Transcript for episode 122, with Martha Gentry

A Conversation with My Mom

00:02:13 Tom Gentry 

If this is your first time here, thanks for checking it out, if not, thanks for coming back. I’m Tom Gentry and this is The Path to Authenticity. Episode 122 for Mother’s Day 2021, featuring my mom, Martha Gentry, Martha Agnes Gentry, who will be 91 years old in August. 

So, a few months back, a friend of mine and a former guest of the show, Dr. Chantelle Thomas, featured her mother on her podcast, which is called Blind Spots. I’ll leave a link to that in the show notes. It was an incredible episode. They went really, really, deep. Tears were shed. It was fantastic. She did a great job with it. So, my first thought was “man that would be tough to have my mom on the podcast,” And, and then, pretty soon, I thought “I have to have my mom on the podcast.” 

There are a couple reasons why I wanted to do that. First of all, I wanted to know more about my mom. 

Especially at the age she’s at now, I wanted to be able to ask her questions about her life, which I did.  And, I learned some things. I learned some things about her. I learned some things about myself, things that happened with me that I didn’t know about. And, it was a really great conversation. So, I wanted to be able to learn, first of all. I wanted to be able to know her and feel closer to her. So, mission accomplished with that, I feel like since we had this conversation, I feel even more connected to her than I did before. But, another reason I wanted to do this is because one of the sort of unexpected gifts of this podcast has been the way people have responded to me when I’ve featured their loved ones on the podcast. You know, a friend of mine, Terry Shapiro, who was on (the podcast) very early on. I want to say he was on episode 15. You know, his daughter made a point to thank me for having her dad on the podcast. And, one of the earliest episodes was with an abstract expressionist painter named Mimi Langlois, who’s an incredible human being, who shared with me all sorts of things that her family didn’t know about her. So, her son, her daughter, her grandchildren – they all got to learn things about her that they didn’t know before. And, she came back to me, thanking me for this gift. 

So, I knew there were things about this podcast that I was going to enjoy. I knew it was going to be satisfying for me. But, I didn’t even think about anything like that. 

Having had that experience, I wanted to do this with my mom, because I knew that I would get a lot out of it, and in hope that other family members would get something out of it, and just always have this.  You know, we’ll always have her voice no matter what. We’ll always have these stories that are being documented, these conversations. 

So, obviously this is close to my heart. Another thing I’ll say, in thinking about how to open this episode –  I don’t like small talk. One of the ways I’ve described this podcast is as the opposite of small talk, which I find relatively agonizing most of the time. You know, I’ll have a deep conversation with you. Even if we’re strangers, I’ll invest the time to get to know you, and have a real conversation, and learn about you. I’ve always felt more comfortable in one-on-one situations like that, having meaningful conversations, than in larger groups, having less meaningful conversations. And, I think the reason why is because I have always had conversations like this with my mom, my entire life. So, even this gift that I have, for having these types of conversations with people, that has served me in my career for a long time, and I never really picked up on it for a long time, and it has translated very easily to this podcast – it comes from my relationship with my mom. 

So, when I have someone come on here, and they open their heart. You know, I’m able to do that, that ability to make someone feel safe and comfortable enough to do that with me . . . That originated in my relationship with my mom. 

So, I really loved doing this. I enjoyed it a lot. I hope whoever is listening enjoys it as much as I enjoyed doing it. 

So, I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day. Here you go. Martha Gentry. 


00:09:00 TG 

So, you said you had a busy day, huh? 


00:09:03 Martha Gentry 

I had a busy day, Ann came over and brought me a few things I needed, and Jane came over at lunch time to take care of lunch, because Beth is working the whole weekend.  And, oh, JC called and somebody else, and Ann brought medication that they gave her at the drugstore. We didn’t even know what it was for or who ordered it. So, she’s gonna call the doctor’s office and try to find out about that. 


00:09:34 TG 



00:09:35 MG 

It’s a funny thing, these days, how they do things. I mean, they just send you a pack of medicine and you’re supposed to take it, I guess, whether you know what it is or not. 


00:09:46 TG 

I guess so. So, well, I have to tell you, I haven’t talked about this a whole lot, but I’ve told a few friends of mine that I was planning on doing this, and I gotta say everybody is eagerly anticipating this. They wanna hear my mom. 


00:10:09 MG 

Oh boy. Okay. 


00:10:09 TG 

Yeah, so I’m happy to have you on here and I appreciate you doing this for me, and with me. 


00:10:17 MG 

Thank you. 


00:10:19 TG 

So, we talked a little bit before when I first asked you about this and why I wanted to do it. And, one of the main reasons why I wanted to do it is because I wanna know more about you. I wanna hear more about you. And, so often when I have other people on the podcast, their kids will thank me. Their grandkids will thank me because they got to hear things about their dad or loved one that they didn’t know before and they never got to hear that side of them. 

00:10:56 MG 

Well, we just don’t think to ask them when we’re very young. 


00:10:59 TG 

We don’t. You know, I mentioned to you that one of the reasons I wanted to do this is because with Dad, who for those listening, passed in 2005 . . .  I just wish I talked to him more. I wish I asked him questions about his life, and got to know more about him so. 


00:11:25 MG 

He wasn’t a big talker. 


00:11:29 TG 

He wasn’t a big talker, but he was fun. And, I think he’s one of those people who- 


00:11:33 MG 

He could be a lot of fun. 


00:11:38 TG 

-didsn’t have a whole lot to say always, but when he talked he said something. 


00:11:44 MG 

Yeah, you better less be listening. 


00:11:48 TG 

Yeah. So, what year were you born, Mom, 1930?


00:11:57 MG 

Nineteen 30, yeah. My parents got married in the Big Depression. 


00:12:01 TG 

And, you’re the oldest, right? 


00:12:04 MG 



00:12:05 TG 

And, talk about your siblings. 


00:12:08 MG 

Well, I had a brother who was 15 months younger than I am, but he passed in 2004. My sister is 6 years younger than me. She’s 84, and she gets around us pretty well, yet she’s a little shaky, and she has more health problems than I do, I suppose. More serious ones. I don’t really know that, but she does pretty well. 


00:12:35 TG 

So, Mom, what’s the earliest memory that you have? 

00:12:45 MG 

Oh, I don’t know. I remember when my little brother came home from the hospital. That was quite a big deal. And, I remember one Christmas when we didn’t have much. My dad and my uncle, they made presents. And, mother did some sewing and, anyhow, I got a doll. A big blonde doll, long hard legs and, you know how they used to make them. Anyhow, she had a polka-dotted organza dress on it. And, know my dad went down to the basement – mother had washed the dress – and he used the dress to shine his shoes. I was so hurt. And, I don’t know why she didn’t crochet that doll a dress, because she did that stuff all the time. I never thought about it when I was little, but I don’t know why I didn’t ask her to make Dolly a dress, because she remained naked the whole rest of her life. 


00:13:48 TG 

So, that was Dolly. How old were you when you stopped carrying around Dolly? 


00:13:54 MG 

Oh, I never liked dolls. I played with my little brother my sister. I wasn’t really wild about dolls. 


00:14:02 TG 

So, what were you wild about? 


00:14:05 MG 

Oh, I don’t know. I liked teddy bears. But, I wasn’t wild about toys. We played a lot of games at our house. 


00:14:14 TG 

Board games?


00:14:15 MG 

Yes, when we were big enough to do it. 


00:14:18 TG 

Well, I remember that you always said that you were a bit of a TGboy growing up. Is that right? 


00:14:27 MG 

Oh, I know. I loved ball. 


00:14:30 TG 



00:14:31 MG 

Softball. We played that some those days. We didn’t play with the baseballs, but we did play softball on the school grounds, you know. And, it was a small school. 


00:14:40 MG 

The boys didn’t have enough to field the team, see. So, I was usually lucky enough to get to play with them. I loved that. 

00:14:49 TG 

Well, you were probably as good as some of them, right?


00:14:53 MG 

I was a pretty good pitcher. And, so, I usually got to play. 


00:14:59 TG 

So, did you ever play any organized sports?


00:15:04 MG 

No, I thought about it at one point, joining the girls team here, in Kokomo. I even went to one of the practices and watched them and everything. But, I never liked the way girls played.


00:15:10 TG 



00:15:15 MG 

Well, they didn’t play that well like boys, you know. 


