Made You Smile Back is pleased to recognize and honor Andrea Hyde of Vandalia, Missouri as the February 2019 Baby Boomer of the Month! She is a pure Midwesterner and shares her life journey what it was like growing up in rural Missouri. She wears 'many hats' and has accomplished many achievements along the way. Sit back, get a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy this pleasant conversation with a fellow baby boomer!
Growing up in a family of nine children certainly helped ‘mold’ me. Doing chores and helping in the field was what we did. Doing chores 'back in the day' didn't translate to 'big allowance or money'. We were raised that this was normal routine for becoming a responsible adult. We didn’t question it either. It was what we did.
I remember my older brother, Alan, saying, “you want to learn how to milk the cow? It’s fun, you can squirt milk at the calf, too.” Of course I said, “sure.” Next thing I knew, Alan and I would split the chore of milking the cow, daily.
On other fond occasions, here comes Alan again, “you want to come with me to feed the cows. We can have fun building forts in the hay loft.” Silly me. “That sounds fun, sure.” Next thing I knew, Alan and I would split this chore too feeding the cattle.
Later, after I became wiser, if he would ever ask, ”you want to learn or come with me….;” I then started saying, “NOOOO!”
We left the farm in, 1971 and moved to Shelbyville, Mo. A very small town, but it seemed like a city to me. I loved it! My mother was very strict, at least I thought so, Now, I know why. She wanted the best for all her 9 children. My mother’s mother was a huge influence on me. She taught me mostly how to cook.
Girl Scouts was also big. I earned enough 'badges' to go the World Girl Scout Headquarters in Cuarnavaca, Mexico. In reality, there were so many things I learned growing up - good and bad. They say 'it takes a tribe' and back in the day and even now, where I came from, you had many Aunts, Uncles, Cousins Grandparents, brothers, sisters and of course my parents. All of their influence went into 'molding me.'
Being one of 9 children was a struggle for attention, at the time. I knew my role and I’ve gained valuable experience from it, that I use today. As time went, I married and had 3 children in 22 months! Wow, am I following my mother’s footsteps of having lots of kids? I didn’t. Instead my focus became about the 3, beautiful children I’ve been blessed with.
Being divorced, raising three children was a challenge all in itself. Worrying about making ends meet, giving them all the attention, I could. Being a room mother, President of ‘Home and School’ for the Catholic School in Macon, Mo. You, could say I was an over-achiever. But, I thrived in being busy and focused. Time goes. On November 18, 1991, my brother, Alan was killed in a tragic car accident in Dallas, TX. That same day, I was having an emergency hysterectomy in Macon, MO.
I can’t even imagine the emotions my mom and dad went through. First, their oldest daughter needing emergency surgery. Then, during that, the call that their oldest son was killed. When, I woke up in the hospital room, my friend, Michelle was also my nurse. The first thing I said to her was, “I saw mom’s face, she looked so sad, tell her I’ll be okay.” Michelle, did not really reply back. Then, my old selfish me was back, no one was visiting me! I would say things like, “where’s mom?” “where’s dad?,” etc.
Then, three days later, my fiancée at the time, tells me my brother was killed. Oh no, all I could think of was that I had to get to Texas. Of course I wasn't allowed to travel.
Anyway, a couple of weeks later, my friend Michelle was with me and said, “I have to tell you something. Remember, when you said you saw your mom and to tell her, you’ll be okay?” “you never saw your mom, she left while you were in surgery.” I argued with her and was adamant saying, “I did too see her. Her face was right in my face, close.”
Talk about a spiritual connection. About a year later, I went through a major depression and went to treatment about 2 days before Alan’s birthday. I should also, say, not knowing what depression was, I started to drink to ‘feel better.’ Good thing, that was nipped in the bud. However, that leads me to a major turning point in my life which led to my current career. As time goes on, my children are on their own and I’m living in Hannibal, Mo, working at Hannibal Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center.
