Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - 2011

The morning started out cloudy and threatening of rain. Didn't matter. I still attended the very fun, patriotic and neat parade right here in the villages of Mahtomedi and Willernie. It starts out with American Legion carrying the flags. Then the Mahtomedi fire trucks (which turned out to be about 5) and the ambulance. Of course, the girls scouts and boy scouts are there in all their glory proudly wearing their uniforms and passing out flags and candy. There is the yellow ribbon group which is quite impressive. The Mahtomedi High School band playing all the patriotic songs. The Auxiliary ladies selling poppies. There is more that I fail to mention because I cannot remember. I really like this small home town parade. It makes one proud. It is fun seeing neighbors and friends and people you have not seen for awhile.

Then everybody gathers around the flag pole. Pledge of Allegiance is recited. A welcome by Commander of Legion post Ken Lohr (some of you may remember that he was married to our dear friend Judy) Star Spangled banner is played and the flag is raised and then lowered to half mast. None other than our famous Gemma Barry decked out in her Legion Axillary hat with all her buttons and metals gave the invocation. She did a heck of a job. The man behind me said "she has a bit of brogue." A Memorial Day address by a colonel. It was moving and touching. America the Beautiful is played. Mayor of Mahtomedi-Jud Marshall says a few words. Band plays the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Then they start a medley of all the military songs while the girl scouts place flags on the crosses in front of all the local men & women who have served and are now deceased. Silent prayer. My Country Tis of Thee is played. Benediction by the famous Gemma Barry. 21 gun salute and then Taps which is echoed from a distance. It was wonderful.

When I was young almost every Memorial Day we would go to Lake Crystal, MN and plant flowers at my maternal grandparents grave and then go for a picnic with the cousins and aunts & uncles. I also remember going with my dad to get flowers and we would go to his sister's grave to plant. The flowers were always very unpretentious. Just something simple. Dad would usually always pick pansies and we would try to find the prettiest one. I always liked Memorial Day (and I do remember when it was called Decoration Day.)

Every Memorial Day it was always important for Mom to get to the cemetery to plant on Dad's, Wayne's and baby Alex grave. She would go buy the plants and then we would go out there. I would plant and she would tell me exactly what to do. Now I have to sadly take over. I don't mind. I really find it very comforting to plant the simple flowers. Pansies for dad. I did not get any pictures of Wayne's or baby Alex but we also planted there.
Watering the flowers that were just planted on Mom's grave.

Job done. It took some work because Pudge & I had to dig it all out and we only had the little hand shovels. After the head stone gets put in we will fix it like Dad's. There is a white geranium, pink impatiens, white alyssum and a few pansies.

Dad's grave. He got the yellow pansies and some red impatiens and white geranium.

Watering the flowers on Dad's. Mom's little garden is on my left.

This is the sign with all the names of the local military who are deceased. I zeroed in on Wayne's name.
Gemma Barry giving the invocation. She did an excellent job. Made us all proud.
The start of the parade--down Mahtomedi Avenue and around the corner to the triangle.
Gemma with her 2 granddaughters--Amaya and Gabbie.
The crosses in front of the sign with the flags.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tribute to Mom

Tribute to Mom

Elizabeth Jane Reed. Some of you called her “Grandma.” Some of you called her “GG.” One of you called her “your sister.” Others called her “Aunt.” And many of you called her “friend.” I was the only one privileged enough to call her “Mom.”

I not only loved my mom – I liked my mom. It may have seemed like I was mad at her at times because I would always be hollering at her. But that was only so she could hear me. Of course, we would irritate each other at times but get really mad at each other and have ugly, cross words did not happen.

So what did I like about my mom.
· She was fun. She could turn something and anything into an adventure.
· She could make things happen and she could do it on very little money. Money was never an issue with her.
· She was happy and comfortable with her simple life. Things were not important to her. She did love her rocking chair, down comforter and books. The woman read like a maniac. You would often see her in her beloved rocking chair reading a book.
· Her laid back attitude. She never fretted or worried. She would often say about a problem, “It will always work itself out.”
· She very seldom got mad. Even when I tipped her over in her walker on the busy sidewalks of Seattle she didn’t get mad at me. The only thing she said as the two of us were sprawled out—me on top of her—was “well that didn’t work.”
· Her sense of humor and ability to laugh. The incident I just talked about—all of us that were on that trip laughed so much about it. And she laughed right along with us. She was even proud of it because several years later I found myself back in Seattle with Pudge, Jim & Gloria. I called her and she said “be sure to show Jim & Gloria where you tipped me over on the sidewalk.”
· Her passion about things she felt strongly about.
--The union and the local she belonged to. She would defend unions with a vengeance. She was very active having held offices throughout the years and attending many conventions.
---The Democratic party. Oh yes—she had strong feelings about issues. I got to meet Geraldine Ferraro when I was with her. I remember standing in line to file past Hubert Humphrey’s coffin. She was very proud of the picture of her and Humphrey when he was vice president. Many times we would go to the Democratic election headquarters to watch the results come in and celebrate or cry (whatever the case was) with other Democrats. Oh! it was such an adventure and so much fun.
----The Boy Scouts. Who would have thought that my mother would have become a boy scout in her 50’s and loved it. She took her developmentally delayed troop on many camp outs and even took them to Ireland. She fell off a horse while at boy scout camp and broke her arm. And did she ever love telling people about that story. She received many distinguished awards because of her involvement with the Scouts.

