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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.