My youngest daughter, Myca, 19 years old has Kidney failure. that was a result of strep. She needed a kidney and I begged the doctors to let me give her mine. They refused, saying ‘because women, who have had childbirth, create some kind of antibodies that won’t allow them to donate.’ Now, my ‘baby’ is on dialysis, had to quit college and her job, watching her suffer (yet she put up a good front, trying to stay positive.) made me so, so fearful. One day, at one of her appointments, I was so angry (really scared, just looked like anger). In a raised voiced said, “I don’t understand why I can’t give her my kidney?!” Well, he gave in and said, “1 in 6 women do not create the antibody, we’ll run some tests.” 2 weeks later, results are in…I did not create the antibodies!!!
Sometime in spring, my mother (who was suffering from pancreatic cancer) calls me and says, “Hun, I’m so sorry I won’t be able to be with you and Myca, for the transplant.” A few weeks later, my mother dies. A few months later, my daughter gets my kidney.
About a month later, I married the most precious man, God Blessed me with. What, a year that was! I could go on and on, so many Blessings, miracles, challenges, and people, put in my journey, I would need a lot more time. My most recent miracle!!! My radiologist said, “we don’t have anything to aim at, we’re cutting a week off your radiation treatments and you’ll be done.” Thank You, Lord, 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments were taking a toll on me. I still did my best at praying, thinking positive and continuing to work.
I have God, my wonderful husband’s support, family and friend’s prayers to say, “Thank You,”too. Words can’t express how I really feel. I'm blessed to be alive and have all the life experiences it takes to get me where I am at today.
I held many positions throughout the years. They ranged from being a waitress, bartender, retail manager and I even had a stint working with a Chiropractor.
Ultimately, my path took me to Hannibal, MO. I was working at Hannibal Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center as the Assistant Fiscal Manager when that position was phasing out. I was told I was going to work in Detox and the Men’s Program. That was the ‘Launch off’ of my current career. Lots and lots of Training, College Education Units, and tests. I still, continue to continue my education so I can help others. For that past 20 years, I have been working in the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia, MO.
I also work for the Gateway Foundation, Inc. which is contracted for the Women’s Treatment Center. I work on the Co-Occurring Unit for women with mental health and substance use disorders as a Certified Reciprocal Alcohol Drug Counselor and a Corrections Criminal Justice Professional Things are always, changing and new information coming out, so I have and need to ‘stay on top of it.’
When my children were in school, I was President of ‘Home and School’ for the Catholic School in Macon, Mo. I also was involved in the Macon Community Down Town organization.
In Vandalia, Mo, I really enjoy the Historical Society. My favorite ‘job’ was decorating the window displays for the Vandalia Historical Society Museum. I am devoted to a Recovery program that has helped millions of men, women, and children, all over the world.
Currently, for the past 20 years, I’ve been blessed by the privilege of working in the Co-Occurring unit, in a women’s prison and love it!, I have been honored, to be elected the Vice-President of the Missouri Addiction Counselor Association, for the state of Missouri this current year. I have also been an officer for several years as well.
What I'm most proud of for one, is that I’m still alive and happy. That I was raised to believe in God, believe in Miracles and as my mother would say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Being healthy so I could give my daughter a kidney was huge. Growing up on a farm and learning good morals.
Three wonderful children and grandchildren. Saying yes, to the message God gave me to marry my husband. (I said, no, first.) So many things. Nothing happens by mistake. So, my whole life and career are exactly as it should be and I am where I am supposed to be. I continue to do my best in looking at the positive, being open-minded and remaining grateful.
I have the most amazing children. Mark, Marta and Myca. I’m divorced from their father, Carl McEwen, a good man, we just married, too young. I have three awesome grandchildren, Hayden, Allison and Evelyn. A fantastic Godchild, Sarah and our, sweet, ‘adopted’ granddaughter, Annabelle. Currently, I have been married for almost 22 years, to the most wonderful man, Clay Hyde. He is so wise, funny, compassionate and he spoils me. Clay, is a Blessing from God, no doubt about it!
Trust God. Be humble. Look for the positive. Learn cursive. Read. Get off that cell phone and “Don’t Give Up 5 Minutes Before the Miracle!’
In closing, as I say to everyone, “Make It Sparkle!.”
Give your congratulations in the comments below to Andrea Hyde, our Baby Boomer of the Month for February 2019!