One More Last Chance
Post by Dawn Anita Plumlee
This post is one of several in the “Inspirational” category. It is about hope, it is also a love story and it’s about the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Best of all, it is true, every word of it. I can vouch for its veracity because I know the author very well.
Bob’s Newheart blogs was launched over seven years ago to help support and motivate critically ill people, their families, caregivers and friends. Many if not most of our posts speak directly to medical and health issues. A good many focus on organ donation/transplantation issues because my 2007 heart transplant is what motivated me to start writing this blog. Today’s entry, while not about medical issues or transplants in particular is true to our original intent because it deals with motivation and inspiration.
Dawn Anita (Diffie) Plumlee is my wife Robin’s (Diffie) cousin. She is a remarkable woman with a “Can do,” upbeat attitude. Dawn Anita and her husband Jerry are special people. They have overcome incredible odds to get where they are today. Many who might experience setbacks or reversals in life are bitter and resentful. Not so with these two. I know them well and we talk often. They endured incredible life hardships but viewed them as learning experiences and never looked back other than to use their knowledge to help others.
Bob’s Newheart gets a lot of requests for “inspirational posts,” for blogs that give hope to those who feel they have none. I often get notes from people who feel hope is lost, that they cannot recover from whatever hardships have befallen them. I know about Dawn Anita’s journey, having heard some of it from her and the rest from reading her Amazon book, “One More Last Chance,” and cannot think of a story more likely to inspire and to give hope. It is in that spirit that we present it today.
I should point out that she did not write this posting to sell books. That’s not Dawn Anita. Rather, she wrote it because I asked her to submit part of her story so I could include it in the “Inspirational” category of my blogs. While Dawn Anita would not use this forum to promote her book, I can. It’s a darn good read. If you like what you read here you can get more under the same title at Amazon.com.
One more note. Dawn Anita’s sister is Priscilla Diffie-Couch, another of our guest bloggers here on Bob’s Newheart.
By: Dawn Anita Plumlee
If we live long enough, all of us will face hardship in our lives, i.e. finances, death of a loved one, illness. It is up to us to decide how we handle life’s challenges. As I see it, there are two choices. Give up or have the grit and determination it takes to tackle life’s dilemmas. There is always a way if you choose to seek one more last chance. I came to this realization while writing my memoirs which bear the same title. Reaching back into my past was definitely a challenge and not one I was sure I could achieve. Recalling events in my life led me to a better understanding of myself and the way I handled adversity and the many second chances I had.
I was a naïve 16-year old country girl from Oklahoma when I decided to run away to marry my sweetheart Jerry Plumlee.
I met my first challenge on the 5-day bus trip from Oklahoma to Seattle when I divulged my story about running away to a young military man who boarded the bus late one night. He saw what he thought was an opportunity to take advantage of a young, innocent country girl, only to be met with a right hook to the jaw which landed him in the aisle of the bus.
That incident, along with the very charming man with a smooth easy way of talking who convinced me that he had my best interests at heart when he asked me to come to his apartment in LA during an eight-hour layover, didn’t deter my faith in people. I could have chosen to give up and terminate my journey, but I still held on to the hope that life would be rosy once I reached my destination.
Learning to survive in a mouse infested, run-down shack with stinging scorpions so thick that several were trapped in our bathtub and in the glasses and bowls each morning with wasps swarming the house all day and copper heads under the front porch was indeed a challenge. We survived on 50 cent watermelons for several days because the $80.00 my husband earned didn’t stretch to the end of the month. The real revelation is that when I remember this time in our lives, I remember it as a great experience, and I realize that these events helped us become better equipped to face other dilemmas in life. The ironic thing is, you can survive one dilemma only to find yourself entrapped in another one just as bad or worse.
Traveling from Oklahoma to Idaho in an old pickup that rocked and rolled down the road pulling an enclosed U-haul trailer with 3 horses inside and trying to calm a two-week old baby was definitely an adventure I will never forget. Having to overcome the fear of an empty gas tank in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, knowing you have no milk for your baby was indeed a challenge, unaware at the time that this was merely one mishap in a long line of difficulties on the same trip. A flat tire with no spare, having to unload a horse to take the tire to be repaired, not knowing how far it may be and later to have the u-joint on the pickup break in the middle of a treacherous road on a dark and dreary night definitely can test ones character
Relieved that our resourceful brother-in-law came to our rescue and repaired the u-joint, we could not know that just a short time later, we would literally “run into” another dilemma; our brother-in-law hit a cow and smashed in the radiator on the truck. Still, we were not defeated. Our brother-in-law pulled our pickup, horse trailer, horses and all with his car over 100 miles to our destination. This was an unbelievable feat in itself. Arriving at our destination In Idaho, we did not find the paradise we were hoping for. Turmoil filled the household with too many families living under one roof.
Moving out in the middle of the night, we found ourselves stranded in a park in Coeur d-Alene with no money, food or shelter. Leaving me alone in the park with our baby, Jerry assured me that he could enroll in college, get a student loan and find a place for us to live. As I watched Jerry leave, an empty feeling washed over me. My baby is hungry; I have no milk for him and no money to buy any. Then suddenly a thought struck me; I can trade the empty pop bottles lying around in the park for some milk for my baby. I walked into a little store nearby with my baby and the empty bottles in hand, and with a touching display of generosity, the clerk gave me some milk for the bottles.
