Friday, November 23, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened the Way To Grandma's...

As I was making my way over the creek (no river on my land),  and through the woods to see my son, I let my mind wander to Thanksgivings in the past.
It was a tradition for my dad, mom, and I to go back to Pawnee to see family.  Today an hour drive doesn't seem like much but back then, it was FOREVER. Riding in the car with my parents was always and adventure. My mom and dad loved each other very much, BUT were not above a spirited disagreement. My mom had a funny history of getting her driver's license that should have kept her from being one to tell another how to drive, BUT it didn't keep her from being a backseat driver.

My memory of this particular Thanksgiving was enhanced by my dad's response and follow up.  It was the best ever...I was laughing as I drove with this playing out in my mind. (btw if you see a little blue car with a yellow stick on the back that says "Genealogist don't die they just lose their census" know the driver is 50 % in the present and 50% in the past. 😉 Back to my story...

After we had been driving about thirty minutes and mom never stopped with "Lester, you're going too fast." "Lester, watch out you are too close to the car ahead of us." "Lester, slow down." etc. etc.,
he said "Mary, that is enough." He pulled over to the side of the road, got out, handed her the keys, and said "Mary, you drive since you know best how to do it."  She protested, but he got in the back seat with me and leaned back with his hands behind his head.  She got into the driver's seat and started the car, and off we went.  At first I was wondering what on earth was going on, then about five minutes on the road on my dad began pointing out everything she was doing and exaggerating about her choices.  This went on for about fifteen minutes and she began to laugh and pulled over to the side of the road.  Point made, and driver was changed again. The rest of the trip was made without conflict.
Do you have a story to top it?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Obituary for Mary Lee Whitson Langley

My mother died in Hospice at her granddaughter Christina's home in Houston, Texas on March 21, 2018 with myself and her granddaughter Christina sitting by her side. It was a peaceful passing.
Her obit was penned by her granddaughter Aine.

Mary Lee Langley, a long time resident of Montgomery, Texas, peacefully passed away at the residence of her granddaughter Christina Whitworth of Humble, Texas. 

Mary was born on May 4, 1928 in Fay, Oklahoma along with her twin, Marley Heggan.  She was the thirteenth and last child of Harry and Matilda Whitson.  Mary married her husband Lester Langley in 1947 and had one child, Frances.  

When Frances went to school Mary got her teaching certificate and taught school for twenty-five years in Oklahoma City.  In 1979 Lester and Mary moved to Montgomery Texas to be near their only child and her twin sister.  Mary was hired as a teacher at Montgomery Elementary in Montgomery, Texas until she retired in 1993.  She was active in the Montgomery United Methodist Church.  She wrote weekly devotionals for the Montgomery County News and articles for The Courier and the Montgomery County News.

Mary loved art, hot air balloons, Macy's parades, bird watching, fishing, watching basketball, and football, along with Olympic figure skating and gymnastics.  Her favorite tradition was having the family over for Sunday lunch.  

She is survived by her daughter, Frances Ellsworth of Montgomery, Texas, and her six grandchildren:  Aine (Russell) Schulmire of Idaho, Christina (Douglas) Whitworth of Texas, Edward (Marian) Ellsworth of Oklahoma, Emily (Joel) Ellsworth, Sarah (James) Smith, and Sean Ellsworth.  She is also survived by thirty great-grandchildren, her beloved twin sister Marley Heggan and her sister-niece Jeannine Houchin, as well as many nieces and nephews.  She was well loved and will be missed.

The viewing will be on Monday March 26th 2018 at the Cashner Funeral Home at 801 Teas Road, Conroe, TX. at 11 am followed by a graveside service in the Garden Park Cemetery officiated by Reverend David Lindwall of the Montgomery United Methodist Church.

Her memorial will also be held on Monday March 26th 2018 
from 2:30-4:30 pm at the  
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 
1516 Wilson Rd, Conroe, TX 77304
Call or text 936 229 8291 if you need directions.

Her Funeral Card... 
The front is her painting of the original Montgomery United Methodist Church in 2001 that she loved so very much.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Where Are Your Roots?

That is a good question and one that many are seeking an answer to by doing DNA test to find their "ethnicity". I did this too, and found that there were parts of my DNA that point to an area I had never consciously looked for. Sweden. My grandfather's name was Whitson. That should have already triggered a way point. As I have been involved in helping others used DNA to try and get past brick walls as well as myself, I have also been considering this question "Where are your roots?"

