I spent this weekend with my 90 year old mother giving my sister and her husband a well-deserved rest. It wasn't that long ago that Mom was living on her own in her own little mother-in-law apartment, but life changes. She now lives in my sister's home and can only be left for short amounts of time as she is feeble and has fallen a few times.
Mom repeats herself a lot now and mainly speaks about events that happened 70-80 years ago. As I sat with her and listened to the same stories over and over I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to ask questions. This weekend I found out how my great grandparents met. As she talked about different things that happened in her life, I was amazed at how much the world had changed since she was a little girl and the ice man came to her house to deliver the ice for the ice box. I could see what life was like for a little girl who lived with her grandparents and enjoyed a ride around the block in the back of a grain delivery truck. She told me about so many things from her childhood and went on to how she and my dad met and married. I was sad when I heard how difficult it was for her as a young wife and mother to wait for those letters to arrive from her soldier. She would faithfully write him and uplift him while he was away. Her letters were read and sometimes things were censored on the letters she received from my Dad, which meant that they took a long time to arrive. I know that she once told me that they had a secret code using numbers in the letters to help her find where he was. They had devised this code using a map before he shipped overseas. In one of his letters he shared with her that he had gone up in one of the bomber planes, she told him she did not like him doing that and did not want him to risk his life if he didn't have to. She said he never did it again. But sometimes I wonder if he did and just didn't tell her. She is amazed that I can email my sons anywhere they are, even when they are in Afghanistan. I can still see the smile on her face when my son called to wish her a Happy Mother's Day from that far away place. She asked him are you calling me from way over in Afghanistan? It was so cute. My goal is to complete my heritage album this year. I have started the album using the wedding pictures from my grandparents and parents, but now I feel like I can tell the story. Hug your parents if you still have them and listen to them. I wish I had listened more to my grandmother's stories or maybe just asked more questions.