00:15:17 TG 

(more laughs)


00:15:19 MG 

Well, you know, it the truth, TG. I’m sure there are a lot of who do play well, but there weren’t that many on that team. And, I didn’t wanna play with them. 


00:15:30 TG 

Well, I imagine that, in this day and age, women’s sports, they take it a lot more seriously, maybe, than they did back in those days. 


00:15:41 MG 

Oh, I’m sure it was just for fun, but they did play other teams.


00:15:45 TG 

So you’re talking about the 1940s, right? 


00:15:52 MG 

Yeah, I guess I guess it would be. 


00:15:52 TG 

Born in 1930. What year did you graduate from high school high school? Would that have been be ‘48? 


00:15:56 MG 



00:16:02 TG 

Then, what was high school like for you? 


00:16:08 MG 

Oh, I liked it, pretty well. I liked all the teachers and, I made a lot of new friends over there at the high school. And, I enjoyed it. 


00:16:22 TG 

What subjects did you like? 

00:16:26 MG 

I loved Algebra, and I had a wonderful history teacher, And, I loved that and English, too. I loved to learn English, and I was glad. It was interesting, because boys don’t usually like English, you know. I was glad when I got into high school English classes, because in our schools, we worked real hard at English. On those studies, you know, I was up at the top, and, so many kids from the other schools, they had an awful hard time.


00:17:06 TG 



00:17:07 MG 

So I was proud of the school I went to. 


00:17:11 TG 

Well, I’ve even remarked to people, over the years, that feel like, growing up there in Indiana, I got a really good public education. The schools were good, right? 


00:17:24 MG 

Well, they say they aren’t, now. I don’t know. 


00:17:27 TG 

Well, I had a good experience with them, and it sounds like you did too.


00:17:31 MG 

Anybody who was willing to put in the time, you know, got a good education. They did. And, so,  we had some really, really good teachers. 


00:17:43 TG 

So, did you ever think of going to college or anything like that, mom? 


00:17:51 MG 

Well, I kind of wanted to go to nursing school, but there was no money for that. And, I liked shorthand and typing, those things. And, I developed a skill at taking shorthand. I was really good, almost high enough to do work for the lawyers, just short of that. You’re supposed to know 120 words a minute; to be able to take that for five minutes. I couldn’t take it for five, but I could do it for three. But anyway, I got a really good job coming out of school. So I just stuck with that. 

00:18:28 TG 

Now where was that? 


00:18:32 MG 

My first job?


00:18:34 TG 


00:18:36 MG 

Well, my first job was at 16. My dad took me downand introduced me to the manager of the five-and-dime store. I went to work there the next week, and worked until I got into high school. By that time, I was working in the office at McClellan’s. I wasn’t . . .  I was good at the commercial subjects, you know. 


00:19:04 TG 



00:19:04 MG 

And, so, I joined mister .  . . John Paul Jones was his name. He was the dean of boys, and he hired me. He let me work in his office. And, so I worked in his office for about six months and then . . .  His wife owned a northern Indiana supply. He got me a job working for his wife, and I worked there until I got the job with the pottery. 


00:19:32 TG 

Which was Gerber pottery, right? 


00:19:36 MG 

(Yes) they made toilets and all that stuff. We actually had five factories. They did the shower stalls, and we had the plumbing fixtures, and all that. They had . . .  fancy china, and there was another one. I can’t think what that was right now . . .  Showers! Showers. Anyhow, there were five factories. I worked for the vice-president, and then the owner. I did dictation and everything. I had a good job. 


00:20:14 TG 

Then, where did Dad come in, in relation to this?


00:20:21 MG 

Oh, well. I was working down at the five-and-dime store, and his sister, Phyllis, was working down there. And, he’d come down there, and he’d stand in the front of the store and stare at everybody for long time. Just stare at the whole place, you know. And, I thought he’s really dumb. Or, it’s weird, anyhow. 


00:20:49 TG 

Was it strange? Did it feel strange? 


00:20:54 MG 

Well, I thought he thought pretty much of himself, and he did. But, anyhow, Phyllis, she said “would you consider going out with my brother, Jack.” I’d see him stand up there, in front, and he did come over and say “hi” to her, you know. But, he wouldn’t stay there. But, I finally said yes, and he came over one afternoon. It was actually my birthday, and he walked me home. And, so, that’s what started all of that, and we had fun with the Phyllis and John. They were married, and they could take us to dances and things, you know. The naval base was up there, and we went there. We went to Monticello, to the parties and dances up there. John and Phyllis used to be a lot of fun when, they were young, but they got old and sick. 


00:21:49 TG 

Yeah. So, your first date with Dad was on . . . what birthday would that have been? 


00:21:58 MG 

I think it was the 16th. 


00:22:00 TG 

Wow! I didn’t realize you were that young when you guys started to date. 


00:22:05 MG 

Yeah, well we did for four years. 


00:22:08 TG 

So, he was already back from the service. 


00:22:12 MG 

He was back from the army, mmhmm. He was four years older than me. 


00:22:19 TG 



00:22:21 MG 

So, anyhow, my folks liked him. They liked him. 


00:22:26 TG 

So, you dated for four years before you got married in 1950, right?


00:22:32 MG 



00:22:33 TG 

You got married in 1950. So, what was dating him like, for those four years? How often would you see him, and what did you guys do? 


00:22:44 MG 

Oh, about two or three evenings a week. We’d go picture shows sometimes, or we’d go and visit some of our friends or . . .  Anyway, I don’t remember, to tell you the truth


00:22:56 TG 

Do you remember the first movie you guys saw together?


00:23:00 MG 

No, I don’t think so. 


00:23:02 TG 

Do you remember any of them? 


00:23:04 MG 

Oh yeah, I remember the night we were going to go see Bing Crosby in Going My Way.


00:23:09 TG 



00:23:10 MG 

It was a wonderful old movie, you know. We talked about it, and I told him I really wanted to see that. So, he said, well, he’d take me, and we were going to go on the next Friday night. I don’t know if it was Friday or Saturday. It might have been Saturday, but anyway. Don’t you know, he came in there on Saturday, or Friday night, and told me he decided he didn’t want to go. He said he already went with his buddies. I said “you’re kidding me.”

He said “no, no.” He said “no. I don’t really wanna go. I didn’t care for it that much.”

And, I said, well, “you do what you wanna do, but I’m going to the picture show.

And, so he, said “well, wait, wait. He said “I really need to talk to (my brother) Bill,” before we could do anything. 

Well, I told him how much time we had. So, you know we had to work walk all the way out there to State Street, so he could see his brother. But, the truth of the whole thing was, I don’t think he had any money left. But, he would never say that, you know. 

So, we got out there and they had their private talk. So, then, we saw the picture show. We went, and we had a good time.  

We loved the show, and they had what you call bank night. One Friday night a month they’d give out money. And, everybody had a ticket. He got a chance on that night, and, don’t you know he hit that bank night, and won $2500? 


00:24:49 TG 



00:24:51 MG 

God, he was so happy . . .  Yeah, he did. 


00:24:53 TG 

$2500. That was a lot of money back then.


00:24:56 MG 

Oh yeah. So, he bought his mother, new furniture. His mother didn’t have any furniture, so he bought her furniture for the house.

Anyhow, at one point, I said to him, “are you gonna split it with me?” I said “you wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for me. He got this strange look on his face. And, I said, “oh, I’m only kidding. I wouldn’t take your money,” you know. But that was a big night. Yeah. 


00:25:22 TG 

Yeah. Sounds like it.


00:25:28 MG 

I’ll never forget it. 


00:25:31 TG 

Any other big dates that you remember, that stand out? 


00:25:38 MG 

We got to go to the we went to the dances at the (National Guard) Armory, at that time. And, I enjoyed that. Several times they had Eddy Howard there, and I just loved him. Things like that. We didn’t run around a lot. We’d take walks through the park, and watch a ball game, maybe. Or, stop at the custard (stand), or something like that. You know. That was a big deal. 


00:26:18 TG 

So, then, you got married in 1950. What was the wedding like? 


00:26:27 MG 

Oh, very nice. It was very nice. It was just . . .  Ercilia (her best friend) stood up with me, and the Jacks. My brother Jack stood up with him, because his best friend was not a Catholic, and we weren’t able to get permission for him to be the best man. 


