Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20th Is a Special Day

It is the day my mother was born, in 1921. It is also the day she married my father, in 1941. She has been gone for one year now, and today I am remembering her.

Betty lived in Spokane until she was about ten when the family moved to Tacoma. The move was difficult for her because she was a quiet girl. Her parents bought a home at 43rd and Bell Street in Tacoma, and she attended Stewart Junior High School. In 1938 she graduated from Lincoln High School. She was very active in Rainbow and loved to dance.

She spent a year studying at Pacific Lutheran College before deciding that it wasn't what she wanted. She attended business school and began her long business career where she was very successful for a woman of her generation. As she said, she worked when all the other mothers were at home.

During World War II, she worked in Tacoma, as did her friends. They got a half day off on Saturday. While the men were away, they saved their money and purchased crystal, china and other items. They also spent a lot of time taking photos to send overseas to their husbands, so we have a lot of nice pictures of her. By the time my father returned from the war, Mom had purchased the home next door to her parents on Bell Street. After that, her brother bought a new home on 84th and B Street. She and Ray bought the home next to them, and my grandparents built their retirement home. And that's where we lived for the first fifteen years of my life.

I remember, as a little girl, Dad driving her to work when it was still dark. My brother and I dozed during these rides. I always loved driving by the statues at Wright Park. I remember listening to the radio play "Teddy Bear's Picnic" and "Mr. Sandman" during those rides. She worked for Flett Dairy at that time. From there, she went on to have a long career in retailing as an office manager. In my youthful eyes, she always looked perfect. When I think of her, I see a woman wearing a charcoal wool dress with pretty jewelry, hair in place and make-up immaculate. That was my mother most of the time.

At home, my father was sometimes with us since he worked different shifts at the Post Office. He was a good cook and did a lot of the cooking. When they were both gone, Grandma was always next door. Her kitchen window faced our house, and all I had to do was knock on the window and she would come over. After school, I spent many happy hours visiting with her while she sat in her rocking chair (it now sits in my house) and crocheted or did embroidery. Grandpa always sat in his big rocker and listened to baseball and news and smoked his pipe.

At the end of her career, Mom worked for a mobile home company. She was able to purchase a very nice mobile home complete with all new furniture for cost. This opportunity corresponded with my father's heart problems, so they sold their home and moved into a senior park where she made friends and enjoyed walking her dog and visiting. She retired and spent many years enjoying her retirement. Eventually they sold out and rented because they didn't want to maintain a home. They moved to Puyallup and lived near me. This picture was taken when they had been married for fifty years.

Dad died in 1995, which means that Mom was a widow for fifteen years. She spent most of that time living with us in a little apartment we finished for her in our downstairs area. Now it is my little apartment. Mom always had a fear of being alone in her old age. Being with us provided her with that comfort of knowing she was not alone. She loved her grandchildren and told everyone she met about them. She baked the birthday cakes, because she wanted to be remembered. She was sometimes called the "candy Grandma" because she had so much candy sitting around. It was a trial for the moms who brought their children to visit (my daughters) because she provided the children with little bags and a scoop to scoop up candy to take home. She also bought soda pop if she knew someone had a particular flavor in mind.

Being something of a recluse, she didn't go out a lot, and seemed content to be home with her routine. It made it difficult as she grew older. When anyone offered to do something for her, her standard response was, "Judie will do it." After she gave up her car because she was "starting to make mistakes," I spent many years driving her to her errands and doctor appointments. She could fill a week better than anyone I know. When we would get to the end and I thought I might be finished, she would start telling me what she wanted to do "next time."

Her two years on Hospice were difficult for her because her world was shrinking; and for me, because I had to shoulder whatever she gave up. Eventually we moved her upstairs where she could see the coming and going of the household and visit with her Hospice "friends" who were a wonderful blessing to us.

Mom was deaf, which was difficult for her. She had some paralysis from a stroke. She could not walk and spent her life in a bed. In spite of those things, she had no pain, and was comfortable physically. At the end of her life, she was still ordering me around, talking a mile a minute with her visitors, and waiting to be ninety. Today she is ninety. I picture her visiting with her loved ones, laughing and happy as she was when she was young and beautiful.

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