Friday, February 2, 2018

52 Ancestors - Week 6: Favorite Name

Many of my Sullivan aunts had nicknames that made it difficult to remember their real names. Some were easy, like Syl and Monie for Sylvia and Monica. But then there’s Tiny, Toots, Deda, and Bink. These names belonged to Dorothy (who was apparently weighed only 4 pounds when she was born), Mary Catherine, Rita Virginia, and Bernice.

In all the various family names, I don’t know if these nicknames qualify as my favorite names, but they are the most memorable. Deda, Bink and Tiny lived many states away from us and we saw them rarely, so I know them less well. Cousins who grew up around them tell stories about them that sound similar to my experiences with Toots. But Toots was always part of my life and one of the aunts I knew best.

Mary Catherine Sullivan (aka Toots) was born in Le Pas, Manitoba, Canada on February 9, 1919. She was the third child and first daughter of Marie Josephine Bednorz and William Augustine Sullivan. “Arthur” as his wife called him was working for the Finger Lumber Company as a grader and salesman.

Le Pas is a long way from Wisconsin!

She was likely baptized in what is now known as the Charlebois Chapel, the original catholic church of Le Pas.
Charlebois Chapel, Le Pas, Manitoba, Canada
The family lived in Le Pas somewhere between 2 -5 years based on the birth records of her older brothers who were born in Minneapolis in 1915 and 1917 and her younger sister Ann who was born on January 22, 1922 in Oshkosh, WI. William A.'s draft registration card for WWI was signed in Le Pas on September 20, 1918, placing the family in Canada at that time. In her (unpublished) memoir of 1967, Toots notes: “…
I was born across from an Indian reservation in Canada – the oldest of eight girls in a row, preceded by two brothers and followed by one more sixteen years later….”

Years later, her sister, Tiny, recorded this story about Toots in her memoir, written in the early 1990s. [Toots speaking]  Canucks – Lu told me when I was very young that, because I was born in Canada I was a Canuck, adding that Canucks turn into Indians when they grow up.  All I could picture in my mind, Tiny and myself sitting cross-legged, Indian blanket around our shoulders, before a teepee in front of which ran a river. I must have been familiar with Hiawatha. Second grade.
THEN, in the summer I was weeding an aster bed – I can see it yet – lavender, pink, purple, white – and my hands and forearms got brown spots! I was horrified! “I hadn’t grown up yet  and I was already turning into an Indian! And I was in Marshfield, away from anyone else – especially Tiny who by all means ought to be able to console me as she shared my fate.” (Author's Note: Toots was visiting her grandparents, Michael and Catherine Whelan Sullivan at the time. She had been dropped off by her Dad on his way through Marshfield for business.) 

There are few photos of the family when Toots was young. She has this to say about her life at home: Being one of the oldest of a large family has taught me early in life to share not only material things, but also time, joys, and sorrows. It made me gregarious – I despise having to be along – and it taught me to give in to others even if I were the “big” sister. It made me sensitive to the needs and wants of others.
Toots, center back, 1928

With a mother whose mind was always active and creative, I was never at a loss for something constructive or instructive to do, summer or winter. She liked to make surprises for people and showed us the pleasure to be derived from the thoughtfulness of doing so. She was a meticulous housekeeper and was determined that her girls would take after her.
My father, not a musician himself, always appreciated fine music. He was extremely tidy about himself and was always polishing something, be it a window pane, a watch chain, or a pair of shoes. I have adopted traits from both parents….”

Toots (and all the kids) attended Catholic schools in Oshkosh. As she neared the end of high school, this good Catholic family experienced parents who divorced. It shook Toots’ world. But attending Catholic schools also provided Toots the resilience to deal with the divorce and pointed her toward her adult vocation.