00:26:44 TG 

Who would that have been, mom?


00:26:47 MG 

Well, his name was . . . What was his first name? I can’t say his name. Well, you didn’t know him, because he came from Tennessee, with some family and, really good guy. He was swell guy, and he went back to Tennessee after we were married a couple of years. But, the . . .  Allen was his name. 


00:27:18 TG 

Did Dad stay in touch with him? 


00:27:25 MG 

Oh, for a while. You know how Dad was with letters and things. 


00:27:30 TG 

So then, where the reception? In the church basement? 

00:27:36 MG 

No, we didn’t have that. Mother and Dad had a wedding breakfast. So, that’s what Jack and I had a wedding breakfast. They took us to the Francis Hotel, and we had my family, and we had Jack’s family. And, then they invited- 


00:27:54 TG 

So, was it before the wedding? In the morning, before?


00:27:57 MG 

No, no, after. After the wedding.


00:27:59 TG 

So, you had a morning wedding? 


00:28:01 MG 

Yeah, sort of. Well, sort of like lunch. You know, lunch. And, it was a regular meal served. It was nice. It was nice. And, Florence came. Aunt Florence was there.


00:27:15 TG 

Now, she lived in far away, in southern Indiana. Probably 5 hours away. 


00:28:28 MG 

New Albany New Albany. And, my mother, mother’s dad and his wife were there, and that’s all. 


00:28:37 TG 

So, was there a little band, or anything like that, or no? 


00:28:41 MG 

No. No band.


00:28:44 TG 

So, then, what about the honeymoon? 


00:28:48 MG 

We went to Chicago.


00:28:51 TG 

So, that was in September, right? So, then, it would have been cold already, right? Probably. 


00:29:00 MG 

No, it is very pleasant day. It was very pleasant. 


00:29:04 TG 

And, you know, I remember. I think you guys told me that you stayed in the hotel, and you could see the Buckingham Fountain from your hotel window. 


00:29:12 MG 

Yes, it is right in front of it.


00:29:14 TG 

It, I think is a Hilton now, probably. 


00:29:18 MG 

I don’t know. Yeah. But, I know, I looked out the window and I saw that . . . Don’t you know, he dropped his toothbrush down the toilet? Had to go get another toothbrush. 


00:29:26 TG 

He had to leave the room? 


00:29:31 MG 

I don’t know if that was an accident, or if he just said (it). (He) just left for a short time. I don’t know. He wasn’t gone too long. Well, but, he came back. So, I told him the next day, about the fountain. And, he said “oh, there’s nothing out there.” He got back after midnight, and it turned off. 


00:29:48 TG 



00:29:51 MG 

Oh, it took a while ’cause we took the train to Chicago. 


00:29:54 TG 

So, he got back after midnight? So, what, he left on your wedding night? And, came back? 


00:30:01 MG 

Well, we hadn’t been there any time, before he claimed he dropped his toothbrush in the john. 


00:30:08 TG 

So, then, how long was he gone? 


00:30:10 MG 

Oh, 15 or 20 minutes. Nothing. 


00:30:12 TG 

Okay, but by the time he got back it was late, and the fountain was off. 


00:30:17 MG 

Or, he didn’t look out. I don’t know. You know, but he didn’t see it all lit up. It was beautiful, and that was the last day of the of the year that they turned that on. 


00:30:28 TG 

Oh, wow. 

00:30:29 MG 

30th of September . . . So, it wasn’t there the next night. So, he just knew I was just seeing things. 


00:30:38 TG 

Oh boy. So, then, did you guys already have where you were going to live lined up, and all that? How’d that work it? 


00:30:49 MG 

He had found an apartment for us over on Taylor Street and Larry and- 


00:30:58 TG 

This is my dad’s brother. 


00:31:00 MG 

Maybe Bill, the other brothers. They cleaned it all up for us . . .  Turned out it had bugs all over the place. But, by the time we got back, there was a million dead ones, but we got them all and cleaned it up and it made a nice little place for us. We lived there until, oh, I guess probably February or March of the next year. And, then we bought the little house over on Webster St. 


00:31:32 TG 

Oh yeah. So, when then what year was Mary born? 


00:31:38 MG 



00:31:39 TG 

Okay. So, you got started pretty quickly, having kids. 


00:31:43 MG 



00:31:45 TG 

Well, one of the things you said to me was, you don’t know what you’d have to talk about or what you did that’d be worth talking about. And, you know, one of the things, in talking to other people about this . . . That that just seemed like such a crazy statement to me, because you raised eight kids. I mean, you know, that’s a lot of time, first of all, carrying children.


00:32:14 MG 

It’s a long time. 


00:32:15 TG 

And, then, raising eight kids. I mean, I graduated from high school in 1991. So, for 40 years- 


00:32:26 MG 


00:32:26 TG 

– you were raising kids. 


00:32:30 MG 

Turned out pretty well, too. 


00:32:33 TG 

Well, thank you for saying that. 


00:32:34 MG 

At least, I’m proud of ‘em. I’m proud of all of you. Some, I’m a little more . . . More special than the others. 


00:32:37 TG 



00:32:41 MG 

Because it’s all in different ways, you know. But even so, I’m proud of all of you. Love you all. 


00:32:49 TG 



00:32:50 MG 

And, you’re all very different. 


00:32:54 TG 



00:32:56 MG 

I’ll tell you something Mark said about the girls. You know, when Linda died, that was pretty painful for all of us. And, even though we expected it and everything. But, when she thought she was going to die, she accepted it very well, and she came home and and she told us. All the girls went over to see her and everything. You know, because we knew she was going quickly. And, your brother Mark was over there and he says, “my God, those girls are a force.” And, I said, I know.  They picked out what she was gonna wear. The thing got planned . . . It was . . . And, everybody was happy. 


00:33:38 TG 

Yeah. Well, you know I feel like having five sisters has been a pretty significant influence in my life. And, not only having five older sisters, but, you know, having five sisters like them. 


00:34:07 MG 

Well, that’s pretty special. 


00:34:08 TG 

Because, you know, when I describe them to people – not a one of them is a pushover or a wallflower-


00:34:17 MG 



00:34:24 TG 

or you know. All of them are really spirited, powerful women.


00:34:26 MG 

They are. 


00:34:27 TG 

Yeah. So, where’d they get that, mom? 


00:34:34 MG 

Well, between your dad I, I mean, and you know it. I used to talk to people sometimes and I might say “well, my kids are always arguing about something.” But, you know, they’re all leaders. So, they’re all fighting to be the head honcho, over there. 


00:34:52 TG 



00:34:53 MG 

I felt that way, you know. 


00:34:55 TG 

Yeah. Yeah, I could see that. 


00:34:58 MG 

Uh huh. The boys are a little different on that, I guess. I think ’cause you’re so much further apart. 


00:35:06 TG 

Yeah, yeah we were. 


00:35:07 MG 

That timing with all that good on that. 


00:35:10 TG 

Well, you know. I mean, you can’t do everything. You had eight kids. Come on. 


00:35:15 MG 



00:35:16 TG 

But, yeah, no . . . I feel like some of the values that I got from, you know, being your son is, and I talk about this. I was somewhere talking about this the other day. It was a like a talk that was given, about what was the one thing that you should teach your children, or that your parents taught you. And, you know, you really. I got from you, you gotta stand up for what’s right. 


00:35:55 MG 



00:35:57 TG 

And it has served me very well, especially in employment situations. Because, there are a lot of times, especially when you’re working in teams and a big company, and there’s a lot of stuff going on, that there are just things that need to be said, that people are afraid to say. 


00:36:20 MG 

I know it. I know it. 


00:36:21 TG 

And, I- 


00:36:23 MG 

Are you comfortable with that? 


00:36:25 TG 

Well, I don’t know if I’d say I’m comfortable with it, but I it I get it out. I say it, you know. 


00:36:30 MG 

Yeah. Good. 


00:36:33 TG 

And, that is a leadership quality. 


00:36:39 MG 

It sure is. 


00:36:40 TG 

And, I think, we are all leaders, in one way or the other.


00:36:47 MG 

I do too. 


00:36:48 TG 

I’ve always identified more with leaders than followers. And, I feel like I got that from you guys, too. 


