Caryn Miske and Colette Fitch

Recorded June 11, 2020 Archived June 11, 2020 41:28 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019812


On her 15th birthday, Colette Fitch (15) asks her mother, Caryn Miske (56), about some of her childhood memories and favorite experiences they have shared together. Colette shares about her struggles with depression, losing her dog, and visiting with her dad in Idaho.

Subject Log / Time Code

CM remembers family dinners when she was growing up.
CM talks about her experience of parenting and shares with CF a favorite memory of her.
CM recalls the death of her father when she was young.
CF shares early memories of the COVID-19 pandemic when students in her classroom were bringing news about COVID-19 to class each day.
CF shares a favorite memory of having picnics with CM.
CF talks about her struggle with depression and suicide, starting in 6th grade.
CF remembers a therapy session at the hospital when her parents came and told her their dog had died.
CF shares memories of her dog, who passed away.
CF talks about her dad, who lives in Idaho.


  • Caryn Miske
  • Colette Fitch

Recording Location

Virtual Recording



StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 My name is Karen. Misky. I'm 56 years old. It's Thursday, June 11th, 2020. I am in Frenchtown Montana with my daughter Colette at bit and she is 15 years old today. Happy birthday. Thank you. This is my mom Karen.

00:23 Okay, Collective mind stating that you know the date and where you are as well.

00:35 Okay.

00:37 So I wanted to have this conversation today and part to memorialize your 15th birthday only turn 15 once and since we're in the age of coronavirus and we're not having birthday parties. I figured this would be a really nice way to Mark the occasion. So do you want me to ask you some questions first to kick off?

01:06 Describe a typical family dinner when you were growing. Well, it depends on which part of my growing up years. So I when I was really little my father was never there for family dinners because he was in school. So my dad was a bit of a rebel James Dean juvenile delinquent type and he got accepted to Bronx Science one of the best schools in New York City and was kicked out for non-attendance and then he went to a regular public school and got kicked out of there for non-attendance. Then we went to what he called the city zoo when he got kicked out of there for not attendance and almost had to go to Judy, but then he turns sixteen so we didn't have to go to school anymore and he worked as a

01:54 I guess tending bar and hanging out and I think doing a lot of drinking and gambling and then he turned about 20 or so and decided he didn't want to spend the rest of his life doing that you join the Army GI Bill and then we needed to marry my mother your grandmother and he went to school at night for I think six or seven years ago for the six or six or seven years of my life. My dad was never home very much for family dinners cuz he went from work he worked all day. And then from there he went went to do is just my mom and I when my dad graduated law school, then we had the more traditional Beaver Cleaver kind of family dinners, and you know, it would be my mom my dad me and my sister and

02:48 Usually my Dad tried to prompt stimulating conversation and get me to debate things which my mother and sister thought was really boring and a really annoying. So my father I offer with Siri on one conversation and my mother and my sister would be carrying on another. So what do we eat? Oh, you wouldn't like what we ate ate mostly meat every night except for Friday night and some kind of meat chicken steak or whatever it was and then I began canned vegetables with which I don't think either one of us would like today. So yeah, it wasn't the kind of dinner Wheatley service home today.

03:34 I think that's those are all my Recollections on that one.

03:40 Can I ask Karen said you wouldn't like it today? So, how do you how do you to eat now leaning towards quite there yet. We still we still eat eggs, but I only eat range free cage free range fed cage-free eggs. So we're trying hard to go the vegan route, but we're not quite there closer.

04:16 Especially cuz it's hard to get a lot of good vegan options where we live I think.

04:22 Continue probably eating dairy for a while at least all things considered Missoula is the place to go if you're a vegetarian.

04:33 In Montana in Montana

04:43 Could you describe a moment where you could have been better?

04:47 Apartments in a lot of those we could we could have done the whole interview Plus on the moment. But I guess what else they is there have been lots of moments when I have been appearance and you don't get like a training course. I'm being a parent you don't get a guidebook, you know before you were born. I had or more experience training dogs and horses and I did with kids. So there are lots of moments and lots of times when I wish, you know, I could have parented better or maybe he rented better for this particular child to use some of what I did maybe for a different kid would have been fine, but

05:29 Yeah, I feel like they're there certainly were lots of things I could have done differently. So I apologize for all the scoring of it occurred.