Thankful but still distraught, it seemed an eternity before Jerry returned and he had indeed accomplished his mission. He enrolled in college, obtained a $200.00 loan and found a place to live where we could keep our horses. Once again, perseverance and determination paid off. Life was good in Idaho with a few bumps along the way. I had a beautiful baby girl, Jerry was in college and I went to work for a flower shop, but Oklahoma was calling us.
It was a struggle when we moved back to Oklahoma, but we eventually found our way. Jerry went to work on the ranch where my dad was the foreman. I went to work for an attorney, and although I loved my job, I had an ever-burning desire to become a country singer. I joined a local band and sang almost every weekend. Many opportunities presented themselves in the music business. I let several chances slip away which would have no doubt led to fame, the most significant of which was a contract with RCA Records. I wanted it so badly, but I couldn’t bear to leave my children and go on tour. I felt sure I could achieve my goal in music when the kids graduated. Little did I know that when we finally took the leap of faith and moved to Nashville, that Music City welcomes a 40-year-old female with a closed mind and a cold heart. I did have several regional hits, won several awards for my singing and songwriting, including “Female Vocalist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” at the Oklahoma Opry, but it seemed that my vision of becoming a country music star would be an elusive dream.
The years passed quickly; our lives were full with our jobs, family and music. Little did we know that life as we knew it was about to come to an end. The company who owned the ranch where Jerry had worked for ten years and Dad had worked for over twenty changed management and fired Dad and Jerry. We had to move out in thirty days. Shattered, we didn’t know how we would survive; where would we live, where would Jerry work. It was so sudden. This upset in our lives was devastating, but it could not begin to compare with the tragedy that would soon tear our lives apart. My mother was killed in a car wreck. Such a waste, a horrible, tragic loss. Mom was only 55. She was our strength; how could we go on without her? We were not prepared to handle a trauma of this magnitude.
Mom and Dad had a rare and beautiful relationship like no other.
He needed comfort, someone to lean on, and I was that person. Somehow I pulled myself together because I knew Dad needed me now more than ever. It was difficult for him to cope, and the everyday struggles of life without Mom were insurmountable. At times his actions were not those of the dad I had always known. A neighbor called one morning to report that Dad had spent the night in the pasture in a cow trough. I completely understood when he told me that sometimes he just couldn’t face that empty house. Dad eventually learned how to cope and make the pieces in life fit once again. Evidence that with just a little help and a strong will, you can recover and overcome the toughest of times.
Our life definitely took a sudden turn when Jerry went into the oil business and we decided to move to Dallas. Our world quickly crumbled around us when the oil business went south. We were sitting in a house that didn’t belong to us, obligated for furniture we didn’t need with a responsibility to pay a year’s lease on an office and office furniture. The most devastating part was not our loss, but Dad’s. He had invested a sizeable sum of money in the business and we had no way to recover his money.
We returned to our little ranch house in Oklahoma with sad hearts and empty pocketbooks only to discover that all of our worldly possessions had been stolen. Times like these can definitely test ones spirit. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so we decided to saddle our horses and embark on a journey from Oklahoma to Nashville with only a few dollars, a lot of guts, my old guitar and some cassette tapes with my music. Our goal was to make it to Nashville in time for me to sing at FanFair. We were definitely a sight to behold with all of the gear loaded onto our horses… saddles, saddle-bags, bed rolls, nose bags, horse feed, camping supplies, canteens and slickers. We could not begin to fathom what an adventure we were about to undertake. Our journey took 24 days and it rained 22 days. We had many close calls…a lightning storm, Jerry’s horse jumping out in traffic, close calls on slick bridges, but the memories of the wonderful friends we made along the way helped us forget the saddle sores, the danger and the aching bones.
Total strangers opened their hearts, their homes and their pocketbooks to help us on our journey. The healing rain during that long ride from the state we have always known as home to the city of country music had washed our spirits clean. I knew that there might never be one more last chance for fame and fortune in the tenuous trouble-strewn world of music, but I was certain there would be one more last chance for us to feel whole again.
It has now been 56 years since I first boarded that bus in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a naïve 16-year old country girl and 22 years since our horseback ride from Oklahoma to Nashville. It seems so long ago, and yet time has passed so quickly. There have been many twists and turns in the road on our journey up the hill, but we have persevered. We have 2 gorgeous children, 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Life is beautiful, but the road hasn’t always been smooth. I lost my dad and many other close friends and relatives.
We’ve had to overcome sickness and have had many personal struggles, but through it all, we have believed and held onto the hope that all will turn out well. As we stroll hand in hand down the other side of the hill, we feel confident that whatever happens, we will remain strong and resilient to the end.”
Another note from Bob Aronson
Dawn Anita’ s story is inspirational because of her spirit. She just refuses to lose faith and to give in to adversity. While she may not have become a huge country music star that’s Nashville’s loss. Go to her website http://www.freecountryrecords.com/ watch and listen to her perform and you’ll agree. She is the consummate performer, when she takes the stage and begins to sing, audiences are captivated. I am proud to call her “Cousin” and friend. Thank you Dawn Anita and Jerry, you are wonderful examples of the American Spirit.
Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s over 4,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs. You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at email@example.com. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.
Posted on October 7, 2014, in Inspiration and tagged adversity, baby, Dawn Anita Plumlee, dilemmas, hardships, horses, Jerry Plumlee, love, milk, Nashville, Oklahoma, overcome. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.