00:36:59 MG 

Thank you. Thank you. I think your dad was, too. 

00:37:03 TG 



00:37:06 MG 

He worked so hard to get what he got. He worked hard, and never quit. Never. 


00:37:16 TG 

You know, so, one of the things that I got in my childhood, that not many people my age did, is . . . You know, we had dinner every night at 5:00 o’clock. Every single night. Together. It was the one time that we all were together? 


00:37:33 MG 

I like that. 


00:37:34 TG 

But, you know what was also good about it is that we talked. Dad would talk about his work day. We talked about politics some. We talked about what was going on in the community and in the world and- 


00:37:58 MG 



00:38:02 TG 

I feel like you really taught us to think for ourselves. 


00:38:10 MG 

Well, that was my intent. 


00:38:13 TG 

Yeah, well, it worked . . .  You know, one of the things that’s interesting, and I’ve talked to Mary about this a little bit over the years – my oldest sister – about she’s 23 years older than I am. And, it was a much different experience for her, growing up in the family, than it was for me, obviously, or anyone else. 


00:38:42 MG 

Oh, yes. Yes it was. 


00:38:44 TG 



00:38:45 TG 

So, all of us, you know we all have. We all got those things from you guys, but we all have our own different experience of it. 


00:38:57 MG 

Mary feels like she raised you all.

00:39:02 TG 

Well, she probably deserves some credit, right? 


00:39:06 MG 

Yes she does. 


00:39:06 TG 

Well, I mean, you know, come on. 


00:39:07 MG 

She helped out a lot. She really did.


00:39:09 TG 

Yeah, I mean, eight kids. I feel like, in some ways, I had a bunch of parents. I do. 


00:39:18 MG 

I’m not surprised. 


00:39:23 TG 

Well, Beth, who’s the youngest, second youngest, and six years older than me, was at that age where . . . It seemed like she was really happy when I came along. She got to have a little brother.


00:39:35 MG 

Oh, she was. We got her out of school that day, so she got hospital, with us, to get you. She wanted to go so bad. She couldn’t wait . . . We were talking today about how I had to get on to the kids. They’d all come over on the weekends, you know, to visit, and the ones that were there, of course, played with you and carried you around. You got so you cried all day Monday. And, so I had to sit down with them. “Now we don’t play with Tom all day Saturday and Sunday. You can talk to him and everything else, but you’re not carrying him around all the time because I said I can’t handle.” And, so they- 


00:40:18 TG 

That’s funny. 


00:40:20 MG 

-they did better. But, that’s how it went. 


00:40:25 TG 

Hmmm. So, talk about when I was born. What do you remember about that? 


00:40:43 MG 

I don’t know. I can remember my water broke at home. Made a mess, and I had to get out of there right now. You know you were at the hospital. It just took a few hours. 

You know, (we) had to leave you there . . . It was bad when you had to leave a child at the hospital, because the other kids began to wonder if you really had a baby there, you know. 

00:41:15 TG 



00:41:16 MG 

One time we had to get sister’s special permission, then take some of you there to show them their baby brother. 


00:41:30 TG 

It was a couple more weeks before I came home. Maybe? 


00:41:35 MG 

It wasn’t that long. I think just about a week. You gained quickly very quickly. 


00:41:40 TG 

And, how much did I weigh? Three pounds, 2 ounces? Is that right? 


00:41:44 MG 

Something like that, yeah? The baby can gain six ounces in a day, really easy, you know. They drink in everything. 


00:41:53 TG 

So how early was I mom? 


00:42:00 MG 

Let’s see. You were born February the 21st. I think you were supposed to be born in March, honey. 


00:42:06 TG 

Well, yeah, I mean I was early. I mean, I what I’ve always had in my head was that I was a month premature. I mean, I don’t know. 


00:42:15 MG 

Well, I think it wasn’t quite a month. But, see, Brian came in March, and you were more  likely to be close to him. Instead, you came after Michael. Very close after Michael. 


00:42:29 TG 

Yeah. So, what you’re talking about here, and people are fascinated when I tell them this, is that my mom and two and my sisters were all pregnant at the same time. And, I have one nephews a month older than me and another who’s a month younger than me. I had to be an interesting time. 


00:42:51 MG 

Well, we worked through it. 


00:42:53 TG 


00:42:55 MG 

It wasn’t very happy going through Linda’s wedding, but she wasn’t even married yet, when she got pregnant. So, yeah, your dad-


00:43:04 TG

Were you supposed to say that, mom? Is that okay, to talk about that? . . .  I’m teasing you. I’m teasing you . . .  Now, one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about ask you about is your parents, and your grandparents, because, one of the things that was I feel like was kind of unique, and a little bit sad for me as a kid, was that I didn’t have grandparents. I didn’t get to have that.


00:43:32 MG 

Oh, I know. That was sad. That was sad. 


00:43:35 TG 

And you know Granny, Dad’s mom, was . . . I just remember her as being angry, and kind of nasty. And, only even remember seeing her a couple times. But, I never saw a smile on her face, or anything like that. 


00:43:51 MG 

No, she wasn’t . . .  And, then she died later, and I don’t remember how old you were. I think you were about six when she died. I think, ‘79 I think is when it was. 


00:44:09 TG 

That sounds right. I remember going to pick her up at the nursing home, on Christmas Eve, one year, with Dad, and bringing her back to the house. That’s really the most vivid memory I have of her. But, what were your mom and dad like? 


00:44:30 MG 

Oh, they were real nice people. They were loving and, but they were Germans, and they had their ideas, and my dad had his ideas about what everybody ought to do you know, And, he didn’t want me get married. He didn’t think it was a good idea. Heck, we dated for four years. Father Breitenbach said “you’ve waited too long now.” 


00:44:51 TG 

So, he didn’t even want you to get married? 


00:44:53 MG 

Oh, no. Oh, no. 


00:44:54 TG 

So, you said he liked Dad. But, he didn’t want you getting married?


00:44:56 MG 

Oh, he did. And, if I’d have an evening, you know, when he didn’t come here or anything, he might he go get him, and bring him home to play cards with us used to make me so mad. But, anyway, that’s what he did. Only, he decided I wasn’t going to get married, and we had some awful talks about it. But, I tried my best. I told them, the last time Mom started on it, he told me I was gonna give her heart attack, and she’d die. And, she told me that I was breaking my daddy’s hard, and all that crap. So, anyhow, when she got done that night out, she said, “well, what did you decide? “And, I said, “well, like I said. I‘m getting married on the 30th of September, this year.” She said, “well, I wish you could get married on the second day of October, ’cause that’s when I got married. And, that’s when my mother got married.” And, I said, “well, Jacks, brothers and sisters can’t come if we have it on a weekday. So, I’m having it on Saturday at 30.” So she said “well, we gotta get your picture taken.” She did it all. Turned around, then and we got busy and got it done. But, Dad wasn’t happy. He was heartbroken. But, it worked out OK. 


00:46:17 TG 

He got over it right?


00:46:18 MG 

They had their differences. But, you know, Dad wanted to tell him what to do, when your dad was in the army for four years. I mean, that wasn’t a good thing. I mean, everybody would know better than to do that, TG.


00:46:36 TG 

What about your grandparents? What do you remember about them? 


00:46:41 MG 

Well, I had a wonderful grandmother and grandfather. 


00:46:44 TG 

Now, do you remember, before Indiana, where the family came from, just before Indiana? 


00:46:57 MG 

Well, most of them come from over in Ohio someplace. 


00:47:02 TG 

Pennsylvania, Ohio. 


00:47:05 MG 

My granddad and his brother came from . . . I think they came over on a boat. 


00:47:14 TG 


Do you know when that would have been? 

00:47:18 MG 

Well, I’ve got it written down in there. (It) tells the years and all that. I can’t tell you offhand. My Granddad was born (18)77. He came over on that boat. 


00:47:34 TG 

So, he emigrated. 


00:47:37 MG 

Yeah, the whole family came. They landed in Pennsylvania, and they worked in the mines there for a while, then- 


00:47:46 TG 

The coal mines. 


00:47:50 MG 

-came over here to Ohio, you know and started working in the mines there, and in the potteries. My granddad worked in the pottery and so did the woman he married. 


