A Tribute to Mom

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Six years ago today, I walked into my mother’s room and said: “Mom, today is your birthday.  Do you know how old you are?”  She thought for a moment and said:  “No Stan, I don’t think I do.” “You’re 101,” I said.  My statement revived her spunky and independent spirit, and she informed me that, “I might not know how old I am, but I know I’m not 101!”

Mom died about a month later from the ravages of Alzheimer’s. Since today is her birthday, I’m re-posting this blog as a tribute to her. . .

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

At this time in our nation’s history bread was 9 cents a loaf, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and a movie ticket was 35 cents.

On Friday, June 20th, about halfway through 1930, Buzz Aldrin was born. At the time of his birth, the idea of space flight was just science fiction; however, Aldrin would join Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; and, they would be the first two people to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin wasn’t the only person born on June 20, 1930. A baby girl, who would never experience his fame and notoriety, was also born. Her family had little money but a lot of love. Her fragile world was shattered a few years later when her mother died. She quit school in the 8th grade because her dad needed her to help work the fields—the fields of a farm he would later be forced to sell.

As a young lady, she married, but heartache found her again. At the age of 35, she became a widow when her husband was killed on the job, and she was left with three young sons. A short time later she married again. Five children came with her new husband. His 5 and her 3 made for a memorable life that could be as harried as it was happy.

When her second husband died, the truth was exposed: She was weaker than any of her family knew. Her cognitive skills were becoming cobwebs; Her sense of direction failed her; and, she was often lost.

On Monday of last week, my siblings and I had to stand toe-to-toe with the toughest woman we’ve ever known to break the news: “Mom, you can’t live by yourself any longer—we’re moving you into assisted living.”

Mom’s independent spirit has served her well for most of her life. She kept going and remained positive when she had every right to be negative and quit. It’s that same spirit that keeps saying: “I’m not staying here. I’m going home.” But with the next sentence, it’s evident that Alzheimer’s has a befuddling grip on her once vibrant mind and spirit.

Buzz Aldrin may have walked on the moon, but he stands in the shadow of my mother, Evelyn Lou Lacy–the girl who was also born June 20, 1930. She’s been a loving and loyal daughter, a faithful wife to two fortunate men, and a sometimes fearsome force who molded the life of her children.

 

A Tribute to Mom

IMG_0539

One year ago today, I walked into my mother’s room and said:  “Mom, today is your birthday.  Do you know how old you are?”  She thought for a moment and said:  “No Stan, I don’t think I do.”  “You’re 101,” I said.  My statement revived her spunky and independent spirit, and she informed me that, “I might not know how old I am, but I know I’m not 101!” 

Mom died about a month later form the ravages of Alzheimers. Since Mom today is her birthday, I’m re-posting this blog as a tribute to her. . .

Times were tough in 1930. The stock market crash in 1929 had knocked the economic wind out of the United States and left it gasping for survival. Some 1,350 banks would fail and close their doors. The newspaper headlines reported on financial failures as well as world leaders like Mussolini, Stalin, and Herbert Hoover.

This was a time in our nation’s history when the price of bread was 9 cents a loaf, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and a movie ticket was 35 cents.

On Friday, June 20th, about half way through 1930, Buzz Aldrin was born. At the time of his birth, the idea of space flight was just science fiction; however, Aldrin would join Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; and, they would be the first two people to walk on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin wasn’t the only person born on June 20, 1930. A baby girl, who would never experience his fame and notoriety, was also born. Her family had little money but a lot of love. Her fragile world was shattered a few years later when her mother died. She quit school in the 8th grade because her dad needed her to help work the fields—the fields of a farm he would later be forced to sell.

As a young lady, she married, but heartache found her again. At the age of 35 she became a widow when her husband was killed on the job, and she was left with three young sons. A short time later she married again. Five children came with her new husband. His 5 and her 3 made for an interesting life that could be as harried as it was happy.

Then it happened again—one of their children died an untimely death. Her family would adjust to the loss and she and her husband would lean heavily on each other as they moved forward as a cohesive couple. The two of them retired, traveled, and grew old together.

When her second husband died, the truth was exposed: She was weaker than any of her family knew. Her cognitive skills were becoming cobwebs; Her sense of direction failed her; and, she was often lost.

On Monday of last week, my siblings and I had to stand toe-to-toe with the toughest woman we’ve ever known and break the news: “Mom, you can’t live by yourself any longer—we’re moving you into assisted living.”

Mom’s independent spirit has served her well for most of her life. She kept going and remained positive when she had every right to be negative and quit. It’s that same spirit that keeps saying: “I’m not staying here. I’m going home.” But with the next sentence, it’s very clear that Alzheimer’s has a befuddling grip on her once vibrant mind and spirit.

Buzz Aldrin may have walked on the moon, but he stands in the shadow of my mother, Evelyn Lou Lacy–the girl who was also born June 20, 1930. She’s been a loving and loyal daughter, a faithful wife to two fortunate men, and a sometimes fearsome force who molded the life of her children.

Thanks for reading this tribute from a 62 year old orphan who misses his mother on her birthday.

Orphans, Widows, and Pure Religion

If you have ever flown into New York City, you most likely landed at La Guardia airport.   What you may not know is that this airport is named after Mayor  Fiorello La Guardia who served the people of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and throughout all of WWII.

La Guardia was a small man in stature standing just 5’4.”  The mayor was called the Little Flower because he always wore a carnation in his lapel.  He was an interesting man who would take an entire orphanage to a baseball game; ride on a fire truck to the scene of a fire; and, he would accompany the police when they raided the speakeasies.

On the night of January 1935, La Guardia went to a court that served the poorest ward of the city.  In a typical expression of his sometimes eccentric behavior, the mayor had dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.

Shortly after the night court session had begun, an elderly woman stood before him.  She had been charged with the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. In an explanation of her actions, she told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her; her daughter was sick; and, her two grandchildren were starving.

The man from whom she had stolen the bread was also present, but he, refused to drop the charges, saying: It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor. She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.  

LaGuardia looked at the woman, sighed, and said:  I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions–ten dollars or ten days in jail. The mayor then reached into his pocket and said:  Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so her grandchildren can eat.

When the elderly woman left the courtroom, she had $47.50 inn her pocket.

The actions of La Guardia, are a wonderful explanation of James 1:27:  Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Instead of just seeing the guilt of the woman, La Guardia saw her need.  He used his power not to condemn, but to minister grace.