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grief

Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy and even harder when that person is the one who bore you and gave you life. I had known for awhile that my mother had cancer and not only that, she had heart problems and COPD. As an adolescent and even a young teen, I was well aware of my mother’s mortality. She would ask that if something happened to her, who would I want to live with. My first answer was my grandparents but she reminded me that they would probably be gone before she was, and even if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in very good health to raise a young person. It seemed like every time my mom got hurt – whether it was spraining her ankle on a curb or falling down the concrete steps where she worked or even when it seemed she just didn’t feel good for one day longer than I thought was right – I felt a sense of panic. But time marched on, and Mom always bounced back from whatever it was that happened. I moved away and became independent, got married and had children, settled into a nice career, and even turned my life around after my divorce. Back home, Mom was settling into her own life – one without the strains of an angst ridden teenager living under her roof. She found new friends and went out on dates. She became even more active in her church and the many other organizations to which she belonged. Her life didn’t revolve around me anymore. I was happy for her. After my grandparents passed away, she had even more time to indulge in what she wanted to do. If she wanted to spend the day sewing, she did. If she wanted to watch the Master’s Golf Tournament from start to finish, she could. If she wanted to travel, she did. Somewhere along the line, I forgot that my mother was forty years older than me; forgot that she was getting older before I hit middle age; forgot that her mortality could knock on the door at any moment.

Then in 1998, Mom had surgery to repair leaky heart valves brought on from a bout of childhood rheumatic fever. My family had already planned to be at my in-law’s 50th anniversary celebration so we traveled all night to get to Missouri, but I was not going to sleep until I knew the outcome of the surgery. All day I waited for my brother to contact me but still no word by early evening. Nerves on edge, I played phone tag with him but managed to talk with Mom’s doctor who let me know that she had come through the surgery okay. What a relief – then I slept. It took her time to heal, but she did. She continued to work full time even as she was approaching 80 years old. It was about then that I realized Mom might not have a lot of time left on this earth. We tried to visit more often.

In June 2001, her brother passed away and in August 2001, my brother passed away, and my mother was inconsolable. She kept saying that she wouldn’t be far behind. I was afraid that my brother’s death would cause her mental and physical health to decline rapidly but she was stronger than I thought. Mom pressed on knowing that life does not stop. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she was let go from her job. I always thought that if she didn’t have a reason to get up in the morning, that she would probably call it quits. But she made due with the hand that had been dealt.

Several years later, she had to have another surgery but due to the blood thinner she had to take and lack of attention by medical personnel, she began bleeding internally. It was then that I realized that she wouldn’t be able to handle any type of surgery – major or minor. Her blood pressure was getting lower. Her heart valves were starting to leak again. She started having breathing issues and congestive heart failure due to fluid around her heart. After testing some of the fluid from her lungs, they discovered that she had lung cancer. Surgery wasn’t an option for her so they gave her the chemo pill. She had good days and bad days but she always did her best to go to church each Sunday and drive to doctor appointments or to her friend’s home. It was such a blessing that my cousins were close by and if need be, one of them always helped her out. Being 900 miles away that knowledge helped ease my anxiety about her situation. She had a couple of TMI’s (also called “mini-strokes”) but she’d be okay after a couple of days. Her oncologist had put her in touch with hospice because there are several things that organization can help with even if it’s not at the end of life. Mom got a lifeline in her home so if she needed it, help was just a “holler” away. She was on oxygen all the time.  Even though she could and still did cook for herself, Meals on Wheels delivered meals to her a few times a week. That would help on those days when she really didn’t feel like preparing food just for herself. Each time she had a spell that sent her to the hospital, she would have to go to a rehab for a couple weeks afterward so they could make sure she was able to take care of herself. She’d get so frustrated.

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Summer 2008 – Mom and I just before we left

When my family visited in June of 2008, I kept watching her to see if I could tell how she was doing. It was probably to ease my mind. I went to the doctor with her. Not at any time did they ever give her a time limit. There was no one year or six months or anything. She kept taking the medicine she needed – especially her blood thinner and her cancer pill. She knew what she could and what she couldn’t eat. She knew if her oxygen was turned too low or too high. Walking out of that house to return to Texas after our vacation, I hugged her with the thought in the back of my mind that it might be the last time.

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November 2008 – Mom looking at an old photo album

That November, my sister and I made a special trip to visit her. It was the first time in many, many years that Mom, my sister, and I were under the same roof for several days. We had a lot of laughs and made some good memories. I dug out really old photo books that Mom hadn’t seen in eons. As my sister and I looked at all the stuff in the house, we knew what a task we would have one day. Mom would get too anxious about throwing stuff away so we didn’t. By that fall, she had lost a lot of weight and was looking frail. She got cold easily so she always had a blanket around her and several tissues ready to catch the drip of her nose due to the oxygen. I can still here her cursing her nose! She’d cough and couldn’t quite get it all up and out.

By March 2009, Mom would tell me at least a couple times a week during our daily phone calls, that she wondered if it was all worth it. I think she was getting tired. All I did was pray harder. Her back would hurt where the tumor was. It was hard for her to get comfortable. She was continuously losing weight. But she was still driving where she needed to go. She had gone to the hair dresser and when she got home, two nurses came to visit. They asked her if the doctor had told her how much time she probably had left. Mom said no so they told her that they didn’t think she had longer than six months. Well, that threw her into a tailspin. They kept pressing her as to where she would want to go – what nursing center. Mom adamantly wanted to stay in her home of over 30 years.