05:39 Okay, that's a little overdramatic but this is what keeps therapist in business writing.

05:48 What is your favorite memory of me?

05:52 I have lots of favorite memories of you. I know we talked yesterday about when we go down to Salmon Idaho to the North Fork and you were building fairy castles along the bank and how cute that wasn't but I found another memory the other day and it was all of us. When you the first time you went to Florida to go to Disneyland and Disney World in Florida, and we were coming back and you can pack your own bags and it was this little tiny weenie suitcase with rollers on it and you had stuffed it full of all your animals and babies so they can breathe all their heads were sticking out and you had your Minnie Mouse hat on with it, you know the ears and then you I can just remember we walking to the airport with your Minnie Mouse hat with the veil and I'm all your animals with their heads sticking out of your suitcases so cute.

06:57 Do you have any regrets?

07:03 You know, it's hard to say if I have regrets one thing I guess I do regret is that I think because of where I grew up and my parents it was very important to succeed and succeeding. I think typically meant

07:22 A regular job something that my parents would have recognized as a career trajectory. So I wasted probably the first I don't know.

07:34 Five six seven eight years bouncing from job to job and not liking any of them really. So I started an advertising from there. I went to direct marketing from there. I went to publishing.

07:47 From there. I went into development and at least development gave me some background for what I do today. And then from there or from Italy I went into land use planning. And again, I gave me some background to but none of those ultimately were what I really wanted to do for a career and I think it's I guess one of my regrets as I didn't listen to my heart or earlier and do what might have been to my parents probably a pretty non-conventional career path and I can hear my mother now say what how would you ever make any money at that? And I think it's a hard thing. Should you need to make money you need to make a living but you'll have to follow your heart so that then I guess his one regret that I didn't follow my heart on my career.

08:33 Sooner

08:37 Maybe ask him might have been different. It's hard to say maybe I needed those experiences.

08:46 What are some of the most important lessons you've learned in life?

08:50 Well, I think I've learned a lot of lessons. I don't know that I always implementing everyday. I think one of the things that I did learn is I think you know that I was sick when I was pretty young and and then very soon after I was sick. I watched my dad died at a young age.

09:17 This is coming from.

09:20 I think I learn to appreciate.

09:25 Appreciate every day has been as much as you can into each day.

09:31 I don't know where this is coming from.

09:38 You never know when it's going to be your last day.

09:41 I don't know why this method everyday I get that but I try to keep it in the back of my mind.

09:52 Caryn, what was what was something you really remember about your dad?

10:01 Oh.

10:03 What a good listener. I guess he was growing up. I had a really big group of friends that I've had since the time. I was pretty little kid until today and I was very really fortunate in that regard.

10:17 What the Spy thought my dad was really my best friend.

10:23 Losing it was hard.

10:38 If this was our very last conversation or would you want to say to me? I guess I would want to stay even though there are lots of times when we fight and we don't get along and there's a lot of teenage angst teenage drama and feelings and sometimes I don't even know what I did to hurt your feelings. I really love you and I want the best for you and

11:09 I want to make sure that you have a happy life whatever whatever it is that makes you happy.

11:24 Should I ask you some questions now? Sure, you need to know as a little some pandemic question. When did you first realize you the pandemic would affect your life?

11:42 I'm going to be honest. I don't read a ton of the news and I probably need to read a lot more news. But in History Class you're supposed to bring in like a piece of meat is everyday.

11:54 And say that I obviously doesn't call in everyone everyday and you can raise your hand to volunteer. So obviously not everyone does that but

12:05 I remember we talked about it a lot in class and I think that was your that was like probably we started talking about it back in January and it kind of continued to be an ongoing conversation. So I just

12:20 I thought it was really interesting how you know, we just kept talking about that in class like almost every day. There was like something new you a lot of times. I wasn't something that was like particularly shocking but almost every day someone brought in a piece of news about it. So it was kind of interesting to see people's reactions and how people started to get more worried.

12:46 What is the biggest way your life is changed since covid-19?

12:52 I want to say it's changed that much but I would say it's giving me a lot of time to reflect on myself.

