From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

89th Birthday of My Mother-in-law

Adapting to life changes


 Elizabeth, in about 1945 or 1946,
with Donna, Charles Jr., Bonnie, and Willadene.

Tomorrow, January 25, is my mother-in-law Elizabeth's 89th birthday. I hope she has a great day. I sent her a little package which should arrive by UPS tomorrow afternoon. I will call her, Isaac will call her, Dennis will call her, and I reminded Keely to call her. That's about all we can do from this distance.

This has been a hard year for Mama N. She broke her hip in August of 2004, and the recovery has been difficult and slow. It was complicated by some other ailments -- gall bladder problems, persistent infections, and more. It was necessary for her to move to an assisted living facility and sell her home because she could no longer live alone. She has been grieving the loss of her home of 60 years.

She has lived in or very near Independence, MO, since she was a child. She went to school there, married there, and moved to Allen Road where she lived for six decades, more or less. On Allen Road, she raised six children. Her husband Charles passed away over 20 years ago.

Until about 15 years ago, she was a member of the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS, headquartered in Independence). Then that church began to change what it believes; now she attends a "Restoration Branch" which stands by traditional church doctrines.

Everyone talks about what a good cook Elizabeth was. Besides cooking for a big family for years, she was a volunteer cook for the RLDS Laurel Club for many years and the chairman of it for a while. (The Laurel Club runs the kitchen at the RLDS Auditorium and serves thousands of people every year.) Until just before her accident, she volunteered regularly in a soup kitchen that her current church runs. There isn't much about a kitchen and cooking for a crowd that Mama doesn't know.

Mama's always been a seamstress, and not having a machine anymore doesn't stop her. She spends a lot of her time quilting by hand, nowadays. She also is a "caller" on her church's prayer chain. Dennis's oldest sister, Willadene, takes Mama out for the day, on Wednesday or Thursday of most weeks. They go to Mama's doctor appointments and over to Willadene's house, where they have an ongoing project of sorting pictures. Donna, another of Dennis's sisters, takes her to church a couple of times a month. This is about as much going as Mama can withstand. She takes her walker with her when she goes out.

It is hard to believe that she is 89 years old. She was just a few years old than I am now when I first met her. Time goes too quickly.

The photo below was taken about 10 years ago. We were visiting Grandma in Independence, and I made everyone stop playing and pose for me. You can see a bit of attitude on their faces. They're enduring it, but they wish I would hurry up.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.