though the years

May 29, 2008
By christopher kroll, Ellsworth, ME

In 1940, on April 12th, in Frankfort Germany. The day the Mother and Grandmother of all times was born. Monika Fritch, she was a only child, raise mostly by her Grandmother, her mother worked in a print shop binding books for writers like Adolf Hitler, not because she wanted to but because she had to.
Monika’s Grandmother named her after a song she heard, she didn’t have a middle name, she would say her family was to poor to give her a middle name. Monika told many stories to about her childhood, remembering back to age three and the American Soldiers, giving her fresh oranges and being nice to her, she had very little as a child and learned at very early age how to amuse her self, she told stories about when she would get candy for a holiday like a gummy bear, they were bigger than the ones we get now, and she would make cloths for her gummy bears with thread or yarn and a crochet hook. Monika was very talented like that.
In 1958 she was a young woman working at a bar and met her future husband William ”BILL” Cutchens a young southern man from Eufaula Alabama in the American Army on a short stay in Germany, they fell in love and married and started their life, in 1960 they had the first Billy named after his dad, number one of six of the children she would have and this is what started her life as a mother. In 1963 they had number 2 Patrick and moved to the united states, they took a big ship with all their belongings to the states, and Bill was stationed in Georgia at Ft. Benning. Ft. Benning wasn’t far from Bills home town so they lived in Eufaula near Bills family, there she learned to cook all of Bills favorite southern foods and she learned to fish, fishing became one of her favorite pass times it was special times she spent with Bill, her father in-law Ellis and her boys Billy and Patrick. And this is were she shared her German traditions with Bills family and friends. It was during this time that she began to get depressed, not sure of what it really was, it would come and go she would put it off. Telling her self it was that she missed her family and the things that were familiar to her. In 1965 she had child number three a little girl Virginia, she was born with a few health issues during this time her husband was in Vietnam doing his first of three tours. Monika was alone, with three kids in America, away from her family, learning to eat the foods and living a life she was not used to.
Monika spent her time away from Bill knitting and crocheting, sewing and fishing and raising her children. She kept herself busy. But was still feeling like she wasn’t right.
In 1967 Bill was sent back to Germany, and the family moved again, close to Monika’s family again in 1968 number four was born a boy named Daniel. At this point she was feeling more depressed, Monika loved every minute being a Mom she had a full life. But couldn’t get rid of the deep feelings she had, of course in 1968, Monika wasn’t sure, why she felt this way, did it have a name, did she just feel this way because of the moving , or that at times she missed her husband so much and felt overwhelmed raising her kids on and off alone?
Again in 1970 they moved to the states this time to Washington State, Ft. Lewis, Bill worked long hours and when they all had time together, they spent it well. She started to feel better, the feeling she couldn’t really describe had subsided.
One memory that sticks out in Virginia mind was her and her older brothers were fed, bathed and ready for bed, waiting for her Dad to come home so they could say good night and be tucked in to bed, her Mom waited to eat so she could eat with Virginias Dad, after the kids all went to bed, this time was different and that is probably why Virginia remembers it so well it was Christmas time and the TV was on the floor in her parents room so they could have a Christmas tree in the living room, (Christmas was one of Monika’s favorite holiday.) her Mom made a nice soft place on the floor with pillows and blankets for her and her brother to lay and watch TV on, the boys were laying on their tummies watching TV and Virginia was wandering around behind her Mom waiting for her Dad. It was late and dark out when her dad came home and it was snowing, when her dad came home he asked Virginias mom if he could take the kids out to play in the snow, she didn’t hesitate she said yes and Virginia and her two older brothers got their snow stuff on and went outside her little brother was sleeping, and her Mom came out too for a little while, she kept having to go in a keep a eye on her little brother Daniel, they all had a snow ball fight and built a really big snowman, her Mom was so happy, laughing and enjoying the moments, Virginia remember how she felt because her Mom was so truly happy this was a feeling that she would always remember and carry on into her own motherhood.

