Mom’s mind was ‘sharp as a tack’


This is a continuation of the article I wrote last time about my being born at home in a farmhouse in eastern Delaware County back in 1936. My parents and three older siblings were living in a house that had no running water or electricity. My Dad did the farming, but by the time I was 2 years old, his health was so bad that he had to get a man to help with all the chores. The man didn’t have a home, so moved in with us in our home. He was given their bedroom, and they had to sleep on a roll-out daybed in the living room.

When the sheep were having their lambs, and the hired man would not get up in the night to check on them, he was asked to leave. A week after he disappeared, Mom discovered that the man had stolen all her treasures. The treasures consisted of two watches, (the old fashioned kind that are pinned to your blouse) as well as our dad’s class ring and a valuable tea pot filled with keepsakes of her trip to California in 1909, when she was 6 years of age. The tea pot also contained a small bag of gold!

With no help to do the farming, our dad had to give it up. I was 2 years old when we moved into Centerburg to rent half of a double house. The rent was $100 for a year, to be paid in advance. When we moved to that house, we took along a cow, and some laying hens, because there was a small barn and pasture behind the house. Mom had nearly 400 cans of vegetables, fruit and meat, that she had canned the year before, as well as the potatoes she had already raised. This was a better house in that we finally had electricity and running water for all our needs.

Just five months after, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and our dad died at age 74. Previously, he had suffered eight years of having a form of dementia that caused him to lose most of his memories. Mom took care of him at home every day until the day he died. Once he looked right at me and asked where his little girls were, and there I stood, one of his daughters, but now a grown woman he didn’t know.

Mom lived to be 83 years of age, but since she was bedfast, she had to be in a nursing home for the last 16 months of her life. The nursing home was in Johnstown, which was the town where she had grown up, so was content to be back “home.” Her mind was as “sharp as a tack.” You may not have realized that she had a severe hearing loss ever since she was a child. All seven of her grown children were with her that whole day when she died at St. Ann’s Hospital. She had just asked us a question that we couldn’t quite hear because she spoke so quietly, and just that quickly, she was gone.

A few years ago, while at an arts festival, I saw a huge painting that had a background of many brushstrokes of various shades and types of white paint that completely covered the canvas. Painted on that canvas were words I have never forgotten. I feel it is appropriate that I add those words here, since I am describing my mother’s passing. The words were: “The last thing she heard was the sound of angel wings filling the air.”

By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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