My mother was born in 1910. She would have been 107 this year had she lived. Every year around this time, my mind drifts to my mother's gentle soul that was always doing things for others. She'd been raised that way, raised to help others even at great expense to herself. As I remember what she told me about her childhood, she'd said that her birth family was fed by the Salvation Army when she was a child. According to Mom, she, and her mother, and five siblings became destitute when her father had gone to work in a steel mill in Pittsburgh hundreds of miles away their Kansas home. It was during WWI when supplying the shipyards and building tanks was a priority. Evidently the steel mills paid the workers, but many of Grandpa's paychecks never found their way home to his family. Seems he had turned to the local pub for grub and companionship during those lonely evenings after a hard days work in those grimy, steaming steel mills.
As Mom told the story, it was in one of those pubs that the Salvation Army found him, cleaned him up, in truth, rescued him from his "cups". Once Grandpa had been cleaned up and thoroughly saved, he returned home, probably with the brass instrument he'd acquired the skill to play courtesy of the S.A., and applied at the local high school to be the bandmaster. He taught my Mom or one of her siblings to play the violin, marimba, a form of xylophone, the glockenspiel, the trombone, trumpet, and the piano. Throughout the remainder of his life, he became a good provider, even if the Depression years were very tough for them.
Subsequently, during my childhood, Mom went to great lengths to give back what she had been given by reaching out to others through the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations. I remember her sitting up to all hours to clean, polish, and lace up oxford shoes she had collected for the needy. She mended everything she gave away to the S.A. and sent money from selling Avon products to charities like the S.A., World Vision, and other organizations. Mom was a true gem of a woman, all five feet, 120 pounds in her old age, but she'd been a 98 pound slip of a woman when she was young. Pictures of her like the one here show a rather comely young woman with whom my father had fallen head over heels in love.
One more memory serves to keep me looking forward to seeing her again in eternity. When Mom was on her death bed from the ravages of cancer, a coma claimed her in those final days. As I sat beside her, she suddenly sat up, hugged the air, and exclaimed in her clear, sweet voice, "JESUS"! With that she fell back on her pillow never to awaken again. Her heart gave up three days later. We buried her in 1984 over yonder in the Venus, PA, cemetery. The love of her life, my Dad, Wilfred, joined her there in 1990, after his heart gave out, and their only son, my brother, Ronald is now over there, too, after early onset Dementia claimed him. My husband is there as well over a couple of graves awaiting the resurrection away. Sorry, if this has become maudlin. I am feeling a bit weepy as I remember, but I'm also rejoicing because I know whose I am, and whose they were, that is, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.