00:48:08 TG 

Well, the ancestry, you know, research that I have done . . . It seems like, going back generation after generation, there’s Jacob F. Neiheisel, and Jacob V. Neiheisel, Jacob F., and Jacob V. Just, generation after generation. 


00:48:26 MG 

I’ve got about 20 pages of that, and they’re all Jacobs and Marys. 


00:48:30 TG 

Yeah, that’s interesting. Do you have any idea where the first Jacob came from, or why Jake? 


00:48:41 MG 

It came from Germany, a long time ago. 


00:48:45 TG 

Years of Jacobs. And, then, your mom’s family came from Ireland, right? 


00:48:54 MG 



00:48:55 TG 

Do you remember what part of Ireland? 


00:49:00 MG 

Well, I think it’s County Mayo. I don’t know . . . My granddad was real strict. Nobody talked at the supper table but him. And, you don’t talk unless you’re spoke to, and it was very, very strict. And, they both lead a pretty sheltered life. 


00:49:20 TG 

Both of them. Both your mom and your dad. 


00:49:25 MG 

Well, Dad made out alright. But, his mother died when his 10. And, his grandmother, her husband died when he was only 35. So, she remarried. A guy named Pete Connie and they had one girl named Marie. But, anyhow, when my grandpa’s wife died, I don’t know how soon it was after, but she moved over here with him, and took care of them, my granddad and my dad. Which, I always thought, was pretty great person. 


00:50:07 TG 



00:50:07 MG 

Yeah, she was wonderful. Really, was such a good girl. You’d go in there on Saturday morning. 

She’d make sweet rolls, warming on the registers. It was just great. It was great. He worked at Kingston-


00:50:32 TG 

Which was a factory. 


00:50:34 MG 

He was the night watchman and, if I was there when he had to go to work, I’d sneak out.

I’d sneak out the back door, meet him on the corner, and we’d walk there. We’d walk the shift, you know, and it was really neat. 


00:50:58 TG 

He’d take you with him? That’s a nice memory. 


00:51:06 MG 

My brother was pretty little. You know, he was really a little kid. He would have been frightened, probably. Because, it was pretty dark in some of those sections of the factory, and all the big machines and everything, you know. But, I wasn’t scared. 


00:51:18 TG 

They made roller skates right? 


00:51:19 MG 

Right. They made roller skates, and lots of things for the war, and got all kind of awards for that. I don’t know what happened to the management, that company, the fact it went down like that. Because, it really was a fine factory and did a lot of good things. I think was the management. I really do believe that. Not enough money. You know, they always say that. 


00:51:45 TG 

So, if I think about the important things in your life, probably, besides family, the most important thing to talk about would be the church, right? 


00:52:02 MG 



00:52:02 TG 

So, talk about that. What are your first memories around the Catholic Church, and your relationship with God. 


00:52:17 MG 

Well, I we went every Saturday, Sunday, you know, to mass, and all together, and that carried on all through the years. Going to school, we learned all about God and everything. How to live a good, holy life. And, then there was first Communion, you know, and things like that, that were very impressive. And, I drew very close to the Blessed Mother. I’ve tried to keep that at my heart all my life. 


00:52:59 TG 

Well, I think you’ve done a pretty good job of that, haven’t you? 

00:53:03 MG 

I want to. I want to. That’s the most important thing in my life, my church, and my family, or my faith, and my family. I’ve tried to hold on to it my whole life. Well, it’s been a very difficult thing, the way things went. It hasn’t been the way I wanted it, but it happened. 


00:53:28 TG 

Well, when you’re talking about problems in the church, and stopping going to the Church at one point. But, in spite of all that, you always prayed.  I mean, every single day. I’ve watched that my entire life. I saw you praying on your knees, and honoring God. 


00:53:53 MG 

I hope you all have that memory. 


00:53:56 TG 

Yeah, I don’t know how the rest of them could not. 


00:54:00 MG 

Well, the some of them don’t, but I think they all have it in them. They might not talk about it, but I’m sure they all have it in them, because you can tell, different things they do and say that, you know. 


00:54:06 TG 



00:54:15 MG 

They know what’s important. 


00:54:17 TG 

Yeah, well, the Church has had its ups and downs and. 


00:54:24 MG 



00:54:25 TG 

Yes, always. 


00:54:27 TG 

Yeah, and lots of people who drifted away. And, for me-


00:54:33 MG 

It was very hard on our family. 


00:54:35 TG 

-yeah, well, but then I found a way to make my relationship with God work for me. And, the Church, there have been years when I have gone to church. But, most of the time I haven’t. But, I really don’t feel like it has . . . I mean, I, I suppose I could have benefited from having a church community, but I never really . . . I don’t feel like it has really adversely affected my relationship with God.


00:55:11 MG 

Well, you’ve had a tendency to look for really good people. 


00:55:16 TG 

God steered me towards those people, and vice versa. 


00:55:20 MG 

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s the truth of it. 


00:55:23 TG 



00:55:25 MG 

’cause I I don’t know. I’ve got so many friends in my life, even now, that I’ve made in the Al-Anon groups. You know, good friends from all over the state. I’ve got a friend that called me up the other day from South Bend. They’re in Warsaw. He has been coming to Al-Anon meetings for three years, Tom. Drives from Warsaw once a week. 


00:55:52 TG 

Yeah, which is 3 hours, 2-1/2, three hours. 


00:55:55 MG 

Three hours. Three hours away. He and his wife come every single week, and they keep up with everybody in the group. And, they see it as the best day of their life, Thursday. I feel like I’ve done some good through that. I’ve been able to help a few people, and I’m very grateful for that. 


00:56:19 TG 

Yeah. Well, so am I. 


00:56:24 MG 

I know you are. 


00:56:30 TG 

If you listen to this podcast, you know that I stopped drinking when I was 23, and that definitely needed to happen. But, what also happened is that you started going to Al-Anon. 


00:56:45 MG 



00:56:46 TG 

That was almost 25 years ago, and you’ve continued to maintain that the entire time. And, working in addiction, and being in a position advise people to do that sort of thing, working with families who suffer from alcoholism and addiction . . . There are an awful lot of people who will go a time or two, and will leave it at that. You know, they’ll have this “well, I’ve done that” sort of attitude. But, to be a young guy in recovery, and have my mom work a program in Al-Anon, I feel like in some ways we’ve been in recovery together. 


00:57:56 MG 

Thank you. Thank you. I know you’ve been a big help to me over the years. 


00:58:04 TG 

Well, thank you for saying that. 


00:58:05 MG 

It’s hard, the way some of our family acted as if it wasn’t their problem, and they couldn’t do anything about it. And, so . . .  but they didn’t help in any way. I mean, making things even harder for the person that was a drinker. And, that’s been an awful pain for me through the years. 


00:58:31 TG 

Well, but, our family has changed a lot. 


00:58:37 MG 

Yes it has.


00:58:38 TG 

It has. And, the other thing is that there’s so much shame attached to it. It’s just really hard to talk about. It’s hard to face. For family members to have a tendency to just kinda turn their gaze away from it, it’s easier sometimes, at least in the short term. It feels easier. And, you know, now, the work that I do . . . I help families. That’s what I do, because families don’t know what to do. 


00:59:13 MG 

I know. 


00:59:16 TG 

They don’t know what to do. And, the other part of it, I mean, I’ve watched it with you over the years, in different ways. When you have someone in your life who suffers from an addiction from alcoholism, you want to believe in them. You don’t want to think that they’re an alcoholic. 


00:59:40 MG 

No. You don’t. 


00:59:41 TG 

And, when they tell you they’re quitting, you want to believe them. And, it’s a really baffling and insidious illness in that way. You can be someone who’s trying to stop drinking, and say, in all honesty, “I’m done. I’m stopping, I’m not. I’m not going to drink again,” and then, in pretty short order, drink again. You know, when it really has control you. 


01:00:16 MG 

I know.


01:00:17 TG 

And, that’s the thing. A lot of times, that’s hard for families to grasp, that it’s not the person you’re fighting. It’s the addiction you’re fighting. 


01:00:30 MG 

Uncle Charles really had a problem with alcohol. 


01:00:34 TG 



01:00:34 MG 

He did. He would go away for- 


01:00:37 TG 

This was your mom’s brother? 


