Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Goodbye to Mom

Her adventure is finally at an end, my mother died late Monday evening. The last few years have not been easy, the top picture is five years ago, two years ago, and this summer. She slipped away by inches over the past several years.  

Born Joyce Jean Harp in June of 1927, to a farm hand, and his very young bride in rural Michigan.  She was their only child. She was a C-section birth, at a time when any surgery was terrifying. She was two when the great depression hit, the stories of her childhood are ones of struggle until her later teens when her parents settled on a farm. They didn't have running water or electric power in the house until she was a teenager. During World War II her parents saved up gas ration stamps, and took her to California and back one winter. One of her high school teachers was arrested as a German spy. She finished high school during World War II, her graduating class was about 12 people, many of the men in her class would not survive the war. 

After High School she talked about getting a job, and maybe more education and her father told her she should find neighboring farm boy and settle down and start a family. She wrote an aunt in the Detroit area who offered her a place to live, one of her uncles drove her to the train station, and she left home - essentially running away from home. 

She met my father when she was on a date with one of his friend's. Her date's car broke down, and my father rescued her from a long walk home - he as always prided himself on owning a reliable car.  She and my father have been married 68 years.  She had four children.  

She was a stern disciplinarian, the threat was never wait until you father gets home.  She kept an immaculate house,  cooked a mid western farm diet.  She protected her children, but let life happen to us.  When I was in elementary school we had a crop failure on the farm, and she went to work for a newspaper and printing company.  I think she liked going back to work outside the home.  I learned how to cook and bake while she was working.  

Later she helped run the farm, working the rest of us into the ground.  Five years after I finished high school, my parents sold the farm in Michigan and "retired" to Florida.  Retirement did last long, within a year they were both back working.  They retired a second time about five years later, and that time it stuck.  They traveled a bit, spending summers in Michigan for about 20 years.  They went to Hawaii twice and Europe just once (I have made up for them.)  Ultimately what she liked was being home.  Home being a modest home in Florida that they bought in 1976 and lived in the rest of her life.   

Several years ago she developed Parkinson's and dementia 2 or 3 years later.  Four years ago she was very sick, in the hospital and then a nursing home for a few weeks.  She was home about a month from that when she fell and broke her leg.  She never recovered from that injury.  Physical therapy was painful, and because of her dementia she couldn't understand why the man was hurting her.  She never walked again.  The dementia slowly robbed her of the ability to communicate. When I visited in September she knew who I was and was able to say a coherent sentence or two, by December she was not sure who was around and in the time I was there the only thing she said that was clearly understood shouting at the dog to be quiet (she knew his name.) When I visited in January she didn't seem to recognize me, she was sleeping most of the time, not wanting to get out of bed many days and had little ability to communicate.  Her condition had worsened since then, she essentially stopped eating and drinking almost two weeks ago. She lingered much longer than anyone expected - she was made of tough stuff.   

She is survived by her husband George, oldest son Dale - now 65, middle son Gary - in his early 60's who has worked for Disney for decades, her daughter Karen - who was her primary caregiver for the last three years, and her 58 year old baby, your one and only Travel Penguin. She has two grandsons Michael and Andrew.  

Arrangements are pending at this late hour.  


  1. Sending you deepest sympathy and a bit of my heart. She and my mother were born the same month and year. And my sister DALE would be 65. Touching connections between us. Wishing you all many good memories of the better years. Your mother sounds like a force of nature.

  2. my condolences to you and your family, dear. another strong woman now at peace, like mitchell's mom. what happens to your dad now?

  3. Let me also express condolences for your loss. I also watched my mother's slow exit at intervals when I could visit her. It was hard at the time, but a relief when it was finally over for her.

  4. So sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a unique and wonderful woman who left an indelible mark on those around her. in that sense, she will go on.

  5. My condolences to all who knew your Mom.


  6. Love to you and yours from here out west. Your words are beautiful. Hug.

  7. She is finally at rest. My deepest sympathy for your family's loss. As long as we carry their memories in our hearts and minds they are still with us. It isn't easy losing a parents no matter our age. Hugs!

  8. I agree with the above comment. As hard as it is to lose a parent, they are finally done with the suffering and have moved on where ever that may be. She is at peace and happy I'm sure. My condolences.

  9. Her strong and enduring presence will leave a void. I will miss her. Much Love!!!

  10. What a beautiful epitaph you wrote for your mom! She sounds as though she certainly lived an interesting life, which you are also doing.

    You have my very deepest condolences.

  11. That was a lovely tribute; thank you for sharing such with us all.

  12. Anonymous2/22/2017

    I send you my love David.