A new obituary for my Mom

My mom died a year ago today.  Needless to say, it’s been kind of a rough year.  Throughout my genealogy research, one thing I have learned is that obituaries used to be much more personal and interesting to read.  While attempting to put together my mom’s obituary a year ago, we made sure to get all the “important” stuff in there; but there were a lot of family names we had include, and not enough space to mention how unique of a person she really was.

So for my post I would like to write a much more personal obituary for my mom.

Linda Lee Kinsley Shaw Jennings Brown Kelley (as I used to call her when I was being a brat and she would refer to me as Erin Elizabeth) loved music.  She used to ride around in her car with CDs that were especially made by her children with all of her favorites, dancing the Linda dance.  This dance took on three different forms.  There was a fist shake.  There was the flat hand thrust.  Then there was the combo of the two.  She loved all kinds of music.  She even loved disco.  Every time some cheesy disco song would come on an oldies station she would remind us about how disco was a “real art form” and that she took disco lessons back in the 1970s, and so did A LOT of other people.  She loved Motown.  She obsessed over Michael Jackson’s live performances, especially when he was young.  She hated John Mellencamp because he was “too country” but loved Kenny Rogers.  She loved films, and therefore loved soundtracks.  A year later and I still can’t listen to You Can’t Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones without bursting into tears (as The Big Chill was her favorite movie).

 

Linda Kelley in her senior portrait, abt. 1960.

Linda loved movies.  She claimed to dislike violent films that didn’t have any moral value, except she loved Die Hard (and many others that didn’t fit her description of moral).  She loved watching movies about the persecution and hardship of groups of peoples.  Anything civil rights or Holocaust-based was right up her alley.  In fact, when she was in the rehab hospital just a month before she died she told me all about how she had watched Fiddler on the Roof the night before and how she just cried and cried.  “Isn’t that the best movie?”

To my mom, everything was the best or the worst.  It was always, “Wasn’t that the BEST cheeseburger you’ve ever had?”   Yes, mother.  I remember all cheeseburgers in my history and that one was THE best.  “Isn’t this the worst winter EVER?”  Yes.  The worst.  Ever.

Linda had six children.  She was their biggest fan and most vocal advocate, especially to each other.  Within sibling relationships there will always be strife, but my mom was the peacemaker.  She tried to make us realize that we are all so completely different.  We shouldn’t try to change each other, but accept each other as they are.  One thing I heard from my mom often was, “You’ve got to get over it.  That is how _______ is. “  This was easier said than done, but I understand what she means.

She finally got to do what she really wanted to when she started her company, which eventually became Healthcare Professionals.  But she always worked, before and after Healthcare.  I mean…she took vacations and whatnot.  But I never remember my mother taking much of a break.  She never really retired.  When she “retired” she continued to work on her booth and work for Alliance Home Care.  When she got sick she was so upset that she wasn’t working, and couldn’t wait to get back to it.  She gave that work ethic to her kids.

She always thought I was better than I was and tried to be a cheerleader for everything I was interested in doing.  When I moved away from home she demanded a phone call every other day or so.  If I didn’t call her, she would call me.  If I didn’t return calls, I would get an earful and a guilt-trip.  This usually wasn’t so hard for me, considering during my entire childhood my first move when I got home from school was to call my mom.   It is still hard for me to pick up the phone after an interview or a really good movie and realize she isn’t the person to call anymore.

She loved to travel, but refused to leave the country (“There’s just so much to see here!  Why would I need to leave?”).  She loved having a place to get away.  They had what we called “the metal tent” at Lake Lemon for years.  Her other favorite places to visit were Las Vegas (because she loved the nickel slots), French Lick, Indiana (a place we went as a family for years), and pretty much anywhere else with Fred.

On a short weekend jaunt to Lake Lemon, (near Bloomington, IN) with the whole fam.

She loved her husband, Fred.  She took care of him and probably drove him insane.  I can still hear her in my head screaming, “Frederick!  Get In Here!”  She nagged him, but I am convinced that he liked it.

