Posted by: chlost | May 29, 2010

Memorials

Here in the US, it is Memorial Day weekend.  Historically it  is a holiday set aside to memorialize soldiers who died in service to their country.  In many families, however, it has shifted to include remembrances of family members who have died.  I am not able to visit the cemeteries where my family members are buried, so I am giving each of those I care about a little memorial here.  I will try not to make this too long or boring.

Of my grandparents, only three were alive during my life.  My mother’s father, Martin Patrick Mc……was Irish. He was the first of his many siblings to be born in the US.  They were Catholic, and lived in central Wisconsin, in a very small town along the railroad line, not far from what is now the Wisconsin Dells.  I picture them coming to the middle of the country, and just staying in the place where their money ran out.  I don’t know if that is what happened.  He had a falling out with a priest, and hated the Catholic church.  He refused to kiss the priest’s ring.  He was a staunch Republican, and hosted many dignitaries who visited this small town, including the governor.  It is hard to picture the governor having dinner in my grandparents’ dining room, but he did.  My grandfather worked on the railroad, as a security guard for the express service that sent money and packages across the country by rail.  He loved it.  For many years after his retirement, he wrote a column about the railroads’ glory days for his local newspaper. One of his most endearing traits was that he always used a fountain pen with green ink.  He showed his Irish.

My grandmother Mc…..was English., her name was Hanora Leticia Tre…, her family originated from the Isle of Whyte.  Her mother died when she was about 5 years old, and she was raised by a governess.  Her father remarried many years later.  I’ve never known exactly what her father did for a living, but he was relatively successful.  She was a Methodist, and fairly strict about the restrictions on drinking.  They owned a home in town where she lived her entire life.  When they married, my grandfather’s family disowned him for marrying a Protestant.  My grandparents lived in that home.  She didn’t own it, as her father (probably not trusting of my grandfather), gave her a life estate, and passed it to her children.  They made it through the depression without losing the house. My grandmother was a third grade teacher, and continued to teach after she was married.  Not very common in those days.  She even taught after she had her two children.  It was a small town, and she knew every one of the children in town, and whether they were successful after they finished school. She made sure all of us read books, and gave us old readers she had used in her classes.  She had an amazing laugh, remembering it even now makes me smile.

My father’s mother, Mabel Carolyn H….., was widowed at an early age, and she was left with three boys to raise alone through the depression.  Her family, strong Norwegian farmers, convinced her to move back to Wisconsin, near LaCrosse, so that the family could help her with the kids.  She was trained in nursing, and was able to work to support the kids, but it was very hard in those days to be a single parent.  Her brother stepped in and helped out in being a father figure, but my father, as the oldest, did a lot of the parenting of his younger brothers.  She was stoic.  I never saw much emotion, and never a complaint from her of all of the hard work she had.  At one point, she and a sister bought a small nursing home in a rural Iowa town.  The two of them were the only staff, and my grandmother lived in the big old house that was the nursing home.  It was an interesting place to visit as a child.  She never remarried. 

My father, Dale Eugene H…., as I noted above, was an oldest child.  At age ten, he lost his father.  He became “the man of the family”, and took it very seriously.  He tried to keep his two younger brothers out of trouble.  They tested him at every turn. He was 6’7″ tall, and very heavy most of his life. He never really felt at ease in the world.  I think he gave up a lot during his  teen years to be an adult.  He served in the Air Force (not flying, but teaching math to prospective pilots) during the Korean War, and spent time in Japan.  He hit the computer age at its’ infancy.  He was hired by IBM in the late 50’s, and became a programmer.  He worked on the big computers, the predecessors for the small ones we take for granted now.  He was transferred across the country a couple of times, which probably led to my parents’ divorce.  He had a disastrous second marriage, but married for a third time in his late 60’s.  He and his third wife, Anne, were true soul mates.  They got along wonderfully, and he was truly happy during that time.  It was wonderful to see him enjoy life.

My sister Kathleen, died just three and a half months ago.  If you have read this blog, you know this, as I have posted about this many times.  I am still reeling from her death.  She was a woman who lit up a room as she came into it.  She was 6″3″ tall.  She had a voice that was truly amazing.  She performed in operas, and taught music, directed church choirs, sang in choirs at both Christian churches and Jewish Temples.  She had friends of every race, creed color and religion.  The 400 people who attended her funeral truly looked like a cross-section of the world.  She had eyes that sparkled when she laughed, and shot knives when she was angry.  She was not angry often.  She had creative talent that was amazing.  She sewed, created crafts of all kinds, did pottery, drew, painted, and did needlework.  When we went through her sewing room, she had all sorts of projects lined up, ready to tackle at her next opportunity.  She loved to shop, found bargains at every turn, and would send gifts to me out of the blue, just because she found something she thought I would like.  I miss her more than I can explain.

I have added the names of those whose names I did not include in my original post, as I realized that it is important to say their names, even after they are gone.

So, to all of them, and to Marjorie and Paul, my in-laws, and to Anne, my step-mother, I miss all of you.  Here’s to your memory.

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Responses

  1. Your last paragraph, about your sister, is like seeing the answer to a complex algebraic formula: there was x + yx + (z + a -b)…and all those variables together = Kathleen. And you.

    Lovely, honey.

    • Very interesting concept. But, as with any algebraic formula, we must know what we are solving for. I think that is my problem.

  2. Thank you for sharing. May their memories truly only be for a blessing.

  3. What a lovely way to remember your loved ones. We don’t have a special day over here, unless you count All Saints Day when we think of the dead, and of course, at Easter, when we decorate our graves in symbolic preparation for the Resurrection.

  4. That sounds like the outline for a very good book

    I am English Irish too..
    my Grandmother was Irish..maiden name Maher

    always wondered if I am related to Bill 🙂

    Good memories..


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