The depression hit our house during my high school years. A large family doesn’t have exactly an easy time when money for food and clothing is scarce. Mom was an accomplished seamstress and earned a few extra dollars at that, besides making clothes for all of us. Dad, who was a lumber buyer, grader, and salesman, was forced at last to be a WPA foreman. I worked for one dollar a week cleaning, ironing and doing dishes for a young woman who was a hypochondriac. With that, plus babysitting at thirty-five cents a night, I paid for all my high school expenses. This meant I had to choose my recreations wisely; many times it meant coming into a basketball game after the half or just walking with friends who were in the same straits. I found out the hard way the value of money.

I spent twelve years being educated by our sisters. In all that time, I never once was conscious of anyone’s verbally “selling” me religious life. Yet, when I look back, there were two nuns who impressed me more than the others, though I loved and respected all of them. They have influenced many of my attitudes toward life and the values I set for myself. 

Sister Gervase was my teacher for five years. No, I didn’t continually fail the grade; but she was “smart enough” to go with us from 2nd through 6th. I remember her as an excellent, enthusiastic teacher; one who taught us art appreciation and color theory; a warm, human person, and a perfect lady at all times. She left a fine imprint on me at an early age. I can see her in the classroom yet.

It was when I was a senior the blow fell—Mom and Dad having had a particularly frustrating and hard time trying to make short ends meet, became impatient and cross with each other and in April of that year, separated, making our family a “broken family”. This was the greatest hurt of my life. I had just turned seventeen and my youngest brother was only six months old. [Author's Note: Gerry has a different take on this divorce, having grown up in the aftermath of the divorce.] The two oldest were out trying to make a “go” of it on their own. Besides the pain I felt for a family growing up without a father in the house, I was particularly saddened because I was exceptionally fond of my father. We had always been buddies, and though deep down I planned on entering the convent shortly, I hated to see him so alone, so without the family.

It was during these dark days as a senior that Sister Antoine became my sounding board. I had to talk to someone – and she listened sympathetically, patiently and often. She never blamed, probed, or scolded – just listened. She had a real feeling for people. I was aware that she enjoyed teaching teenagers. She never lowered herself to their level. She was the first person to whom I mentioned my desire to enter the convent, but that was all the further it went—merely mentioned. She didn’t go into a sales pitch. When my father died in March of 1957, I thought, “if only I could talk to someone who knew him—“. she would have been the one. I was in Victoria; she in Hays—but died there in February almost before I even knew she was ill.... That left me with no one who would understand my sorrow on the loss of my father.

It seems that I had never had the slightest thought of ever being anything but a Sister of St. Agnes. It was my one and only choice, a dream which I barely mentioned to anyone even by insinuation. I didn’t feel I had to share something that was so exclusively mine. It would have taken something away from it I am sure.”

And so Toots entered the Sisters of St. Agnes Community in Fond du Lac in summer of 1936. Upon ordination in 1937, she took the name Sister Augustine in honor of her father. She took her first vows in 1939 and her final vows in 1945. 
Toots and her Mom, Mary Josephine Bednorz Sullivan, 1945

She recounts this story about this journey of faith: An unusual message came to me in a letter from my Aunt Frances [Bednorz] during the first year after my profession. She wrote to me quite regularly, but this letter was different. She related that when she took me to the little church in LaPas, Manitoba, to be baptized, Father Gee, the pastor, asked where my godfather was. My aunt explained that the family was relatively new in the area and they didn’t feel they knew anyone well enough to make such a request. He asked, ‘What’s the matter with me?’ and proceeded with the baptism. After having signed his name as godfather, he said, “Who knows, some day she may be a nun.” My aunt had deliberately kept this information from me for fear that it would influence my making a free decision.”

The religious life provided Toots undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, Journalism, and Business, all of which Toots taught for many years in the Catholic schools attached to sister houses in Fond du Lac, WI, Yonkers, NY, and Hayes, KS. She truly seemed to understand the minds of children and teen-agers and was always approachable and interested in her nieces and nephews. As a non-Catholic, I watched the efforts of the Catholic church to minister to ordinary folks through the modernization of Toots' habits, conversations about which she had frequently with us and with her siblings.
When habits first showed legs, new types of hose had to be considered.