My sister and I discussed it, and one idea was for my mom to go ahead and move to Texas and live with my sister. Both she and I started researching places where my mom could be treated on her Tricare (military dependent) insurance, oxygen companies, hospice agencies, etc. We both knew that even though Mom agreed to that, she really didn’t want to leave her home or her companion or her friends and the family that was in Ohio. My sister made other arrangements to move up to Ohio on May 2nd and stay with her as her caregiver until the end. I think I could hear Mom’s sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to move. Not long after, she had another bad episode of internal bleeding, and my cousin got her to the hospice hospital in Dayton. Not knowing what was going on or if the end was near, my sister and I loaded up and took off for Ohio. Luckily, my husband was supportive and did everything he could at home to help with our grandson and his getting to and from school and other tasks that needed to be done. My other children also pitched in to help – whether it was picking my grandson up from school to making sure his homework was done to giving the house a thorough cleaning to cooking the Easter dinner because I was gone – it all helped so I could focus on my mom. When we left, we didn’t have a time table on when we’d be back. We were there over Easter 2009. Mom was even more frail than when we had seen her in November. She was down below 100 lbs and had aged about 10 years or more. Sometimes she said something that didn’t make a whole lot of sense – things that were relevant 20 or 30 years before. She told us that she didn’t want to linger in a comatose state like some of the other patients there. She was so worried about that. She wanted to be at home. She wanted to die at home. We were told that she would be released very soon but she would need a place to go and someone to be there. Before we left the hospital that last day, I hugged Mom as tightly as I dared and spoke only to her. I thanked her for being the best mom I could ever hope to have and for doing everything she had done for me.  Then I told her that I loved her so very much. It was the last time she reached out to hug me back and give me a kiss goodbye.  My sister drove me back to Texas, and then she loaded up her dogs and clothes and went back to take care of our mom. She arranged for a hospital bed to be waiting on mom when she was released. They had told us that they didn’t think she would be with us in three months.

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April 2009 – Mom with my sister and me
(the last photo of us all together)

Mom went downhill very quickly after she got home. Each day when I called, my sister would give me the update, and then I’d talk to mom. On April 28th, my sister told me that the hospice nurse didn’t see that Mom would make it past the weekend. What was my plan? I decided to fly out on April 30th for Ohio. That happened to be my grandson’s birthday so the day before we had a mini-birthday for him and then very early the next morning, I caught a flight out. I heard her voice for the last time that evening. I told her I was coming. She kept calling me by my sister’s name (well, she’d done that my entire life!) but my sister got her to say my name and told me that she wanted me to hear Mom say my name. Mom had been calling my sister by her sister’s name and talking as if she was back in the 1940s or 50s. My sister had hardly slept as Mom had been trying to get up in the middle of the night, and it was all my sister could do – even at my mom’s 97 lb weight – to hold on to her so she wouldn’t fall down and get her back to bed.

I didn’t know what I would find when I arrived. Would she still be alive? She was. Would she still be alert? Not really. How much time would there be left? Not much. All afternoon and evening after I arrived, friends, relatives and the minister came by. Hospice nurses switched shifts. My sister and I talked to Mom. She began to really “go away” that evening. We talked of how she didn’t want to linger. We had to let her go. I didn’t sleep that night but my sister said she got a good night’s sleep. I sat next to Mom’s bed, holding her hand, listening to her breathing, and just making sure I could remember how her hands felt – soft – and that she was near. The next day dawned, and she was still with us. More relatives came by. People called on the phone. We all told her that it was okay for her to move on, to go to our grandparents, her sister and brother, and our brother. My nephew drove in from Texas. I called family members and Mom’s special gentleman friend and told them they had to tell her that it was okay to let go – that it wasn’t fair to her for them to hang on to her. I’d put the phone by her ear and pray that she heard their words. That evening, I told my sister I was going to try to nap for a bit but to wake me just in case her breathing changed. It wasn’t long before she roused me. She, my nephew and I sat with her and told her goodbye. My sister told her that it was okay to fly away like a butterfly, and then she took her last breath. Amidst the tears, sorrow, and grief, we helped bathe her, brush her hair, put lotion on her, and then called the relatives who wanted to see her one last time before the funeral home came for her.

In the days that followed, my sister’s husband and my husband and family arrived, final preparations were completed, a memorial service was held, and then our husbands and families left. We still had the interment to follow a week after the memorial service. We still had a house that needed to be cleared out and readied for sale. We had an attorney to find in order to start probate – and without a legal will – that was absolutely the worst thing to endure while going through the grieving process. There were times I just wanted to go off on whoever was giving me an attitude – in fact, I did at a clerk in the probate office who kept pointing to forms when I asked her what I needed to do. There were times that I didn’t want to have to pack the car just one more time for one more trip to Goodwill. There were moments I wondered why we had never made sure she had a legal will.

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May 6, 2009 – Memorial at the Celebration of Life service for Mom

After cleaning out the house – which made it practically impossible to give in to grief – and having our cousins around trying to provide some sort of support for us, my sister went back to Texas after Memorial day – after we had ordered Mom’s gravestone. I had to wait a couple more weeks until my grandson was out of school so that my husband could drive to Ohio to pick me up – along with renting a U-Haul truck and being loaded down in my van with stuff to bring back to Texas for my sister, niece, nephew, and my own kids. It still took almost two years for Mom’s estate to be probated and her home to be sold. Until then, it seemed as if every communication from the estate administrator or the attorney was like ripping a bandage away from a wound. The sorrow and grief were always there – not to mention a bit of anger that Mom’s wishes were not being carried out the way she had meant.

