In February 1986, because Misty was angry with her mother and didn't want to live there, and because Cheri wouldn't let Misty live at her place anymore, Misty moved in with us. We made it clear this was only on condition she straighten up and go to school. We did our best to help her. We first tried enrolling her in the Catholic high school her best friend was attending. We took her for an entrance exam, but she didn't pass.
"I'm sorry," the administrator told us, "we'd like to take her but her comprehension scores are way below our requirements. We simply don't have the necessary facilities to help her. I'd advise you to take her for testing."
At the Community College, Misty tested at the third grade reading level.
"Take her home and encourage her to read as much as possible. There are also some reading programs that you could enroll her in. They do cost a little, but if you can afford it..."
Running out of options, we enrolled her in an alternative school down on Lincoln Avenue. I encouraged her, told her she was beautiful and surprised her with a rose on her dresser for her 16th birthday. I took her portrait to a modeling agency. Louise Nelson saw the portrait and told me she thought Misty was very photogenic.
But living with Misty wasn't easy. She wouldn't do anything she didn't feel like doing. The only time she would do the dishes without a fight was on my payday.
On Halloween I took Joy and Andrew with me to a party at the Crisis Nursery. I'd sewed Joy a "Strawberry Shortcake" costume. Andrew I made into Mickey Mouse. I found a ruffled slip for Joy and black tights for Andrew at the nursery. I was able to get all kinds of accessories for children at the Crisis Nursery, from clothing to diapers to baby bottle nipples. Some of it was given to me, some of it I stole. Funny how upset I was with Misty's thieving but thought nothing of my own.
Stealing from the Crisis Nursery at night wasn't hard. I worked with only one other person and all I had to do was wait for that person to fall asleep. Then during my normal duty of restocking from the basement, I would take extras out the side door to my car. Some of it I stored for my own use, other stuff I took up north and gave it to Dale and Tammy for their three kids.
The small one bedroom tract house they now lived in was part of a quadroplex originally built to house an elderly person. Not being high on the list of tribal government cronies, this apartment had been given to Dale's family until another home opened up.
The house was usually littered with clothing and thick with cigarette smoke. They never had much food, and the kids slept on the floor wrapped in dirty blankets. I brought them toothpaste and toothbrushes from the nursery every time I came, and then usually went out and bought other little things they needed such as toilet paper. Sometimes I'd help Tammy take the blankets and stuffed toys down to the launder-mat. At night, I curled up with the kids on the floor and slept.
While sitting on the hood of the car outside Dale's house one afternoon, Lila told me she would die soon and had already chosen her casket.
"There is no reason to live," she said while looking at the ground.
"What about your two kids?" I asked.
"No one needs me."
Back home, Roland called the alternative school. Misty had been going a month or so now and we wanted to see how she was doing.
"She hasn't been here."
"What do you mean? We drop her off every day!"
"She hides behind the door until you leave and then takes off."
After a particularly bad day with Misty, I urged Roland to go on a drive with me. As we went around a lake, I told him I could not marry him if I could not start saying no to his family. He wanted to get married, I guess, because he told me then that I could start standing up for myself.