Lucy uses a word in this letter that looks large in her life. The word slips by, not even used in the context that’s so important to her. She goes on to expand on the concept in several ways. That word is community.
Do you know anyone who seems to be living alone, wishing there was someone to talk to about the tough questions in life? Someone who struggles to find answers, but has nobody to turn to for help? Lucy was not one of those people. She knew how important people were to her own well-being. Lucy was kind and loving to everyone around her, and her friends returned those feelings, building a wonderful community that helped her through the challenges of a single mother in the fifties and sixties.
There’s that cliché about love being the one thing that returns more when you give it away; Lucy understood that process in the best way. Her friends at WDAY, Sweet Adelines, church, and extended family received her love and in turn gave her a community to build a wonderful life on.
As I read these letters from Lucy and my other elders it is becoming clear that they taught us by example. They didn’t sit me down and lecture about how to make friends; they had friends around them every day. They didn’t fret over the challenges of life; they let me see how they helped others through life changing problems.
Lucy built a new community around her when she moved to Rochester at age 78. That community served her well, just like her Fargo community did when she was half that age.
With Judy in school, mother to be there for her after school, I had to do two things. Try to find something to do to make a living. Waiting on tables at the airport, becoming manager of the dining room, (that was the end of promotion for that job). Then working for the City Directory I still wasn’t getting anywhere. Then Verna got me a job in radio at WDAY. There was a “community club” promotion where people brought in “proof of purchase” wrapper box tops, etc. I would be on the air each week day morning announcing winners of the day, serve coffee and donuts to people coming in and doing just OK, nothing big. Then Jack Dunn asked me to take over the night operator job as they were having trouble, so I laid off all but one girl and had a smooth operation when they asked me to take over the whole department. Gave me a raise and guess the rest is history.
The house we were living in was old. Hot in summer + cold in winter. Had to make a change. Judy and I decided one day to go house hunting. I felt I wanted her input. We walked into this house and Judy said “Oh Mom this is so nice.” So I bought it $1100.00 it is now worth $50,000. Good move.
There was one problem. Only two bedrooms and three people. Mother was in California at the time but when it was time for her to come home, a decision had to be made. I bought 2 single beds for my room and my beautiful daughter said “Let Grandma have my room.” How about that! I don’t think there was a happier time for my mother than when she came home and saw her things all put away in her room.
About this time my quartet began to be so busy. At times I worried about being gone so much but the income paid for my hobby and helped with expenses.
At this time Grandma Thurlow was finding it hard to entertain so I took over for her. Mother + Judy helped so it wasn’t so bad. Then Velma + Mother lost their husbands. Seemed my world was full of widows and Joe Sether.
Joe was the first man I ever cared about. He was so good to Judy and I. It was a time when I needed someone I didn’t have to be too concerned about, but when that didn’t work out, I never dated again.
Things were going well until my mother became ill. Judy and I spent two years, very much concerned and three weeks before she died, we just plain “petered”out and mother died at the Fargo Nursing Home. I will always miss my loving mother.