Mom’s Mom

imageMy Mom’s Mom, Wilma Lorraine Gwendolyn Waddill Hale is dying. She has decided everything in her life, except the many losses. She would become a widow in her 20’s with three young girls to raise on her Mom’s ranch. Not her decision to leave business school with her new husband that the ranch would take from her so soon. She would lose her Mom and her daughter, my Mom, both to surgical complication. She would not remarry. She would take a business job in town, raise her girls well and become a fixture in her community that included bridge club, Eastern Star and Legion Club dances. She might be sad, but never bitter. She would empower, encourage and challenge all of her grandchildren.

We just celebrated her birthday in Montana with pre-dinner piano playing (by her), prime rib and angel food cake.

The next day she would fall in the bathroom. This her second fall in a week. She would command to her youngest, “this is enough… I don’t want to fight this.” With all of the Irish stubbornness saved for the last hours, she awoke this morning to greet my Aunt, “what now?”

She now faces death, the afterlife, with almost demanding demeanor, wishing for her own end of life at 96.

It is possible she fears being unable to be the independent, determined woman she has been for 35,049 days. To even imagine that someone would need to take care of her, push her around in a chair, is likely unfathomable. Maybe it isn’t fear at all but the decision to just bypass that phase of dependence.

I am confused by this expectation and determination. Is it possible to be done even if the body has time left? I cannot truly know or imagine what she may be feeling at this time.

Practicality under all circumstances would be her greatest example for me. Also, how do you know if you haven’t experienced it or tried it? This way of living was the antithesis of drama – it had no place and rarely had energy (for long.) She carried on her Mom’s strength of principle and would instill this in my Mom and she in me. A second-generation Irish ranch woman in Nebraska with a business degree from Colorado born on Flag Day in 1918.

There are so many fond memories of my Mom’s Mom but the most recent and most defining is her sitting with my husband taking notes as he helped her with her new Kindle Fire. Explaining ever so carefully how the ‘touch’ worked and differed from her first Kindle. All with her new red nails, her first ever manicure.

Gram I’m sorry you fell. That you feel tired. I admire your strength and determination. I want you to know we will miss you when you are not physically with us, whenever that will  be.

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Jon

imageEven before the garage sale opened last weekend, Joe emailed me about the Minn Kota trolling motor. His mother lives in a nearby Seattle suburb and could pay for and pick it up. Contingent upon promise to refund, receipt of sale and horsepower. From the picture he knew he was getting a great Craigslist deal. And he was.

This motor was a ’bargain cave’ deal during what was hoped to be an annual couples trip to KC. My husband knew that we would be getting a hand-me-down, patched Jon boat from the ranch. It was the proudest of purchases amidst the normal shopping, eating and drinking weekend.

Jon became our ‘portal’ to Summer. Just a short walk down the hill from our house, we would tote our poles, bait, hounds and cooler and end the evening or begin the weekend on Thomas Lake. Sometimes we didn’t fish, we would just troll. Almost every trip, we would circle the lake only to find Bandoo the cat awaiting a pick up. She would happily nestle on a bench or on the floor, Leela the GSD would assume her position on the bow, Mowgli cautiously would glue himself to the middle bench with me. The trolling lulled us all.

Our ‘master angler’ neighbor Bruce created a ‘pad’ for Jon with a winch to pull him out of the water and keep him ‘safe’. Another part of this peace-creating process. The boat held us all and for most of one Summer, it also housed a Garter snake. (In a future post I’ll share my husband’s grade school story about the King Cobra on his playground…) How convenient that the one inch drain plug was ground level into a enclosed ‘home’ (which also serves as a seat for the operator of the motor.) “What should we do? How do we get it out?”

“We don’t.”

So for the duration of our trolls, just below the motor arm, the head with the little red tongue would ‘check in’ about the status.

Amidst all of this, being on the water shifted our minds to ‘off’. We all were peaceful, centering and connecting. It was a time to just be. We could not be more thankful for the hand-me-down, the bargain purchase and the stories resulting from this special life on our Iowa acreage.

Joe emailed me the day after our sale to say the motor works great. I trust he will create similar memories on Jon with the power of Minn Kota. 

No Longer Sad

imagePeace is yours Michelle. The sadness is over.

We know you battled the invasion of cancer, the treatment and the effects of that treatment that would eventually take you from us. You didn’t do anything without conviction and strength. Your Mom has been what you needed when you needed it. Now we wish her strength through decisions left unmade and a family members who are heart-broken, confused and lonely. Guess we know where you got your strength.

(Photo: Mothdevil Morgefile.com)