I considered the question and I realized that for me, my roots are not where my family "came from" rather it is the people I associated with. I, as you know if you have read my blog, had both of my grandmother's live with our family as I was growing up. You might think, "that must have been awesome to have them around to tell stories.". It might have been had I known what to ask. There weren't prompts to do so, or places like FamilySearch to give prompts like #52 Stories Weekly Questions when I was growing up. Oh what a difference that makes today. My grandmother's didn't talk about their past, and the few questions I did ask were quietly moved to the side and answered in a way that, I suppose, was where their minds lay. What I did learn was as I have said before was being spiritual, serving, and cuddling from one. The other was perseverance,  fortitude, and getting along with others.

Thus my roots were planted and nourished by two women who not by words, but actions shaped what kind of person I would become. They were women who had been shaped by both pioneer parents and raising large families. They were of the land and had lived their adult lives during the settling of Oklahoma through the Great Depression. I am sure that is where my tendency to save and never throw anything away comes from. 
on Left Matilda Whitson on right Lenorah Langley

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Tribute to My Mom

Mom is still living albiet she is not active any longer.
As I was sitting watching her in ICU and talking with younger cousins on Facebook, thoughts of how it was I knew cousins and aunts and uncles in my family strode through my mind.  Those thoughts were intertwined with my mom and her love of family. Being number 13 in a family of 13 and all of her brothers and a few sister being gone by the time she was in school, must have given her some sense of need to keep in touch with family. There never was a picture of the whole family. I know her mom taking in two of her grandchildren and raising them with mom made an affect on her for opening your door to family.
When I was very small, due to my dad losing the lower portion of his leg, we lacked funds for a house. We lived with my Aunt Lynn for about a year when we moved from Iowa back to Oklahoma. I guess my cousins and I slept in the living room on pallets and the parents had the two bedrooms. I just remember the house and playing outside. Another example of family helping family in my mom's early married life. She was able to go to college and dad supported her by washing dishes. Since the college was a few hours away, she chose to stay there during the week and come home on the weekends. She worked for a lady to pay for her room and board during the week. We missed her, my dad's family said she would leave him, which he poo pooed at (using a slang term of the time  😉
and it didn't happen.
mom me and dad
We moved to Edmond, Oklahoma where my dad was able to get training in HVAC. She finished at Central State College (it is a University now) and did some of her student teaching there. Their first house they bought was a duplex because my dad's mom needed to be close to someone. Mom was kind and helpful to her. Eventually they bought a separate house and moved it in on the oversized lot next to us. Dad remodeled the duplex into a three bedroom home, one of the bedrooms was a converted screened in porch that doubled as wash room and guest room. I was an only child.  Mom taught 5th and 6th graders in Millwood School  from 1955 to 1980. (I need to write about my mom learning to drive...that was a trip).
When holidays came, we would usually go to Pawnee, where my aunts and uncle lived. It was always fun, the women in the kitchen, the guys talking about hunting or a game on the tv and the kids playing outside. Then two of my aunts had a disagreement, my dad didn't want to go anymore, but mom insisted that we go and take a day going to visit each one individually. We did not lose contact.
Dad and two of his sisters

On her side of the it wasn't that easy. Her sisters were all over, and three of her brothers she had not seen since she was 9 lived on the Pacific Coast. The youngest brother was in the Service so he would come visit when they were in the country. We would drive over to her niece Jeannine's in El Reno, who was just a year younger than she was to visit with her and her family or down to Oklahoma City to visit with Aunt Edna and her children... This family would come and visit at our house. One year dad bit the bullet and saved enough so we could drive to Albuquerque to visit her sister Lola at Christmas. That was a treat. Aunt Lola's husband was Polish, so she fixed Polish dishes one meal and then Southwestern dishes of New Mexico at another meal. Great memory.
Lola and my Grandmother Whitson

During the summer, I remember we would have cousins from either side of the family come at different times to stay for a multiple of reasons. Mom opened her door for anyone in need. Older cousins came with their families and lived with us in the small house while they were getting on their feet. One cousin, the son of the brother in the Air Force, came and stayed with us for a short time until he got an apartment while he went to college. Grandmothers on both sides came to live with us.

