After 11 1/2 years of marriage, we divorced in 1976 and I have been happily divorced ever since. I went back to college and graduated with an Associate in Business Administration.
Heather and I made a life for ourselves and she was the light of my life. My nickname for her was Sunshine and it fit her well. Then on October 26, 1994 Heather died in her sleep at 21 from unknown causes. She had been experiencing flu-like symptoms for a few days and had recently been hospitalized for asthma-type symptoms. The autopsy results were indefinite so we really don't know why she died. Thank God that I had my strong faith in Him to get me through every parents' nightmare.
I was surrounded by good friends and had a job that was something that I really loved doing---working with seniors. I was working with a great bunch of people in Belvidere and they were my family. I couldn't have made through Heather's death without them.
But my parents, Carl and Rosemary Axelson, were starting to have major health problems and so I made the decision to move back to Cairo to be available for them. I moved back in 1998 and found an apartment right across the street from them on 25th and Park Avenue.
I worked for awhile at Shawnee Development in Karnak, but finally had to quit when my dad started to lose ground with his health problems last year. Then Mom got ill and for awhile I had them both in the nursing home. Since then I have been taking care of them full time.
When I used to come home to Cairo, I was so depressed to see how run down it had become. I wanted to see it the way it was when I was growing up. It was such a great town in which to grow up. (I used to tell Heather that if I could wish one thing for her, it would be to give her my youth, my time of growing up in Cairo in the 50's and 60's.) And it is sad in some ways to be back in Cairo and see it daily while remembering the way it was when CHS was just down the street, Commercial and 8th Street were busy with shops and cars and pedestrians, and all my friends were here.
But perhaps what we need to do is look at the things that are stilI the same, the things that haven't changed about Cairo.
People are still friendly. The library is still a great place to visit and better than it was. Mack's is still here and you can still meet your friends there. Bar-b-que is still great and even though What-a-burger is gone, we still have something that is close to it at the Elks a few times a year. Magnolias still bloom and the Manor is still lovely. Now we have Riverlore, too. Washington Avenue is still one of the most lovely sights in the fall. And St. Mary's Park looks the same, but better with the Pavilion restored.
So I am glad to be back in Cairo, my home town. I have wonderful memories of my life here. We were lucky to have lived and grown up in the 50's and 60's and I think that we are very lucky to have the memories that we have of CHS.