Ira's leather handiwork
Ira’s leather handiwork

Ira threw himself into his work, taking as many jobs as he was capable of. He worked manual labor by day, and honed his newfound craft of working leather by night. He fashioned beautiful belts, decorative frames and intricate wall hangings. He found consolation in the creativity he had discovered in himself and spent many hours using his calloused work hands in crafting elaborate pieces of art.

As he approached his 32nd birthday, Ira took an interest in the daughter of one of his employers. Barbara Simpson, not quite 18, was a dramatic beauty. She was of Cherokee descent and her features surely manifested the fact. Her black hair, olive skin and dark, deep-set eyes set her apart from her fair skinned neighbors – perhaps it even segregated her. Moreover, though, mentally she did not fit in with her peers and experienced great difficulty in social settings.

Her poor social skills and mental state had less to do with a personality dysfunction than it had to do with a physical trauma. When she was 14 years old, Barbara had had an ice skating accident that resulted in a head injury. Smacking her head soundly on the hard ice, she found herself with a severe concussion – an injury that was to follow her the rest of her life.

Barbara Simpson
Barbara Simpson

Soon after her accident, she began experiencing severe seizures, memory loss, extended catatonic states and erratic behavior. Doctors diagnosed her with Idiopathic Epilepsy with psychotic episodes and, sadly, this became her identity. When once her heritage was the foremost thing that separated her from her peers, she now drew into herself, unable to trust that she would behave appropriately in a public arena. While her times of clarity were prominent, she knew that without notice she could become a different person, unable to squelch what was happening to her. She felt herself pull away from those around her, hoping to disappear somehow into her own private world.

As Ira began to reach out to her she responded, feeling a deep connection to this man who had chosen a life of personal space, away from the rigors of day-to-day society. The correlation she saw, however, came by her experiences gained through her own injured mental state as opposed to the real desire that Ira had to live independent of societal pressures. The hand that she grasped to pull her away from her pain was as a life vest for Barbara and she could not possibly understand the loneliness that she would feel in the coming year.

Ira and Barbara were married shortly after her 18th birthday and she moved to the small cabin at Mt. Emily, each mile away from town aiding in her escape from reality. The awkward pair adjusted to married life – each of them forfeiting something – Ira, the time alone that he had become accustomed to and Barbara, the time around others. It was not long before Ira saw her unpredictable conduct first hand, causing him to wonder about her stability when left alone.

One particular incident saw Barbara angrily wielding a sharp knife at Ira while attending a family dinner at his mother’s house. This episode caused his parents to not only ban Barbara from their home entirely but to actually fear for the well-being of their son.

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