I didn't realize it at the time, but Christmas of '85 would be the last Christmas that our family, plus Sara and John,
It would be the last xmas that we were to spend at the Navarre Beach House. It was a delightful xmas with the boys. Michael would be graduating from Rollins soon and Greg was already in the Coast Guard. I had wanted fishing equipment, which I received - a hot shot rod, high fishing boots and rain gear. I actually caught a fish that afternoon. Also, our across the street neighbors, Charles and Becky Groover came down for a few days.
Something must have been in the air because we spent several more wonderful weekends at Navarre in the winter of '86.
FEBRUARY - Toby had died of AIDS the year before so his Creole Cottage in the French Quarter had been rented out to a wonderful couple named Carol and Ted from Oxford, MS. As the boys were away, I went down for the entire week of Mardis Gras and had a splendid time with them. We dressed, ate, partied and marched in several parades. We especially enjoyed the gay parade that came down right in front of 1031 Chartres so we had a perfect view.
MARCH - Bud had leased a small plane, with a pilot, and was heavily involved with Mike McDonald, etc. in reworking oil wells in TX. They were all very frustrated as they had spent a lot of money on several. We all went down to Texas to check on it. While he was working during the day, I took the opportunity to visit the art museums and especially the Rothko Chapel, which I loved. During this time the FBI started bugging our phones and following Bud. It
seems that the pilot of the plane he had leased was using it to deal cocaine, but that information did not come out until later. This involvement with the FBI was to cause Bud a great deal of stress. Because of this, I was under a great deal of stress also and took this time to find an alternative to my situation - the New Age Movement. I bought one of the first small Apple computers and taught myself Astrology, which I dearly loved. I joined a spiritual group that met twice weekly for meditation, discussion and chanting. It was wonderful and truly helped to save me from a nervous breakdown.
APRIL & MAY - These were very difficult months for all of us as it was now obvious to me that Bud was headed for a huge bankruptcy. He had talked six of his physician friends to invest $500,000 each in the oil wells and it appeared that they were all dry. Needless to say that we were not the most popular couple in Ocean Springs. I even dreaded going to Brooms as I feared running into one of their wives. It was a terrible time; plus Leif Anderson, who was living in the old house on the bay on Lovers Lane, was becoming extremely attached to our friendship and was always wanting me to come down to help her in her writing of her book, which I eventually ended up editing.
JUNE - Even though Bud was in complete denial, I realized that there were huge changes in the air. We had absolutely no money even though he was making a fortune. Everything was going to pay off the notes of all of his loans. It was a terrible time as he was drinking heavily and was completely depressed. I realized that we would have to move out of the Chartres Ave house, in the French Quarter, and put the furniture in storage. I went to New Orleans to begin packing and met a great group of spiritual people. There I had a Tarot reading that said that I would be moving to a place far away very soon. I also had a past life reading that took over three house and was taped. Both were completely revolutionary to me.
Brian Joachim, and some of his friends, helped me move it all of my furniture into a rental U-Haul and bring it back to Ocean Springs where we put it in storage. This was really sad for me as I had totally loved having that place for the past decade - lots of wonderful memories were there, with Bud and the family, and also during the times I went down alone. I had run a rental business there while Toby was alive. He was the head of the Convention Center and sent me enough clients who wanted to rent it out for $100 a night that I was able to save $11,000 to put into my savings. This really helped me out later.
June was not a complete waste though as Michael graduated from Rollins and we all had a fine time at his graduation. Sara and John, as well as my brother Jim, came down for several days and we really did enjoy it. Mike also brought his current girlfriend, Linda, whom we met. He was to move in with her after graduation but we had so many problems at that time that we did not have the energy to contest this. I will always remember this as a fun event though and am amazed that Michael has never wanted to keep in touch with his Rollins schoolmates, members of his Kappa Alpha fraternity or return to any reunions.
JULY & AUGUST - Bud begins to realize that the only way out of his problems is to file Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. I am absolutely devastated that a surgeon, making the kind of money that he did, could go into three different bankruptcies just because of the greed involved in always wanting more and never wanting to pay the government proper taxes. I realized that we were in a 50% tax bracket but he could have easily paid them, not gone into 19 different businesses to try and get around it, we would have had $400,000 left - he would have been non-stressed, happy and able to continue surgery, play golf, etc. But no - he has this vision of himself as a great entrepreneur so he loses everything. I was not a happy camper to say the least. Especially when Chevis Swettman call me and informed me that we were losing our Lovers Lane house. That was the last straw and that was when I decided that I had to get out of there to maintain my sanity.
SEPTEMBER - We now began looking at alternatives. Since we were going to lose our home, I suggested that we get out of Dodge and move. We both had always loved the Caribbean and had taken several trips there during our marriage. Biddy Mohler and his father-in-law, Wayne,who was a Federal Marshall, talked Bud into taking a trip to St. Croix where Bud could look into going into practice there and also at the VA in Puerto Rico. I though it was a great idea, so the four of us took a ten day holiday there. We flew down and stayed in a fun place in Fredriksted..
They guys played golf and drank, mostly drank. Bud did not like the surgeons there. He spent two days in Puerto Rico, checking out the VA there, and didn't like that either. But I loved it. I knew, then and there, that I was destined to live in the Caribbean. I could tell that Bud was choosing to go back to MS and start all over, an option that I no longer wanted to be a part of. Michael and Greg were gone and I missed them terribly so there was no reason for me to continue to live in such a dysfunctional and negative atmosphere. While they were playing golf one day, I drove into Christensted to look for a temporary place to live, to escape to.