Bill and Monika decided to buy a house, in Tacoma, Washington not far from Ft. Lewis soon after that Bill went to Vietnam on his second tour leaving Monika again, to raise her four children alone. She took it in stride and besides her crafts she joined the PTA and became very involved and even became PTA president, Sold Tupperware and helped out with Boy Scouts, and made sure her children had a religious upbringing, and was involved in the church. During this time she had those feelings again, even with all her activities she just couldn’t shake it, she put on a good face for everyone around her. During this time Bill came home and returned again to Vietnam doing his third tour, Monika learned how to handle her kids without her husband she made wonderful friends with other military wife’s, active duty and retired, her kids and theirs spent time playing, camping ,fishing and hanging out it was a perfect place to raise your kids, everyone knew everyone else. Someone had a birthday party the whole neighborhood was there. This was good for her because her depression would come and go, and when she was down the families all worked together, to keep the kids busy and active, Monika did her share, taking all the kids to the roller rink, or out to a day at the beach, spending the whole night cooking southern fried chicken, potato salad and packing everything you could think of to feed and entertain her four plus two or three more for a day at the fishing derby.
In 1975 number five came along, Rebecca another girl, during this time Bill was stationed in Turkey, Monika told Bill she wanted to stay in Washington with kids she didn’t want to uproot them and she knew it would be hard for them and her, all in a foreign county, so they decided Bill would go to Turkey and she and the kids would stay. Monika knew this was going to be hard on her and the kids but as a family they could do it, and she was right it was very hard with her deep depressed feelings coming and going plus two young teen aged boys coming into their own being rebellious and doing what two teens would do given the fact they didn’t have their dad around all the time to have to answer to, Bill came home as often as he could during his year in Turkey, but that wasn’t often enough, for the family.
In 1976 Bill returned and they all Moved again, this time to FT. Ord, California and shortly after that in 1977 number six came along…..They named her Monika after her mother. Monika decided this was the last one considering they started with William “Billy“, named after his dad and they ended with Monika “Nikki“, after her Mom, Monika now had a 18 year old a senior in high school and new born and all ages in between. Her depression was at bay she was beginning to live again, her husband home, her six kids she had what she wanted, her life back. In every way she believed it should be.
They stayed on Ft. Ord for a few years then decided to buy a house in Marina California, Bill, and Pat were adults now and Billy working locally and Patrick joined the Marine corp. Monika was doing well too, her feelings were good she was happy, working at the youngest children’s school as a volunteer, still doing her crafts and enjoying life.
Bill retired from the Army in 1980, and took a job over seas in Saudi Arabia, good money. Monika knew it would be ok for her and the kids, and again she let Bill go. Then in 1982 Patrick a young man married and eager to start his family announced to her she was going to be a Grandmother, Monika’s youngest just starting kindergarten, A grandmother and she hasn’t finished and raised all her kids yet, this was hard for her, Patrick and his family lived in Connecticut and her in California. Now her son Billy #1 wasn’t doing well, he moved out had his own life and during this time drugs and alcohol entered his life. It was bad he had gotten so sick he could have died, but Monika wasn’t going to let that happen, she stayed on the floor next to his bed caring for him for two weeks bring him back to health, she cared for the rest of the family as well, she didn’t leave his side, she knew she wasn’t going let this take him. It didn’t, she saved him in more ways then one. She decided she didn’t want to live in California any more, she didn’t want the kind of life style Billy got caught in for the rest of her kids and she felt if she stayed that’s what might happen. So she decided she wanted to be on east coast, also to be a bit closer to Pat and his family. She went on a trip to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine looking for the perfect house and area to raise her kids, so they would make friends, life long friends, she couldn’t do that for Billy, Pat and Virginia, but she knew she could for the last three. She missed having four seasons as well, and snow at Christmas. Her depression was all but gone she was feeling great, this is what she wanted. So Maine was the last stop, she found the perfect house, on Verona Island, she fell in love with the town across the bridge, Bucksport a quaint little town on the water, she fell in love. She knew this was exactly what she wanted, So when her oldest daughter graduated from high school in 1983, she moved again, this would be the last place she was going to move to, her and Bills retirement home, a place to finish raising her kids.
Bills contract was up with the company he worked for so he also moved to Maine with Monika, Billy, Virginia, Daniel and Rebecca and Nikki, and all the family pets. During this time Patrick and his family moved to California, because Pat was stationed at a base in Irvine, Isn’t life ironic?