Unknown date, possibly the 60s. Wimpoles became smaller.

unknown date  Where's the habit? By the end of her life, nuns dressed in street clothes, modestly, of course

She was deeply invested in her nieces and nephews, and always had time to talk to us and, more importantly, listen to us. We loved her to pieces and always enjoyed her visits. We often received little tokens of love, cards and notes at various times of the year. I have kept the cross stitch cards I received from her over the years, appreciating the time and effort she made to communicate with me. I wish I had been more reciprocating of this care and hope she forgave my lack of effort in that area.

Is his possibly at Patty Porter's wedding?

With Eddie and Paula, late 50s? 

1982 with Ann, Mark, Monica

1993 with Pat, Yvonne's Jessica and Nicolle, in Fond du Lac

When she was in Yonkers, and I was living just north in Poughkeepsie, she talked me into driving the community’s station wagon and several of the sisters to Washington, DC for a weekend. A visit? A retreat? I forget now. But I do remember an incident on the way down when we were driving through some construction and I hit a bump a bit fast, causing us to swerve a bit. Eyes straight ahead, focusing on the road, I heard Toots say “Perhaps now would be a good time to take out our rosaries.” Whether or not the prayers of a carful of nuns was responsible, we suffered no further incidents in either direction. That was such a Toots understatement - calm, to the point, and kind.

Toots was likewise close to her siblings, visiting them in summers whenever possible.
date unknown, Toots with her sister, Ann, niece ?JoAnn? , sisters Monie and ?Sylvia? , her Mom, Marie and sister, Pat

1985 no clue what's going on here - seems to be a slumber party

1988, with Bink on her 62nd birthday, when Toots was turning 69.

1985, ?California? ?Arizona? with Mel and Pat (Sullivan) Hanson, Ann, Sylvia and Toots

Retirement afforded Toots lots of time to visit her family across the country. And she was always able to come to family events for those of us who lived near Fond du Lac where she was living.  Toots, along with her sister-in-law, Winona Hamlin Sullivan, researched the Sullivan and Bednorz families to pass that information on to the next generation. We are so lucky she had the interest and foresight to write this all down. Did they somehow know that some of their children would carry on the research? We owe them thanks for their trips to countless courthouses, cemeteries, and  
1976, Toots, Ann, Pat on the way to Carl Hanson wedding (McDonald Street house, Appleton, WI)

1972 Dale and Yvonne Hanson with Grandma and Aunt Toots, when all the family was home to move Grandma to her apartment (Hanson home on McDonald St, Appleton WI)

with Eddie 1972 (I think this was maybe in Grandma's new apartment?)

The photos we have of these siblings in retirement are full of joy and joking. Travel, talk, card-playing and food were among the many enjoyments of spending time together.

I think this is Syl, Toots, Bink and Ann, date unknown
Toots died on April 20, 1999, aged 80 years, at St. Francis Home in Fond du Lac, WI. But her gentle ways, keen sense of humor, and great kindness live on in the memories of those who knew and loved her. I hope I have absorbed and now model her love and charity as well as her exuberance for life. 

I don’t know if Toots qualifies as my favorite name, but she does qualify as a favorite aunt. And if I have spelling or grammar errors, I hope Toots will forgive them, although she would have corrected them, for sure.

(Updated 2/3/2018 to correct some spelling and grammar errors and clarify some points. Maybe Toots was talking to me in my sleep last night.)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

52 Ancestors - Week 5: Surprises in the Census

Fritz Hintz (1827-1907) was my paternal great-great grandfather, Karl’s Dad.

He also went by Fred, while his birth name was Johann Friederich Heinrich. His son, Karl (aka Charles, birth name Karl Heinrich Johann) was born to Minnie Hintz, the former Wilhelmina Ernestine Kroll (1844-1921). The Wisconsin State marriage records from 1873 confirm this information.

The 1880 census (Freedom, Outagamie County, WI) also supports this information. Although there is an entry for a woman named Maria Brun listed as Fritz’ mother-in-law that is confusing – Minnie’s Mom? But the last names don’t match. And then there is 14-year-old son, William Hintz. Who is he?