13:00 So

13:02 What about school?

13:05 I mean I would say for me it's harder to go to school because I get distracted a lot more easily during classes, but

13:14 I feel like I would say I like it better.

13:18 I don't really like going to school like you have a truck towed that's relatively specific even though

13:27 Is I go to a Catholic school, so we don't have to wear a uniform we did in middle school, but we don't have to wear uniform in high school except on days when we're going to church.

13:38 But they dress code is pretty strict. So

13:42 That's kind of frustrating. Sometimes. I guess it was nice not having to deal with that.

13:48 So you like to going to school electronically and being in your virtual classroom better than your actual classroom?

13:58 Helpful for me academically, I would say it was probably worse for me academically, so

14:04 Okay, because then why was it worse academically?

14:12 So and I know if you tell you run the risk of it not coming true. So what is a birthday wish you can share with me?

14:19 I would like for the next school year to go.

14:27 There were some difficulties this past year and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that.

14:38 So I'm hoping that

14:41 Is going better than the ones in the past until you had to go into your virtual classroom and things were getting better. I would say, yes, they were getting better and that kind of

14:56 Derailed me a little bit. So what are the things you think you could do?

15:03 To do better in this coming year. I can have a cigarette.

15:13 I guess I really need to be more organized and probably more focused.

15:20 I don't know. I think there's a lot of things I can but probably organization is the biggest problem.

15:27 So if you had it when you're upset or when you want time by yourself when you visualize something, where is your happy place? And what does that look like and who's there with you?

15:43 I guess multiple places, you know, I was little that probably would have been just our backyard, but I would say Salmon Idaho. We can't there every year for the 4th of July and we used to Camp there like twice a year, although we've been going less often because there are a lot of rattlesnakes there.

16:06 Buy I really really love going there. I love spending time there and

16:12 Really nice that you're Prime happy space or do you have other happy places anyway, yeah.

16:24 I don't know. I think it's just very relaxing. You know, there's not a lot to do. I do think it's nice even though I have spent a lot of time on the electronics to some extent it is nice to spend time away from the electronics.

16:41 I don't know I guess.

16:44 Really nice to spend time outside especially somewhere. That's as gorgeous as it is it is there a North Fork of the of the Salmon River the pretty pretty special place.

16:59 What is your favorite memory of me?

17:04 I would say there are a lot Sign o the one I told you yesterday was when we were having a picnic on a hot tub. We had this like I have a really specific memory of this for some reason. I remember we have this picnic. Trey are haven't seen it in a while. You still have that we have this picnic powder blue with cherries all over it. And we said, you know fill it up and take it outside and have picnics.

17:32 I remember I think I was like eight and I remember having a picnic with her and that's probably or with you I guess you anyway, I think that's probably my favorite memory with you.

17:55 What are you proudest of in your life?

18:02 Probably

18:04 Working through a lot of the issues I've had in life.

18:13 In 6th grade, I had a really hard year in at the end of sixth grade. I went on medication for my depression.

18:21 Seventh grade by there was less depression that your butt.

18:28 I got in a lot more trouble at school by year.

18:32 I got in school suspension.

18:37 And like November and I thank God I think that February the end of that February I was hospitalized because I tried to kill myself.

18:48 Not very I would say it was not like a very serious attempt to be honest, but I do think I needed to be hospitalized.

18:58 I think I'm proud of myself for working through that. I'm proud of you for working through that.

19:07 What do you how do you think you're doing? Now? If your mental health better know it's a work in progress, but I know about myself and

19:22 How to deal with stuff around me so okay.

19:29 I also think it was important really important for me to go through that because I think it helped me grow emotionally a lot in what way

19:39 When I was little, you know, I was like I was like in fifth grade. I had a pretty narrow Minds that I wasn't really that willing to listen to the opinions of others and see the perspectives of others.

19:57 I think that helped me about a lot and he knows I just think it helped me girls person a lot in a lot of different ways and become a more considerate person.

20:07 But hopefully you don't have to go through that again to learn another life lesson.

20:16 Colette I'm curious if there are people who are particularly kind you during that time. That you would want to talk about.

