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A Life Lived

A lot can happen in 82 years.

I've spent the last two days at Mom's house, sorting through her things, with a picture emerging of a complex woman, both old-fashioned, as I said the other day, and modern at the same time.

Imagine being born the year before the Great Depression, raised in a very small town in the most ridiculously cold place in New York state. Mostly it's the photographs that bring some of those images to life. There is one with their house nearly buried in snow. Another one of her sledding, another as a young woman by a lake with gentle mountains in the background, along with some of her family when she was young, and they were whole.

You see, she lost an infant sibling, a brother in WWII, and in 1980, her remaining sister was killed in a horrible car accident. The driver was 17. I found the newspaper clipping buried in a bottom drawer. Once again the photos the newspaper ran told the story almost better than the text. I can only imagine. Not really, I can't imagine those tragedies, having lived through none of them.

Remember I told you she was of the "waste not, want not" mentality? Let me just tell you, she would have been hard pressed to use all the hotel shower caps she'd saved. Just in case you got a hangnail in one of the rooms of the house, you would have no problem finding a nail clipper--I found probably ten yesterday. Gift bags, used or new, she had them. No need to run to the store for packing material; go the the spare room closet to find everything you would need she had stored from a package received. So therein lies the modern part--she was recycling way before it was hip to do so.

We would sometimes get impatient with her regarding her computer, but hey, she had one, and she used it! I found evidence of several classes she'd taken to improve her skills, which more than I can say for myself! And she had a cell phone she'd used for several years which I managed to ruin in an hour, a story to silly to put in print.

Her only employment, as far as I can tell, was after high school helping her dad at his service station, or at least that's what the wedding notice from the newspaper printed. But man was she active, joining clubs left and right, and serving others whenever she had the opportunity. Another very impressive accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned, was learning to play mah jongh just a few years ago, which I cannot even spell!

Mostly what's run through my mind is that so much of what she accumulated through the years, future generations will have no experience with. A typewriter, what's that? You actually needed white out? Why, yes, there was nothing so simple as a delete key. A film camera? Adding machine with a tape? Even the multitude of pens and paper may one day be nearly obsolete. Piles and piles of developed pictures, not to mention, years and years worth of photo albums. Checkbook--that may go by the wayside. Books, books, and more books. Will they face obsolescence now that Kindle has arrived?

Back to that wedding announcement...the bridesmaid wore "dotted swiss" which I'm nearly certain anyone under 30 has probably never heard of. Surprisingly, both mothers wore black! The flowers were a mish-mash, with the wedding party split between white roses, red roses, and yellow gladiolas. That would never happen today I can tell you that much! Just imagine, the wedding itself didn't mean all that much after all--they were married 56 years, truly until death did them apart. Not to mention that this occurred in 1947, just two years after the end of WWII. Check this out to imagine what life was like:1947

I'm heading out there shortly to keep at it. I hate doing it, but she'd have done anything for me, so it's the least I can do.

A few weeks ago I stopped at a little cemetery near the Methodist church in Conway during a gentle rain. I found a pot of beautiful yellow tulips toppled over from the wind. I thought it was striking that the tender bulbs were lying on the worn concrete. At the time, it never occurred to me that I'd be at a cemetery in a few weeks for anything other than photography....

And yes, I just checked the weather for Saturday and rain is predicted. Let's just hope it's a gentle one, like my gentle mother in law.
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