Linda was sick for years, but kept most of her health problems a secret from her children.  She had a heart attack at 57. She had diabetes for years before she told us she had it.  She had congestive heart failure for a long time before she told us she had it.  Her kidneys were failing when she attended my wedding and never mentioned anything about it.  While she cared for everyone else, she did not take care of herself.  I never saw her eat a fresh vegetable or a piece of fruit…in my entire life.  When she finally got outwardly sick, it was too late.

My mom was in the hospital for a few weeks, and then in PT rehab a few weeks.  Things were looking up when she was finally sent home to continue physical therapy from there.  She seemed upbeat and happy.  She had started dialysis, which she hated.  The last time I talked to her we were making plans for me to take her to dialysis and then hang out and have dinner at her place.  I never got to pick her up.  She went to the first treatment of dialysis that week and had a heart attack as she was waiting.  She never woke up again.  I am at least grateful that our last conversation was a good one, and she was in good spirits.  We didn’t bicker at all, which is mildly shocking.  But I didn’t get to tell her I really did enjoy her, or tell her I liked seeing movies with her (even really bad ones), or that I always liked her spaghetti the best.  Or goodbye.

My mother was not a saint.  There are things that she did in her life that I would not consider commendable.  She was stubborn as anyone I have ever met in my life.  Sometimes when I talked about my mom the word “infuriating” would slip out….regularly.  She was often close-minded about the weirdest things.  “I could never date a bald man.”  But she was nice.  She was SO nice.  Anyone who ever met her could never say otherwise.  These are the things she should be remembered for.

My mom, after letting her gradndaughter Remy work on her hair.

I really miss her, more than these (or any) words can say.

Erin

Blogging about blogs

*** Warning – This post has nothing to do with ancestry***

I have some amazing friends.  They are talented in all sorts of manners.  A few of them have blogs.  This post has nothing to do about ancestry.  It is merely recognition of my friends who have neat blogs you might want to read.   The links to these blogs are also located under “Friend Blogs” over there….on the right.  See it?  Good.

(in no particular order – other than this is the order already listed on my page)

cottage revolution

Claire (C-Dogg in some circles) has been a friend of mine for well over a decade now.  We were co-workers in college, and every so often we still work together.  She is the craftiest person I know in real life.  I’m not talking decoupage.  I’m talking about making her own clothes, terrarium-building, slipper development, and sewing buttons back on my clothes (because I’m useless at such things).  She is my neighbor and we do neighborly things like walk the dog together, or borrow eggs.  It’s super cheese, but I love it.

Her blog is all about the things she creates.  Her photos are simple and amazing, sometimes with the help of her husband (who I’ve known even longer!).

Irvington Bungalow

Carmen is a friend of mine from grad school at Ball State.  Unfortunately we don’t see each other at ALL anymore which is not enough, especially since she lives like 12 minutes away.  Side note:  I know it’s exactly 12 minutes because we used to carpool, and it was fun. Luckily there is Facebook and her blog, which allows me to see what’s new in Carmen’s world.  For a long time much of her world revolved around fixing up their bungalow in a near-east side Indianapolis neighborhood called Irvington.  I love Irvington, and I love their house.  I want most of their furnishings and want her husband (Chad) to plan a landscape for us.  This is the blog about the work they have done.  I have posted a few things on facebook about work we have done, but they are doing their best to maintain historic integrity.  I love it.  Carmen recently had her first baby and blogging has gotten sparse.  I’m hoping we’ll see some more when the little one gets a little older.  Speaking of the little one, I STILL need to go meet her.  I am a horrible friend.

The Sweetest Baker

I have had some great roommates throughout my past.  Kelly is one of them.  I only got to live with her one year in college at IU but we had an amazing time (at least I think so).  Months (and sometimes years) could go by without talking to my old roomie.  Once she moved back to Philly, communication was sparse…but then she got on Facebook.  My friend Kelly is alive!  Sometimes when people aren’t on Facebook it’s almost as if they have fallen off the earth.  I hate that I am so reliant on this stupid website to keep me up to date on friends, but I am.  I really am.  Kelly has finally gotten on Facebook and I found out what has been going on with her.  She is a pastry chef!  Well, now I might have to move to Philly soon.  Check out her blog, full of great information, pictures, and news on what she is doing.  It makes me hungry just thinking about it.

