Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Families Against Nursing Home Abuse - Who was Mom
Mom entered this world on December 13, 1923. She was the only girl in a family of 3 siblings, one brother older and one brother younger then she. Mom’s mother was a woman of great faith, and that was passed on to Mom as she grew. Her light would prove that many years later.
Mom grew up in the tiny village of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota. She would grow to have a great love of the outdoors, All through her life she would enjoy camping, and fishing, and boating, biking, gardening, and growing flowers. She would be in bowling leagues, and would love to golf. In later years, she would teach her family the love of the outdoors, and would become her son’s favorite fishing partner and golf partner.
Living in a small village made for a pretty much uneventful growing up, as far as big events goes. But Mom had many friends and was well liked. She studied hard and graduated from High School. But Mom did want to see more. After graduation, she moved to Minneapolis, MN where she worked at the Minneapolis Transformer Company. She would stay at that job until she meets her husband.
Mom loved music. She would play piano, and sing. Even as her mind gave way to Alzheimer’s, and her poor little body would be ravaged by the disease, she would still sing, “You Are My Sunshine.” When words would no longer come to her in a sentence, she would sing her thoughts. I remember one day, as we sat in her room, she looked at me and sang, “It’s so hard to get old.”
Mom married Dad in 1946. I said to Dad, “I have noticed that you got out of the army (he was a paratrooper in WWII 1944-1946) in early 1946 and that you and Mom were married in September of 1946. Given that time span, when you and she met, it must have been love at first sight.” Dad smiled at me, and simply said, “It was.”
Fifty years later, he would say at their 50th Wedding Anniversary party, “I give all the credit of this wonderful marriage to my wife.”
Falling in love with a man from a Russian/Austrian family, whose faith was strict Russian Orthodox was not looked on lightly. Mom and Dad had to pretty much elope. Their wedding was attended by their 2 good friends who stood up for them. But Mom never faltered. No matter how much opposition, or how unkind anyone in Dad’s family was, she held fast. Never missing an opportunity to build bridges, Mom would attend all functions that were invited, and all those that were expected. Mom would always find a kind word, and always opened her heart to her new family. In the next few years, she would totally win the hearts of her husband’s family, and they would embrace her as they embraced any of their own daughters.
Not long after their marriage, they would move to Austin, MN, to be closer to Dad’s brother. They would have 2 children. Judy, the youngest, would marry and present Mom with 4 beautiful grandsons, whom she adored. Ron would marry a woman with 3 children whom she would open her heart to. At her passing, she would have 4 grandsons, 3 granddaughter-in-laws, 2 great grandsons, and 2 great granddaughters. She would also have 2 step grandsons, 1 step granddaughter, 2 step granddaughter-in-laws, 1 step grandson-in-law, 10 step great grand children and 3 step great great grandchildren. Had she been able to put it into words, she would have told you, that she loved them all. Later on, she would work for the Hormel Company, as a Market Surveyor. It was said that Mom had a remarkable way of talking to people, so that even though people didn’t particularly like taking surveys over the phone, they would be happy with the experience. Mom LOVED to chat.
By the photo albums we have gone through, it was obvious that Mom had a lot of friends. It was also obvious, that she truly loved life. In all photos she is smiling, laughing, and looking as though she thoroughly enjoyed whatever it was she was doing. Well, except for one. Even Mom had ONE moment of stubbornness and pouting.
Not having a sister of her own, her cousin Doris became her sister. This loving relationship would last throughout their lives until Mom’s death in 2009. Doris would say that Mom was also the sister that she, herself, never had. They would spend their lives raising their children together, camping together, crocheting together, and sewing quilts together, and their husbands would become best friends. Doris would write in her sympathy card, “When your Mom and Dad both became ill, it changed not only their lives, but our lives as well.” Sometimes we don’t see the impact that one person has on another, until it kind of smacks us in the face.
Mom had an incredible number of nieces and nephews, who all had large families of their own. (Coming from a small family myself, the numbers are enormous to me.) She never missed sending a birthday card to each and every member of the family, never missed a confirmation, graduation or wedding. And if she couldn’t make it in person, there was ALWAYS cards from Auntie.
It’s hard for me to write a biography of Mom when I have only known her for 22 of her 85 years. I don’t know a lot of antidotes about her as a child. I don’t know what kind of a child she was. But I do know this. I know that Mom was loved by everyone that knew her. I know that she would never say an unkind word about anyone. As a matter of fact, if she heard someone talking derogatorily about another person, she would always find some good about that person…..even if she KNEW you were dead on. I know that Mom was looked up to. Even her older brother, Kenny, when in need of talking to someone for whatever reason, it was “Sister” that he would call.
It seems to me that Mom was a “mother” to everyone that needed her. When her older brother’s wife passed away, it was Mom who took up the slack, and became a 2nd mom to the 5 children. When my mother passed away 3 years after first meeting Grace, she became another mother to me. She encouraged and lifted our spirits. She would always find a way to boost our hopes, help to squelch our fears, and give us cause to try to better ourselves.
Was Mom a saint? Probably not. Was Mom one of those exceptional people that, if we are smart enough to recognize it, are a gift to have in your life? Absolutely.
I think that a testament to the way Mom lived her life is, people who met her only a few times in their own lives, would say, when hearing of her death, “Oh, I’m so sorry. She was such a special person. I really liked her.”
I have often wondered why Mom had to live through abuse in what should have been a quiet and peaceful end to her life. She was such an exceptional person. Mom was truly a living example of her very name. Why would she have to go through this? Then I hear her voice saying, “why not?” “There’s a problem in the world, and we need to fix it.”
Losing Mom was almost as hard for me, as it was to lose my own mother.
I once heard that if we have one or two really good friends throughout our life, we are truly blessed. Anything more then that, is just frosting on the cake. As I look at my life, I am amazed to find that I have so many wonderful friends, lifelong friends, in the United States, and throughout the world. So I am truly blessed, and I have more frosting on my cake then I possibly deserve. Mom, is the cherry on top.
So, I must agree with my friend. Mom was in inspiration in life, and continues to be an inspiration in death.
Mom left us on Tuesday February 3, 2009. She slipped away from us quietly, peacefully, and sweetly, just as she had lived among us.
This was written the night of Mom’s funeral, February 9. 2009