On what would have been her birthday the fall after she passed away, I was busy waiting on my grandson to be born. For my sister, it was a very difficult day. Mom never knew that she would have a new great-grandson, but I knew that she was probably arranging his birthday to be the same as hers after she was gone. During one moment when I had sat with her alone, I had asked her to indicate her presence to me with a penny. When we were cleaning out her home, I would find pennies in the most unusual spots. In an old change purse, I found a penny dated the same year I was born. That was good enough for me. Although, in the jar marked “pennies” there were none to be found – only nickels, dimes, quarters and silver dollars! To this day, my children and grandchildren have had butterflies glide along beside them as they play or light on their hands and arms – just sitting for a few moments. We always say that Grammy (what mom was known as to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren) is nearby.

And now, five years has gone by since she’s been gone. I dreamed about her several months ago – a dream that wasn’t a memory of something that had happened earlier in my life. It was a dream that she was real and was standing in front of me. I was able to hug her and feel her. It was comforting to know that my mother’s arms are still around me even if she’s not physically with me anymore. The dishes that once belonged to her, I still use – but only for the same thing she used them for. One bowl is only for mashed potatoes. The top part of the large double boiler was only used to heat up soup. I am so lucky to have digital recordings of her voice so I can still hear her. I have some old videos so I can still see her in motion. I have letters that she sent to my grandparents in the 1950s when she lived in Japan so I can read her words and know her thoughts. And I have photos – tons of photos.

Each year my sister and I buy a silk flower arrangement for the vase on her gravestone. The cemetery leaves it there from spring until fall. And we will continue to do so until neither one of us can do that anymore. I miss our daily phone conversations even though there were times neither one of us had any real news of the day to share. Occasionally, I have to keep myself in check because I haven’t picked up the phone to call her before realizing there’s no one to call anymore. When I hear hateful words between family members, I’ve had to say that I wish I could argue with my mom but I can’t because she’s not there hoping to make someone realize that life could change in an instant.

This is just a small part of my mom’s story. But it’s her final story. And whether it’s five years or fifty years, I’ll miss her everyday.

Mary Helen (Johnson) Amore
September 21, 1921 – May 1, 2009

mom's grave with flowers 2013

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Since I have been a little busy the last few weeks, I’ve missed a few of the weeks of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” so this post makes up two of them. My third great-grandparents on my maternal side are the subject of this article.

Abraham Caylor was born on March 11, 1803 in Virginia to Johannes Kohler (original German name) and Sarah Salome Kinsey and they moved to Montgomery county, Ohio. He was one of eight children. Susan (also known as Susanna) Miller was born on June 12, 1800 in Pennsylvania to Joseph H Miller and Catherine Botafield who also moved to the Dayton area.  I don’t have any documentation but the couple may have known each other as they grew up. The couple married on March 11, 1824 in Dayton, Ohio according to their marriage certificate. Within a few years, the family had relocated to Hamilton county, Indiana and lived predominately in the Noblesville area. They were blessed with eleven children: John (b. 1827), Isaac (b. 1828), Henry (b. 1830), David (b. 1831), Daniel (b. 1833), Phebe (b. 1835), Catherine (b. 1838), Nancy (b. 1840 – my gr-gr-grandmother), Mary Ann (b. 1842), Abraham (b. 1845), and Susannah (b. 1847).

The family is found in the 1850 census living in Noblesville, Indiana. Abraham was listed as a farmer. He died five years later on May 1, 1855 and was buried in the Caylor family cemetery in Noblesville. Susan died in 1859 and was buried next to Abraham. His will was probated on May 21, 1855 and listed his widow and all eleven children.

My relationship: Abraham Caylor married Susan (Susanna) Miller > Nancy Caylor married Emanuel Bushong Stern > Martha Jane Stern married Joseph Napolean Wilt > Vesta Christena Wilt married Glen Roy Johnson > my mom married my dad > me.

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Mary Adaline House is my Great-Grand Aunt on my father’s maternal side. I don’t know too much about Mary except the “particulars” and wish I had a photo or stories about her. Mary was the sixth child born to my second great-grandparents, Florus Allen and Julia Ann (Lewis) House. Her siblings included Emily born in 1838, William Riley born in 1841, James Emory (my great-grandfather) born in 1842, Margaret born in 1844, Sarah born 1848, Teressa born in 1850, Emma born in 1853, Nancy Elizabeth born in 1856, and John born in 1857. Mary, born in Coshocton, Ohio on November 17, 1845 (based on the information given on her death certificate), would have been almost five on the 1850 US Census, however she isn’t enumerated in the family household. She is there in 1860, age 14, and 1870, age 24.

On August 4, 1870 Mary married Jacob Mushresh Rodgers in Coshocton, Ohio (Source: Ancestry.com; Ohio Marriages, 1803-1900). Prior to their marriage, Jacob had been a member of the 122nd Regiment (Ohio Volunteer Infantry) Company D during the Civil War. He went in on September 30, 1862 and was mustered out June 26, 1865. He took part in the Overland Campaign and was wounded then in the Battle of the Wilderness resulting in the loss of a hand. The couple had five children but the only two that are known to me are daughters, Elizabeth Mae born 1873, and Emma Viola born 1875.  The other three children died in infancy. The family lived in Coshocton county predominately in Warsaw.

