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I had lived with a neighbor the summer before my senior year.

I discovered, because of changing schools so many times during

high school; I did not have enough credits to graduate from

Sandia High School in Albuquerque.

As you probably read, Mom and Deryl moved to Grants, New Mexico, because I had enough credits to graduate there.

When I left, our neighbor said to my mother "Gloria, will never

graduate from high school. "

Thank God she was wrong. After attending 14 schools in 12 years...I did graduate.


Al was my way out. He was my future. The end of the school year was near..


          A week before the Junior-Senior Prom I received a letter

 from Al. The engagement was off. I couldn’t eat…I didn’t want to live.

          A friend arranged a double date for the prom.  I posed for the

 picture in my long, pink-laced formal.  I smiled but my heart was


           It was time for graduation. Mom and Deryl wouldn’t go to

 Baccalaureate so I didn’t attend either.

           I received a telegram…

          Congratulations on your graduation…Good Luck…Al

          Salt in a wound.
It had been one of the hardest years of my life, but I had a high

 school diploma.  I didn’t know it was just the beginning of hard

 times and wrong decisions.

I felt so lost....


                                                              Gloria Phifer

My husband recently asked me when I was going to continue writing "Footprints of my life."

I have taken a little sabbatical. It will take courage to share the things to come.

I will share my story because it gives God glory for the way He delivers and saves.

My courage is coming...



Darins funeral. Left to right...Aunt Virginia, Aunt April, Grandma, Aunt Ruby, My Mom, Don's wife.

               “No!” Mom screamed into the phone. 

  “Darin shot himself!”

          Uncle Darin, Mom’s brother was visiting Cy (Aunt Vivian’s X-husband) in Magdalena. He had been drinking. He placed the barrel of his handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.


          The one level, adobe motel on Central Ave in Albuquerque was full of our relatives. Darin’s funeral and burial was the following day.

          Al drove up to our motel room in his white Impala.

          “Mom, Al and I are going to get something to eat”

          She glared at me but allowed me to leave.

          When I returned she was furious.

          “I should take you to that funeral home and lock you up in that room with Darin!” she fumed.

          Once again I made a vow to myself, “as soon as I am able I’m leaving!”

          After the funeral, pictures were taken of Grandma and her daughters and oldest son, Don. Grandma had lost her son, and Mom and her siblings had lost their youngest brother.

          Mom and Aunt Ruby were convinced that someone had murdered Darin. They couldn’t accept “suicide”. They consulted Aunt Ruby’s Ouija board. A board of deception can give you nothing but fear. Mom was beside herself. We returned to Grants in hopelessness and chaos.

          Mom and Deryl were yelling in the kitchen. The drinking had begun again. From the living room I saw Mom flip the light off and hit Deryl with a bottle. They fought on the kitchen floor.

          Mom was nagging me constantly.  Nothing was up to her specifications. Nothing I did pleased her.

          One night she was arguing with me about Al. I sat on my bed in tears. She took my wrist and checked my pulse. She laughed about how fast it was beating.

          Al was my way out. He was my future. The end of the school year was near..*******

          (After writing this I have thought a lot about my mother and Darin. They were both hurting people. I feel sad for Uncle Darin and the pain he must have been trying to cover up with the alcohol.  There are many "if only's" in life. If only we had been a family of prayer. I do trust my Heavenly Father, He is full of mercy. He sees the hurts and pains of all people and He has compassion.)





          A few weeks later Al came to Grants. He told me he had been having a hard time.  Of course I forgave him.  We took up where we left off.  He drove us back to Albuquerque where I picked out an engagement and wedding ring.  Al put them on lay away.

          “We’ll get married next summer as soon as you graduate.” Al said.

          Grants was 70 miles from Albuquerque.
          Route 66 passed through the long main street of Grants.  Uranium mines and mills were the town’s main income.

          A small three-bedroom house was rented and Bronco and I began school. I was the youngest in the 1961 senior class. I made many friends and had opportunities to date, and socialize but I was “engaged.”

          Life was good at first. But as the year continued Mom was moody. Something was bothering her. There were mornings when she fixed breakfast for Bronco and I.  But some days she didn’t want to get out of bed.   She confided to me that she had tried to over doze on pills but it hadn’t worked.

          I didn’t have a car so my friend Louise picked me up for school every morning. Her parents owned the jewelry store in Grants.   
          Later in the year, one of our friends from our class, died in a car wreck.  As I attended the funeral with other classmates I once again was faced with death.

         The age-old question resonated in my mind …why was I here?

          Mom and Al were having a silent war. They couldn’t stand each other.

          “The sooner you get away from your mother the better,” Al said.

          One weekend I was invited to go to Albuquerque with a friend and her mother.  My objective was to see Al.

          “No, you are not going to Albuquerque!” Mom said adamantly.

          I spent my senior year angry and frustrated with my mother. 
          Mom was angry with all of us. There was no way of pleasing her.  Because I was "engaged" I spent most of my time at home, so I was with her a lot. 
          When I folded the towels, she said they should have been folded a different way. No matter how I did them it was never right. 
           The house had wood floors. She went on a rant that they had to be polished with wax. If they weren't just right we were all in trouble.  

It was like walking on a tight rope. 

(As a young adult, I thought it as my fault that I couldn't please her. But, now I know she was desperately unhappy.)



                                Moving to a Grants to graduate...1960


Albuquerque was left below in the valley, as the “57 Chrysler drove west up the nine mile hill.  Red rock formations stood majestically in the desert, as Route 66 wound its way to Grants, New Mexico.

