Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1991. Dad had Alzheimers by then, but long before the celebration took place, he kept talking about what he called "the big party". Dad died in 1995. About ten years later, Mom had to face one of the hardest things a mother can ever face, the death of one of her children. Mom made sure at John's funeral that every verse of "How Great Thou Art"was sung and refused to wear the new clothes her daughters had picked out for her because John had never seen her in them, so somehow that made those clothes not right.
After we were more or less raised to adults, Mom was always there to take care of her grandchildren. She was even willing to try taking care of Wendy's twins Chris and Tom on her own. Mom took as much pride in her grandkids as she did in us. And then there is the four-generation picture of Mom holding her twin great-grandchildren, Patrick and Zoe flanked by Kath and Brian. The picture is a family treasure.
And in the last years of her life, it was her gandchildren, especially the Carter clan, who always "happily"at all hours of the day and night had "Grandma duty". in helping Mom in and out of bed and on and off the….well, let's skip the details about that duty. It would take too long to give details of the grandchildren's help to Mom, but I want to assure you there were moments of real heroism on the part of Michael Whittum and Dave, Nathaniel and Valerie Carter. But Mom was the daily heroine — so patient and good, even when we amateurs were not so skilled.
Motherhood and Grandmotherhood require great strength. Our neighbor Glenn Neal realatively recently asked Kath's son Brent how Mom was doing. This was when Mom was in the middle of her 92nd year and 12th year of Alzheimer's. Brent answered, "She's the toughest lady I know." Mom was tough. Let me give you a couple of many, many examples that could be given.
Mom decided to get her first driver's license when she was in her forties, and then drove us kids around in old station wagons, one of them required a rock to be taken from under the driver's seat, the hood lifted and the alternator hit with the rock before the car would start. And very late in life she had a blood clot in her leg — it stretched the entire length of her leg. She survived the ER nurse's mistake of way overdosing her on medication. Then we were told by four nurses, two doctors and a pharmacist that her leg would probably always be swollen and her stomach would bruise very badly from the injections she would have to have for a week after returning home. In less than two weeks, one could not tell which leg had the clot and her stomach never bruised even a little. Was it her EMT turned policeman grandson Nathaniel's needle technique, or Mom's toughness that kept her bruiseless? I'm betting on Mom.