Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't ya just love these funny plaid slacks? I was a mother of two and expecting the third when this picture was taken at Arbuckle Lake in Oklahoma in April 1973. We had gone fishing with Kent's parents and even though my fish was little, I was the only one to catch a fish that day! I got teased for a long time after with everyone saying I had only caught that fish because he happened to be swimming by! Kent released the fish back into the lake.

Vicki facebook post.

Treasured Memories of My Mother by Mary Axsom Johnson

My first love was my mother. I was her first born and her name sake. She was Mary "Pauline". I am Mary Jean.
When recent January temperatures plummeted below zero with dangerous wind chills, schools and senior center's activities were canceled. Persons were warned of hypothermia and advised to dress in layers. This took me back to when I was 6 years old and in the first grade at a one room country school a mile from home.
The weather had turned brutally cold during the day. Mom came to the school to escort me safely home. Before we ventured out, she wrapped a scarf around my head, covering my nose and mouth. Only my eyes were exposed as we battled the unrelenting wind. I knew even then that the essence of a mother's love is sacrifice.
Mom and her 4 siblings had all graduated from this grade school. She had a life long love of spelling, "Wheel of Fortune" was her favorite game show and "Scrabble" was her favorite board game. She regretted not having the privilege of attending high school. Her dad died when she was barely 15. This, of course, caused hardships. Later in life, after mom's children were grown, she strived to get her GED.
One of my favorite memories, as a little girl, was seeing the movie, "Little Women" with mom. Like me, she loved to read and Louisa May Alcott was one of her favorite authors.
Mom liked to whistle while she worked. She was artistic, loved pretty colors, flowers, journaling, genealogy and embroidery. Her lime pickles were wonderful. She, like I, had learned to cook on a wood stove. She gave me permission to cook and bake with the understanding that I had to clean up my messes. At age 15, I won a blue ribbon for my yeast dinner rolls at the Grundy County Fair. Dad would preferred pie could expect a homemade pie baked by mom on his birthdays.
To encourage her children to try new things and not give too quckly, Mom would tell us, "Can't never did anything!" Her encouragement that I could do better than a first attempt for a 4-H competition, prompted me to start anew. As a result, I won 3 blue ribbons locally and again in interstate competition.
When Moberly Park in Trenton offered swimming lessons, mom was enthusiastic about joining her 2 teenage daughters.
During my sophomore year of high school, mom worked at the Bulldog Inn directly across the street (west) from the high school and junior college building. I enjoyed the camaraderie we shared those times I got a study hall pass to go help her prepare for the lunch crowd.
When a girlfriend Phyllis and I planned to come to Kansas City to seek work, dad wanted mom to accompany us. We were 2 naïve, country girls, so I was glad that mom helped us to get settled in an apartment.
In my story, "MY DAD, MY HERO" I wrote of the challenges and triumphs that mom and dad experienced including moving to California in 1964 and losing their youngest son Roger in 1987.
In March 1992, mom was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma. My brother Bernard, sister Freeda, and I were all with her during her 5th chemo treatment on August 7th.
Once mom began taking chemo, she lost her hair. It was difficult to keep a wig from shifting around on her bald head. She joked, "I guess I'll have to use a thumbtack to keep it in place!" I marveled at her extraordinary wit and sense of humor.
On September 22, a cat scan showed no signs of cancer. Our happiness was short lived. On October 20, she found a lump in her neck. A doctor thought more chemo would be in vain.
On October 27, mom wrote in her daily log: I'll just put myself in God's hands and accept his will, as best I can.
Many were the times mom cared for me when I was not well. She was a comfort during my heartbreak when widowed. So, without a moment's hesitation,I responded, "Yes! I'll come, help dad care for you!" She and dad had lovingly cared for Roger during his terminal illness and I knew they would have done the same for me.
When I arrived in San Jose on December 1 to help Freeda care for mom, she was concerned about our rest and dad eating right. Her love for her family knew no bounds.
A week or two prior, mom had gone with dad to Oak Hill Mortuary to plan and pay for their funerals. She did not want to leave dad burdened with this difficult task.
Mom died at home on December 6, 1992. She never made the headlines or received public acclaim, but she was a special breed to her family.
In a letter of condolences to the family, mom's doctor wrote that she had made the bravest decision to opt for quality of life rather to prolong it with more chemo.
If I was to choose one word to best describe my mother, I think it would be resilient.
THE END
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aunt mary late made some changes...will note them here.
When I re-read my story about mom, I see a boo boo on page 2. It should read Dad who (not Dad would.) I was copying it over seated at a table at the senior ctr. in order to get photocopy.) with others talking at the table. And on page 3 I goofed and should not have changed the sentence about camaraderie. Either way would be ok. I believe though when re-reading it that I like we shared better than she and I.
I can't recall what mom's swimsuit looked like. It may have had a shirt. I think she always wrapped a towel around her hips until she reached the pools edge. She thought that learning to swim might one day be lifesaving knowledge. I think the paragraph needs something more, but I'm blank.
On page 2, I've added card games after genealogy. Mom loved to play Skipbo. I have many fond memories of card games at your parent's, your grandparents and my parent's tables. At the end of the first paragraph page 2 I've added: She had many passions and interests but none greater than her family.
a lady reading my story pointed out that I left out the word up (not give up.)
page 4 to (crossed out) than prolonging.
after daughters, page 2: enthusiastic about her taking lessons with her. She thought it would be a valuable skill. Shopping for swimsuits was fun. And the lessons proved to be also.
P.S. after ending: After mom's death, Larry Axsom, editor of the national newsletter, wrote me: your mother had a sense of thoroughness and accuracy that few people I've worked with possess.
of course, any typos are mine. deb