I met an adorable gal named Laura Lee who said that there was an apartment available in the Great Danish House in which she lived up on North Street. She took me over to see it and I loved it. I had now saved over $30,000 from the renovation that were made after Hurricane Elena and the money from the French Quarter rentals. I put down the $300 a month rent plus a deposit and made plans to move. Wisely, I kept this all a secret from Bud as I knew he had too much on his mind to deal this this right now. I certainly made the right move here because several weeks later, as I was moving my mother's furniture, etc. out of our Lovers Lane house, he would remark that he thought it was better if we separated for awhile as he could see what his affairs were doing to my mental state. I told him that I had met a girl in St. Croix that I liked and that she had said I could always stay with her if I decided I needed to get away for awhile.
Bud had a black Bronco SUV in Texas that he was using. As the rigs in TX were no good and he no longer needed it he gave it to me and arranged for me to take it out of the country and to St. Croix. As it was still not paid for (nothing ever was - he was the "Buy on Credit" King) this took some doing but he accomplished it.
OCTOBER - I now prepared to move to St. Croix. Bud never even noticed the changes as I took my mother's beautiful antiques and put them into storage with the furniture from our French Quarter place. Al Hopkins, an attorney and a very good friend of both Bud's and mine, realized what was happening and how involved Bud was with not only the IRS and bankruptcy but the FBI as well. He told me to purchase several really large Ficus trees to put in areas where the furniture had been as he was sure that there would be a lean placed on everything we owned. I followed his advice, which was right on target.
When I had everything in storage, I began telling all of my many friends good-by. I told them, as well as Bud's parents who were now both living on the coast, that I was just going for a few months and would return. Of course, they could not understand this and did not appreciate my leaving their son. When I reminded Sara that she came down with cancer due to the stress her second husband put her through (he was an estate attorney and took so much money from widows that he was jailed) she seemed to be better. I really don't know how I did all of this but I did. To give me a proper send-off, my entire spiritual group came down to the Navarre Beach house where we all stayed for several days.
I had Miss Lucy, my cat that Dusti had found in a trash can, with me and I shall never forget having that Bronco loaded to the top with all of the possessions that I wanted to take with me - pictures, weavings, rugs, clothing,etc ready to drive out of the driveway. Before we all left, they held hands and surrounded me in my car, with Lucy, and said a lovely prayer to help me on my way. It was so very touching.
Miss Lucy and I then began a two day drive from Navarre Beach down to Jupiter, Florida, where Michael was living with Linda. It was an eventful ride with all types of things happening, as we went down the back roads and avoided the freeways. Needless to say, I was extremely upset at having this happen to my calm and settled life. I had no idea then how this move would change my life completely - for I would never return to the mainland to live.
Michael was his usual sweet self and helped me as much as possible. Linda was starting a practice as a chiropractor and they had rented a darling apartment as well as office space. He was helping her to redo it by painting, etc. We loaded my Bronco on the boat transport to St. Croix. I remember that I had to drain all of the gas out but a few gallons to comply with the safety regulations. When that was done, they took me and Miss Lucy to the airlines and I left for St. Croix. In keeping with the somber tone of this departure, it seemed fitting that St. Croix had a torrential rain when I landed and it kept raining for at least three days while I was in my apartment with only a bed and several items of furniture. At last my Bronco arrived by transport and I began making that cute apartment into my own.
1. The first thing I did, socially, in St. Croix was to join Al Anon. It was a wise move as I met many other women who had been married to alcoholics and who gave me support.
2. The second thing I did was to join Kripalu, a yoga school housed in Lenox, MA with a branch in St. Croix. It was marvelous as I not only made friends but really got in shape.
3. The third thing I did was get a job. There was a funky old home in the heart of town that had been turned into a Metaphysical Book store, Ancient Echos. I applied to Jenny Leigh, the manager, and was immediately hired to work the store as well as do computerized horoscopes for customers. This was about five blocks from North Street so I walked to work each day. I loved this and Jenny became a great friend of mine - she was living with a guy named Grant. Norman was a friend of hers and we all used to pal around together. Great fun, even though they were much younger.
4. the Fourth thing I did was to buy a Hobie Cat 14' which I kept on one of the beaches in East End and had lots of fun sailing.
5. During all of this time I had met a man from Tortola named Jim Spofard. He was brilliant and was the owner of the Apple Shop there. He also drank all of the time. We house-sat for a friend of his who had a villa up on the hill above Christensted. It was gorgeous, with a pool and all of the trimmings. This was loads of fun. I also visited him in Tortola for a few days but he drank so much that I called off the entire thing before it even began
By this time it was Christmas. Bud wanted to join me for Christmas and I really wasn't ready yet. I knew if he stayed with me sex would be involved and I was just not in that place. I checked him into the best hotel in town but he was livid. After getting drunk out of his mind, he piled his things into a cab and left for the airport. He had not even been there a day. I was extremely relieved, if guilty, and proceeded to enjoy Christmas with my friends. I dated a guy called Leo, who was a drummer in a band that I used to love to go see with Laura Lee, as well as an actor who was visiting from LA but none of these were more than just dates. I definitely wasn't ready for anything even half way into a relationship.