and I am no exception. My Great Aunt Mary Jane Frew Baker passed away on Saturday, June 2nd at the age of 87, after a battle with Alzheimer’s and heart ailments that in the end, her death was welcomed to be the end of her pain. I will chose to remember her like this photo below, smiling and with those she loved.
Mary was one of 6 sisters, Janet, Betty, Margaret, Ruth, Mary, and Julia and 3 brothers, William (died in infancy), George, and Gordon, born and raised in Henry county, Illinois.
Their father, Alex (George Alexander Frew) passed away suddenly in 1938 when Mary was only 14yrs old. Her mother’s youngest child, Gordon, was only 4yrs old and her oldest sibling, Janet was married with two small children of her own. In fact, Janet’s oldest child, Buddy (George Howard McMeekin) would die just 4 days later at the tender age of 2 yrs 11 mos 20 days. I can only imagine the sadness in the household at this time, and her having just turned 14, it could not have been easy to deal with the emotions of losing her father and nephew and all that must have had to happen with her mother left to raise 5 children still in school or at home.
Aunt Mary will always be remembered by me as the Aunt who loved her family, her mother, Gramma Frew, her church where she worked for many years and retired from, her gardens and the simple things in everyday life. I remember her and her sisters, Margaret and Ruth standing around a piano singing Christmas hymns, her smile and hug when I became a little homesick when I spent the weekend with them when I was about 9 yrs old.
Mary would go to school, graduate and eventually find love with her husband Richard Oliver Baker.
Though the marriage would end, they had three children, Jane, Richard Jr, and Patricia.
Patricia is a hero to me. We are the same age but our lives have taken completely different paths. She has taken the last several years of her life to devote to the care and concern of her mother. Including leaving her own home to move in with her mother in another state, to take care of her. She took care of the home and drove Aunt Mary wherever she needed to be, doctors or hair dresser, did not matter, she took care of her. Only when it became too much for her, herself having medical issues, did she need to place her in professional care. And even to the end stage of Aunt Mary’s life, Tricia was there talking her through it and seeing that her wishes were carried out.
Aunt Mary is sitting at the table with her father, mother and all but one sibling now. She is taken care of in the arms of our Father in Heaven and the family and friends she has longed to see again. She is not in pain and has all her memories about her again.
Tricia is now forging ahead. Learning to live life without her mother, which really happened years ago when she became the caregiver. She will have to learn to take care of herself now, to get the rest and care she needs. I am in awe of her calmness and her reminder to me to look at the simple pleasures of everyday life and give notice to those things around us that can make us smile. Lessons her mother taught her and taught her well.
So I say prayers still, only for the children of Aunt Mary, though they be in their 50’s and 60’s, however it happens, whenever it happens, losing your mother is never easy.