S: Seasons of Change
FC: TimeLine Project By Dionne Harper
1: Kenneth R Perry Born April 9, 1933 Washington Township, PA
2: My father was born in April and his father was killed in a coal mining accident in July of the same year. His mother remarried when my father was about 4. By the time he was 11, he began getting in trouble. He started smoking, skipping school and running around with the wrong crowd. By the time my father was 16; he had dropped out of school and was still getting into trouble, so his mother sent him to live with his uncle in Ohio, with the hopes that he could straighten him out.
3: His uncle got him a job. My dad had a very good work ethic and was not afraid to work hard. By the age of 17, he wanted something new, so he drove to Pittsburgh, PA on his own, with a forged birth certificate in hand and enlisted in the Air Force. He left that night for New York, NY for boot camp. After 6 years in the military, the military offered non-commissioned officers the ability to be honorably discharged. That was the end of his military career. By 1953, he was living in Napa, CA and he had met my mother and was engaged. My grandmother convinced him that in order to make something of himself, he needed to get his high school diploma. After he received his high school diploma, he went to night school and received his degree from Cornell University. In 1958, he was 25, had 3 children and was moving up the corporate ladder in one of the biggest grocery chains in CA.
4: By age 35, he had 4 children and was living a middle class life. By age 40, he was the marketing director for one of the biggest grocery chains in CA. He had 126 employees and was managing the largest store in CA. However, by age 43, he was very overweight, smoked 3 packs a day, had a horrible diet, and lots of stress. This lifestyle caused him to have a heart attack in the store room of his store. He ended up having another mild heart attack several months later. The 2nd heart attack caused a need for bypass surgery. In 1976, bypass was relatively new. He ended up having 1 successful bypass, but was dead on the table for 62 seconds. At age 44, he was permanently disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits.
5: In 1980, we moved to Oklahoma leaving my 3 adult brothers in CA. During this time, he volunteered, taught stain glass classes and did wood working projects. In 1994, at the age of 61, he had a second bypass surgery. This time, with the advances in science, they were able to perform a triple bypass. In March of 2000, 2 months after my mother retired, he surprised her with a new car. They took it on a quick drive to Shawnee. They were changing drivers when my mother was struck by a car and killed almost instantly. In an instant, their plans for travel and excitement were gone. Having witnessed the accident, he suffered post traumatic stress and anxiety. This was the first time in his entire life that he was alone and it terrified him. It was a very dark time in his life and any time he would close his eyes, he would see and hear the accident.
6: In 2007, 2 of my brothers moved to OK from CA. My father moved into a guest quarters in my middle brothers home. This gave my dad a lot of peace. He was no longer alone at night and had someone there if he were to have any health issues. I asked him about how he deals with his health. He said he honestly doesn’t think about it now. At 79, he’s at peace with his life and what the world holds for him. I asked how he dealt with it in the beginning and he said his only concern was what would happen to the family if something happened to him. I also asked what he thinks of getting older and losing your looks. He said of course he wishes he didn’t have wrinkles and sagging skin, but it's a part of life and everyone will experience it eventually if you’re lucky enough. To what the future might hold he said he doesn’t know. Just that he hopes he can spend as much time on earth as possible and have good enough health to do the things he feels like doing.
7: The End