1880 US Census, Freedom, Outagamie, Wisconsin

Imagine my surprise, when I discovered Fred with an entirely different family in the 1870 census (Greenville, Outagamie County, WI).

1870 US Census, Greenville, Outagamie, Wisconsin

In this family, 42-year-old Fred Hintz has a wife Sophie and children Fred, Sophia, John, Mary and William. Ah, William – right age in both census documents. And before the marriage in 1873 to Minnie Kroll. There’s a second family! Things are starting to make sense now. William is from his first marriage which happened in Mecklenburg, Germany where all these children were born. Minnie’s birth in Prussia, now makes more sense. They met in the US. And the new family are all born in Wisconsin.

Many questions, of course, remain. What happened to Sophie? I haven't yet uncovered any death records for her. Where are the rest of Fritz' children from this first marriage? How did Fritz end up in Greenville?

One day out of the blue, I got a phone call from Jeanette Hintz of Warren, Ohio. She had seen my online family tree. As a descendant of Fritz’ first family, she was able to fill in some of the missing pieces. Long story short, she sent me a photo of Fritz (posted at the beginning of this article) and of his family at his funeral (below). Clearly, the children all knew each other. That discovery more than doubled the number of ancestors in this one branch of the family. Whew!

Further research uncovered the family’s ship manifest (1867) and Maria Brun’s name as a traveling companion when the family emigrated from Mecklenburg. And LDS microfilm has allowed me to trace the family to its German roots in Domsuehl, Mecklenburg, Germany.
Ship manifest listing Fritz Hintz family, 1867

Census documents are notoriously inaccurate and leave many questions unanswered and many people missed. But they often provide clues that can help us stitch together the lives of our ancestors. This is one case where the clues helped solve a family mystery, although generating as many questions as they answered. Isn't that the way it goes in genealogical research?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

52 Ancestors - Week 4: Invite to Dinner

Week 4: Invite to Dinner
There are dozens of ancestors I’d like to invite to dinner, but the first invitation would go to my Grandma Sullivan, Mary Josephine Bednorz. I have so many questions.
Marie Josephine Sullivan aka Grandma Sullivan

I know a bit about her young life from census data, my own research, and research done by Aunt Winona, her daughter-in-law, but not from any stories she told me. She never lived in the past.

Mary Josephine Bednorz was born on October 30, 1893 in Waverly, Wright County, Minnesota. Aunt Winnie’s information notes she was baptized in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Waverly. Her parents are listed as Andrew Bednorz and Frances Marketon. But I don’t have either her birth or baptism records to confirm this information. Drat!

Her parents, Andrew and Frances immigrated to the US from – well, it varies from census to census. Andrew is listed as from Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, or German Poland. Frances is listed from Poland, German Poland, Germany and Szczedrzyk, Opole, Poland. National boundaries changed frequently in this era which may be the cause for the confusion. Family lore says Grandma was Polish. Better documentation is needed to sort out where exactly Andrew and Frances are from. At any rate, they arrived in March 1886 and Andrew worked as a blacksmith and farmer his whole life. The family lived most of their lives in and around Marysville, Wright County, MN except for a stint as a farm hand in Cass, Buffalo County, North Dakota. (1900 Census).

Marie, as she liked to be called, is with her family in census records up to 1905 and then she goes missing until her first son, Lucius Arthur, is born in Minneapolis, MN on June 11, 1915. A couple of intriguing census records for 1910 have Mary or Josephine Bednorz entries, one as lodger in St. Paul, the other as servant in Buh, MN. But neither of these records can be offered as proof. Furthermore, though family lore says Marie married William Augustine Sullivan June 6, 1914, in Minneapolis, MN State records has no entry for this marriage. Another family story tells how Marie met William when she was working at the restaurant in the Golden Rule Department Store in Minneapolis. But again, no confirmation.
Marie Josephine Bednorz around 1910

So my first questions would be about her family – where they came from, why they came, what were they like? What was your life like growing up? And I would ask about the period of her life when she left the family and then met and married our grandfather.

