her items after she painted them. She visited us kids frequently.  She liked to surf fish.  She learned sign language so she could communicate with our Deaf son.  She was always ready to drop everything and race to a child, grandchild or friend that had great need of her. And every year she helped people with their income tax returns.

She was an amazing Mom and I miss her so much!

LESSON LEARNED:  It’s never too late to start college!

LESSON LEARNED:  Keep learning!

LESSON LEARNED:  If I want to quit a bad habit, think of a creative way to turn a negative into a positive, like buying a microwave with cigarette money.

LESSON LEARNED:  Loved ones can disappear in an instant.  Appreciate them while they are still with me.

4 Generations: Mom, Great Grandma Haswell, Grandma Hall, and me

Mom and Deb with Elizabeth’s children: Amira, Zayd, Khalid and Nadia

Elizabeth, Mom, Deb and baby Zayd

Mom and Evan

Mom and Xandru


Games and YouTube Videos

Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!

YouTube ASL Word Of The Day

YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day

Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores

Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday.  Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!

Published by Donna Gateley

Developer of SignCueQuest and CueQuest

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