The Greatest Generation Lost Mom Last Week

September/29/2009 18:08PM
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On 9-24-09 the Greatest Generation lost another charter member, my Mom.

Mom was born in 1915. She lived on a farm in Missouri and her dad died when she was 8. She had to go live with an older brother in Kansas City and finish high school there. She and Dad were married on New Year’s Eve in 1935, during the Great Depression. The got on a train with all their worldly possessions and went to Michigan where an uncle of Dad’s knew of a job. The uncle told them they could stay with him, but the aunt said no, so they toughed it out like most people were doing in that era.

I was born less than a month after Pearl Harbor. Dad went off to the navy and was sent to the Pacific. Mom was home with a new baby and a job. Just like lots of young women are who husbands in Iraq or Afghanistan today. Mom really understood these kids today. Worried about them.

Dad made it home, went in the construction business, they had two more kids, and Mom did what she did best, be a Mom.

As retirement approached they started going to Florida during the winters. Bought a little place in rural Florida. Dad suffered a series of strokes and Mom took care of him until he died in 1981. Losing a dad, living through the depression, praying through a war, raising three kids and getting them through college, and losing a husband could have broken many of our spirits.

Mom, who had never been on an airplane flew off on a junket to Asia. Then another to the Holy Land. Then, one more to Europe. She took up golf and played weekly with the neighbors. She took up painting and did some pretty acceptable art. She walked two miles every day around her neighborhood and got to know everyone. She volunteered in the church nursery and taught Sunday school to the kids. Her motto, Dad died, I didn’t, and I have to keep moving.

Finally, it was the car. She parked it herself, said she shouldn’t drive anymore. She did get a couple of speeding tickets, but that wasn’t the problem, she knew it wasn’t safe with her vision.

Then she had to give up the house and go to assisted living. That was really tough. Another chance to quit on life. Get bitter and blame God and life for all the set-backs. She coped, like her generation did so well. She became the queen of the assisted living home. Still walked every day, finally with a cane, then a walker, then a scooter, then a wheel chair. Played bingo, played SkipBo, and was never in her room, always with people, always busy.

Then it was time to move again to a place where she got more care. She had fallen a couple of times. Again, a tough move, but she coped. On the day she died she played bingo, did her physical therapy, exercised, and had breakfast and lunch with her friends. Almost 95 and the lady was still going strong at the end.

I worry that we have lost much of what Mom and her generation had. We are becomming a nation of whiners and blamers. It’s always some one’s fault when things go wrong. Never mine. We quit too easy. I see people who have not been hit with half of the challenges Mom had sitting on the couch and waiting for the end to come.

In 1989 I survived a plane crash. Many of the survivors called me to see if I wanted to come to group therapy sessions with them. I felt bad that I choose not to, but I just talked to Mom. She gave me pretty simple advice of how to cope, and I knew she was better equipped to give coping advice than most, so I went to the right person.

Our country may be losing a lot with the passing of Mom’s generation. She was steel on the inside when it came to dealing with adversity, but lived believing if you put family first and shower them with love and kindness it will be repaid. She was nice to people and people were nice to her. She knew the key to a long life was to keep moving and stay positive.

How do we replace good citizens like Mom?

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