Jacob died on December 12, 1909 – two years after daughter Emma Viola passed away.  Emma left behind a daughter, Mary Gladys, and was predeceased by her second child in infancy. Elizabeth (known as Lizzie) had become the wife of George Paxton Nowels in 1902 and went on to have four children. Jacob’s will and probate information has been located on FamilySearch.org in the Ohio Probate database. He left his estate to his wife, Mary, his daughter Lizzie and to his granddaughter, Mary Gladys. When my Great-Grand Aunt Mary Adaline refused to take under will, the story made the front page of the November 22, 1910 edition of the Coshocton Daily Times. She chose not to take her widow’s settlement and instead chose to accept the inheritance while she remained Jacob’s widow. She followed her husband into death on January 17, 1925 due to endocarditis brought on by influenza. As part of Jacob’s will, he had allotted $1000 toward a monument in the Valley View Cemetery, Warsaw, Ohio. This can be seen on his Find a Grave memorial page.

I still have quite a bit of information to discover about Mary Adaline and her husband, Jacob, and their children.

Our relationship: Florus Allen and Julia Ann (Lewis) House > Mary Adaline House – she was the sister of James Emory House who married Frances Virginia Ogan > their daughter Ella Maria married Lloyd William Amore > my dad married my mom > me.  Since Mary Adaline is the sister of my great-grandfather, she is considered my Great-Grand Aunt.

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Editha Bigelow, born on April 8, 1791 in Brookfield, Vermont, is my three times great-grandmother on my father’s side. Her parents, Eli Bigelow and Anna Freeman, were married on September 10, 1778 in Brookfield (Source: Vermont, Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, Montpelier, Vital Records, 1760-2003; Ancestry.com.) by Rev. Elijah Lyman.

Editha was their seventh child preceded by Asa (born 1779), Anna (born 1781), Amasa (born 1783), Asa (born 1785), Mergit (born 1787), and Eli (born 1788) and followed by Susanna (born 1793) and Seth Gilbert.  Editha’s oldest sibling Asa died at less than 2 years old, and as was more common in that time, the parents went on to name another child Asa several years later. The father, Eli, died on March 22, 1836 in Chatham, Connecticut (Source:index, FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F7CC-TPX : accessed 05 Aug 2013, Eli Bigelow, 22 Mar 1836; citing reference p 102, FHL microfilm 3089.) and is buried at Mount Parnassus Burying Ground (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #36942989). Anna’s date of death is unknown.

At the age of 21, Editha married Allen House on June 15, 1812 in East Hampton, Connecticut. Her new husband was 2 months her junior. The couple had five children: Florus Allen (my 2nd great-grandfather; born in 1813), Nelson W. (born 1815), Amasa (born 1817), Eli (born 1824), and Abigail (born 1826). Due to the seven years between Amasa’s and Eli’s birth, I suspect that there was at least one if not two other children who were born and died – or perhaps miscarried and/or stillborn – between them. The family had moved to New York and then to Milford, Michigan by the mid-1830s, where they remained until their deaths. Allen died on September 1, 1845 and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Milford (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #55024034).  Editha died on October 20, 1865 and was buried next to her husband (Source: Find a Grave, Memorial #55024034).

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52ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small issued a challenge to the geneablogging world recently: to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, etc. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Mary Dickinson Arbuckle is my fourth great-grandmother. She was Franklin Blazer‘s maternal grandmother. She was born April 4, 1784 in Greenbriar, Virginia to William Arbuckle and Catherine Madison (cousin of President James Madison). Mary was the second child, preceded by oldest daughter, Margaret Thompson Madison born in 1762, and followed by William Jr., Fannie, Nancy, Frances Littlepage, James Madison, Elizabeth, and Catherine Brown. On May 22, 1806 at the age of 22, she married John Griffith Nelson, who was born in Charles, Maryland on January 19, 1777. The couple were married at Point Pleasant, Virginia – now West Virginia. There are some online trees that list a whole brood of children – but as with any online tree, sources must be found, and the only source that mentions the number of children is a newspaper article. Those children include: (William) Arbuckle, Thompson and Eliza Jane (twins), John (who died at age 1), Mary Ann (my 3rd great-grandmother), Catherine, Elizabeth, Nancy, Frances, John William, Susan, Agnes, and Maglin. They moved to Madison county, Indiana where they spent the rest of their life.

The June 8, 1953 edition of the Anderson Herald (Anderson, Indiana; page 1 and 8) says in part:

DAR TO HONOR GRAVE OF SOLDIER’S DAUGHTER

The grave of Mary Arbuckle Nelson, only Revolutionary War Soldier’s daughter known to be buried in Madison County, will be permanently marked Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony conducted by Kik-the-we-nund Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the burial site in the Gilmore Cemetery, near New Columbus. Mrs. Nelson was the great-grandmother of Mrs. L.V. Mays and Mrs. Morris Lukens, both of Pendleton, and both members of the DAR unit. The grave is one of the few daughters of Revolutionary soldiers in  this part of the country.

Mrs. Nelson was the daughter of William Arbuckle and Catherine Madison Arbuckle. Her father, after serving in the American Revolution, explored the Northwest Territory with the first expedition of George Rogers Clark. He later became commandant of Fort Randolph, Point Pleasant, in Virginia. His daughter, who was named Mary Dickinson Arbuckle, was born while her father was in charge of the Fort.

Mrs. Nelson died Sept. 23, 1847, and was buried in Gilmore Cemetery beside the grave of her husband, John, who died March 4 of the same year. Many of their descendents survive and have been, or are, prominent citizens of their communities.