View From an Irish Backyard

I met Maryann through Claire.  They were co-workers and we all eventually were in a little book club together.  Unfortunately for all of us in Indy, Maryann met and fell in love with an Irish filmmaker (Frank Kelly).  She skipped town…and in fact the entire country…and moved to Drogheda, Ireland, just outside Dublin to be with Frank (and they have a baby girl, Evelyn, now).  We are all able to keep up with her crazy days and hilarious musings via her blog.  Many of her posts are about life in Ireland and how it can be SO different, challenging, enjoyable, and amazing.  If you are an ex-pat at all, or if you’ve been to Ireland, or if you just enjoy good writing then this is a great blog.

So those are some of my talented friends that I felt like I had to show off.  There will be more ancestry adventures coming up soon.  The weather is getting warmer!

Black Sheep Sunday – Milo and Walter Long, the family murderers

I am writing today’s post in response to a blog writing prompt on www.geneabloggers.com, which is a great website devoted to providing ALL types of blogs about genealogy.  They suggest for a slow, lazy Sunday, to write about those black sheep of the family.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I love black sheep.  What I love about my own family is that everyone seems to be a black sheep.  None of us are like each other at ALL and if we were in a normal family, we’d all be the total weirdos, cast off, like day old bagels.  But Andrew has got some nasty ones in his family.  Sometimes I just have to remind him, when I feel like maybe he’s forgotten, that he has murderers in his family and it runs in his blood.  He usually just rolls his eyes.  But I know deep down that he’s taking it to heart.

Andrew and I got married last year, after a lengthy courtship of like…7 years.  By the time we got to planning our honeymoon we were mostly thinking about a sensible trip.  Something that will be warm in December, but close enough that we won’t waste a ton of time traveling, and cheap enough that we won’t have to put anything on a credit card.  Well, two out of three ain’t bad.  We ended up in Saint Augustine, Florida, which we loved.  It was in this country so travel was relatively easy.  It wasn’t super expensive.  It was, however, freezing.  So all those nights we had planned to have drinks out on the deck of some precious tucked away bar fizzled when we got there.  So we spent a lot of nights in.

One night I got on the laptop (yes, we brought the computer on our honeymoon) and we were just sort of watching a House Hunters International marathon (so romantic, I know); and I was just messing about on Andrew’s tree as he was in and out of sleep.  I was doing the census record searches for a cousin of his, Milo Long, and it looked like he was in prison in Montana.

I was very confused about this and looked at the records and noticed a Walter Long as well.  Turns out they were brothers.  And they were actually in jail in Montana.  I just kept wondering how these two farmville Indiana boys ended up in a Montana prison.  After a short bit of research I came upon the answer!

Both Milo and Walter went after the family of John Hayes after a “claim dispute” in Montana.  According to the local paper, they had supposedly abandoned the claim, near Culbertson, Montana.  When they found out someone had taken up residence in that spot they headed over there and gave this man a warning.  The Long brothers, with up to 14 more ruffians, threatened the family and said they had 24 hours to get off the property.  24 hours later, they came back and the family was still there.  The group proceeded to shoot up the property, killing John Hayes and his 11-year old daughter, Augusta.

This is horrible, obviously.  But what I found amazing, was that there was only one census record of them in prison.  So I looked into it more and it turns out they were only sentenced to 13 years for the murder of two!  I guess that’s early Montana for you…

Milo and Walter were incarcerated at Old Montana Prison at Deer Lodge, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  The prison housed its first inmate in 1871 and closed up shop in the late 1970s.  There are all sorts of ghost stories attributed to the prison, but that’s nothing new for a prison, right?  Looks like the next time Andrew and I are visiting Big Sky country we might have to make a stop to see where his cousin’s hung out for a short time.  They have tours!

This is an older picture of the Old Montana Prison before it was shut down in the late 1970s.

Now, once they got out, Walter got married and had three kids (one of them, a girl, named Delight – I swear).  Milo got married a few times to a Helen, a Lola, and then a Nevada.

True to life Black Sheep here. I wish I had pictures of these guys.