Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering Hazel, My Memorial Day Tribute

I realize that Memorial Day is a special day set aside to remember our veterans. I am so extremely grateful to the men and women who gave their lives for our country-those who have died while serving, and those who live to serve. I am also grateful to the mommies and daddies who said goodbye to their sons and daughters at train stations and bus stations and now airports, only to receive them back months or years later in a pine box covered in the Stars and Stripes they died to protect.

But that's not who I am remembering this Memorial Day.

This year, brings me to the memory of a woman named Hazel. She was born in 1902 in Chicago, Illinois. The daughter of a Civil War veteran and a Swedish immigrant, she was the 5th child out of 6. She had one half brother from her father's first marriage. At the age of 15, she watched her little sister, Grace, die of Tuberculosis. When she was 16, her mother also passed away, one of the many victims of the great Influenza outbreak of 1918 {also known as Swine Flu}.

When Hazel was 24, she married Bob. Bob was 26, the second son born to a former New Englander who came West in search of a new life. His father was a machinist and his mother an Irish immigrant who worked as a servant prior to finally marrying at the age of 38.

Hazel and Bob honeymooned at Niagara Falls, and made their home in Elmhurst, IL. He an Electrician and she a homemaker. They had 4 children, 1 boy and 3 girls. They lived their lives as 'regular folks.' But 'regular folks' was different then. The Great Depression hit just 7 years after their wedding. They had 4 young children and a home to pay for. Like everyone, they struggled to get by. Bob once tried to sell newspapers to make money for their food. Someone stole them in the night, and his children woke to find him in tears.

Fast forward to 1990. A beautiful Arizona morning finds me sitting at the breakfast table, set with fine china and silver. Hazel is filling small green juice glasses with freshly squeezed orange juice.

"Can I help with anything, Grandmama?"
"No, dear, I've got it. The sweet rolls will be up in just a minute."

Bob comes in with the morning paper and sits down at the head of the table. Hazel brings the sweet rolls to the table and places the beautiful silver serving platter on homemade pot holders. Bob takes her hand.

"Let us give thanks to the Lord for all He has given." He leads us all in a simple, heartfelt prayer, and we pass the rolls, drink our juice, and discuss the days happenings.

I am watching this memory in my mind, unable to step through time and change history. But, if I could, I would stop Hazel for a moment. I would wrap my arms around her tiny frame that only came up to my shoulders, and I would give her a hug. A hug of gratitude.

She had four little children prior to dishwashers, ice-makers, microwaves, washing machines, clothes driers, televisions, computers, DVD players, and many more things that we take for granted. Things that 'save time' for us to spend with our husbands and children. Yet, she found time. She found time to spend time with her children and to teach them the most important things in life. She cooked their food, cleaned {and made} their clothes, and she also taught them her love for the Lord.

I know as a mommy, my greatest prayer is to teach my children about the Lord Jesus Christ. His saving grace and the eternal life He has offered to each of them. This, Hazel did.

All 4 of her children are walking with the Lord and have shared that faith with those around them. One daughter became a minister to Guatemala and Honduras and later to college students here in the states. One daughter married a minister, and also did some overseas missions with her husband. Another daughter married a pastor's son and is an active part of her local church. And her son became a minister.

Her son learned well from his mom and dad, and passed on his love for the Lord to his daughter and son in law, who eventually taught me.

Hazel, my Great-Grandmother, lived to be 102. She lived through 2 World Wars, 17 Presidents, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and many, many other events of the 1900's. Yet, through all the ups, downs and changes, she never lost sight of her Home and true reason for living.

As we remember our military veterans, I want to remember my Grandmama as a veteran of mommy-hood. A model for me to follow as I raise my children in the Love of God. A true Proverbs 31 woman. Thank you Grandmama, and thank you, God, for sending her to us to love for 102 years.


Bob West said...

I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I have yours. Great insights! I am now a follower.
God Bless, Bob West

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing lady. You're surely blessed to call her "grandmother." Happy Memorial Day.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Your great grandma was the proverbs 31 woman I believe :-)