20:26 I mean obviously and my mother and father were really supportive. I would say it. I know I remember being very very angry, especially at mom during a lot of those periods of time, but I also think Mom did, you know, I can't imagine that I was anything short of impossible to handle at that point and I know so I know my perspective was very slow at that point of time and a lot

20:54 So I think they were both really supportive as I live with mom. My dad lives two hours away in Butte.

21:05 So I can't I live with mom. I think she got an unfair.

21:09 Portion of that. She had to deal with that pretty much on her own.

21:16 So I really appreciate that. Thank you.

21:21 And then I would say I had a couple teachers even though you know, as I said, I would

21:28 There were definitely teachers who did not like me.

21:34 But there were a couple teachers were really nice to me Natalie. The music teacher was just endlessly kind to me. So I went there after class A lot talk to her after school. I went to her room to talk to her a lot and that meant a lot to me so

21:52 When the bad thing you have some favorite nurses at the hospital hospital.

22:00 I've only ever I was only there for a week and a half and it's not meant to be like long-term.

22:08 Stay it's not meant to be a long-term staying, you know, the nurses there were really really nice. Just the hospital was a really really good experience.

22:23 I think there were also some people in the hospital that I connected with so

22:40 You have any other questions you'd like to ask?

22:43 Well, I think we went through all of our questions how much time do we have left?

22:48 You have plenty of time if you want to ask. I have a couple questions I can ask you all right now if that's okay. I'm curious and you know it going through these experiences in these memories of call. Is there something that you can tell her like the biggest and her going through that experience?

23:16 I'm sorry. Could you repeat that the biggest thing I'm proud of with what?

23:20 With the experience that she went through, you know being in the hospital and going through a. Of time x kids get into that situation and they they won't take help where they're resistant to taking help. But I feel like for the most part you really tried to get better and you try to make yourself. Well, and I feel like even now you're continuing to try to improve improve your mental health and Getwell

24:00 So I'm proud of that cuz I know it takes a lot of work and an effort and stick to it Ness to to do that.

24:13 I have to say they're their there were some moments when I was resistant. So once I was in the hospital, we had like these therapy sessions. I don't know if they were like every other day with

24:25 A psychiatrist or I will also exactly if their therapy sessions was pretty much therapy, but they were like

24:36 Very professional therapy sessions and I remember Mom and Dad were joining me for that and

24:44 Yeah, they came to visit me and I noticed the mom and then crying.

24:49 And you apparently that day she had to put our dog down.

24:55 Which was really sad cuz I think he was probably the best dog. I think right now we have four dogs at one point. We had 6 dogs. We've had a lot of dogs.

25:11 I think Lando was probably one of the best dogs I need and he was just so fantastic.

25:18 I could go on about that for a while. But I remember I was really sad about that. So, you know, I wanted some time to myself and I think I refuse to go to that therapy last night. It was like a whole big thing.

25:34 But I I ended up going to have much of a choice.

25:42 So I can like there were definitely setbacks ended up working through them. Well, there's going to be setbacks and the important thing is that you know in the back of your mind. This is a setback and I'll get over it in or around it or something.

26:04 Okay, here's a fun one.

26:07 Colette you were talking about that you don't like your school uniforms. Wish I would understand wearing this combination of things you feel like your truest self.

26:24 Do you have a power outfit? And what is it?

26:28 I would say yeah probably do that again that has changed a lot for me. The years and I remember specifically when I was seven that was had this neon pink shirt. I used to go to a different school. So I went to Missoula international school and then I went to a Catholic school but there is neon pink shirt with all the International School sure, you know, everyone's you speaking Spanish basically the whole time I went through and we are in first grade Sol.

27:13 I don't know that's a good idea to power off a neon pink shirt. There's two it was too big for me. But that's okay. Cuz I generally like things that are too big for me. They had like the logo of the school on it and bright yellow and then zebra striped leggings.

27:33 And then the boots I just had like these little black suede boots and those were fine. But I remember that was my favorite outfit for a long time. I would say now just I have a bunch of the same pairs of black leggings because we always shop for clothes at TJ Maxx and I always have the same leggings. So I have like 4 pairs of those same exact leggings and I would say one of those because they're really comfortable and then

28:03 I was sure that I that I don't know if I stole it from Dad or dad gave it to me but

28:10 It's kind of why it's one of his older shirts that he didn't wear that much as the t-shirt and it's reading the basket for the Basset Hound Rescue of Montana. I think it's pretty old. It's probably like 20 years old.

