13 months after our family lost our Aunt Virginia we have lost her little sister; my Mom.
Today while on FB I noticed that several family members had posted old photos of themselves with Mom. I was going to do the same and I knew what picture I would use. I had just seen it recently. I have dug through old boxes of photos, you know the kind we all have them in the backs of our closets. However I can’t seem to put my hands on that picture.
What I did find while I was looking was this photo of her when she was so young. I believe it is her high school graduation photo. How pretty.
Before this photo my Mother was born during the depression and raised in a tiny little Kansas town. I remember hearing stories about how she was such a tiny baby that instead of a crib she slept in a small dresser drawer. I remember her talking about how she helped out in the general store when she was very little; how it was her job to get the crackers out of the barrel for the customers and how the barrel was nearly taller than she was. I remember hearing stories of the river and how they all loved to hang out there and catch a few fish or “mud bugs” [crawfish] for dinner. She talked about how she had to walk across this field on her way home and in the middle of that field was an old noisy oil pump. When that pump would raise up and down she said it sounded like it was saying “devil’s gonna getcha… devil’s gonna getcha…” over and over again and how she would run as fast as she could across that field. I’ve heard stories of how she, and I believe it was her Dad, would help out at the train station; and when the train passed by with the hook out to snag the mail bag it was their job to pick up all the spilled mail scattered along the tracks when the hook missed and the bag fell. She once talked about how when she was still fairly young she worked as a telephone operator; headset, plug in cords, switch board, and all.
Very soon after this photo my Mother and my Father were married and #1 arrived in this world… skip to 16 years later and I [#8] came along. Between the two of us were the other 6 and a lot of what I can only imagine were hard years for Mom. She was, for the most part, on her own with the 8 of us and considering she never held a high paying job I think she did alright; bought a house, kept us fed and clothed, kept us all in glasses, and even managed to give a few the opportunity to go to summer camp, and participate in band and other school activities. She worked a lot of years at the little nursing home in our small Kansas town then, after I had left home, she moved to the big city of San Antonio, TX where she worked in a senior center. She cooked more meals, both at work and at home, than I could ever hope to imagine.
Just a little over 13 years ago, while still working, she suffered a massive stroke. After being the strong independent caregiver for so long she was now the one who needed constant care. She spent those last 13 years in a nursing home, this time as a resident. I’m pretty sure no nursing home resident has ever had so many visitors, so many holidays celebrated with so much family around, so many big birthday parties celebrated, and so many photos hung in her room.
L and M (and their 3 four legged “boys”) made the 12 hour drive to spend some time but have had to return home. No rest for Army families -duty calls. K will met up with D and I; and the rest of this huge crazy family and bunches of friends in a few days for a service. I’m sure there will be many more old photos and many more old stories told then.
And I just bet the room is filled with sunflowers.