Mary’s grave with the DAR marker can be viewed on Find a Grave. I have not been to her grave and someday I hope I’m able to visit it.

Items that I need for documentation include: further news articles about Mary and her husband John, their marriage record, corroborating documentation on their children, and land or deed records.

How I’m related: Mary Dickinson (Arbuckle) and John Griffith Nelson > Mary Ann (Nelson) and John Blazer > Franklin and Melissa (Goul) Blazer > Katie J (Blazer) and John Lafayette Johnson > Glen Roy and Vesta Christena (Wilt) Johnson > my mom married my dad > me.

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New Year, New Goals

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that I have listed some goals at the beginning of each year – fully intending to complete at least a few of them. Unfortunately, by the time February comes around, I have other things that take my time away from blogging. I know this year won’t be any different. Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Maybe if I start with 12 Ancestors in 12 months I might be able to stick to writing. Stay tuned to see if I can accomplish that!

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Not long after 9/11, I wrote an article on my personal web site to express my thoughts and my actions on the events that occurred on that horrible day. Then five years later, I wrote an update. Here are my words:

eaglecrying

FIVE YEARS LATER
September 11, 2006: Five years after the attack that claimed thousands of lives and shattered the illusion of safety that America had strived to achieve for so long, the question seems to be “are we any safer now?”  Most of the editorials seem to believe that we are not.  The threat is still there around the next corner.  We have been fighting the war on terror almost as long now – on the battlefront, in a middle eastern country that some believe we are right to be fighting and some believe its wrong – we fight terror on the information superhighway, over the telephone lines, through our many forms of media, and for some people – in their own homes.  Measures the government and private industry has instituted in the last five years include: airport safety, immigration arguments, thorough background checks of some employees, the Patriot Act and much more.  More importantly – what hasn’t changed?  What safety measures are lacking?  Many entered churches (some for the first time) after 9/11 to pray for the country, for those who had perished, for comfort, and for themselves.  How many of those are still worshipping regularly?  How many have turned away from our Creator as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq continues?  How many mothers have listened in fear to news reports of roadside bombings in an area where their sons and daughters are deployed?  And the biggest question – how do we fight an ideaology that wants only death for free Americans?  We can push education – educate others to be tolerant and compassionate.  America, however, can’t dictate what other countries are teaching their young people.  What does it tell the world, when Americans can’t even begin to be compassionate to one another?  Each day there are still horrendous acts taking place – right in our cities, in our suburbs, in the rural communities, in our companies and industries, and right in our backyards.  Not only do strangers murder each other but parents and children talk to each other with venomous hate.  What do we show the rest of the world when we can’t even get along?
Are we safer today than 5 years ago?  Not really.  We all like to think we are.  We like to cling to that illusion that was shattered so instantly on 9/11 that we are a little safer.  Can we live our lives in fear and terror?  No – because as soon as we start – they have won the battle.  We have to live – go to work, to play, to worship, to school, to enjoy our families, create friendships and be friends – or we aren’t really living.  If we throw up our hands and say “why bother”, we have handed those terrorists our lives.

THEN
This page is dedicated to all those men and women, ordinary citizens, police heroes and fire fighter heroes, airline pilots and flight attendants, business travelers and military personnel who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. And for the families of the thousands of victims – not only has this been your tragedy – but a world’s tragedy – a nation’s tragedy – and for each of us, our own personal tragedy.

I grew up in the home of parents who had both lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They had lived in Japan after the war and saw the aftermath of the bombs. My grandparents had lived through World War I and had visited many cities in Europe and saw the aftermath of the wars there. My great-grandfather, James House, fought for the Union in the Civil War. My grandfather, Glen Johnson, served in WWI and was in the service during WWII and the Korean War. My father served in WWII. Several cousins and family members went to Viet Nam. Another cousin was active during the Gulf War. I grew up listening to stories about the tone of the world before December 7, 1941. I heard and have seen news stories showing the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My family relayed their own personal opinions and how that day affected them. Until September 11th, I never completely understood their words. And unfortunately – at 8:45 a.m. that morning – I realized exactly what their words meant. I realized how their world had changed – just as mine changed that morning. I realized from that moment on – nothing I had ever known would hold the same meaning for me. I realized that I had not been desensitized by the media. I cried and my heart wept for those who died, those who fought the hijackers, those who were left without spouses, those children who lost parents, and the world.

Less than two weeks previous to September 11th, I lost my brother to cancer. I was already feeling sorrow and sadness. As events unfolded on every television channel the morning of the tragedy, I was too numb to put down in words exactly what I was seeing, hearing and feeling. I emailed my husband with each new piece of information. A few days later, when my mind began to sort everything out, I wrote my feelings in a journal I keep.

Emails that I wrote to my husband:

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Subject: Bomb at Pentagon
Honey, Now I just heard & am seeing on NBC that a bomb has exploded at a heliport by pentagon. Lots of smoke – said a significant blast.  Looks terrible. Pentagon shook & windows rattled. Reporter said could smell acidic smell (like when a florescent light goes bad) – now they are saying highly sophisticated attack. Later, Love, Wendy

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Now they are saying – might be another plane – that crashed into heliport at pentagon. Getting too scary. White house has been evacuated – Bush is in Florida but he will be leaving soon to get back to DC – reporters are getting jumpy when they hear aircraft. Hope Cheney is underground – just in case Bush’s plane is targeted upon his return trip.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Supposedly the people they’ve heard that are claiming responsibility is people for Palestinian Liberation. One of the airplanes that hit World Trade Center was an American Airlines jet hijacked going from Boston to LA (I’m glad you’re not traveling right now!)