28:23 I don't think he ever wear it much but I think that and then

28:28 Just my boots and my leather jacket. I don't know if that's I just really like that one in particular because it has like a bunch of pins on it. I put on there and it's really comfortable is actually pleather. Yes. It was $50 because it's a vegan or so.

28:52 Well, those are the questions I have if there's anything else you all want to ask each other. Go ahead how much time do we have left now, but I do know something we can talk about because I continue to talk about Randall sure we can talk if you like if we're going to talk about someone I want to talk. Okay. So Randall was a long haired German Shepherd. I think we got him when I was five.

29:26 I remember I think he was that named after a while. He was Naomi. He was her name was originally Orlando, but Mom didn't want mom didn't like that. So she didn't want to change it to much then she changed it to Landau.

29:42 Tell me whether he was a rescue dog.

29:45 Amazon

29:47 Once we're I think once we were in Glacier and some tourists Chinese tourists thought that he was a wolf toys for was like probably that long is outer coat. It was really really funny made him look a lot better than he actually was he was also really really smart. I think he'd understand a lot of what we said. So once our pug nutmeg when she was a puppy she escapes there one of the holes in the fence and she didn't exactly know how to calm when she was called yet. I would say she still doesn't really do that very well, but that's also because a lot of times she has she has a hard time getting anywhere very fast because she can't run very well.

30:39 We would always use traits. We had this little thing of trees that we would always use to get her back. So Mom told me to go get the treats and it was just like this little open container.

30:50 And I was too slow and Lando grabbed it in his mouth and he didn't eat any of the trees and he brought it back to Mom. It was really amazing it wasn't you remember when we went to Westport Washington and he came with us. He was the only one we brought and we want to watch going to a museum for about an hour and I left the car parked in the shade with all the windows down and I told him to stay there and we came back and very well if you hadn't moved and I would go to a restaurant we bring him with us and we sit outside and I didn't even have to hold his leash. I would just tell him sit there and stay and he would watch all the people and dogs and everyone go by and he would just sit there and stay and he's a good boy wasn't he is a really good boy. His mother was part of the canine digits police division. I think so either the mother of the father. I can't remember which one

31:51 It was really really intelligent. I think we have some dogs now, close, but I still wouldn't say that Thor is quite a smart.

32:01 And how was your favorite horse Danny? So

32:06 I'm going to be honest Danny died when I was like eight so I don't remember that much about him, but we have horses.

32:14 And Danny was he was really really huge for a horse is a thoroughbred so our blood warmblood close enough.

32:24 Remember exactly

32:37 Horse breeds anyway, but he was like massive which was you know, I was 8 and I think when I was eight I was probably like

32:48 Maybe 60 lb. I was Tiny. I'm still pretty sure but I was like really tiny when I was eight and he was horse I rode but I also like I didn't have to ride him with a saddle. I could just like you get up and stay on there and I could just lay down on him and he would just stay there. I just let me like you was just really he was a really calm sweet horse. You're the babysitter horse.

33:22 Alright, so, where are we now with time? I was just talking about you.

33:39 What do you think about living in Frenchtown, Montana?

33:43 Well, I'm going to be honest. We don't spend that much time in Frenchtown Montana. We don't actually live in like what would be considered the main part of French town. We live like

33:53 I would like 5 minutes past that and then like another 10 minutes up the side of a mountain so

34:01 I wouldn't say we really live there but we live pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. You know, we have a couple of neighbors, but

34:10 You know, we can't we don't really know. We don't really interact with them and some of them are bad news. So

34:17 True

34:23 City of do you like living in a rural place? I think there are pros and cons. It's hard seeing my friends because you know, a lot of other kids, you know, their parents can drive them. Like I want kids can just walk to their friends houses. You know, I have them 5 minutes to their parents house is but you know, or to their friend's house, but for us, you know, it's at least a 30 minute drive whenever we want to go into miss a lot which is where I go to school. So it's wrong with my friends live.