I was on my way to Grants to graduate from high school but I was with Mom, Bronco and Deryl.  When Mom received my letter Deryl quit his job in Dulce and they came for me in Albuquerque.

Dottie had not been happy when I left. Her parting words to Mom were, "Wanda, Gloria will never graduate from High School"

“There’s a sight for sore eyes,” Deryl said as we approached some road construction. The Chrysler parked on the side of the highway, and Deryl walked over to the heavy equipment. He was smiling when he returned to the car.

          “I start work Monday morning.”
          I was touched that Deryl and Mom cared enough about my graduating that they would move to Grants.
             (I knew they loved me in their own ways. And I loved them no matter what happened.) 


          Deryl is coming after us. He’s working on a road job in Dulce, New Mexico," Mom said with a huge smile, as she hung up the phone.
          “Mom, I don’t want to leave Albuquerque. I don’t want to leave Al!”
          She wasn’t listening to me. She was into her own plans.
          We’ll get married!” Al announced 
          Knots and butterflies alternated in my stomach as we sat before Mom in the apartment living room.
          “Wanda, I’m asking permission to marry Gloria. I know she’s only sixteen, but I promise she will finish school and get her high school diploma.”
          Mom’s face was a mask. But I could tell from her eyes, she was not happy with the proposal.
          “I’ll think about it!” she said crisply
          Mom’s answer to me the next day was, “NO!”
          “But Mom,” I negotiated, “don’t you understand how I feel? You will be with Deryl because that is what you want? You always get what you want.  I want to be with Al.”

 (This was the first time I really stood up to my mother.)
          I couldn’t believe my ears…
          “You can get married but you have to finish high school.”
                    “OK!” I was overjoyed. “If I find a place to live can I stay in Albuquerque until the wedding?”
          The answer was “yes!”
          Mom began packing. She was happy. Deryl was coming to her rescue again.
          I phoned Dottie, a former neighbor who lived in Princess Jean Park. I had cleaned her house when we lived in the neighborhood.
          Mom and Bronco left Albuquerque with Deryl. I moved into Dottie and Don’s home. I helped Dottie with her house and four children.

          As the weeks passed I saw less of Al. I wasn’t sure what was going on.  I was beginning to feel uneasy.
One night on the phone he informed me that his father had put him in a bind financially. He never did fully explain everything.

 Al became increasingly distant. After some denial on my part, I realized it was over, we were not getting married.

 My heart was heavy. I couldn’t sleep and I wasn’t interested in eating. Dottie was worried about me.
          “Gloria, you can stay with us. You can attend Sandia High this fall.”
          When I checked on enrollment at Sandia, I was in for a surprise. I was lacking credits because of our many moves.
Dottie’s mother and sister Mary Lou visited that weekend. 

Mary Lou was one year younger then me. We had become good friends.
 When Dottie’s mother saw my predicament she made a wonderful offer:
          “Gloria, come to Grants, you can live with us. You will have enough credits to graduate from Grants High,”
          Dottie was frowning at her mother’s suggestion. She didn't want me to leave.

          “Thank you for inviting me, but I can’t move to Grants with out asking my mother.”

             Mom and Deryl didn't have a phone, so I wrote her a letter and waited.


 “Gloria, we’re moving back to Albuquerque.”

          Mom and Ed had reconciled and we were leaving Farmington.  I had mixed emotions.  I hated having Ed back in our lives but I looked forward to spending more time with Al.

          The 3-bedroom, adobe apartment was located in the SE Heights of Albuquerque.  One of Mom’s friends, from the beauty school in Farmington, moved with us. Marty was in her late twenties, red headed, with large blue eyes She wore the latest craze “blue mascara”. We shared a bedroom. In spite of our age difference we became good friends and I began confiding in Marty.

           It was the summer before my senior year. I was sixteen years old. I thought I would be finishing high school at Sandia High School after all..... Little did I know.

          Al would pick me up at the apartment every evening.  I was becoming more and more dependent on him. 
            Mom was on me constantly. I was very unhappy.

          The summer afternoon sun shone through the open door.   Marty and I sat at the small kitchen table. 

          “Marty, I just want to get away from home, I can’t take it anymore.”

          “I can see how it is for you, but Gloria don’t do anything foolish.”

           “What would be foolish?”

“I want you to…” Marty’s voice trailed off as she glanced at the door.

          I turned in my seat. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.  Mom was glaring at us through the screen door.

          It was never the same between Mom and Marty. Mom thought she was interfering. It wasn’t long before Marty left. I missed her.

Ed was gone!  I never knew why he left or even when he left. He just wasn’t there anymore! 

My joy soon turned to panic.



          Al’s white impala followed the winding highway across the New Mexico border to Durango, Colorado. We were on our way to a rodeo. 

        Al had asked Mom to join us.  She rode silently in the back seat.  Al and I had a good time but Mom was moody all day. I knew she was fuming. She did not like the back seat and Al was giving me all the attention.

          I had been surprised when Al called and invited me to the Rodeo. It was a long drive from Albuquerque to Farmington and then another drive to Durango. I could tell he wanted to see me. He had invited Mom so she could get to know him.

          We dropped Mom off at home when we got back to Farmington.  Al took me out for supper before he headed back to Albuquerque.  He confided in me about his father and the alcohol.  I understood.  Al and I had a familiarity…we were both children of alcoholics.