“Is she your mom?” I would have lost track by now if I had tried to count how many times I was asked this question over the past week and a half. My usual response over the years has been yes rather than explain. But there in the local hospital’s short stay ward, waiting for 96-year-old Edna to have surgery to repair the hip she broke early that morning, I thought I needed to be more specific by answering “sort of.”
“Technically, she’s my husband’s first wife’s mother.”
“She’s my eighth and final parent,” I sometimes added to complicate the story.
Not many of us are blessed in a lifetime to be loved and accepted by eight parents. For years now I’ve worn a plain necklace strung with five “letter” beads that spell S-E-N-C-M; it tells my life story. Whenever someone asks about that “word,” I’ll explain that I spent my first 21 years as SEN, my next 28 years as SENC, and my last 21 years as SENCM. I started with two parents, added two more with the letter C, and then four more with the letter M.
Before I married Mauri, he said about Kenneth and Edna: “You know, they come with the package.” I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Mom and Dad Williams started showing their acceptance of me as a daughter by flying all the way to Michigan to attend the wedding.
Now that we’ve established who Edna is to me, let’s talk about her.
I don’t have dates or the story behind these family pictures, but somehow they ended up in my computer, which gives me permission to share them, right?
One more grandchild, Derin, came along later.
Four generations of Lehman/Williams/Macy women.
Don’t tell her I included this one. It’s one of my favorites.
One thing you’ll notice about nearly every picture of Edna is that she’s wearing her favorite color—purple.
As I looked through my photo collection of Edna (most from my own camera, though obviously not this one) I couldn’t miss how much we love to celebrate her birthday.
I remember planning this birthday bash for Edna’s 80th. Hats were the designated fashion, and guests were invited to bring 80 somethings for a gift.
Many took their assignment seriously. Kathryn, for one.
Rachel helped Grandma open her “80” presents. People can be so creative!
With their hats too! Margi and Howard maxed out their creativity.
This was 1999; we were all just a little bit younger.
So many good sports!
Here she shows her trademark “happy hands.” Watch for them again.
One year she did a face plant on a walk through the university and had to wear a purple face to match her purple clothes. Poor dear—and what a sport!
And then it came time to celebrate her 90th. Julene decorated the table with purple flowers.
We ordered a cake all decorated with purple.
And absolutely sure Mom/Grandma would show up in purple, we all came dressed in purple.
You guessed-er, Chester. Pink! She showed up in PINK!
Oh, unpredictable Grandma . . .
I had to include this one, so wonderful that all-in grin!
Twinkling eyes. A trademark table shot by Mauri.
And again, the happy hands.
And the guest of honor wore pink!
Let’s take a break from birthdays and see other sides of Edna. Did you know she loved to read? Add some soft classical background music and she would stay happy for hours. Who needs TV?
She was proficient on her knitting machine. Famous for the personalized Christmas “socks” (stockings) she created, orders would pile up. When not knitting socks, she made many of her own clothes, like what she’s wearing in the picture. Purple, of course.
She would never have thought to be a dancer, but once given the invitation to join the line-dancing team at her retirement community, she never missed a session.
A committed fan of the George Fox women’s basketball team, she wouldn’t miss a home game. She was also a “Foster Friend” and adopted a player each year.
Son Daryl (a.k.a DK) was often her sparring partner and could return a sarcastic word “punch” better than most of us.
She was a great great-grandmother, always interested in each one as they came alone. Nine, all told.
Back to birthdays. 92
Birthday 94 was especially memorable because Mom’s friend Carroll joined us. Carroll brought much joy into her life. They discovered companionship, enjoying sports and concert events and outings with the retirement community.
Still makin’ her blow out candles. Only two this time.
I was out of town for #96. It was her last birthday. Mom didn’t recover from her fall on January 4. I was the only Macy in town that day, which is the reason I needed to introduce myself as Edna’s “sort of” daughter to the hospital staff and explain why I don’t make decisions about her care. No worries, DK was in constant phone contact with everyone involved. The surgery went well, yet the road to recovery was difficult for a 96-year-old without her sight or much hearing. Five days later she was transferred back to her room in the Friendsview health center. Victoria, are you listening? You are an angel and a saint. I watched you with awe as you so sweetly talked Edna through some of the hard things she had to do. She balked, you soothed. Thank you. And Lillian, too, on the day shift. You are so good to her too. Edna’s family will remember your gentle care in her last days on earth.
Three days later, Edna developed a high fever. Her level of pain indicated the need to call in Hospice. Late that night, I kissed Mom on the forehead and said, “I’m going home to sleep now.” She replied, “OK, good night, sleep tight.”
Late the following night, JohnM came in with his guitar, and I went home. Just half an hour later my phone rang, John saying Grandma was gone. Just like that, listening to her grandson quietly sing, Edna was in the presence of Jesus.
You can visit Attrell’s website to read Edna’s obituary (she wrote it herself).
So much more can be said about Edna and her life on earth. Friend Paula wrote: “What a spunky, capable, and faithful person! I was realizing last night that when I worked in the NFC offices (30 years ago), she was already 66 years old! And very active. What a long, beautiful life she lived.” A celebration of Edna’s life is planned for Friday, January 29, 2 p.m., at Newberg Friends Church, 307 S. College St, Newberg, OR. Please come if you can.
On Monday, Mom’s cremains will be placed in the spot she shows me here—next to Dad, of course. But they do this only for the sake of posterity. They’ve both completed the time portion of their lives and now enjoy the eternity part of their lives. Here is a remarkable illustration of this truth.
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A few bonus pictures just for fun.