Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bye Bye Birdie

I used to call Mom birdie because she ate so little when she was done making sure everyone else had what they needed and finally sat down to dinner with the family.
She was laid to rest on Valentine's Day. It was a simple funeral that centered on what a wonderful mother she was, though she would have been the last to let others know.
The funeral was at Girrbach funeral home on the corner, a half block from our old family home. Those who were a part of our past filtered in and we mingled. Rev. Kathy Brown from the Methodist Church conducted a gentle service about love, and especially love of family and how Mom showed it in everything. My husband isn't a fan of women ministers, but even he was impressed!
To say Mom looked lovely in the casket sounds silly, but even she would have been pleased.
We requested donations to the hospital fund, in honor of Mom's having worked there, but there were a few flowers and a cast stone angel that my sweet daughter in law's family sent and told me to take home to my garden.
My friends Peg, Denny and Ray were there and even our first babysitter Linda. A few of Mom's friends showed up and some other friends of the family, but it was a really scattered background of people, which was comforting. Two of our cousins even spoke for the first time in awhile, which Mom would have loved. We heard wonderful personal stories concerning Mom's deeds that we were never aware of and stories of others who could not come but wanted to be remembered.
Afterward, we drove to the cemetery for a graveside service and older brother John read a page he wrote the night before that mentioned how fortunate the four of us felt to be her children and the "kindness" and positive attitude she taught us. We limited that part of the plans because the roads in the cemetery were barely plowed enough for the few cars to make it up the hill.
We drove to the Methodist Church, the church we grew up in, to sit with those who attended and talk over a luncheon proved by the women of the church. A trip up to the sanctuary brought back so many fond memories of our youth.
It was such a surreal experience that we knew we would have to face one day. Mom was a class act and someone to guide us the rest of our lives. I think she was smiling with pride all the way to heaven for a life well spent. Many of us think that we have to achieve things in our careers or make a name for ourselves, but the love of family is by far the highest compliment in my opinion.
The meek shall inherit the earth.
Bye Bye, are in our hearts forever.
With Love from your children,
John, Marilyn, Bob and Martha

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Written by older brother John...

A gracious lady has walked among us and left an imprint that will long be remembered. As the second daughter born to Artie and Glen Densmore on January 29, 1919, in the Coats Grove area of Barry County, Audra grew up on the family farm during the prosperity of the 1920's and depression of the 1930's. Farm life taught her a persistent work ethic and a caring for those around her. She attended the Woodland Public Schools and had a keen interest in writing and music. Her writing skills were recognized as a finalist in a State essay competition. Along with her mother on piano, her older sister, Margaret on violin, and Audra on the traps, the Densmore Orchestra regularly provided entertainment at local venues. The family moved to Hastings when Audra was entering her junior year in high school. She graduated from Hastings High School in 1937. Audra was accepted to Oberlin College where she studied music and became an accomplished musician on the piano and organ. After college, she returned to Hastings and was employed as an operator for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company. On December 31 of 1942, Audra married Wellesley A. Ironside at the First Methodist Church in Hastings. To this union, four children were born and Audra was a homemaker during their informative years. Once all of the children were off to school, Audra was employed by Pennock Hospital as the manager of the business office. As a mother, she was able to balance work with raising four children in a nurturing household. After retirement, Audra and Wellesley lived in Florida for a number of years until Wellesley passed away in 1994. Audra then returned to Michigan to be near her family and friends, including a number of quality final years living with her daughter, Martha Ironside. Audra had the unique ability to enrich everyone around her and always give of herself. She will be fondly remembered and deeply missed by family and friends. There was a reason Audra was put on this earth and everyone that met her knows why. Audra passed quietly away on February 8, 2008. She is survived by her children, John (Susan) Ironside of Atlanta, GA, Marilyn (Robert) Kraft of West Milton, OH, Robert (Patricia) Ironside of Grand Rapids, MI, and Martha Ironside of Plainwell, MI, as well as six nieces and nephews, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. The family would like to thank the staff of the Laurels of Sandy Creek in Wayland, Michigan, for being so kind and giving Audra loving care during her last few years. In lieu of flowers, Audra would wish that you send any donations to the Pennock Hospital Foundation. Visitation will be held one hour prior to service time. Funeral services will be held Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. at the Girrbach Funeral Home in Hastings. Rev. Kathy Brown officiating and burial will be at Hastings Riverside Cemetery. Arrangements are by the Girrbach Funeral Home in Hastings. You may leave a message or memory to the family at (

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Our mother Audra passed on 2-08-08.

I arrived in Michigan late Friday.

Stopped by younger sister Martha's on the way to have her go with me, but she was still in her pj's and had just woken up..she said she would go on Saturday instead, as she had been with Mom the night before and she was stable then.

Mom had last rights earlier Friday (priest, minister?) before I got there.

Younger brother Bob was waiting at the door when I arrived at the rest home and said Mom had taken a turn for the worst.

I held Mom's face in my hands, stroked her hair, put cream on her one exposed arm. She was on her side and you could hear the water in her throat as she was unable to swallow. I thought how cruel it was that she was drowning in fluids, but they had tried to drain it and she bit down so hard that they were afraid she would break the plastic. They had put patches behind her ears to dry the fluids. The oxygen had been removed. She was only at 80% and should have been at 90%. After about a half hour of that, Mom seemed to go into a sleep and emitted a quiet groan on each exhale. A hospice nurse stepped in with a stethoscope saying she was only taking one breath every 30 sec.and that the end was very close. Then there were no breaths and Mom was gone. Mom's face still had not a wrinkle on it and her dark eyebrows framed her beautiful eyes.

I don't know what I expected, but I had heard from a family friend that there was a cloud of vapor that came out of someone they had been with at death. Maybe I thought I would see or sense something resembling the soul leaving.
My sister in law Pat was with me while my younger brother Bob went to get younger sister Martha...they arrived just before Mom's last breaths. Pat is a Catholic...she opened the window slightly for the soul to leave the room and she said a rosary at the end of the bed.

I talked to Mom telling her it was ok to let go as she was fighting it so hard. I told her that all of her kids would be ok and that Dad had missed her and wants to be with her again...that she would see her sister and others. I kissed her and told her we all loved her and what a wonderful servant of God she had been on this earth. I rocked her as she struggled to calm her and after she seemed to be asleep, the song Silent Night for some reason started to come out of my mouth through tears.

Older brother John has called from his home in the south and Martha is pretty much staying home and resting...she has chemo on Monday.

Younger brother Bob and I went to the funeral home to make the final arrangements. We took a light mint colored wool dress. The funeral director asked if we had undergarments and we laughed as it had not occurred to us that they would send her from the home naked...they had bathed her and sent her in simple nightgown .
Brother Bob and I went to Walmart and bought her underclothing of a white and lace camisole, half slip and panties. At the checkout some woman behind me said that it was such a lovely set...I would have shocked her if I told her where they were going.
The funeral is on Valentine's Day, at Girrbach funeral home, a half a block from our family home at 1 p.m. My younger brother Bob and his wife Pat are having an after funeral gathering of friends and family at his home afterward.

I haven't cried much since Mom passed, but I don't know if it has really hit me and am sure it will over and over through the years.
We have so many beautiful memories of a Mom who treated us all as only children. She will give me strength the rest of my life. She was the true definition of the word Mom.
I have thanked God over and over for the wonderful parents we were given.