I know they were in Minneapolis for the birth of their first two children, Lu and Edwin (b Apr 8, 1917) and then were transferred to Le Pas, Manitoba, Canada for at least 2 years, maybe as many as 4 or 5 years. Grandpa Sullivan was a lumber grader and salesman and traveled much of the time. The Midwest was just being cleared of first growth forests and timbering and lumber were large industries.
William Augustine Sullivan, 1930s

Just how did a boy raised in Marshfield, WI, become a lumberman and how did he get to Minneapolis to meet and marry Marie Bednorz?

According to Grandpa’s WWI Registration Card (dated Sept 20, 1918 and signed by the Police Magistrate of Le Pas), he was a lumber inspector for Finger Lumber Co. Strangely, he lists his mother as his next of kin and his permanent address as his parents’ home in Marshfield, WI.

Why, Grandma? Why not you, his wife?

Two daughters, Mary Catherine (b Feb 9, 1919) and Dorothy Gertrude (b Apr 12, 1920) were born in Le Pas.

What was life like living in Le Pas? Did Grandpa travel while you were living there? How did you manage 4 small children? What were your living accommodations?

When they returned to the States before the birth of their 3rd daughter and 5th child, Ann Elizabeth Whelan Cecelia (Jan 20, 1922), they moved to Oshkosh, WI.
1924, Oshkosh WI. Marie Sullivan with Lu, Eddie, Virginia and Sylvia

From that time on, the facts of their lives are pretty well known and traceable. More children – 6 in all – were added to the family until Marie and William A. divorced in 1936. The youngest child, Gerry, was only 6 months old when they separated. He says his Mom told him that “Arthur” as she called him was an alcoholic and drank all his earnings. Toots (eldest daughter, Mary Catherine’s nickname) thought the stresses of making ends meet during the Depression may have played a large role.

What happened, Grandma? Was Grandpa the scoundrel Gerry describes? Or simply a man overwhelmed? Or something in-between? How did you manage the stress of being Catholic and needing to get a divorce?

She met and lived with Al Chappa sometime after her divorce. She and her kids moved in with him on his farm in Redgranite for a time and then they all moved back to Oshkosh around 1943 when Grandma bought her house on 747 High Street in Oshkosh, having received an inheritance from her sister. I believe Al and Marie married in 1951 and divorced in 1954.

The 1951 City Directory for Oshkosh, WI, shows Mrs. Marie Chappa living at 747 High St with Albert Chappa of the same address. Marie is a presser for a dry cleaning company and Al is a blacksmith with Wisconsin Axle. I know Grandma had this job for many years, doing clothing repairs and alterations for the dry cleaners.

What are the stories here? I’m hoping Grandma would be willing to share them with me, although I expect she would wonder why I felt these things were important. I wrote about Marie’s life when I first started this blog in 2013, but my knowledge of this part of my ancestral family has not advanced since that time. I wish I knew more.

But this dinner is not just about grilling my Grandma for names, dates and places. I would also want to share back with her the ways her genes and her legacy have affected and to this day still influence my life.

First, I would thank her profusely for making me dresses and tell her that my all-time favorite dress was the pink princess seamed polished cotton dress with the lace and black velvet ribbon. 
Lynn and Nancy wearing our Grandma Sullivan pink polished cotton dresses

I would tell her how I learned to sew, sewed many of my high school and college outfits, and continue to sew – clothes for my grandchildren, quilts, and gifts. These are gifts of love to my family, just as those dresses were gifts of love from my Grandma.

I would tell her how special her house was to us – the magical carved doors to the front parlor, the great play space and reading nook that was the porch on High Street, the little pantry kitchen, spooky basement, and the claw-foot tub in the bathroom.

Grandma's house looking toward the front parlor . Grandma is second from left.

I would remind her that, like her, I love to play cards – sheepshead in particular. And that I loved that she allowed us to be kids in her house and regularly shooed us outside to explore the neighborhood around her house – the museum across the street, the river area, and even walks down toward campus. And that we never lost anyone or behaved badly because, if we did, we’d be tarred when we got back.