I was so fortunate to have my mom for 65 years and we lived close enough where we could see each other often and have a great relationship. I would go visit with her frequently. After every trip I took she would want to know everything that happened. She would love it when I would tell her about some of the conversations Jim & I would have and all of his goofy Republican viewpoints. It didn’t take long for the two of us to conclude that he really did not know what he was talking about.

I was also fortunate in that Pudge loved my mother and was so very good to her. The two of them would have conversations that I was not privy to. Their relationship was great. I know he is going to miss seeing her every day and their chats. He went above and beyond showing her the ultimate of kindness and patience. I can only hope that my son-in-law would do the same for me.

· The people she loved.
-Mary Beth—how she enjoyed your Sunday afternoon visits, trips to the casino, the cruises.
-Denny---she always got such a kick out of it when you would drag one of your recent purchases of a rusty fender, a bent up hubcap, a dirty head light over to her house. She really could have cared less about that stuff but she did love seeing how excited you would get when you would tell her about it and what you were going to do with it.
-Gemma. She would chuckle to herself when you would come in the door and shout “yoohoo.” I know how very near and dear she was to you and how much you are going to miss her. Somebody else is going to have to scold you about your scatter rugs and the way you take your medicine.
-David, Linda, Diane & John. Your fondness & love for Mom came across loud and clear. She loved getting together with all of you. She enjoyed each and every one of you. You were the greatest nieces and nephews anyone could ever wish for.
-Donna, Jerry, Janet-it was no secret how much she loved you and how very special you were to her. We all know how she stepped up to the plate when your mom died. She never minded and I know she enjoyed being very much a part of your lives. Thank you all for everything you have done. Now which one of you is going to make the plum pudding at Christmas?
-Aunt Ginny. You lost your only surviving sister. You two were very different but that didn’t seem to bother either one of you. You accepted her for who she was. I have never heard either one of you say a cross word to one another or about one another.
If you ever want to see the definition of unconditional love in action you would only have to observe Mom with her grandchildren.
--Jeff. Her firstborn grandson. How very pleased she was when you would spontaneously show up to see her.
--Kimmy. You would make her laugh with your no nonsense approach to things.
--Kari. You spent lots of time at Grandma’s. She was so very proud of you. Your thoughtfulness was so appreciated when you & Charlie and the kids would show up and take her to lunch.
--Bryan. Her eyes would sparkle when you would come through the door and shout, “Hi, Grandma.” There are no words to express the gratitude and comfort that you were to her and I that week in Arizona.
--Shannon. The last of her grandchildren but not the least. No matter what boyfriend you bought over Grandma would accept them because they were connected to you and you, Shannon Noel Reed, mattered to her.

All of you should have nothing but the fondest of memories of your grandmother. The trips, the holidays, her love of fun and the list goes on and on. She left you a legacy just by being her. My hope is that even though she is gone you will continue to remember her and what a good role model she was to all of you.

Then the great grandchildren came along-- Matt, Trevor, Abby, Anna, Travis and Jamie. Everything you did and just by being you gave GG so much joy and happiness.

My memories of my Mom are so many but I know I will always cherish the ones of the last few months she spent in Arizona with us. Her daily walks down the back of the condos and the neighbors cheering her on; her on the porch watching the humming birds and the golfers. She even got to where she could see the golf balls land and was so proud that she had to announce it when it happened; her daily schedule; our lunches & dinners together; bopping around the village on the golf cart; her attending my dance recital so she could see that all the money she sunk into me for dance lessons as a child paid off; all of the appointments and tests which she so cheerfully went along with.

Then she had the surgery. I was there and planned to be no matter how long of a haul it would have been. I wanted so badly for her to turn the corner and start to recover. I invented a song while I did range of motion exercises with her.

It went like this:
I don’t know but I’ve been told
Getting out of this hospital is the way to go
It will take some time and energy
But we can do it—you and me.
Sound off 1, 2-----------

I smothered her sweet face with kisses saying this one is from Sinead, One from Naomi, One from Denny, Mary Beth, Gemma, Kari, Bryan, Jeff, Kimmy, Travis, Jamie, Matt, Trevor, Shannon, Abby & Anna, Donna, Janet.

I wanted her to sit up. I wanted the tubes out. I so very desperately wanted her to get well. Dear, sensible Gloria, in her very soft, gentle voice said to me, “Now Patty, she has just had a major surgery. You need to give her time. Then while stroking Mom’s arms she would say “It’s Ok, Liz. You need to rest to get well.”

Well, it didn’t happen. She didn’t get well.

I say this to Pudge: “We gave it our best shot.”

So now family and friends, we have some choices to make:
We can shed tears that she is gone; or we can smile because she has lived. We can close your eyes and pray that she will come back; or we can open our eyes and see all that she has left. Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see her; or we can be full of love that we shared. We can remember her and only that she is gone; or we can cherish her memory and let it live on. We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs. Or we can do what she would want. Open our eyes, love and go on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 5:15 in the afternoon, Mom took her last breath and her heart stopped beating. Pudge was on one side of her and I was on the other. We were holding her in our arms. Then the chimes came over the loud speaker playing Brahms Lullaby indicating that a baby had just been born. Pudge looked over at me and said, “I hope it is a girl. And I hope they name her Elizabeth.

Good bye, Mom.

Tribute to Mom