Nina’s Story

By Nina Odele.


I was born in 1957. It was in the days when good little children were seen and not heard. “Mother” would dress me up to greet her company for five minutes, then banish me to my room for the rest of the night. I thought that was perfectly normal until I got a bit older and realized that was the exception rather than the rule. It really wasn’t all Mother’s fault, though, as “Grandmother” raised her the same way — sort of. Actually, Mother was raised by nannies in Hollywood. Mother went to school with the likes of Shirley Temple and Judy Garland.

But I digress. Grandmother was from “Old School Atlanta”. She was a very proper “Southern Lady”. Grandmother’s family had a long-established history in the South. In her younger years, Grandmother was one of Mark Twain’s “Angel Fish”. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) also spoke at Grandmother’s graduation ceremony from prep school. I have that photo hanging in the hallway. My grandfather was an

author who later became a screenwriter. The “Family” relocated from Atlanta to Hollywood when “talkies” (movies with sound) were invented.Mother passed away on April 7th of this year. We had a turbulent relationship, but we were fine at the end. The last thing she ever said to me was, “You’re a good kid.” That was the closest thing to “I Love


You” I ever heard from her so that was just fine with me. Better than fine. All my life, whenever I told her “I Love You,” her patterned response was always, “I know.” She just wasn’t equipped to say the “L” word.

As a child growing up in Coronado, I was forced into culture at a very young age. I knew which fork to use before I even had teeth! I’m kidding, of course, but you get the point. I took a plethora of lessons: ballet, piano, cotillion, tennis, guitar, even organ (because we just happened to have one in our house.)

I was also subjected to numerous operas as a child. I was raised in an extremely strict Catholic household. When I was around 12 years old, Mother started joining all sorts of organizations. She was on the Coronado Hospital Board, USD Board, and countless other Catholic committees, too numerous to name. Mother was gone quite a lot which is when I started to rebel: typical teen antics, 70’s-style. I never did anything that anyone else wasn’t doing at the time, only I was the one who always seemed to get caught. It never failed. I was the worst liar ever. Still am, which in hindsight, I’m very happy about.

After high school, I was sent up to San Francisco for college. I’d never been north of Los Angeles. It was scary, yet very exciting. I was pre-med. I could easily handle the course load, but I had a boyfriend in San Diego who I missed terribly.

I dropped out of school after two semesters. I was promptly disowned. I somehow managed to fib my way into a job as a PBX (switch board) operator at Copley Newspapers in La Jolla. It was a good job and I liked it there but I was only 18. After about a year, I felt stuck in a rut so I went back to school. I majored in theater arts and that’s where I met my first husband.

I had absolutely no intention of getting married, but I got pregnant. So this Catholic girl had a shotgun wedding. My first daughter was born in November of 1978. I was 20 — two weeks short of 21. The marriage was a wash. It lasted two agonizing years.

I was a single mom for five years when I met my second husband. That romance was swift and very intense. We married in March of 1983 and my second daughter was born in November of 1984. Hubby No.Two was unfaithful, among other things, and we divorced in 1986. I found myself a single mom again, which was much better than being miserable. I went back to school, again, and decided to become an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Upon course completion, I got a job right away. Only problem was it was a graveyard shift and I had two kids. It was too much stress, so I quit. To this day, I’m glad I have all that field knowledge, as I’ve been first responder on many emergencies throughout the years. It’s very nice to know how to save a life.

The years passed by, and in 1991, I decided to move my “Girls” out to the country. We bought a small ranch in Ramona. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Sheriff’s Department. Life was good. We had horses, dogs, and even goats. Then I met my third daughter’s dad, and life took yet another turn. I got pregnant after three months of dating. I was 35 years old. I wanted my baby, but I didn’t want another marriage. I got one anyway.

My Mother the Model, Fran Harpst

That marriage lasted six years, three of which we were separated. Then Mother got very sick; so I moved back to Coronado with my youngest daughter. The older girls were already established in Ramona.

One time, I was visiting my older sister in northern California. She had mentioned to me on previous occasions that a male friend of hers had an interest in me. I usually said, “Oh, that’s nice,” and changed the subject. However, this time, I said, “Okay. Give me his number.” I’d met him several times at family gatherings over the years; only we were both

married at the time. Now we were both divorced. I had his phone number for weeks until I finally got the courage up to call him.

When we finally connected, it was like Christmas, Easter, and the 4th of July all wrapped into one. With my track record, I was hesitant, but the “real” love bug had bitten us hard. There was no denying he was “the one”. Our first date was August 11, 2006. We were married on August 11th, 2008.

Together we live a charmed life. We are blessed with five grandchildren and two more on the way — one from his side, the other from mine. Life is good, yet it’s been a wild ride to get to where we are today. We are constantly thankful for our many blessings.

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