I would show her a photo of her great-great granddaughter who looks like me, who in turn looks like my Mom, who all look like Grandma Sullivan. 

I would tell her that, as I look back from my adult perspective, I was lucky to have such a strong and resilient woman role model in my life.
Marie Josephine Bednorz Sullivan, about 1955

Grandma, you raised and nurtured your own kids and your grandchildren as well. I am doing my best to pass on this legacy to my kids and grandkids. I thought you'd like to know.

Love you Grandma.  

Sunday, January 28, 2018

52 Ancestors: Week 3 Longevity

Week 3: 
Longevity is always in the back of my mind these days. Today is my 70th birthday and I have a lifetime of crafts, sewing and genealogy projects to finish. I need to live a long time to have a prayer of getting these done. And I need to have my arms, legs and especially my brain to function well these next years. In looking at my family, those on my mother’s side usually live into their late 70s to mid 80s, but are plagued by dementia. On my father’s side most ancestors have lived into their 70s, but with heart problems. My mother-in-law, Lorna Dosch, today told me I had 23 years to catch up to her (she’s 93 this year). I hope to live as long as she has - but unfortunately I don’t share any of her genes. Still, she is my model of longevity.

Lorna Jane Wilson was born November 12, 1924 in Clayton, Polk County, in northwestern Wisconsin. Her father was a farmer who had cleared the land, built the house, barn and out-buildings and owned a threshing machine with which he traveled across several states to harvest the crops of others.
1926 Lorna in center with brother Edwin and sister Hazel on the farm in Clayton WI

The US entered WWII while Lorna was still in high school. In the early 1940s, she met and began dating a young college student named Lee Arlo Dosch from the neighboring town of Amery, WI. Lorna graduated from high school in 1942.
Lorna 1942 Graduation
Lee enlisted in the navy in 1942 with active duty waived until he graduated from River Falls State Teachers College (now a University of Wisconsin school) in 1943.
1942, Lee and Lorna 
Lee was sent immediately after graduation to Notre Dame, Indiana, for Midshipman School. After this training, he was sent to Boston for training in radar technology at Harvard and MIT. While in Boston, Lee bought and sent (by US Mail, no less) an engagement ring to Lorna. She visited Boston after Christmas of 1943, found a rooming house and job and stayed. They married at Harvard Chapel in Boston on March 4, 1944.
Lee Dosch and Lorna Wilson, Wedding Portrait, March 4, 1944

Lee was sent to the Pacific in the fall of 1944. While he fought in the Pacific in the battles of the Philippines and Okinawa as a radar technician aboard the famous picket line destroyers, Lorna returned home. It’s hard to imagine how she must have felt during what must have been a very difficult year for them both.

After the war, they settled in Cumberland, where Lee taught Chemistry and Physical Education before becoming a guidance counselor. They raised a family of 3 boys and Lorna eventually became the head of the food service program for Cumberland Public Schools. Under her tenure lunches were wildly popular with staff and students alike because the kitchen made everything from scratch. 
Lorna, 1983, Head of School Lunch Program 

During the summer school breaks, Lee, Lorna and kids traveled widely within the U.S. via camper.
1966 Fishing Bridge campground - Dave, Lorna, Dennis, Duane
In retirement, they continued their love of travel, visits with family and friends, and service to their community through their church.

After Lee’s death in 2001, Lorna continued to live in the house they had owned for more than 50 years. She managed all her needs – gardening, canning, serving Thanksgiving dinner to a hoard of hunters, volunteering at church, etc, for several years longer. She kept meticulous financial records and managed the maintenance of the house without outside help. She was never afraid to speak her piece about politics. But, like her father before her, over the next two decades, she developed severe rheumatoid arthritis in her joints, especially her wrists. She had a nocardia infection in her lungs which nearly killed her and she lost her hearing to a bout of shingles that settled in her ears. To add insult to injury, she suffered from a particularly aggressive form of glaucoma that stole most of her sight. Her doctor always called her “a tough old Swede” because nothing kept her down for long.

