A proposal and a wedding – August 4, 1953

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Mom and Dad, fall of 2012

Had they lived for seven more months, today we would have been celebrating my parents’ 60th anniversary. Last fall Mom had already been thinking about the upcoming event and was worried about how we were going to celebrate it with Dad’s condition and all. Now, here we are today, left in their absence to note the day and celebrate or not, as we choose.

I’d like to share with you a short excerpt from my work in progress—Where Memories Meet.  My dad wanted me to write his story. From about 2008, until my dad couldn’t speak coherently anymore I interviewed him about his life. At this point in his story, he is engaged to marry my mother, but a date has not been set. He has been drafted and sent to Fr. Jackson, S.C. for basic training. He did not want to marry my mother before he left because we were still fighting, and some were dying, in the Korean War. He did not want to leave my mother a widow if he got sent to Korea and was killed in action.

The following is my dad’s story in his own words.

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A proposal and a wedding

I got to Fort Jackson on March 28th  and left at the end of July. I started basic training on Monday April 6th and finished on Wednesday June 3rd.  Then, a few days later, I started Motor Maintenance School. The maintenance of jeeps, trucks, or whatever. Wheel School.

I was in the military school when I found out that I wasn’t going to go to the Far East. If you were going over there you had to get the cholera shot. Everybody I knew who was going to Korea had already had their cholera shot. And I never did get one. I surmised that I wasn’t going to go to the Far East.

I called your mother from Ft. Jackson. I stood in the g-damn line half the night to get to use the telephone, milling around the damn telephones with maybe a hundred other guys. And I waited until I could get a telephone and I called her. I asked, “Are you sure you want to get married?” And she went, “Huh?” That didn’t sound right to me. She has always denied that, but that’s actually what she did. She claims she couldn’t hear me.

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Mom and Dad in Columbia, S.C. summer of 1953

She eventually came down to South Carolina. Got in an airplane and flew down to Fort Jackson. We got a motel room at the Wade Hampton.  It was right down at the capital of Columbia, S.C. I got a one-day pass to go to town. I think she was only there one day. Then we got her back out to the airport and she flew back to Vandalia. It was really shocking that your grandmother and your grandfather allowed it. She was only 19 years old.  She’d never been out of the state of Ohio prior to that.

So she went on home.

We corresponded of course, about what had to happen to get married. That all worked out and she got her blood tests and I had mine before I left Ft. Jackson. That was a trip—a lot of running around to do on the base to get that stuff taken care of. I had to clear a lot people. I got all that done.

When I got finished with the school, I got leave. I got transferred to Fort Knox, Ky to the armored school and I had a two-week delay in route, is what they called it. You’d get a piece of paper saying you had to be somewhere on this date. I had to be in Ft. Knox by  August 12th.

I finished school on July 31st and I left for home on August 1st. I got a cab and went out to the airport in Columbia S.C. and got on a propeller airplane. It was a military plane. We didn’t pay for any transportation. I flew to Vandalia.  I believe that was the first time I ever flew.

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I came home and got married. The wedding was on August 4th. We had a little bit of a honeymoon in Chicago then I went back—to Ft. Knox, Ky.

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I’m thankful for the dedicated years Mom and Dad spent together and I hope that there is a place after our life here on earth ends where they are happily together still.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, from a very grateful daughter.

Mothers’ wisdom

Dear friends, acquaintances, readers, and unconcerned passers-by,

I am sending out this request for guest bloggers who would like to share a memory and write on the topic of mother’s wisdom. Now that Mom is gone, when her little pieces of wisdom come to mind I greet them like a precious jewel. I am planning on sharing those little jewels with you as they drop into my hands. But I realized that we all have pieces of wisdom from our mothers. I invite you to share one here on my blog. I hope to hear from you, whenever, at christine.m.grote@gmail.com.

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“Things don’t always turn out like you think they’re going to.”

 Mom said that to me at some point during our journey through her last six weeks. I don’t remember what comment I made that provoked it, but I’m sure it was one of my attempts at being upbeat and optimistic about her move to the assisted living facility. Or maybe it was a fore-shadowing of her dip in the whirlpool at the new facility that I thought would be heaven after all the years she wasn’t able to get in or out of the bathtub at home. That turned out to be incredibly uncomfortable, a test of fortitude and endurance actually, when Mom had to sit (for a very long time according to her) on a straight-backed metal seat that got lowered into the tub. “I’m not going to do that again,” she said,” unless they can get some kind of a cushion for me.”

Some things just don’t turn out as good as you think they’re going to.

I don’t know what experiences in her life drove that thought home but I imagine the day-to-day care of Annie; Mom’s attempts to improve the quality of life for her mother who had dementia; or Mom’s constant battle to take care of Dad at home as he continued to decline with Alzheimer’s provided many opportunities for failed attempts and things that didn’t turn out as good as Mom had hoped.

It’s not a profound statement really, or likely even one that we haven’t already learned on our own. But sometimes, some of us, need to be reminded, I guess.

Mark was playing golf this morning. He doesn’t get out that often. We used to play occasionally with his parents. I rode in the cart with his mother and he with his father. I enjoyed that well enough. His mom wasn’t considerably better than I was and it wasn’t overly taxing for me. I can’t say the same for later attempts to play in a foursome with our sons or other people who didn’t mind devoting hours to the game week-after-week and year-after-year in order to improve their skills.

I really like the idea of playing golf with Mark and some friends. I imagine it might be a life-style I could enjoy—a weekly outing on the golf course on 70 degree, blue-sky, breezy days. Laughter, camaraderie, the challenge and the feeling that comes when the ball soars off the tee and flies out over the green straight ahead dropping into an excellent chipping or putting position (I really have to stretch my imagination on that one.)

In my weaker moments I sometimes forget the frustration and utter humiliation of some of my later attempts at golfing. My mind conveniently refuses to recall that the last time I played nine holes I quit after only three, picking up my ball, jamming my 5-iron into the bag, and parking myself in the cart while uttering all kinds of best-forgotten comments.  I think maybe golfing would be a fun thing that Mark and I could enjoy. Sometimes I think, maybe I’ll try again.

At times like those when my imagination threatens to delude me it is good to remember the wise words of my mother, “Things don’t always turn out like you think they’re going to.”

Undoubtedly so. Thanks, Mom.

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