01:00:38 MG 

Yeah. He would go away, and we wouldn’t see him for two or three months. Then he’d show up, and he’d need a coat, and he’d need a job, and we’d take care of that. He’d stay with us for a week or so. Then, as soon as he got a paycheck, he’d get on the interurban and leave. He was a wonderful, kind, and gentle man. 


01:01:00 TG 

And, he was a writer, right? 


01:01:02 TG 

He was a writer. He was a painter. He did beautiful oils. He was just very talented, but he had that problem all his life. 


01:01:13 TG 

Well, you know, Dad- 


01:01:15 MG 

But, he had some happy years with his wife, at the end there – some sober times. But, his health was ruined by the end, you know. But, but that is in the family.

01:01:25 TG 

Absolutely. Well, and Dad would tell me this story about how he (Uncle Charles) broke into a drug store on a Sunday. Because, in Indiana, you can’t buy liquor on Sundays. He broke into a drug store, and the police got there, and he was just sitting there on the floor, drinking. 


01:01:38 MG 

Right. That’s right. He went to jail. I don’t know if he was there six months or a year. He was at a a big jail, up on the edge of Michigan, I think. I forget the name of it. 


01:01:59 TG 

Michigan City? That was one of those jails up there Dillinger broke out, one of those jails up there. 


01:02:02 MG 

I don’t know if that it or not. But, he was at one of them. He never broke out. But, he was so . . .

He was just pitiful. I just . . .  I loved him. I loved him. But, he just- 


01:02:19 TG 

Well, I got his red hair, you always told me. 


01:02:23 MG 

Well, Estelle (his wife) told me before she died that you were more like him than any of my children. 


01:02:29 TG 

Really? What made her say that, you think? 


01:02:36 MG 

Well, your attitude and everything. The way you acted, the way you talk. Your hair of course. But, that . . .  just . . .  you just have a gentle way, that’s more like him. 


01:02:46 TG 

Do I remind you of him, too? 


01:02:51 MG 

A little bit. Yeah . . .  I really didn’t know him terribly well. I felt like I did. But, really, our times of being together were so short, you know, and so little. I mean, he was a good man, and he told us once that he thinks he was an alcoholic by the time he was 16. So, you know where he had to get that, don’t you? 


01:03:20 TG 

Yeah. Well, I mean, it doesn’t happen by accident. 

01:03:23 MG 

No . . . You know, when Linda got into it the last time, when she . . .  Well, a couple years before she died, she started drinking again, a little bit and had to go into the hospital. And, we didn’t know what was wrong with her. She just was acting weird and, but . . . Anyhow, she started talking about going home. And, I said to them, “you’re not gonna let her go home, are you?” 

And, she said “no. She’s in the DT’s (delirium tremens),” and I said, “what?” I didn’t know what it was, you know? But, it was only the beginning, because they had to put her in a coma, and strapped her to the bed. 


01:04:03 TG 

I remember hearing that. 


01:04:04 MG 

Listen to this, though. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told, at that Al-Anon meeting if you ever see a person in DT’s, strapped to the bed, and see them bounce, in that bed, across the hospital floor, you’ll know that they have no control over this thing. They have no control over it at all. They’re sick, very sick . . .  Ugh. It really, really, hit me, that time when I saw that, I thought “my God. She doesn’t want this.”


01:04:37 TG 

No. Nobody ever asks for that. 


01:04:42 MG 



01:04:44 TG 

It’s a soul sickness. 


01:04:46 MG 

It is. 


01:04:48 TG 



01:04:49 MG 

Well, she had a lot of pain. You know, like that the love of her life went out (on her), like he always did, and she never got over him, TG. I don’t think she ever got over him. 


01:05:06 TG 

I know that. Well, I mean, I assumed that. And, you know, one of the reasons why

 people drink is because they don’t . . .  They’re not effectively managing their emotional experience, and, a lot of times, it’s because they don’t know how. 


01:05:26 MG 

Well, that make sense. 


01:05:31 TG 

I mean, God knows, for years and years she was trying to process that grief. 


01:05:36 MG 

I know it. 


01:05:39 TG 

She didn’t know how to do it. We’ve seen that in other ways, with others. And, to me, you know, when people have asked me about, being someone who is in recovery, and has suffered from alcoholism . . . There’s a belief that it’s genetic, and I imagine it’s probably genetic. I try to not get caught up in that kind of stuff, because that isn’t going to help somebody stop drinking. 


01:06:17 MG 



01:06:17 TG 

Konowing that, it’s not gonna help somebody stop drinking. Now, eventually it might help them come to terms with some things. But, anyway, they would ask “what about you? Have you talked to your son about it? How would you? And, you know, I’ve talked to him about the history. But, what has been much more important to me has been listening to him, teaching him how to talk about his feelings, being someone he could come to, to talk to, teaching him how to have boundaries, teaching him how to deal with his emotions- 


01:06:59 MG 

Yes, that’s really important to know. 


01:07:01 TG 

Because, for me, that’s what I had a problem with, you know.  I was sad. I was sad for whatever reasons, that we don’t know need to get into here. But, I was trying to deal with something in a way. That was the only way I knew how at the time. Then, the next thing you know, I was stuck in it, and couldn’t stop. 


01:07:29 MG 

That’s the way we all had fun, in those days. 


01:07:31 TG 

Well, yeah. But,- 


01:07:32 MG 

It used to be a lot of fun. 


01:07:34 TG 

Well, one of the things I wanted to ask you is . . . So, you know, at the end of my drinking, I mean, I was pretty bad. When I was really drinking, that’s all I was doing. It was kind of taking the shape of binges, in a way, when I was working, but- 


01:07:57 MG 

Yeah. That’s what you were doing. 


01:07:58 TG 

But, when I wasn’t, when I was home, I was just staying drunk, for days and days. I just can only imagine how painful that must have been, to watch, for you. 


01:08:12 MG 

To tell you the truth, I didn’t realize how bad it was with you. 


01:08:16 TG 


01:08:17 MG 

I really didn’t, because you handled it pretty good. I thought, one day you called me at work and you’d visit with me and everything, and by the time I’d get home you’d be sound asleep. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. But, then, that one day when you were bouncing against the wall I knew something was really wrong with you.


01:08:34 TG 

I don’t remember that. Bouncing against the wall, what was that all about? 


01:08:38 MG 

Well, I was getting ready to go to work and you came out of your room to go to the bathroom, and just went sideways, and were hitting the wall. I said “what is wrong with you?” I thought you were doing dope. And, you said “nothing, I’m fine.” So, I get a glass, and I say “here. Fill this for me.” Don’t you remember that day? 


01:09:03 TG



01:09:05 MG 

You don’t?


01:09:05 TG 

No, what happened? 


01:09:08 MG 

I said, “well, what is that about?” And, I said “well, I’m gonna see what kind of dope you’re doing.” And, you she said “I’m not drugs, mom. I’m an alcoholic,” and I just thought I’d die. I didn’t wanna hear that. 


01:09:26 TG 



01:09:26 MG 

Of course, I knew that you did too much of it. I mean, I knew Matt was worried about it, telling you what to do, or what the neighbors were supposed to be saying, all that stuff. But, I thought he ought to be looking at his own self. I don’t know. I believe I was all mixed up, Tom. I didn’t realize the scope there . . .  Yeah, I felt terrible when you went away (to treatment). I didn’t want you to go to. But, of course, I knew you had to . . . What’s sad about that, your dad was really broke up, that night when he had you taken to jail. 


01:10:04 TG 

Was he? 


01:10:05 MG 



01:10:09 TG 

Yeah, So, what she’s talking about . . . I wouldn’t stay at the hospital. When I went to the hospital the last day I drank, and I needed to stay, and I refused to stay. And, so- 


01:10:21 MG 

Well, I know now you were right. That wouldn’t have helped you. 


01:10:24 TG 

Yeah . . . But, so what happened is, instead of taking me home, I got in the car with my mom and dad, and he went back inside the hospital, and called the police, who came and arrested me for public intoxication. And, I knew that had to be really hard for him to do. It had to go against everything he believed, probably, in some ways to- 


01:10:50 MG 

That’s the truth, honey. It’s the truth. I took everything he had, to do that that night. 


01:10:58 TG 

But, he did it. He did it.


01:10:58 MG 

He couldn’t go. He couldn’t go to Florida with you. He just told me. He said “I can’t go.” So, that’s how it was. 


