Wednesday, March 21, 2012

83 and counting

On St. Patrick’s Day Jim’s mom turned 83.  No matter that she is from German descent, she always loved her St. Patrick’s Day birthday.  Maybe, just maybe, the luck of the Irish is with her.  Evelyn.  What can I say about Evelyn?  First of all, her family always called her Hawkey.  They are a family of nicknames like Et, Crud, Junie, Peck, Jap, Polkie, and on and on…
She drank like a fish, smoked like a fiend, and cussed like a sailor.  She still cusses like a sailor – but the other vices are long gone.  By all standards of clean living, she shouldn’t be with us today.  I’m so glad she is.

Edna, Evelyn, Verda

There were five girls in this family of 12.  Three survive, each with various stages of Alzheimer's.  The other two girls also had Alzheimer’s.  Maybe it runs in the family, as it seems to also run in my side of the family.  My girls figure they are “screwed” (their words, not mine). 
Back to Hawkey.  We think she looks like a little Leprechaun in the above picture, sandwiched between her two sisters.

Happy Birthday

She has always thrived on being the center of attention.  That hasn’t changed – she loved her birthday celebration.  Unfortunately, I know once we all walked out the door, if anyone asked her if she had any visitors, she would have replied “not a damn one”.

See how she and her sister Edna “Et” are holding hands?  The two have always been best of friends.  At some point during the party, as Et sat next to Hawkey eating ice cream, Et asked if she could have some  – and was given permission.  Evelyn turned away for a second and then looked back just in time to catch Et helping herself to the ice cream.  Evelyn slapped her hand and said, “Get your own, you damn hog”.  The light may be out a good deal of the time, but the spunk is still there.

Her brother told Jim that “Evelyn should have been a boxer, because when they were kids, if you did anything wrong, she’d slap you down faster than you could think".

Blowing out the candles - Evelyn, Emily, Tessa, Edna

Hawkey used to play the piano.  All the time.  Sometime before Christmas she just stopped, and claimed she didn’t know how.  So imagine our surprise when she sat down at the piano and played some of her old favorites like “Memories”, and “Please Release Me”. 

Notice the long hair?  She absolutely refuses to let anyone cut it.  A mere suggestion unleashes a string of choice words, usually ending in something like “damn fool”.  That’s Hawkey.

Her sis, Et, took over at the piano and Hawkey and Verda took to the dance floor.

Evelyn and Verda Dancing

Of course, all good things must come to an end.  Just as the left over cake crumbled as Tessa accidentally tipped it out, our lives tumble as we see the lives of  the generation of the depression come to an end.  I thank God for keeping this spunky lady with us for as long as possible.


That’s life!

Tessa Oops!

In the video as Evelyn played the piano, her sisters and sis-in-law’s joined in singing.  If you watch, you will notice her sis bend down and make a request for “Memories”.  Without missing a beat, Evelyn switched gears and swung into the request.  It was such a poignant moment.  “Memories” – what a perfect song for a family robbed of the present and living through their memories of days gone by.  The video is shaking some because, well, I was crying.  It is what I do when I’m confronted with such a moment.

I know the video quality is poor and chaotic, with all of the background noise, but it is a memory.

Thanks everyone for visiting!


Charade said...

What a poignant capture on the video. And some great storytelling, too.

Steve Skinner said...

What a great story!!

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Oh Happy belated birthday Mrs Haslag, and then she would tell me Hawkey. I miss her smile, and piano playing, and her red nail polish at Summit.
What a great tribute!

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

What a beautiful post. I love Hawkey. She must have been quite a woman in her day. I too, was moved by the "Memories" song. It truly is a great moment. You summed it up so well about them living in their pawst memories now. Again, this is a beautiful story.

Rita said...

What spunky women!! That video is priceless!! Isn't it wonderful to have video and pictures available to us so easily now? Blows my mind sometimes. These are all something to treasure forever! :):)

ChicagoLady said...

Great birthday story and video of Hawkey. It is sad that we are slowly losing everyone from that generation, they were truly an inspiration for the rest of us.

That corgi :) said...

So enjoyed reading about Hawkey and her sisters and her birthday gathering; belated birthday wishes to her. Glad that everyone that could got together to celebrate her birthday! I too hope you all celebrate many more birthdays with Hawkey!


Queenie Jeannie said...

Hugs, Deanna!!! What a fun party for such an interesting woman! I'm glad you were all there together for her birthday, and that she was able to play again for everyone.

Toriz said...

This is a really sweet post, and I'm glad she's still around for you to share such a special day with her! :)

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Deanna! Great post! Very sweet and funny too. Evelyn, oops, Hawkey is a great gal. Happy Birthday to her and best of wishes :)

Intense Guy said...

*hugest hugs*

These memories are the most precious kind.

Happy Birthday!

I hope the grands aren't screwed... Hopefully they will find a cure for this awful disease that steals (most of) the person and lives the body.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

My goodness...she is only eight years older than I am. I hope I never stop playing the piano but I suppose it will happen one day..
A very Happy Birthday to her.
:) What a sweet moment to store away in your memory and to have on film.

Nezzy said...

Great pics and I especially loved that precious video...hang on to that one girl! It's priceless!

My MIL (84)is in assisted living with Alzheimer's. So sad, she can't remember from one moment to the next.

Have yourself an awesomely blessed day sweetie!!!

Vicki Lane said...

Poignant, bitter-sweet, heart-breaking, tender, funny, and just plain wonderful post!

AliceKay said...

I watched the video the other day, and I noticed how quickly she switched gears on that piano. I loved how the ladies were singing with her and enjoying the "Memories" of the moment.

Happy belated birthday to Jim's mom. She is surely a treasure. God love her. I hope she's around for awhile longer. I know she has a wonderful family who thinks an awful lot of her. :)

I get emotional at things like this, too. I tried to hold a camcorder steady this past Saturday afternoon, but I didn't do so well at times. You'll understand why once I get that story told and the video to YouTube.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures! What a GREAT Birthday for Evelyn. Loved seeing her Sisters. Thanks for sharing! Tell your kids that their Great Uncle Al Haslag was sharp until the end or almost until the end until cancer got the best of him. No Alzheimers! I hope that gene is shared for all of us! Thinking of my family this Spring in beautiful Missouri!
Dee Haslag Bash