Tuesday, November 13, 2012

September 3, 1925-June 9, 2012

Mary Flo Whalen, September 3, 1925-June 9, 2012

Quite a life. We went to Billings, Montana this past weekend for a memorial mass and a celebration of Flo's life. Those of her children who could be there picked out her head stone, adorned with a cross to memorialize her faith, which meant so much to her and with the pine boughs of her beloved state. The inscription read, "Wonderful Mother of Ten." And was she ever. That meant so much to her. Ernie tells the story of one of her last stays in the hospital. The nurses asked her what they could write about her on the white board by her bed, and that was what she wanted everyone to know.

America is a big country and her children were spread from coast to coast. When she was in a position to visit them, she packed up her bags and off she went. Becky was in Iceland. Flo went to Iceland. Robert was in Israel. Flo went to Israel. Her knitting needles were never still and her grandchildren were the recipients of sweaters and hats and anything that could be knitted.

We drove to Montana with our children several times. Nebraska was long and flat, but what memories we have of South Dakota and the Black Hills. Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore became woven into our family lore. And when we were actually in Billings there were the obligatory trips to Little Bighorn, Red Lodge  and Yellowstone. In later years we flew out to weddings and now to her memorial.

There was such an outpouring of love. Flo always loved her sewing group (in her case knitting, and we met one woman who brought her ironing along.) Flo spent the last years of her life in another state she held dear, New Mexico and she reluctantly sold her big house. But miracles do happen and the family which moved in to 2312 loves the house. They embarked on an enormous re-modelling job—much of the original structure has changed, but the additions were in the style of the original. Michael and Aimee graciously invited us all to a reception in their house and looked on as we explored the changes which elicited stories from Shannon about the windows she had climbed out of in the night in her childhood. So while the physical structure of the house has changed, the hospitality which was a hallmark of the Whalen house is still there, carried on by Michael and Aimee and their four children.

I'll miss her for so many reasons—not least writing letters to her. She loved receiving and writing letters and it is such a loss not to find mail from her in the mail box. As we prepare for another family celebration, we will lift our glasses high. What's a party without Flo and her lovely smile and a martini?


Marcie said...

Beautiful post....

Z said...

What a great tribute to a lovely lady.