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
FAA has shut down ALL air traffic Nation Wide

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001

Subject: Another one
Reporter just said & just showed on NBC – another explosion at WTC – don’t know if this is residual or not. Another explosion on both sides (left & right) buildings of WTC. Felt 2 blocks from there. Manhattan is covered in smoke right now. Pictures are horrible. People are running – reminds me of Independence Day when everyone starts running away.. Now showing from harbor view. Confirmed that a plane was what went down at the Pentagon. Can’t even see one of the WTC buildings – only smoke & flames. Evacuating all critical buildings (probably in DC as well as NY).

Emails I sent others:

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Watching the news this morning – very disturbing. Pretty scary as well.

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
I know this will sound horrible – I’m glad none of this happened last week or we would have had to figure out another way there.[referencing our brother's funeral] Very hard to comprehend. People are filling reunion arena to donate blood.[referencing the big arena in the area] My mother-in-law called while I was at work to make sure Charlie wasn’t traveling. I called her back & told her we were all here & okay & no one was in the air. Later, Wendy

To my sister – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Emailed one of the Johnson cousins – Virginia – she’s an atty in DC. She’s okay & emailed me about leaving one courthouse & going to another one when they closed it & listening to the military jets overhead. Charlie has flown on Flt 11 from Boston Logan before – I thought it was one of those that he’s been on before. Told him I was glad today that he’s not with Nokia or traveling at this point.

To one of my genealogy cousins – Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001
Thanks for replying, Virginia. I’ve found out everyone I’m related to or know who are in / around NY or DC or flying are okay. My niece is a flight attendant with Frontier & she was on the ground in Portland when all you know what broke out. Wendy

To my sister – Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001
Well – I had to get out of the house for awhile today. This morning during a lull in getting stuff done around here – everything just hit me from the past couple weeks, . . .  what is going on in this country. Went to the library & looked at all their genealogy stuff. Just needed to do something else with my mind.

To my sister – Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001
Only worked until noon today. My heart just isn’t in it. The church was also opened for anyone to come in during the noon hour for prayer. I went into the sanctuary after I turned my computer off & there were already several people there including a couple who just happened to wander in – glad they felt they could.

From my Journal:

14 Sept 01
Three days ago the world fell apart. 9-11. After dropping [my son & daughter] at school & getting gas, [my youngest daughter] & I were at Main St. crossing the bridge over I-35E when the breaking story hit KLUV that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trace Center towers in NY. First they thought it was a small plane & not even a jet. I immediately told [my youngest daughter] that terrorists had struck the center again. That they’d tried to bomb it in 93 and now this. She wanted to know what that would do and why there. Tried to explain world economics, etc. No way could I believe it was an accident. Once back at home I called [my husband] to give him news & then turned on NBC news. The pictures were bad. Smoke pouring out of the #1 tower not quite at the top. Then horribly as I & the nation watched 20 minutes after the first crash came a 2nd one into the 2nd tower. How many had died just in those 2 crashes? As I typed on the email my thoughts could not begin to comprehend the destruction. 20 minutes from that 2nd attack came a 3rd – directed this time in DC at the Pentagon. Bush had already spoken to the nation from his stop in Sarasota, Florida. My concern was to get the Pres. someplace safe as well as VP Cheney. If terrorists could strike the Pentagon, they could hit other DC places. Air travel was stopped. All planes grounded. Then word came that a missing flight had crashed in PA. In an empty field. People on board that plane had decided to stop the terrorism at the cost of their own lives but not taking the lives of other innocent people. I hadn’t been at work too long when not only the 2nd building that was hit collapse to the ground but so did the 1st one. How many rescuers were already in there? How many lives lost? The reporters kept calling it surreal because that was the only description. It looked like something out of a spy movie. Except it was all real. No Spielberg behind the camera. No Bruce Willis or Rambo who was going to take out the men responsible. No good guy to win over the bad. The 1st name on everyone’s lips was Osama bin Laden – the mastermind. Not Carlos the Jackal this time unless he was doing this from wherever they have put him. No Harvey Keitel in a movie costume. Just pure evil. I wasn’t alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I’ve heard about it all my life from parents who were alive then. But I don’t think this could compare. Then we knew who had hurt us. We had a geographic location to strike back at. This is not a country who has struck. It is a faction. I wasn’t sure if Hollywood had desensitized me against such brutality, destruction & evil but it hadn’t. Yesterday it felt as if my life had crumbled. I lost Jim over a week ago on Aug. 31st. My family was emotionally torn by other stuff this week. I just cried & cried & cried. Keeping busy at home wasn’t helping. I left the house for the quiet of the library. No TVs there & no radios. For over an hour I poured over immigration lists and settler books. Those ancestors of mine, long dead – who faced war in the form of the Revolution – the war that created the Patriotism we are witnessing today. The Civil War – which tried to bring a nation torn apart by different political views together. The wars of the 20th century. WWI which Granddad was a part of. WWII – which my father was a part of. Korea – Viet Nam – the Persian Gulf War. What type of war will this now be? Can we stop the terrorism for future generations? Can we ever return to the carefree life we had before Tuesday morning? Can we ever see a plane overhead & not wonder or think about the 4 planes that were hijacked? Can we ever see a new picture of the Manhattan skyline & remember the twin towers that graced the picture & remember those who lost lives & loved ones in that terrorist massacre?

