Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Fallen American Hero

I don't wish to diminish the heroics of the members of our armed services or the uniformed public servants (policemen and firemen) that serve our nation every day. They are, in most cases and in every sense of the word, true heros.

However, occasionally, others rise to that level as well. Sometimes, they are heros by simply living a simple life.

I received the following e-mail from my dad, earlier this morning.

"{salutation omitted}

I got the word that my Aunt Linda (your great aunt) died yesterday morning. In some ways, I suppose that is a blessing. She was old, frail and deteriorating from Alzheimer's. Were it me, I'd rather go when "it's time" rather than spend my last days in a confused fog.

I suppose everyone has a favorite aunt. Linda was mine. She and Uncle Bob lived on a farm a few hours west of [the town my father grew up in]. I used to spend a few weeks there every summer, visiting my cousins and watching the wheat harvest.

Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob were poor. I didn't really know that at the time. I do remember that there were times they didn't have money for "grocery store food." They grew most of what they ate. Uncle Bob raised cattle, hogs and chickens. He also grew wheat (mostly) and a smattering of corn, milo and a couple of other small crops.

Aunt Linda tended a garden in the spring and summer. When I say "garden," I know what you're thinking. It wasn't like that, though. Her garden was about the size of two football fields, side by side. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, sweet corn, peas, and probably a dozen other vegetables. She also grew fruits and berries: Strawberries, melons, pumpkins and such. Since they couldn't afford the "grocery store food" they usually had to suffer with "fresh" food.

I can remember times when Linda would go out, grab a rooster, wring it's neck and have fried chicken ready by noon. Or chicken and noodles. She would roll out the dough and cut the noodles by hand with a knife. Beef, pork, bacon and hams were all fresh, too. They took their own animals to the butcher.

Bad luck with storms, farm prices and Uncle Bob's tendency toward alcoholism forced them off the farm at a time when most people their age were enjoying their retirement. Bank foreclosure. They moved to town when he was about 67 and she was about 65. Uncle Bob's health left him unable to work. Aunt Linda took two jobs which she worked until the age of 75. She walked to work, every day. She never learned to drive.

They never took welfare. Didn't need it. She was also not eligible for her own Social Security, since she was "only" a housewife most of her life. She got a little from his social security when he died. About 10 years ago, she moved in with her children and grandchildren. She had three kids. They all live within an hour or so of each other, so she would live with one for a few months, then another for a few months. She loved this arrangement. It allowed her to see her grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) grow up and do things when a lot of grandmothers her age are sitting in a retirement home wishing someone would come and visit them.

Somehow, I think this is the way it should be.

While I hate to stand on a political soapbox at this time, If more people would rely on their families, their communities and their churches when they need help, I don't think we'd have the welfare state we currently live in. While not everyone has the capability or the luxury of having their parents move in with them when they can no longer care for themselves, I somehow feel that three-fourths of the people now in nursing homes wouldn't have to be there if children would recognize the sacrifices their parents made for them and return the favor.

We'll be going out to the funeral on Friday.

{some closing remarks omitted here]"

Proximity and age prevented me from getting to know my great-aunt Linda. From what my dad tells me, I've missed out on a blessing.


Linda November 18, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

What a wonderful tribute to you Aunt Linda. I think it is wonderful her kids took her in. We don't see that happening too much today.

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This blog is about my opinions and world view.  I am a conservative, evangelical Christian.  Generally speaking, if you post a comment, I'll allow you to express your view.  However, if you say something hateful, untruthful, or just generally something I don't like, I may remove it.

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