Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 10-18-10
October 18, 2010
Five years ago, the Fall River County (S.D.) Historical Society held its first history conference. Of the 10 speakers, four of them were in their 90s. Each one communicated the same basic message within their talks: “we were poor but we didn’t know it; there was always someone worse off than we were.”
Though they had all lived through the Great Depression, optimism was a key attribute of each. Now all but one of these lovely individuals has died. The lone survivor is now 98 and she hasn’t slowed down a lick. All grew up on farms where their families made their own way and pitched in to assist each other.
Violet was one of the four and she passed on last week. Ever since her husband died years ago she had lived by herself in her own home but she and her family decided it was time for her to move into an apartment in a nearby town. She was still driving, much to the dismay of her neighbors but no one had the heart to challenge her and take her keys. It was when she drove 30 miles to buy groceries that people were most concerned, but she was independent and went on.
Violet was spunky and there is no other word for it. At age 90 when she flew to see her children, she was assigned a seat next to the window and one of her seatmates was wheelchair bound. In the wisdom of the airlines, he was boarded first, and after much difficulty, installed on the aisle seat. Violet didn’t see any problem, she just stepped up on the armrest, stepped over the man and sat herself down. She had to show the flight attendants her driver’s license to prove her age as they didn’t believe she was 90 and still capable of such antics.
When the ambulance pager in her little town went off for a 95-year-old woman, they may as well have said her name as she’s the only one who fit the description. The call was for naught. She was out raking leaves in her yard and bumped her medic alert necklace, summoning the ambulance.
Her family was here to help with the move, when she rather quickly became ill. She had told everyone that she just wanted to “wake up dead” one day and she pretty much got her wish. When I visited her in what turned out to be just a week before she died, she handed me a big bag of apples she had just picked from her own yard.
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She served in the state legislature along with a rancher neighbor from the same little town. She was a Democrat, he a Republican and their votes nearly always canceled each other out, yet they were friends and rode together the 200 plus miles to their sessions. She let people know where she stood and extended the same courtesy to others.
Peggy’s internet latchstring is out at Peggy@PeggySanders.com.