Monday, January 10, 2011

1922-2011 Rest Your Heart, Dear Woman

**** I don't have a new thing to write.  My sister called about an hur ago.... my mother passed away peacefully about an hour ago.  I think I am going to be gone from the pages for awhile.  I've posted this before.... and I will do it one more time.  Love you, Mom.

I have a copy of an old newspaper photograph from 1956 that shows a car wreck that occurred on Easter Sunday 1956 on a remote stretch of highway about two miles west to the intersection of highway 21 and 49.

The caption under the photo said that the wife of the driver of one of the three cars involved is still visible in the wreckage. It said that she was the mother of four children, ages seven, five, three and a baby ten months old who were also in the pictured Chevy station wagon.

A longer article explains that there was also a car with six sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Station and a third vehicle containing a young couple from nearby Berlin, WI and their four young children.

It was raining and the road was muddy and someone lost control, something happened and one car hit another and spun out and hit the station wagon head on. A local farm wife is quoted in the article as as saying that she and her husband heard the crash and went out, "picking up babies in the rain."

The nearest town, Berlin, is 15 miles away. The phones in 1956 were rotary dial and most rural phones shared 'party-line' connections. It took some time for the one ambulance in Berlin to arrive at the scene. The article said that most of the 17 injured that needed hospitalization were transported by private vehicles. It must have taken even longer, on an Easter Sunday afternoon, for the photographer of the local weekly newspaper to be located and for him to get to the site and take a photo of the woman in the Chevy station wagon who was presumed dead. There were breathing people to take care of first. There were babies in the rain.

I often wonder, when I look at that photo, how long she was in that car before someone realized that my mother was indeed alive and breathing.

I'm not sure how long my father was hospitalized but Mom did not leave the hospital until the following Thanksgiving. We were sent to live with various relatives and were not re-united as a family until about a year or so later. I know my father went back to his job in Marshfield on crutches with his wife in a hospital 85 miles away and his children scattered.

The thing of it is, it was never considered a big deal in my family. Really. I mean we knew the story and had heard the lore, but life just went on. My sister and brothers and I never thought of our parents as 'handicapped'........ they just walked 'funny'. They never complained. I know that there was no big buckeroo insurance settlement ....that all Mom's subsequent operations wiped out whatever money they had. But it wasn't a BIG DEAL. It just was what it was and we went on. They didn't TEACH us what family was...... they lived it. They got all four of us through college.... we never took vacations....we didn't do a lot of things. But they were always proud of us. That Dad had seven years where one of his sons was a starter on the football team.....that his daughter was the first in the family to graduate from college and become a TEACHER! Damn! He thought that that was the stuff!

They showed us that life was continuity, love, connection, determination, perseverance,lottsa love........ and even more...... humor.

Dad died nine years ago from complications during surgery to fix his leg. The operation precipitated a heart attack. The last time I saw him he was connected to tubes and machines &shit. Couldn't talk. He scribbled me a note that I should tell him a joke. I did. About a Rabbi and a Priest and a Minister. He liked those.

We are getting together tomorrow to celebrate the 85 birthday of the woman in the photo. Fifty some years of walking 'funny' has left her in a wheel chair. She still lives in her own home ( with a lot of assistance) and still does not complain. We get as many of the grandchildren and great grandchildren together as we can. We barbecue chicken and brats and burgers and corn...... and give her what she wants every year for her birthday................................

all of the 'Rain Babies' in one place.

We also chip in and buy her a six-pack. She thinks it's funny. Breaks her up.

With all the Grandchildren summer 2010


Suzi Riot said...

Jim, my condolences to you and your family. I'm so sorry for your pain and loss.

Michael said...

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your Mom. You do her a great service by posting what you have. She sounds like a great woman.

Mauigirl said...

So very sorry for the loss of your mom. This is a lovely tribute to her. I lost my mom this past year too and it's still hard. My thoughts are with you.

PENolan said...

Holding you in the light

Lee said...

Denise and I will be thinking of you, Jim. You need anything just call.

susan said...

I'm sorry to read this news. I hope you'll be well and wish for you and your family my sincere condolences.

Unknown said...

Jim, I am so sorry that she has left this world. I wish for you an easy transition into a world that no longer has your mother in it. You have your memories of her and your dad to comfort you, please think of the good times when you miss her.

She is with your dad now and I just know they are very happy to be together again.

Cyber hug coming your way dear friend.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Hugs to you from all of us Jim.

David Barber said...

Sincere condolences, Jimm. I've read the piece before. Your mum was some woman. Love on its way from this side of the pond!

Best wishes to you and your family!


Laura said...

Dear Jim,
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.
I could tell how much you loved her and I know that you will miss her terribly.

Just know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.


Randal Graves said...

I second everyone else.

okjimm said...

Thanks all. (Especially Libs & Laura.... Mom saved every card she ever received... my sister found the ones you sent.... you guys are great!

Sherry Peyton said...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story Jim. Prayers and thoughts to you and all your family.

Anonymous said...

Here is a poem for you:

When I die if you need to weep
Cry for your brother or sister
Walking the street beside you
And when you need me put your arms around anyone
And give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something
Something better than words or sounds.

Look for me in the people I've known or loved
And if you cannot give me away
At least let me live in your eyes and not on your mind.

You can love me most by letting hands touch hands
By letting bodies touch bodies
And by letting go of children that need to be free.

Love doesn't die, people do
So when all that's left of me is love
Give me away.

~Merritt Malloy

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