Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In Memory of Mother

Ruth Oraleen Tripp Glines Menge
July 28, 1935--July 27, 1981
My mother was born in the middle of the Great Depression. She was the seventh child (and fifth daughter) of Raymond and Lulu Tripp. She lost her mother at the age of eight. She was close to her five sisters: Dorothy, Norma, Esther, Inez, and Mildred.
She married Lester Glines. A daughter was stillborn.
In 1962 she married Charles Menge. On June 2, 1963, twins, Jerry Lee and Julie Ann, were born. They were premature, and they died within hours of birth. Her only surviving child, Robert (me) was born February 27, 1965. Her marriage to Charles ended in 1973.
In 1975 Ruth packed up her son and her belongings and returned to her hometown, Warsaw IL. It was not easy, and she struggled. She was a wonderful mother. No matter how bad things were, we had a home, and food. She took care of me. She did what she felt she needed to do in order for us to survive.
In 1980 she bought her first home. Mere weeks later, she fell ill with what was first diagnosed as hepatitis. After being sent to another hospital, she underwent surgery to remove her spleen, gall bladder, and pancreas. Before falling ill, she was 163 pounds. She was released from the hospital several weeks later at 107 pounds. As a result of the pancreas removal, she became diabetic. She learned to give herself insulin shots. She wanted me to learn....I hated needles, and at 15 I couldn't fathom giving my own mother shots. I wish I had learned.
More than once I thought she was dying right there at home. In one particular instance, ......it was around 3:30am when I was awakened by Mom crying out in terrible pain. She slept on a hide a bed.....a couch with a bed hidden inside. I was sleeping in her bedroom.....I moved in there several months after moving to the new house. To be closer to her. My room was upstairs. You get the idea.
Anyway, when I went out to the couch, she asked me to hold her. I did. As time went by, she began speaking to me in terms of her not being around anymore. I don't remember her exact words, but I think she was trying to prepare me. I began crying and saying for her not to talk like that. I pleaded with her to let me call for help. She didn't want me to. I was up with her until morning. I finally called our friend Beverly Miller and told her what had happened. She told me she would be there in a few minutes......and she was. It was a school day for me....I was in 10th grade at Warsaw High School.....I had no intention of going that day. Beverly arrived, and she said she would care for Mom....that I should go ahead and go to school...things were better after Bev got there. I will always be grateful. Bev passed away last year. She was a good friend to Mom.....and to me.
When Mom was so ill that she would be hospitalized, my Aunt Norma assumed responsibility for my care. As Mom's illness progressed, Norma gradually began taking care of other things for us. Mom would do what she could, and Norma was always there to help, and to take the lead when Mom couldn't. Mom's other sisters were always willing to help whenever they could.
Mom was gradually getting worse, but I did not fully understand the extent of it.
Late July of 81......not sure exactly, maybe around mid-month or so.....Mom went into the hospital for the last time. I had become accustomed to her going in for a couple weeks, every few months. So this time was not much different to me.
Except it was different. Mom would not recover this time. A few days after being admitted, her blood sugar level (a struggle for all diabetics) went from 155.....an acceptable level.....to 376......not acceptable. She fell into a diabetic coma.
The last time I saw my mother alive, I still held out hope for her recovery. It was July 27, around 3:30 or so in the afternoon. She was blind at this point. She could not see any of us. She could not speak. But she could hear us. As I spoke to her, she would squeeze my hand in response. I told her I loved her, and would be back the next day, her birthday.
Later that evening the phone rang at Norma's, where I was staying. It was the hospital. Norma needed to go back. She asked me if I wanted to go.
I said no.
It is the one regret I have.
At 9:45pm, Mom passed away.
At 12:45am, Norma came into the room where I was sleeping and told me that Mom had gone to be with Jesus.
After the initial shock, I tried to go back to sleep. I didn't sleep much.
The next few days were tough. I was 16.....and even with my aunts and family around.....I felt like I was alone. Mom was everything to me. Now she was gone. What happens to me?
In her will, Mom named Norma as my legal guardian. However, because my father was still living (although he nearly died in a train accident months before, but that's another story) he was regarded as my natural guardian, so I was to go live with him. I didn't want to go back to Arenzville, for many reasons.....not because I had a problem with Dad.....but I didn't want to be taken away from my home.
Warsaw was my home.
But I had no choice.
I went.
I miss her yet today. Twenty-eight years later. I wonder how things would be if she were here. I wonder, but I don't dwell.
Mom was a great woman, and a terrific mother.
I love you Mom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An amazing story I must say Robert. The detail and vivid memory you have of her are much like my mom and I. She is the heart and sole of our family as well as I don't know what I'll do when that unthinkable day comes. Thanks for sharing that with us.