She was born in a little town on the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border. Her long ago ancestors had helped found the town when they decided Massachusetts was over-developed. That was around 1640 or so. If I put the laptop down I could go look at the genealogy information she collected and tell you the names of the people who moved there. They were swamp Yankees. They arrived on the early ships, but they were never rich or powerful. Just ordinary farmers and workers.Her father ran a gas station. Mom sometimes talked about the times people would come to the house in the middle of the night, needing gas, and her father would get up, open the station and fill the tank. These days we would assume it was a robbery attempt and call the police. But not in those days. They also had tourist cabins. Her mother ran a barbecue restaurant during the summer when the crowds were thick on Route 1. Her grandparents and great-grandparents lived down the road a little bit.A few stories leaked down from her mother, like the time she and her brother tried to bury the rooster. Sam dug the hole while Mom held the rooster. Mom, when questioned as to the advisability of holding an angry rooster, told me that the rooster was sick, and they thought that if they buried him, he would get better. I have to assume that they were very young at the time.When she was a little older she was playing in the barn, saw a stick she wanted to play with, and brought a huge cement trough down on her leg. Her mother ran out, and lifted the trough while Sam dragged Mom out. Mom had a broken leg, and later, without the adrenaline surge, her mother couldn't lift the trough an inch. Mom's leg healed wrong and they had to break it and reset it. She kept the x-rays, and showed them to me.She was the first person in her family to go to high school. Her town didn't have a high school. Most of the boys graduated from 8th grade and went to work. Girls stayed home for a little bit, then got married. Education was not considered necessary. If a parent wanted a child to go to high school, they paid the high school in the next town and the kid went there. But there was a man in town who thought his sons would benefit from a high school education, so he talked the town board into paying for everyone to go. So Mom went to high school. It was actually across the border, so Mom actually graduated from high school in Massachusetts. She made friends with people she had never met before, and remained friends with them for her lifetime. The two boys whose father wanted them to get an education? One became a salesman, the other was an Army Colonel. The extra education served them well.Mom worked. She pumped gas at the gas station, changed the beds in the tourist cabins, waited table and kept the books at the barbecue. When self-pump stations became popular she was annoyed. She thought she had already pumped enough gas for a lifetime. And she couldn't understand why she should change the sheets in a cabin when the couple had only been there an hour.She had an aunt-by-marriage who was a psychic, and who told Mom that she would meet her husband close-by. Right around where they were, at the back of the restaurant. And she would be very happy. That spot was exactly where Mom met Dad. He and some friends were fixing up an old tennis court, and he had come to buy his dinner. Before long Mom took to taking the dinner to him, and they would talk for a while. He was unlike anyone she ever met before. I used to tease Mom that she married the first guy from out of town, and she always said no, he was the second guy. But the first guy spent his summers there.Mom and Dad were engaged for over a year before they married. Dad wanted to earn his CPA first.They were married on a rainy day in May. Mom was accused, later, of breaking the cat's tail in the refrigerator that day, and she was never certain if she was the person responsible.My sister was born just over a year later.My brother was born three years after that.I came along seven years later.Quite a pack for a woman who barely made it to five feet tall.We lived in a small town (well, back when they moved there it was a small town. It's a lot bigger now) in Massachusetts. There were kids around who were my age, and we played together.One year the family went on a long road trip, but left me with my grandparents. I always remember that, because they drove away in a black car, and came home in green and white car. Apparently something broke, possibly in Oklahoma, and while the mechanics were trying to figure out what was wrong Dad went into the showroom and bought a new car. This is totally unlike any other action of his, ever.The next year we took another trip. That time I went along.A few months later we moved across town. The neighbors were loud drunks, and Mom didn't appreciate having her kids growing up hearing the language they used.The new house was lots of fun. It was brand-new, which meant there was construction ALL OVER THE PLACE!!! In fact, we have a movie of me, wearing a lovely sweater with mohair kittens on it, knitted by my grandmother, and wearing jeans with the cuffs rolled up (because that was how the high school kids wore them) sliding down a giant pile of dirt, over and over. You could have made a small garden of the dirt I dumped out on the kitchen floor that day. Mom's attempts to make me fashionable came to a halt.We moved again when I was ten. This time we moved to Long Island. Dad's company had a new president (that was what we called CEOs back then) and he didn't want to move to Boston. In addition, the building the company was in was due to be torn down in order to build portions of a highway and the John Hancock tower, so it was easier to move the whole company (complete with divisions from other states) rather than move the company and the president.Those were good times. Mom and Dad could go into NYC for dinner and a Broadway show. They loved going, and always came home happy.When my sister got married a couple years after that (after carefully explaining to Mom that the math major who was coming home with her would be riding his (gulp) motorcycle) the wedding was held in the backyard and the food was little sandwiches and appetizers, because in those days you didn't spend a fortune on a wedding. Mom spent the morning eating tranquilizers. The rest of us were eating coffee cake and watching Saturday morning cartoons.A few years later my brother married. The woman he married turned into someone as close as a daughter, and her family became part of our family. We shared holidays, sad times, good times and lots of laughs. I can't imagine our family without them.There were years of travel. Whether on company trips or vacations, they went to Australia, Hong Kong, Europe, Canada, and eventually Afghanistan.The first grandchild was born.And then one August there was the phone call. Dad had a massive stroke at work. All the connections to the left side of the body were cut. He was moved to Presbyterian Hospital in New York. He came home just before Christmas.Mom had to learn how to do everything. Not just take care of the house, which she had always done, but take care of him, pay the bills, balance the checking account, learn how to invest, make sure the taxes were paid, and a thousand other details.She learned. She found a stockbroker, she listened to advice, and she became stronger. After more than two years, Dad finally had to be moved into a nursing home. She had done her best to take care of him, but finally it was beyond anyone's best.The house was a little bit emptier.Dad died. There were more grandchildren.She continued to live in the house. She made more friends. She played bridge, she joined groups, she had lots of things to do. But finally she decided to move back to New Hampshire. She'd be closer to my brother and his family, she'd be closer to other relatives, she'd be closer to her sister.She bought a condo, and moved in. She joined the local church. She found a bridge group, and a group that helps young women with college expenses. She joined the Friends of the Library and a book group. She had lovely, wonderful years.She became very old. And after a bad fall and a minor stroke, she moved to a residential retirement community. People could keep an eye on her. Again, as always, people loved her. They watched out for her, they asked her to sit at dinner with them, they sometimes dropped in to play games or to just talk.Two weeks ago she had a major stroke. And the family followed the requests she laid down. No feeding tubes, no extraordinary measures. Just comfort.Day after day more of her strength ebbed. Last night was her last.Good night, Mom. Sleep well.Nancy
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