Monika was feeling good, she was happy with the choice she made, her emotions were under control, she just knew what ever that had been coming and going in her life making her feel so bad was finally gone.
After the first winter in Maine, Bill decided they all couldn’t just live on his retirement pay, so again he was gone, this time to Egypt. He made very good money, but it left Monika alone again to raise her children, she was great, except for she missed her husband, she again filled her time with her crafts and getting involved in the kids schools and making friends she made friends every where she went anyone that had ever met her loved her she was that kinda lady, she was German, had a accent, and was a funny woman who loved to talk, drink coffee and share stories about her life and her children.
In 1985 Billy joined the Coast Guard and he and his wife move to Massachusetts with their son.
Monika had shaken those nasty old feelings for a few years now, In 1986 number four graduates and he also joins the military, Now at home are her young girls and the oldest daughter. Not much later Virginia moves out, not far away, but she has left the nest. All her older kids are gone.
Monika’s old feeling started coming back creeping in slowly, over the next few years she would begin to feel the worst she would ever feel, Then she went threw menopause, this was death to her, this meant that her body was saying you can no longer have babies, your done. She had not wanted anymore after Nikki, a choice she made her self, but now her body was telling her, your done, a grandmother of 4 a mother of 6, this was the end, and this is what as they say was the straw that broke the camels back, she went into a grave depression, this time, was so bad it took atoll on the two younger kids at home. Monika didn’t want to cook, clean or even get off the couch, that’s when she was down and when she was feeling good she would go shopping, eat meals out, forget to pay her bills, this really was the worst, she had had these deep feelings once before a bout sort of like this in Washington State, she treated that one differently, this one was bad, when she was down she was so low and when she was up she was outta this world, her young girls are in Jr. High, they don’t really understand what’s going on they just go with the flow, all the rest of her kids are grown and moved out, they all call and visit when they can, then in 1989 Virginia tells Monika I’m going to have a baby, unmarried on her own, this does something for Monika this is just what she needed a snap a spark a reason….to get some help.
Monika, visited Germany, once a year since 1982, during her visit to Germany after Virginia had her Son Christopher she saw a doctor, and he told her she was manic depressive and treated her with medication, she took her pills, she was better, she was stable she was Monika, she found a doctor Maine she felt comfortable with and began seeing her on regular basis, she was prescribed a different kind of medication for her depression, she was bi-polar now many, many years later it had a name, she wasn’t crazy, was the manic part of it brought on by situations like her husband having to leave all the time for his work, did her kids keep her in check because she fought these feelings for so long, we will never know. She wasn’t perfect, but she was close to it, this medication kept her at a even tone she still got down but not for days , weeks, months, with the feelings she would never feel good again and same for her ups, when she looked back on it she could see her ups and downs during the situation, she just knew she didn’t feel right, she came around, and became “MOM” again to her girls and Grammie to the new little man in her life, and her other grand children by 1994 Monika had 8 grand children 3 boys and 5 girls,
Monika knew she wanted to be a mother and a wife, her whole life and that was what she was, her six children loved her unconditionally as she loved them, Monika died in December, 2000 of ovarian cancer, Bill her husband of 40 years had just retired for good and had bought them a winter home in Alabama so they could relax and fish together, and look forward to their kids and grand kids visiting. Shortly after the death of Monika, Bill fought cancer himself, three short years later he died.
My name is Christopher, and this was my Grandmothers , and family story about depression, I guess thanks to medication and her willingness to seek help, I never got to see my Grammie in a bad way.
On TV now they tell you the signs of depression, they say tell your doctor. The feelings she had then in the 60s an70s if she had understood them more and wanted to talk to someone about it ,if you saw a “SHRINK” then you were “CRAZY” .If only they had adds in magazines or on TV in her earlier days, she wouldn’t have had to suffer for so long.
I believe she was the mother of all mothers to have suffered with depression, and at times deep depression to raise her kids basically alone, to raise six kids and all turned out to be upright citizens and wonderful parents. If she had lived longer than her short 60 years, she would be grandmother to 9 now and a great grandmother to 1, how proud she would be.

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