Today would have been my mom's 83rd birthday.
She was born a first child one year before the depression hit the nation. [Her brother would be born not quite 10 months later] Thus my grandparents had two very little children just when the economy had big troubles!
She was an elementary student at a Quaker school in West Chester, PA during the depression.
She was high school student during WW II. She raised meat goats but exchanged goats with a fellow 4-H member so that they did not have to eat their own goats!
She was in nursing school when her alcoholic father died in a questionable accident. [she told me he the BEST OF DADS whenever he wasn't drinking.][my grandmother said every dream she ever had of him, during the 49 years she was his widow, was sweet and of good memories!]
She traveled by bus across country to have a California adventure. We had family there [still do] and Grandma had told stories of sailing through the Panama Canal as a young woman to have her California adventure. Mom and my Godmother, Aunt Yo had to eat an entire bag of oranges in Arizona because they had bought them for the end of their journey and then learned they could not transport fresh fruit over the borders of CA! They both got jobs in a San Francisco Hospital.
She met my Dad working on the polio wards [so many had polio!] children and adults in iron lungs and being fed unsweetened yogurt with purple ginseng violet to "help" their health. [It was many, many years into my life before my mom could bring herself to even taste yogurt!]
My dad had been in the Merchant Marines and learned to be an LPN. They married and withing 10 years had 4 children and faced his very serious addiction to drugs and alcohol.
In 1963 she packed up the 4 children ages 9, 7, 6 and 4 and took us on a cross country train trip, what we thought was a PA adventure. We lived the rest of our childhoods with our grandma and mom sharing parental duties. I remember the great fun of walking around a fountain on a wall at the Chicago layover and I know the story so well that it seems to be a memory of the 4th of July where she handed all 4 of us [I was the 6 year old] small American flags and permitted us to march the length of the train in a patriotic parade!
She lost her second born son in an accident and sadly MANY other family members in those next years. But she pressed on. Despite our losses she took us to NYC twice, to see the World's Fair, to the NJ shore for vacations, to the Pocono Mountains to go bird watching under the flyways, to CA to visit Disneyland and make some happy memories in CA [like living on a houseboat for a week!] Additionally to NC for wilderness challenges and National Wildlife Conservation Summits. And on many hikes and camping trips!
As all three of her children left home for college [and me for nursing school] she found joy increasing her time with her hiking club and reaching out to other people. She met and married a fellow hiker and she began to battle cancer in her own body.
She saw all three of her children marry and begin our families [though only the first 4 of the next generation have photos with her....5 more would be born later].
Although the second marriage didn't turn out to be what she hoped, she continued to find adventures. Hiking in Rocky Mountains and Nova Scotia, traveling to CA once again, stopping at the Grand Canyon, and was planning a trip to Hawaii to hike as the cancer began to control all her decisions.
Finally she was coming to the end a very full life and made the most important decision of her entire life. She asked Jesus to rule in her life and peacefully slipped away in May of 1991. She packed a full life into 62 years!
I am glad that now 20 years later I have outgrown all my foolish childhood thoughts and can easily say I am Thankful.....Every ....Day....... for my mom, Barbara Cornwell Hemphill Murphy Latman.