248. Pretty Purple Person

Last Saturday, May 7, 1999, was the anniversary of the death of one of my three sisters-in-law, the beautiful Lorraine Agnes Wilson Ford.

I expect to treasure every single minute I ever spent in her presence over the fifty-some years I knew her.

The reason I didn’t write about her on Saturday was because I was waiting to receive something in the mail from my brother-in-law, Don Ford.  It’s the eulogy that was offered by Lorraine’s son Jim Ford (my nephew) at her requiem mass. I received the copy today.  Here’s what Jim wrote.

Lorraine Agnes Wilson was born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1925. She married Don Ford in August, 1946 and began a life of travel. From 1946 to 1971, the family made 8 major moves. To help you all understand and remember the wife, mother and friend, I have outlined Mom’s life so we can all remember a time or two we shared with her.

Charles Darwin said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life”. We believe that applies to Mom and the way she loved life.

The newlyweds lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where Dan was born in 1947 followed by Chris in 1951. The family of four moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1951.

In 1953, Mom and the kids moved back to Cedar Rapids while Dad was off to Japan. Later that same year, Mom and the kids joined Dad at Ashiya Air Force Base in Japan.

In 1955, the family settled in St. Louis, Missouri and I was born in 1958, followed by Steve in 1960.

In 1966, the family of six moved to Dayton, Ohio where Leslie was born in 1967. From Dayton, the family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1969.

In 1970, the family was off to Alexandria, Virginia. Finally, in the summer of 1971, the family moved cross-country for the last time and settled in Eugene (although none of us knew or believed that at the time!). The family has been resident in Eugene for the past 29 years.

Jerome Fleischman said, “It takes courage to live –  courage and strength and hope and humor”. That was the wife, mother, and friend we would like you to remember with us today. 

.

We remember the following things about Mom and invite you to remember what these little thoughts meant in your relationship with her. 

Mom loved:

.   Her family and friends first and foremost. It was important to Mom to have those she loved near her as often as possible, especially her eight grandchildren.

.  Anything purple! If it was purple, Mom could find some redeeming virtue in it.

.  Her Oregon Ducks (University of Oregon), more specifically the basketball team. As a Daisy Duck, she traveled with the team, attended tournaments and came to love the game of basketball. So much so that we all learned not to call Mom on the phone during key parts But she always found time to call after a key Oregon victory and the first thing we heard was “How ‘bout them Ducks!”

.  Gardening. It was important to have beautiful things around, and Mom made sure the house and yard was always filled with the beauty of flowers.

.  Trips to Iowa. No matter where the family was in the world, we all remember the many visits back to Cedar Rapids to be with the grandparents, sisters, brothers and extended families. These were some of Mom’s happiest memories and ones she loved to share over and over.

.  The Oregon coast. Mom traveled regularly to the coast and always love witnessing its  awesome power.

.  Her seagulls. Most of us see the seagull as a nuisance, but Mom loved the birds and treasured pictures and statues of them in her home.

.  Shopping trips. No matter the occasion, Mom was up for shopping, whether it was buying clothes for one of the kids, antiquing or just hours of window shopping. Mom knew how to find a bargain, or spend hundreds of hours until she did!

.  Traveling. Mom was fortunate to have married into the military, which offered many opportunities to travel. She and Dad traveled to just about every state in the United States plus Europe, Canada and Peru and Panama in Latin America.

.  Christmas time. I think Mom’s favorite time of the year was Christmas. She loved the season of giving and spending time with the family,

.  Baking. Mom could bake with the best and we all have benefited over the years from some type of pastry, cake, pie, or special dessert that Mom made.

.  The sun on her face. Mom was always cold and would often comment on how good the sun felt when she had the opportunity to bask in it.

.  Apricots, cranberries with whipped cream, instant coffee, and dark chocolates.

.  Glenn Campbell, country music, and Erma Bombeck.

These are but a few of the things we remember about the woman we all have come to love and will remember for the rest of our lives. Mom would have wanted you to remember her in your hearts and all the good times she shared with you.

Jonathan Swift said “May you all live all the days of your life”. Mom did, and she would have wanted you to as well. She lived for 73 years on this earth and spent 54 of them married to Dad while raising a family. She is looking down on us today and smiling as she remembers each of you.

I’d like to leave you with a poem written by Jenny Joseph. Many of you have seen and will remember it immediately. It is entitled, “Warning: When I am an Old Woman

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Thank you for telling Lorraine’s story so well, Jim.  Thanks, too, to my niece Christy Ford who provided most of the photos.

Just got a note from Christy that said, “I want to say that my mom was my best friend in my whole life! There were many things to describe her but I want to say that the best thing you would see when you come to visit mom at Coachman Drive was all the beauty of her flowers everywhere outside. It matched the overall beauty of mom’s character and soul! She loved flowers and was proud of her work! It was just amazing! I tried planting flowers myself at my Southview Street in Aloha (Oregon) and succeeded only in pots. My field is much smaller and limited but I was able to see the reflection of the beauty of mom’s work. Thank you, mom!”

Lorraine made the world a brighter place.  She saw to it.  And those of us who knew and loved her, can’t help but smile when we see the color purple. 

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6 Responses to 248. Pretty Purple Person

  1. A relative says:

    Nice job octowoman! Thank you for sharing these stories with our family and friends. I will always remember aunt Lorraine with a big smile on her face. She was a very sweet and loving person.
    Susy

  2. Christine Ford says:

    Thank you, Aunt Patti, for your lovely blog on my mom! It is just beautiful!

  3. Sherry Evard says:

    What a sweet story. I didn’t even know Lorraine, but thoroughly enjoyed reading about her. Instant coffee, chocolate, purple–me too. Pat, your words bring a smile and honor the memory of a lovely lady, Lorraine.

  4. Janis Bornong says:

    This was an exquisite blog of my Aunt Rainy. Made me cry, laugh and miss her so much again. My mom, her sister Virginia and I both share her love of apricots, cranberries and purple! Thank you so much for doing this.

  5. Karen Sokolowski says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to my aunt. I’ll always remember all the family picnics when she was back in Cedar Rapids. She had such wonderful energy & everytime I see purple anything I think of her. Made me cry but know she’s with mom (her older sister) & gramma & all the other relatives & they are probably having a spirited game of cards. She’ll always be in our hearts.

  6. Dee Lempka says:

    Wow – beautiful words for a beautiful lady! Aunt Rainey was just the best, and she gave our family such special memories! I shed some tears while reading this, but also glowed with a big smile when remembering those favorite times shared with her. I still miss her visits every summer to Iowa, and the many road trips we took antiquing and going to the gambling riverboats – but she will always be close at heart, and the memories forever treasured. As she always told us – “enjoy life, cause you only go this way once”!
    Thank you for this wonderful tribute that we can all share.

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