01:11:12 TG 

Well, but he came for the family program. 


01:11:16 MG 

He did and that had to do with your friend, down there. Jayne. If it hadn’t been for her, I would have got him down there.


01:11:20 TG 



01:11:27 MG 

And, he actually went to a few Al-Anon meetings with me, but all he wanted to talk about was Linda. 


01:11:35 TG 

Yeah, well- 


01:11:38 MG 

You know, that was the worst thing about that. That just got under my skin so bad. You boys would drink too much, and make an ass of yourself, and he’d say “boys will be boys.” But, the girls, they were crackpots. They were nuts. Crazy. 


01:11:58 TG 

Yeah. That’s the stigma with women and addictions. It’s not just him. 


01:12:05 MG 

Is it? Is it still that way?


01:12:07 TG 

I think it’s better. But, you know, having the training I’ve had- 


01:12:12 MG 

It’s kind of sad though, you know, ’cause they’re sick too. 


01:12:15 TG 

It’s not fair. It’s not.


01:12:16 MG 

No. It’s not. 


01:12:19 TG 

It’s just a stigma. It’s just a bunch of bullshit. But, yeah. And, you know, usually when a woman gets caught up in alcohol or drugs, it almost invariably involves a man. 


01:12:34 MG 



01:12:34 TG 

So, yeah. That’s definitely a thing and it’s not unique to him. 


01:12:45 MG 

I didn’t even think about that. All I knew was that, since I was there, you know, I knew. He really . . . Really, women weren’t superior to men in any way. That’s the way he was raised, in Tennessee. Or, that’s how they did it in Tennessee. 


01:13:03 TG 

Well, I mean, you know, I definitely grew up in a home where the man has the last say, right? 


01:13:09 MG 

Oh, absolutely. And, he would talk to me about everything, at some point. Sometimes it was too late to talk, but he did what he wanted, whatever. And, it didn’t make any difference how it went. If it didn’t go well, he kept on and on and on, trying to make it work. 


01:13:30 TG 



01:13:32 MG 

He never gave up on it. That’s one thing, he worked hard, and God love him. It’s all he did, was work. But, he was sold by angry when he couldn’t work anymore. 


01:13:45 TG 



01:13:45 MG 

Oh my God, yeah. 


01:13:46 TG 

I remember, when I was about 14, he was in between jobs, and it was pretty terrible watching him. He was like a caged Tiger, walking from one window to another, looking out. Yeah, it was sad, and you know tense . . .  Yeah, I remember, that was one of the years when I was in all those All-Star tournaments, and travelling, playing baseball, and that was all going on at the same time, if I remember right. 


01:14:24 MG 

I think you’re right.


01:14:26 TG 

Yeah . . . Well, it makes me sad to think about how hard it was for you guys, to go through that. Obviously, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years, but we’ve never really talked about that, the fact that Dad couldn’t come. He couldn’t bring himself to come, and how hard it was for him to call the police that night. 


01:14:50 MG 

I never told you that, did I? 


01:14:51 TG 

And, I don’t know. I didn’t remember the story about when I told you I was an alcoholic. I remember having a conversation with him about it, but-


01:14:59 MG 

Oh really? 


01:15:00 TG 

Yeah, that was the last day early in the day before I left . . . I’ve told you this, but it was hard to leave, and hard to not come back. 

01:15:16 MG 

No, I know it was. I know. 


01:15:18 TG 

And, it’s hard to have been away all this time. But,  I knew I couldn’t come back. 


01:15:18 MG 

It was horrible. 


01:15:25 TG 

I knew I needed to stay away. And, you know, it’s not like I made a decision to stay away for good in the beginning, or anything. I mean, what I really decided to do was . . . What I was doing was working, so why quit, you know? I should keep doing it. And, that’s really why I stayed. And, about the time I actually started to think about it, not coming back there, but moving somewhere in the Midwest, or something, therewas a time when I started to look around for different jobs, around cities in the Midwest. And, that was about the time I met Jack’s mom. And, so, that was that. You know? 


01:16:15 MG 



01:16:16 TG 

And then, now, here we are. 


01:16:17 MG 

You were in Tennessee, quite a while. 


01:16:19 TG 

Well, but I didn’t move there, you know. I mean, I was- 


01:16:23 MG 

You were married then. 


01:16:24 TG 

Well, before all that I was looking to, you know, maybe. Maybe live in Indianapolis, or Cleveland, or somewhere closer to home.


01:16:35 MG 

Well, that would have been nice. But, you’re where you’re needed. 


01:16:41 TG 

I think so, and I feel like . . . I feel like you don’t hold it against me, for not moving back or anything. 


01:16:51 MG 

Oh honey, I don’t. Don’t think that. 

01:16:53 TG 

No, I know. That’s what I’m saying. I’m telling you that I appreciate that. And, just because I’m not there doesn’t mean part of my heart isn’t there. But, I also feel like, you know, I’m living out my purpose. 


01:17:05 MG 

Right. Right. 


01:17:12 TG 

And, and on some level, this is what our family needed from me. 


01:17:23 MG 

You sure have helped a lot of parts of our family. 


01:17:27 TG 

Well, I’ve tried. It’s such a gift, to be in recovery. You know, it really is. 


01:17:37 MG 

Nathan is so happy. 


01:17:40 TG 

Yeah . . . It’s, uh, it’s hard to get. I mean, it can be really hard to achieve. But, you know, once you really get a taste of how good it is, then you know. You don’t want to trade it for anything.  And, I’ll tell you, that’s what Linda really did for me. As much as anything else, she helped me see how happy I could be. 


01:18:06 MG 

Did she? 


01:18:07 TG 

Yeah. We talked about that. How much she talked to me, about how much better it would be. And, she was right. She was right. 


01:18:18 MG 

It’s shame she couldn’t hang on to it herself. 


01:18:21 TG 

Well, you know, she suffered a lot. She did the best she could, and she’s at peace. 


01:18:29 MG 

She did suffer a lot. 


01:18:31 TG 

She’s at peace . . . So, the fact that you stayed so persistent with Al-Anon has been a really big deal. Even in times when I needed to have different boundaries with you, I could have these conversations with you, and you would understand them. 


01:18:55 MG 

Uh huh.


01:18:56 TG 

It’s like we spoke the same language. 


01:19:00 MG 

I know it. I know. That was great, right. 


01:19:01 TG 

And, it’s really been a gift.


01:19:07 MG 

At times, I felt like you were my sponsor, really.


01:19:10 TG 

Oh, come on. 


01:19:11 MG 

Well. Really. 


01:19:13 TG 

Well, I appreciate you so much. 


01:19:13 MG 

I did talk to you about a lot of things, and I could talk to you about anything, really. And, that was good. No, my husband and I didn’t talk. 


01:19:24 TG 

No, I remember something about that. 


01:19:28 MG 

I just saved it. 


01:19:28 TG 

Like you said in the beginning, he wasn’t a big talker. 


01:19:31 MG 

I don’t know. Sometimes he’d say something sweet, it just about knocked you down, you know. I would be so grateful. But, it wasn’t that he didn’t say things. 


01:19:45 TG 

Well, he had a hard life too, mom. 


01:19:50 MG 

Oh, I know. I was talking to Beth about something about the family the other day. And, oh, I was telling her how scared he was, when he got married. His hands shook so bad, he couldn’t put the ring on my finger. The priest had to help. And, she said, “you know, I feel sorry for him. To come out of a broken home like he did and everything,” she said. “It was a big deal, taking on a wife.”


01:20:14 TG 



01:20:16 MG 

And, I had never thought about it like that. 


01:20:20 TG 

Well, one of the things I’ve thought about is how his dad left when he was little. You know, Dad was always there. He was always there. 


01:20:35 MG 

Well, not emotionally. 


01:20:37 TG 

Well, but you know, we always knew he was there. 


01:20:41 MG 

Yeah. He was. 


01:20:41 TG 

I, never once in my life, did I ever feel any insecurity around you guys. 


01:20:49 MG 

I think most of the kids would say that. 


01:20:51 TG 



01:20:53 MG 

That’s a good thing, that kids don’t feel that. 


01:20:55 TG 

I didn’t have to worry about that, you know. By the time your children got to be at my age, so many of my peers, their parents were divorced. There’s only like two friends that come to mind who their parents weren’t divorced.