Lorna was well into her 80s when she told me she had baked and was delivering cookies to “the old folks” around town. I reminded her that she was one of the “old folks” and people should be delivering cookies to her house. She just laughed.

Following a fall just after Thanksgiving of 2015, at age 91, Lorna's children finally convinced her she could no longer live in her home. She refused to live with her children and she would not consider leaving Cumberland, so with many tears, she moved a small part of her possessions into a one-bedroom apartment. Owned by the Cumberland Medical Center, this apartment was conveniently attached to the nursing home, hospital and clinic, provided one meal daily and was only a block from her house. With extra help provided weekly by staff member Ruth, driving duties and lawn care at her house provided by a family friend, Bob, neighborly watch over her house by Joe, and monthly visits from son David, Lorna managed both her house and her life as she had always done. She knew when bills needed to be paid, doctor visits scheduled, and birthday cards mailed. By sitting next to the large screen TV, Lorna followed all the sports – Packers, Brewers, and Badgers and could talk knowledgeably about players and statistics. Having coffee with friends (on pretty plates, of course) was always a priority and the kitchen had cookies stashed in many cupboards and drawers.
Lorna January 2016, moving to her new apartment

Easter dinner at Lorna's house, March 27, 2016
Thanksgiving, 2016, with the Colorado kids - Dennis, Alex and Judy, the Minnesota kids - Christie and Alex, and the Wisconsin Dosch's - Dave, Lynn, Mike, Tristen, Katie, Randy, and Evie
Over the 21 months Lorna lived in her apartment, her various ailments sapped her strength and she became more and more frail. She went from walking independently to using a cane, to finally using a walker. She gave up shopping at the Dollar Tree and Nielsen’s super market and just gave lists to Bob or Dave. 

But that didn't stop her from continuing the Thanksgiving dinner with the hunters that had been a feature of deer hunting season for uncountable years. Only now we cooked the meal and brought her back to her house for the day.

In spite of having a life alert necklace, Lorna fell in October 2017 and lay on her floor for 36 hours until Ruth found her when she came back to work on a Monday. She was hospitalized and Dave, Dennis, Judy and I had to find a place for Mom. There was no space available in the Cumberland Nursing Home, which was Lorna’s preference. After many tears, and searches for assisted living places in northwestern Wisconsin and near our home in Madison, Lorna accepted that she would move to the Waterford in Fitchburg, just one mile from our home. The fall left Lorna unable to use her right shoulder – the arthritis has just destroyed her function with her right hand and shoulder. 
Lorna's new apartment in Fitchburg. Her 50th Wedding Anniversary quilt hangs on the left. This is her birthday, Nov 12, 2017. With Karen and Dennis, Nancy Walters, Browen, Penny, Randy, Katie. Tristen is helping Great Grandma open her gifts.

At age 93, Lorna now lives in Fitchburg, the first time she has ever lived anywhere but Clayton or Cumberland. She misses the Cumberland gossip immensely and her subscription to the Cumberland Advocate doesn’t quite fill the void. But she is adapting and getting used to life surrounded by her son, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The kids always make her smile and she looks forward to their frequent visits.
Great Grandma Lorna holding Penny, Halloween, 2017

We still have coffee, almost daily, with Lynn now providing bars and cookies for the occasion. She knows she needs the extra help with dressing, bathing, toileting and meals, even though she wishes it could be otherwise. She still manages her finances and her house from a distance. She still tells stories about her life and her families. And now she can attend special events, like Christmas, birthdays, and baptisms with some of her children and great grandchildren.
Tristen and Great Grandma Lorna, Christmas 2017

She came to my birthday party even though it is difficult for her to endure the chaos of lots of people and rambunctious 3-year olds in an unfamiliar place. I have 23 years to catch up to Lorna, God-willing and the creek don’t rise. Lorna is showing me how to live to be old with grace and humor and love. She is my model of longevity.