34:54 So it is kind of difficult and a lot of times. You know, what I was specially when I was little I would probably spice. Yeah, I know how to entertain myself pretty well because

35:05 Yeah, I just played by myself and I was always fine with that. You know, I have the dogs and the cats and the horses so

35:14 Who played with you quite a bit?

35:20 Is when I was really little dad was still here. I thought it was sometimes so

35:28 Yeah, I don't think I would like it a lot better if you were in, Missoula.

35:36 Yeah, but it's also nice like living in two different places since she lives like right in the middle of the city. Like we can walk to the Community College and we can walk so like, you know, there's a lot of places we can walk to and from I mean he lives right in the middle of City.

35:54 So I think that's a good experience from you have to you know, I kind of got the best of both worlds of the I wouldn't say it if you'd is lightning impute is pretty small and pretty run-down but it's still a city. There's lots of people living there. So a little cafe is right. There are some nice little cafes and there's to book stores really close to us that we walked through sometimes. I feel like it's nice to have that experience two bottles of helps because you know, probably from the age of like 6 to 10. So we have Dad's house is split into dad's house is technically on historic National Historic register because it was built in like I think of the 1890s and a lot of houses that time were split into two so there is like, there's two doors and you know, there's the upstairs and the downstairs living space.

36:53 And you know, I don't come visit and that often and neither of us need that much space anyway, so even when I am there doesn't really get too crowded, you know, I could never

37:06 Dada I used to hang out with them the the tenants have two kids and I used to hang out with them a lot too. So, that was nice.

37:15 They got your dose of sitting in your dose of country.

37:22 Yeah.

37:25 What who is your best friend and why?

37:33 I guess I would say.

37:37 Right now so I just so going to HighSchool. I have like a couple friends last year and dumb. So Chloe is one of my friends that I would say.

37:49 She's lying down for longest at this point cuz I knew her, you know in Middle School to Alex's friend. I just this year. So that's really nice. I would say although not make my head is definitely the friend I've had for longest I guess.

38:05 Not really a traditional friend, but

38:10 She's I've left her since she was six or I was obsessed with Super Soap. Yes.

38:19 Well, anyway, she's kind of grown up with me. So that's nice.

38:27 Cuz we got her when I was lying. She was like a little puppy. So

38:33 Thought out

38:38 I had it the thing is I've had a lot of different friends over the years. So like I was at and it's hard especially hard to keep in touch with them when I left here, especially after so what am I from my best friend for like 3 years switch schools, and I kind of fell out of touch with her and then quit Girl Scouts last year, I think so.

39:01 Is the troop was kind of?

39:04 Falling apart. And so I lost touch. Didn't have to keep in touch with a lot of those friends. So, you know, I'm still in the process of making new friends.

39:19 What's something I regret for you? Because I know my experience is unique. I know not many people have you know, some of the same friends that they had in first grade and I get that but it's been really nice for me to have that group of friends to grow not just grow up with butt to grow older with and to be honest. I don't make it easier for myself have friends now.

39:47 A lot of people at my school

39:51 Bears, you know pretty much like one at you at both schools. I went to this pretty much like one, you know, they're both very much at different ends of the political spectrum and there wasn't really a lot that you know, there was a really lot of say to the contrary on either side.

40:09 And now that I'm going to school this, you know very much.

40:14 Yeah there a lot of people with different views than me on a lot of different things and I no one else who has the same beliefs as me cuz I know there are some Ever seems to say anything. I don't feel like I'm the only one says anything and I'm generally pretty argumentative and contrary on my own. So I feel like I could also make it easier for myself. Well and I think of thing to learn to not maybe be so argumentative and contrary but I think the the ability to speak out when you see something that's not right is a really good thing. You just need to learn how to manage it so that it's not a detriment but no and I don't do it in for anything. There are too many people that are silent know I know and I definitely do it a lot less than I did and you know what I was like in SF grade and fourth grade and whatever so

41:09 All right, so we're at a time now. Okay, if you have any way you want to end the recording I'll just turn it off. I'd like to thank you Leah for your time today, and I'd like to thank you, Colette and happy birthday, honey. Thank you.