My mother-in-law's funeral will be on Wednesday. She lived 92 years. A long life. When the funeral home and those at our church said, "Tell us about her." Our first thought was that there wasn't much to say. Something should be said.
The best way to explain some things is by comparison.
Rose didn't tell stories of her life, she was a very humble person, but she did tell me one thing about her growing up in Leadville, Colorado. As a little girl she remembered an old woman walking out of a wooden shack at the mouth of the abandoned silver mine and going into town to buy groceries. Everyone in town knew the old woman who always dressed in the same long black dress. Baby Doe Tabor.
Baby Doe Tabor had songs written about her, movies about her life and museums filled with her memorabilia. She married a Senator. Teddy Roosevelt attended her wedding in Washington D.C. Horace Tabor her husband owned a silver mine in Leadville, but when the Gold Bugs defeated all measures at Free Silver they went bankrupt. For the last twenty years of her life she lived alone in the shack widowed and abandoned by her children waiting for the price of silver to rise enough to reopen the mine and be rich again. She froze to death March, 7 1935 when she ran out of wood.
Rose was the daughter of an Austrian immigrant brought over to work in the mines of Leadville. Growing up her family never had much money, but got by. He older sister married and started a family in Belen, NM. Rose moved in with them to help with the children while her brother-in-law and sister ran a bakery. She met Ed during the war. He was stationed at Kirtland Army base and when he got leave would spend it with her. They married in 1947 when he started working as a parts manager in a car dealership in Belen. They lost their first child. Ed found employment with the Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Albuquerque and worked as its parts manager for 35 years through various owners and locations. Rose stayed home and raised two children, losing a fourth child. Ed and Rose lived a very quiet and simple life around friends, family and church. Ed was a deacon at their church and Rose was an active member in the Woman's Missionary Union. They bought their house in 1948 and made a few additions to it over the years. My brother-in-law married and moved to Nebraska. When I asked Ed for his daughter's hand out in the front yard at their house while he was watering flowers I thought he'd twist his neck with the double take he gave me. It didn't come as a surprise to Rose. When our children were born Rose was our day care giver. She helped raise them as much as we did.
Over the years we ate many meals at their house. Rose was a good cook. Her enchiladas were better than the ones in the most expensive Mexican restaraunt in town. We planned on having her move in with us after Ed passed away, but nothing could get her out of that house. Finally her health forced her to sell the house and move to Nebraska with her son and family. She had a nice cottage at an assisted living village managed by her daughter-in-law and spent the last year of her life in a nursing home surrounded by family and new found friends passing away peacefully. She lived a full life filled with love and loss beloved by all who knew her.
Our culture is obsessed with beauty, wealth, possessions, accomplishments, what good did all that do for Baby Doe Tabor? Yet when you mention that Rose was a housewife content to live her life taking care of husband and family you're looked at as if she was a Stepford wife or she lived a meaningless life. To those of us in her family and friends she had great meaning and accomplished much.