01:21:15 MG 

Is that right? 


01:21:17 TG 

I mean, there was just so much divorce in that town, in general.


01:21:25 MG 

Oh, that factory was bad. 


01:21:27 TG 

Yeah, yeah well. 


01:21:29 MG 

It really was. They used to blame it on the factories. 


01:21:32 TG 

Well, that’s convenient. I mean, people were unhappy, or else they wouldn’t be looking outside of themselves to try to find happiness.


01:21:43 MG 

That’s right. That’s right. 

01:21:45 Speaker 3 


01:21:46 TG 

 So . . .


01:21:47 MG 

Are we about to run out of time? 


01:21:48 TG 

Hey, we can talk as long as you want. But, is there iss there anything you want to talk about, or anything you wanna say? What’s it been like for you to listen to this podcast? I know you listen. 


01:22:05 MG 

I enjoy listening to you talk to people. I especially enjoyed that one with John Snyder. And, since I can listen to it on this cell phone, I really appreciate that. 


01:22:19 TG 



01:22:19 MG 

You know, I don’t have to worry about turning off the computer, all that jazz. It’s nice . . . I do like hearing your voice. 


01:22:33 TG 

I like hearing your voice, too . . .  Well, you know Mom, how do you overstate the fact that you raised such a huge family, your life has been in service to other people, really. That’s the truth. Whether you see it that way or not, that’s the truth. 


01:22:55 MG 

Well, thank you. That was my pleasure. You know, that was, I loved that part of my life and I still, I still love my family. That’s the most important thing in my life. Like I said, my faith and my family.


01:23:12 TG 

And, how many grandkids do you have, mom? 


01:23:16 MG 

Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s 15 or 16. 


01:23:18 TG 

And, then, a bunch of great grandchildren. 


01:23:20 MG 

I have to keep counting. Then, I’ve got some great, great, grandkids that I haven’t even seen yet. Yeah, and I mean . . . Well, I guess Ann came over. When she came over today, she told me that she and Carly wanna come over Friday, or Monday morning, for an hour or so and I get to see . . . I haven’t met Asher yet, except through the screen door. 


01:23:45 TG 

And now that you’ve been immunized, right? 


01:23:49 MG 

Yeah. I’ve been immunized for a month, now. Carlyis getting ready to go back to Washington now. She’s gonna have to go back to work. Maybe come back later. But, that’s just how it goes. 


01:24:08 TG 

All right, so the last question I ask everybody . . . If you had to look back, at another time in your life, the younger MG, if there was a time when she needed a pep talk, or some advice, when would that have been, and what would you say? 


01:24:29 MG 

Well, I would say that, when you get to a certain age, you have to make your decisions for yourself. You can’t let other people influence you, and you shouldn’t. I don’t know. I learned that pretty well, when I was about 30 years old. I was still listening to what my dad told me to do, and it did not work. 


01:24:53 TG 



01:24:54 MG 

I didn’t work at all. So, finally, I went to confession one day and said, “I don’t do what my mom and dad tell me anymore.” He said, “how old are you?” And, then I realized, that, then, what I was doing was not-


01:25:11 TG 

Yeah, you’re beating yourself up for it. 


01:25:12 MG 

I was a woman, with children. 


01:25:15 TG 



01:25:17 MG 

But they were so strong. They were so strong. 


01:25:21 TG 

It took me a long time to learn that. And, part of the reason I do this podcast is to encourage people to do just that. To listen to yourself. Because, God gives us what we need. 


01:25:37 MG 

I know. Anything. 


01:25:38 TG 

So many people who I see just kind of coast through life, making decisions based on what they think is expected of them, or their parents think they should do.


01:25:51 MG 

I know. I know. 


01:25:52 TG 

And. then they’re not happy.


01:25:55 MG 

You know, that’s why I say, Father Breitenbach listened. He was a big part of our life, and your dad loved him to death. As long as he was alive, we got along fine. If he had any problems about anything, he’d just go talk to him, and he’d just be so happy. 


01:26:13 TG 



01:26:14 MG 

But, my dad actually went over and told him forbid him to marry us. He said “what are you talking about? “ He said “they’re all right to get married.” You know. He said “they’re gonna be fine. They’ve been dating too long now.”


01:26:31 MG 

And, dad tried to forbid him to do it. He said “well, I’m gonna marry them. Don’t worry about it. It’ll be alright.”


01:26:40 TG 



01:26:41 MG 

So, I told him. I said, “well, he says he’s not gonna come.” He says, “oh, don’t worry about it. He’ll be there.” He did come, but he was very unhappy. Well, you know I, I was sorry it had to be that way. There was no other way, Tom.


01:27:00 TG 

Yeah, well, I’m glad you did. I’m glad you did. 


01:27:03 MG 

I’m glad I did, too . . .   I just wanted to, well, I love you, honey. 


01:27:08 TG 

I love you, too.


01:27:09 MG 

With all my heart. 


01:27:13 TG 

And, you know, you’ve always said that to me. I grew up in a home where we always said I love you. We always hugged and kissed. I know so many people who don’t get to have that, and it’s so hard for them to say it. That is a huge gift that you’ve given me. And you know, Mom, I just- 


01:27:36 MG 

Well, thank you. My folks were very loving. I mean, they’d get mad at you, not speak to you until a couple months later, or something. 


01:27:46 TG 

Yeah, well, that’s a little overboard. 


01:27:49 MG 

No, it’s not. It’s the truth. 


01:27:51 TG 

Well, I don’t mean it’s not true. I mean, it’s probably not the best way to do things, but we learn. We learn. 


01:27:55 MG 

No it isn’t. 


01:27:58 TG 

But, you know, I just don’t know if you really understand how much I value you as my mom. I feel like-


01:28:08 MG 

Well, I’m grateful.


01:28:09 TG 

You know, you’re so smart, and the spirit you have, and the joy you have in life, and I feel like I can talk to you about anything. I feel like probably I got my brains . . . I hope I got your brains. I always felt like all of us, the whole family, I’ve always felt like we’re all really smart people. 


01:28:36 MG 

I think so, too. And, your dad was pretty smart, too. 


01:28:37 TG 

But, just the fact that growing up, where we talked about current events and, you know, you and I now still can talk about history, or current events, or just about anything. I think there are just so many families who either they just don’t get caught up in that stuff. I don’t know, I just feel like there’s so many things about you that have influenced how I am. 


01:29:04 MG 

I don’t know what it is. 


01:29:14 TG 

Listening to music and just so many things. The way you love sports, some of the best memories I have is watching the Cubs with you guys, just because we were together. Or,watching Indiana basketball.


01:29:29 MG 

Yeah, and some of our happiest years was going down to that ballpark, when you boys were all playing.


01:29:35 TG 

Yeah, well, they were still some of my happiest years, too.


01:29:35 MG 

Yeah, we loved that. 


01:29:43 TG 

Well, I love you Mom. 


01:29:46 MG 

I love you too, honey. 


01:29:47 TG 

Thank you for doing this. 


01:29:48 MG 

I’m so proud . . . You’re welcome. 


(fade out)


01:30:11 TG 

All right, there you go. Martha Gentry. I know that was pretty heavy conversation. But, you know, life’s heavy sometimes. It’s reality. So, I really don’t know that that could have gone any better than it did. It really means a lot to me that my mom was willing to do that, and, I’m grateful to her for doing it. 

So the next episode, is going to feature the author, Karen Casey, who I’ve known for many, many years. I sort of factored it into this idea of having my mom on, because we had a pretty meaningful interaction, years ago, Karen and I, which is related to my mom. She inscribed a book that I bought for my mom and I asked her to sign it for her. She was very gracious and sweet about it. But, she’s published many, many books. Another incredible woman. So, that’ll be great. Looking forward to having her. 

So, if you enjoyed this, please share it with somebody. I try to make it really easy to do that on the website thepathtoauthenticity com. 

Anyway, people seemed to be kind of clamoring for this episode with my mom. Everyone I talked to about it seemed really excited to hear it, which was touching to me. And, I’m not sure she really believed that, but it’s very much true. 

So, thank you for listening to the show. Thank you for listening to this episode. Thank you to my mom and my family for everything they’ve done for me. 

I hope you guys have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Be Nice.