Dear Debbie and family,

letter from aunt mary dated 1/12/2014
Mom lost her dad when she was only 15 and her brother Ralph (when she was 21, pregnant with your dad, winter starting, and 2 kids underfoot. Ralph was 23.) in WWII. I know how devastating this had to be for her. She made several entries of feeling blue in her little diary. How painful all of this had to be for her!
a few days ago I began writing a story of my memories of my mom for an upcoming writing class, I decided to give it a try. Once I got started, I kept writing with a few additions. I wanted to do her justice same as I did dad. I will read parts of it aloud as we go along in class. Unless the teacher suggests a change, I'll leave it as it is.

partial letter from aunt mary:

(no date). was cleaning out totes of papers in basement and found a bunch of letters....
Mom had reprints made for us from a 1941 snapshot of dad (deb's Grandpa Alfred Axsom) standing between 2 gigantic draft (work) horses. I have another cherished reprint of mom, dad, and me at probably 2-3 years old. Dad is holding me and I have one arm outstretched, clutching the bodice of mom's dress. Dad is wearing striped bibbed overalls and his forehead appears white (typical of farmers who wear caps.) Both pictures have a border around them like all snapshots did in the 40's. (deb has copies of these somewhere.) We can submit one picture with our story at the Mid-Continent Genealogy Library in Independence. A friend attended several classes with me and told me last week that our names are listed as authors or writers when she pulled up info on her computer. Early classes were "1001 Stories (I believe) and "Building Life Stories." I have stories in 2 or maybe 3 books on the shelf at the library.

Monday, October 27, 2014

letter from aunt mary

Oct 5 2014
I think Aunt Dona will be 88 on Nov. 28. Mom would be 92 and Uncle Dean was 4 years younger. Aunt Betty would've been 86 last June 17 (your dad was born on her birthday).

sometimes Aunt Mary will include letters she's received from others....this one is from Aunt Dona. Aunt Dona is a character!

9-1-14
Our minister is ailing so had another preach Sunday....he sure gives a good sermon. Sunday was about taking Gods name in vain. So I in turn thought about the little boy that accused the minister of swearing. After services I told him the story and he just threw his head back &
I think this word is bellered....but it could be hollered....
this darn pen just don't want to work! Guess cause its black ink ha!
we had quite a storm last night. high winds up to 80mph. Art came to see if I had any damage here. All he could find was the owl I had on the ramp railing was broken. The birds crapped on the ramp & railing and were just covered. I have to use the rail to get up and down the ramp and I couldn't find a clean spot to hang onto. The owl sure did help that. Art & Janies had damage, mainly the skirting.
found some memories....this birth announcement...you might give it to Debbie, think she's the history one. Golly, it brought so many memories to me and I can't get them out of my mind. .....found the ad of our sale when we left Cainsville and moved to Reeds Spring. I found a picture of Rick batting in Little League.
I wish they'd get some decent shows for TV like we used to have. Like The Waltons, I Love Lucy, etc. I really don't like sitcoms. Some are so stupid and some are pure sex & vulgar. So many swear words in them. It's no wonder the kids pick up all the kind of talk.
Randy has a beautiful garden. The best tomatoes I've tasted in years. He canned pickled beets, Dill pickles, bread & butter pickles. Frozen green beans, peas, and corn. The Fareway store had a meat sale....freezer just about full....variety of stuff to eat.
I have a cleaning lady she comes every other week. you can't do much when you have to depend on a walker to stand. I do manage to keep my laundry and dishes done. Thank God for the dishwasher. I'd never be able to stand long enough to wash dishes. She's Latino and I can't hardly understand anything she says. She goes to my church. Her mom is from Mexico and doesn't speak English. She was wither one day & Angelina introduced her but she spoke in their language. She (her mom) held the door open for me to come back in the house and I said Gracious (that's only thing I know.) Her mom was elated.

Dear Debbie,

9-8-2014
This morning when I was outside briefly. Phyllis (Sharp) Smith called and left a message that Rowena (her sister) passed away and she said that she'd call back, but so far hasn't. They were our closest neighbors on Rt. A. Phyllis is a year older than me and I think Rowena was 2 years older than her, which would make her 77. They were 13 and 15 (I think) when their baby brother was born in Sept. 1952. (same year as Roger.)
This afternoon, upon leaving the Vaile, a guy in a pickup truck ran a red light, T-boned a car which whirled around into the car in front of me, driven by a Vaile volunteer. Luckily, I escaped by a hair. Another volunteer was right behind me. A 4th one was further back (with cars between her and us) so she turned onto a side street. I waited around, but couldn't be a waitress, since I know Mary Ann. Both the T-boned lady and Mary Ann were loaded into ambulances. still another volunteer Joann told me by phone that Mary Ann has had hip replacements. Joann saw on the 4 o'clock news info that said one person was seriously injured.
....went on a chartered bus trip to Arrow Rock Aug. 27th.
My Mom said, "You never expect to outlive one of your children!"
Freeda wrote me that Darla's oldest Tricia had baby #6 on Aug. 29. everybody but Morgan & Marc were there. The midwife told Tricia that she should stay off her feet and rest, so her husband was taking the older 5 to a park and the pool. The kids are 10 1/2 down to under 3. Baby named Liberty Ann.
a raccoon (they think) got into a 3rd floor storage room at Vaile and tore ups some Christmas gift shop buyers stuff early in the summer.
Aunt Freeda dislikes gossip.
the reason her granddaughter and grandson-in-law changed their last name was no ones business. (deb agrees.) another granddaughter's divorce shouldn't be mentioned, and it was for the best. (again: agreed.)