16 Sept 01
Sunday morning. I’m sure the church will be full today. There was a prayer service Friday at noon. Pres. Bush declared that a National Day of Prayer and Mourning. I stopped work at noon & went into the sanctuary. There were already several folks there. I prayed and cried. Then I went home. We watched “Independence Day” – at least in that movie we know what & who we are fighting. Couldn’t get to sleep last night. Tossed & turned. Last night took me a long time to get to sleep.

30 Oct 01
This weekend will be 4 weeks since the US started bombing Afghanistan. That really doesn’t bother me. I’m just hopeful that all the “new” security measures we are implementing don’t go too overboard & encroach on the freedoms we do have. Isn’t that the reason we are trying to defeat the terrorists? So we can keep our freedom? Feel like October has just whooshed by. People are still rasing money to send to the victims of the 9-11 terrorists attacks. Only problem is that it becomes such a normal part of every day life that people may start to forget the terrible thing that brought us to where we are. At least I’m back to sleeping at night.

11 Nov 01 Veterans Day.
Time to think about all those military persons who have gone before us making sure our nation is safe. My g-grandfather, James House, who I never knew, fought for the Union in the Civil War. Granddad – active roles in WWI, WWII & Korea. Dad who served during WWII – his brothers doing the same. My cousin in Vietnam as well as [other cousins].

TODAY – 12 Years Later

Not long ago we were watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel about 9/11 and before too long I felt tears in my eyes. Even though twelve years has passed, I still feel the sorrow that I did on that day. Though I didn’t lose anyone in that attack, it was personal. Less than two weeks prior to 9/11, my brother passed away (I have referenced this above). I never wanted to lose my brother but if he had passed away at any time after 9/11, we would never have been able to grab a flight, get to the airports at the last minute and make the funeral the day after his death. My niece was a flight attendant for Frontier Airlines during that time. I spent that morning with my heart in my throat until I knew that she was on the ground and safe. The fall of 2000 my husband had accepted a job with another company. He really didn’t want to leave Nokia but the salary offer, benefits, and signing bonus was too much to walk away from. The job ended in 2002 – but – if he had stayed with Nokia, he quite possibly could have been on one of those doomed flights as he had flown on EVERY SINGLE ONE of them prior to leaving Nokia. My first born grandson – born just months prior to 9/11 – has only known America after 9/11. He will never know what it’s like to have loved ones see him off from the terminal of an airport. He won’t be able to carry a pocketknife – something most men just always did – even on an airplane. It was as common as carrying their wallets. The term “Al Queda” will always be a part of the world’s vocabulary.  Each time people see a low flying aircraft – especially over New York City or Washington D.C. – they will fear another 9/11.

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To Be Completed:

  • Two blog posts – right now they are sitting in my draft folder waiting on me to finish them.
  • Attaching Media Files – Slowly and methodically I am attaching media files (images of censuses, newspapers, vital records, and photos) to individuals in my Family Tree Program.
  • Sourcing – I have tons of sources that need to be entered correctly (do I hear a collective gasp from my fellow genea-bloggers and Elizabeth Shown Mills at the same time?!) Before anyone hyperventilates, let me explain. Yes, it’s true that most of my documentation is not sourced according to Mills’ Evidence Explained – but they are all sourced in such a way that anyone can find the source. Using FTM 2011, it’s sometimes not very easy to figure out exactly what template to use for the source (I know, it’s an excuse but I was busy researching!)
  • RootsMagic – I downloaded the free version of RootsMagic Essentials. After reading so many positive reviews about this software – especially when it comes to sourcing, I wanted to try it out. It is a very slow process because after each fact, I am listing the sources correctly!  I may never make the switch from FTM, but I will be able to list the sources correctly by the time I’m done!
  • Organize – I have a four drawer filing cabinet that needs serious reorganization. Several file folders are filled with paper reports that are out of date and since I want to lessen the amount of stuff in there, I need to add them to the circular file!
  • Scanning – Tons of photos need to be scanned and metadata added to them.

Accomplished:

  • Found a 1931 letter written by my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva (see this article that I wrote about her). The letter was written to my grandparents detailing how she met her father for the first time. The story can stop there, but it doesn’t – I scanned it & emailed it as quick as I could to Eva’s daughter – the daughter she gave up at birth just as she had been given up.  Now perhaps my cousin can knock down some of her own brick walls!
  • Well – wasn’t that enough for the week?

 

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Florus A House, my grand uncle (brother to my paternal grandmother), was born on April 21, 1873 in Guernsey county, Ohio to James Emory House and Frances Virginia Ogan – who were not yet married.  The marriage would take place one month later. Florus was named after his paternal grandfather (my 2nd great-grandfather).

At the age of fifteen, my grand uncle was very ill.  The “Semi-Weekly Age,” – a Coshocton county newspaper, reported in the April 20, 1888 edition that he was “on the sick list, with symptoms of lung fever.”  At the age of nineteen, he was picking apples at a neighbor’s farm and fell from the tree.  The “Coshocton Democratic Standard” reported in the October 21, 1892 edition that he “broke his fore arm and badly cut his face.”  When his oldest son was nineteen, they both were in a mining accident.  My father remembers that Florus had many facial scars from that accident.

On July 26, 1899, he married Emma Caroline Stacer, who was born on June 4, 1879. The couple bore 8 children: Harvey J House (born May 18, 1900), Gertrude M House (b. May 7, 1903), Mary H House (b. March 18, 1905), Ralph Frederick House (b. March 15, 1907), twins Wealtha Fay House and Welby James House (b. May 28, 1909), Dorthy E House (b. February 20, 1914), and Betty J House (b. private).