My dad's mother longer, that is another story.
When they moved to Texas to be near me, the cousins and aunts and uncles came down to make sure that Ned and I were treating them right. 😊

Mom was always on the phone with someone or writing to them. After my dad died, she had enough money to travel. One of the first trips was to California to see her brother George. She love that. Then she and her sister and niece went to Washington to see the brother in the Air Force that had settled near Spokane. While up there they met with her oldest living brothers Elbert and Ray and made contact with their son Ray who was an artist. Since mom loved art and was dabbling in painting, this was exciting to her. Ray and his wife Caroline kept in touch through mail until she couldn't think well enough to write. Even after Ray has passed away, Caroline and she still send Christmas cards to each other.
Mom, Meadie, Marley, Lola, and Jeannine

When it was time for Fay, Oklahoma's bicentennial celebration, she was instrumental in collecting pictures and stories for a personal book called Fay Day's [a book of poems about family and acquaintances she remembered from growing up]  which was illustrated by her cousin's husband William "Bill" Shotts  and  Fay History Book.
Her heart and arms have always been open to love on family. Even now as she lies trying to overcome pneumonia, she keeps coming back the same question... Naomi and Melvin are gone? This is my dad's nephew and his wife that were the same age as mom. She loved them greatly.

At 89, she has seen all but herself and her twin pass away in their family. My dad and his brothers and sisters are gone. She loved on all of them at some time and held on to the nieces and nephews. She has been my example to gather family like a hen gathers chicks, and to not be selfish.

In closing, I will tell you... She taught 35 years as a elementary teacher. She taught all subjects but her love was reading and art. When she retired, she took up writing and was published in newspapers and a couple of magazines. Kids she taught still remember her and projects she did with them. She also tried painting. Many of the family have her paintings still in their homes. When she started developing dementia and anxiety, my aunt and I went through a period of denial because it was so foreign that she could be such an active mind and all of a sudden not even pick up a pen to write with or a book to read. She is a lovely lady and I am grateful for the example she sat for me through the years. It has made me a better person.

A note: I have the original Fay Days book. If anyone would like one, let me know.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Goals to Help Me Shape Up and Get It Right

Joining in with Elizabeth O’Neal’s Blog party for January Genealogy Blog Party: Shape Up Your Research  I love following her, receiving her newsletters, and using her suggestions to stretch my stride. I first became acquainted with Elizabeth when I took ProGen classes. She is an amazing mentor.
 These are my Genealogy Shape Up Goals this year. 
(had to add Genealogy so as to not give you false expectations.  😉)
  1.  To lengthen my stride in DNA understanding I am taking and giving classes on DNA. I am learning more each time I attend or prepare lessons. Taking a clue from the experts, there is always more to learn. 
  2. While I do not have the resources to travel much or to pay for many conferences, I plan to take advantage of Webinars and Virtual Conferences. Not as much fun socially but still informative. 
  3. I will write on my blog and then transfer to FamilySearch Memories at least 6 family stories. Reason for transfer is to insure they will not be lost.
  4. I will finish my applications for both Texas First Families Certificate and The DAR as well as "turn them in". 😉
  5.  I am not brave enough to Vlog, but I have the goal to post on my blog at least monthly this year. Life happened and I fell short in the last two years but will accomplish it this year.
  6. I will continue to encourage and assist my children that have expressed interest and are helping with family research. Mercy it has been a trip trying to do the research on mine and my husband’s genealogy. Rewarding but exhausting.

There is still time to join in with the others on Elizabeth's blog. Come and Join the party and make yourself accountable for the coming year.  Reading over this makes me wonder how I am going to measure up. 😊

Monday, January 22, 2018

The End of an Era

By the title you might think I mean, a death occurred. Not so. But it is the end of shared moments and fun times for these three lovely ladies that have had a long life of memories together. My mom, her twin, and their niece are the last of their generation living.  My cousin who lives in Virginia has moved her mom, my mom's twin, to be near her. Neither of the twins are able at 89 to make the trip back and forth now, and the niece may or may not fly to see one or the other, she is just a year younger.
Niece is on the left. The twins are on the right.
When they were young they were always together. The niece's mother was 23 years older than her sisters. When her mother died she was raised by her grandmother with her aunts, who were just a year older.

Can you imagine being a mother, grandmother to this group. 

Happy graduation day!

When they were raising their children, because they lived in different states and different towns and they all worked, there were few times they all got together at the same times.
My mom on the left, another sister, the niece, a friend, a niece of a younger generation, and mom's twin.
Then my father and the niece's husband died. That began the times of the three going on summer time adventures until they all retired, then they found time to go on cruises and long trips.
The last 10 years my mom has been in assisted living for a combination of dementia and depression. Her medication has helped her greatly. The result was we would have to get together on the birthday of the twins. My daughter hosted some meetings. Some get-togethers were at my aunts.
I have to admit that I cried the last time we all met, and so did my mom, who realized in spite of her dementia, that this was their last meeting while living. My cousins and I went to great lengths and distances to make sure they had a time to say good bye.