Mom 1918-2016

Three posts in one day. I think this is a record for me.

While tomorrow is the anniversary of the US Marine Corps, today is the anniversary of my mother’s death. At just before 1pm, I went out and gently sounded 8 bells on the ships bell that I have placed in the back yard.

Mom and dad are buried next to each other at the Veteran’s cemetery. Dad was a US Marine Major. Mom was a US Navy Lieutenant.

100 Years

Yesterday my mother would have been 102 years old.

Written on the back of this print is my mom’s name and 4-20-20, so this is 100 years old.  I don’t know why they waited until the day after her birthday to take the picture.  I will probably never know.

Happy Birthday, Mom.




I May Have Been Wrong

I may have been a bit off in my date estimation of the negatives I mentioned in my last post.

I found a 2nd envelope, postmarked the same day, with negatives of images of the same people dressed in the same clothes and, on the front of the envelope, “Neg 30’s” was written.

This tells me that these pictures were taken in the 30s and that my mom and grandparents (mom was an only child) did continue to take vacations during the Great Depression.

If this is correct, then my mom, in that picture, is around 12 years old.  Perhaps more definitive information will be found later on.



I found this picture farther back in the files.  It has my mom’s name written on the back, but there is no date.  It is a perfectly timed find as today is her birthday.

I’m guessing this was her commissioning picture.

Based on the ensign insignia, when the WAVES were established, and her saying she was in one of the first classes to receive commissions, this picture was probably taken in late 1942 or early 1943.  She would have been 24 years old.

She received a bachelor of science degree in organic chemistry in 1940 and according to some documents I found on the internet, she was part of the faculty at the US Navy Academy in Annapolis.

My mom, on the faculty of a place she wasn’t allowed to attend as a student, that makes me smile.


Happy Birthday mom.  I’m glad you are now free of the shackles of dementia.  Fair winds and following seas.


One Year Ago

There were three telephone numbers’ caller ID that would *always* make my cellphone ring, even if the ringer were silenced.  My mom’s home telephone number, the Life-Line emergency notification telephone number and the telephone number used to notify me that “you are called to duty and being deployed–leave now”.

The ring tone for these numbers is special as well.  If you’ve ever heard a US Navy power plant casualty alarm….that’s it.  It’s loud, piercing and annoying.  The best way to describe it is that it sounds like a European police car siren, but faster and with a higher pitch.

It was one year ago today.  A town hall meeting with the company executives had started at 12:30pm and, as asked, we all set our cell phones to silent.  About 20 minutes later, my phone rang with the special ring tone.

Everyone looked at me in irritation.  I knew the ring tone and realized it was one of the important telephone numbers.  I looked in horror at the caller ID.


I bolted from the room and took the call.  Afterwards, I went back to the room’s door, pointed to my boss and motioned him to come to the door.   “My mom just died…….”

It was 12:54pm.




All Sorts of Stuff

The past few weeks have been an interesting mix of emotions and they all converge.

My mother’s house was sold a few weeks ago.  So, the final chapter is being written in “mom’s book of life”.  I still have a 25 square foot store room full of her stuff to sort through.  I was in a hurry to get the house cleaned out so the remodeling contractor could get in there and do their work, so some stuff that I wasn’t prepared to deal with is in storage.  Once I get done with that stuff my “mom’s book of life” will be complete.

I have retired effective November 1.  My last day at the telephone company was yesterday.  I drove my 1950 CJ3-A Willys Jeep to work on the first day I worked at the telephone company and 26 years later, I drove the same Jeep on the last day of my working at the company.  It was a nice piece of symmetry.

I was hoping to retire on October 31.  It would have been a sweet memory to go with the older and more somber memory of my fiancee entering hospice.  But as I mentioned earlier, I had to move it because of insurance benefits.

October 31, at just after 9am, I stopped and remembered my fiancee.  “I’m afraid I have only bad news……”, was how the doctor started his conversation about hospice and end of life care.  Someone walked by my cubical at that very moment and asked if I was having second thoughts about retiring.  I said no, but they didn’t believe me.

I opened up with them a bit and told them of cancer stealing my fiancee, how my wife’s stage 3B breast cancer is still gone, but could come back and how we have saved an amount of money equal to 25 years of my salary.   I ended my little tirade by asking them, “Why should I let work take me from my wife?”

I think they understood.

My wife will retire in May and then we will be free to spend our life together.  At that time she will be 58 and I will be 57.  Hopefully we will have a long time together.


On my first day of retirement, I ran 4 miles, I swept the floors of the house and washed the clothes.  Now it’s time to decide what I want to cook for dinner.

Mom’s House

The contractor has finished the renovation of my mom’s house.  Next is putting it up for sale.  The bathroom cabinets, sinks and faucets were replaced, the shower door glass was replaced, the carpet was replaced, the inside and outside of the house was painted and the landscaping was converted to what people mistakenly call desert landscaping (hint…it’s gravel).

I have used the book metaphor for a life before.  “The End” was written in dad’s book nearly 13 years earlier and the same was written in mom’s book back in November.  After the house sells, their  books will receive a short addendum and then will join the books of my grandparents and my fiancee.

First Time Home All Weekend

Except for a vacation and a few short deployments (a total of 8 weekends) I have been going to my parents’ house at least one weekend day each week since October 2003.  Even after my mother died, I continued to do this as I cleaned out the house so the workers could get in there to paint and install new carpet.

Today, for the first time in almost 14 years,  I did not go over there and I’m not sure if I feel relief, sad or glad; relief at having more time, sad that I can no longer visit with mom or glad that mom is no longer “imprisoned” in a failing body.

I felt similar conflicting thoughts when my fiancee died, so I guess this is normal.  No matter what, this is not something I want to go through again..but we have no choice.

I did not make it over to the cemetery to place mom’s wedding bouquet on their grave markers.  It was so breezy this morning that they would have blown away before I could have taken a picture.  So, maybe next weekend.

I did make use of the extra time by making sourdough bread.  This is the first time in many months I have done this.  The bread just came out of the oven and the house smells wonderful. My wife just sliced a piece and pronounced it “wonderful”…music to my ears.

The 2nd use of my time was cleaning out my dresser of no longer worn (or never worn) clothes.  In my job, manufacturers and engineering services firms drop by lots of shirts with their company logos embroidered on them.  I rarely wear them, and I just stick them in the dresser until I begin to have to really squeeze the stuff into the drawers.

Now that the dresser “load” has been reduced I will be able to get my clothes into the “new” dresser.  New and old are backwards this time. The new dresser dates to 1959 and was used by my parents.  The old dresser was put together in 2015. The 1959 dresser is made from solid maple and is beautiful.  The 2015 dresser is pressed board covered with wood looking “paper”.  It looks  OK, but not as nice as the maple.