In the 1900 census, the couple and their son, Harvey, were living in Jackson township in the county of Coshocton. Florus indicated that his occupation was that of a coal miner, and that he and Emma had been married less than a year.

The family was living within the city limits of Coshocton at the time of the 1910 census.  Besides their son, Harvey, the family also included Gertrude, (Mary) Helen, Ralph, and Wealtha.  Her twin, Welby, had died less than two months after birth. He had been spina bifida. The July 12, 1909 edition of the “Coshocton Daily Times” mentioned that the baby “had been ill since his birth.”  He was buried at Prairie Chapel Cemetery.

The family stayed in Coshocton until between 1930 and 1935. The 1940 census showed that they were living in Tuscarawas township of the same county and had been there in 1935. Florus listed that he and his wife only had an 8th grade education (different than my grandmother and her sister who both graduated high school). They were members of the Coshocton Nazarene church.

In the spring of 1941, Florus had surgery for a double hernia. That was probably just the beginning of his troubles. Within six weeks, the “Coshocton Tribune” was reporting (July 2, 1941) that his condition was critical. Eight days later the same newspaper reported his death in the Cleveland Marine hospital.  He was 68 years old. His death certificate (image obtained from FamilySearch.org in the “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953” database) lists his cause of death as “hypertrophy of prostate (about 1 year ago); pyelonephrtis, bilateral, chronic.”  The online article “Bilateral Emphysematous Pyelonephritis in a Patient with No Known Risk Factors” from “The Journal of the National Medical Association” explains that it is a “rare life-threatening infection” (Hart, Peter D., Vaseemuddin, Mohammad, Egiebor, Osbert; J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 February; 99(2): 179–181. 29 July 2013).

Funeral services for Florus were held at the Nazarene church, and he was buried at Prairie Chapel cemetery. His wife, Emma, survived him, dying fourteen years later, on December 12, 1965 in Akron, Ohio. She was buried next to him. It is believed that only one of his daughters is still living.

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Summertime Fun!

summer sun

Summer days are in full swing, children are out of school, families are taking vacations, and swimming pools are seeing an increased use in warmer parts of the country.

pool

As a child, the end of school marked the end of early bedtimes, vacations, spending all day in our backyard pool, and annual family reunions. My parents would try to have our pool open for the season by early May if possible even if the temps were still in the low 70s. Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer with an outdoor picnic. Mom would make her famous potato salad and my Granddad would bring a fresh watermelon. It was time to kick off the shoes and run barefoot through the grass. We kids would savor popsicles and ice cream bars on the patio steps.

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During the month of June, I found the rhythm of summer days. Up by 7 or 8 a.m. because Mom didn’t believe in “sleeping your life away.” Normally there were chores that I had to do before I could start playing. Riding bikes through the countryside, visiting friends several streets away, inviting my friends over for lunch or snacks, and swimming. In those days I was like a fish – always in the water. I was so tanned that even by winter time my tans lines were still there.  We drank kool-aid by the gallon and slurped fresh well water from the garden hose. We stayed out past dark and ran through the unfenced backyards catching lightning bugs and looking at the stars. Weekends were also spent hanging out at local theaters watching movies after the parents dropped us off.

amorereunion_68_8

By July anticipation was in the air as we readied for our annual trip to Coshocton, Ohio and the big family reunion on my dad’s side of the family. We would normally stay with my dad’s oldest sister, my Aunt Gertie, in Zanesville over the reunion weekend. During the reunion, I stuck close to a couple of my cousins and my aunts and uncles. I had fun watching the men play horseshoes. By the time I was in 5th grade, I spent a week in July at church camp each year. That necessitated another long drive usually accompanied by the sister and her kids so my mom didn’t have to drive home all by herself.

reunion 11

Amore Sibling Reunion, Detroit, about 1966

August brought another trip for another reunion – this one for my dad and his siblings and their families. Many times it was in the Detroit area as two of my dad’s brothers lived there. If we were in Michigan, we’d usually head over to Battle Creek to visit my mom’s brother, too. Once we went to Chicago – my brother and his family following us. We all used my walkie-talkies to communicate. A time long before CB radios or cell phones. In the summer of 1968 while the West Coast was heating up with riots after the Summer of Love, the reunion was held at our house. The last reunion of my dad and his siblings I attended was in the early 1970s (71 or 72). My parents were already separated and I spent a week with my dad that summer during reunion time. He had it at his place by the lake in St. Mary’s, Ohio. That was the last time I saw my aunts and uncles and some of my cousins.

By the time August drew to a close, school was right around the corner, and it would be time to go to Sears or Elder-Beerman or Rike’s to shop for school clothes. I knew that swimming season was getting shorter and would usually end by mid-September as the temps in southwestern Ohio began to drop. Then when Labor Day arrived, our last outdoor picnic of the summer, bed time was moved back to an earlier time in preparation for school beginning that Wednesday. There were several times that sweaters were needed in the morning or evening by Labor Day.

Does your family have a summer time tradition? What were your childhood days of summer like?

(Sun image courtesy of Squidoo)

(Images: Our Swimming Pool; me and two of my friends about 1967; Coshocton Fairgrounds for Amore Reunion – July 1968; Amore Sibling Reunion at my Uncle Paul’s home in Detroit, Michigan about 1966-67 – all photos digital and original slides/photos owned by Wendy Littrell)

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