Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mable Bunker

Before I tell you about Mable, I need to tell you about Dick. Dick is her husband of over 60 years. About a year and a half ago, Interfaith asked me to give rides to Dick from Turtle Lake to a "day care" for Alzheimer's patients here at a Amery church. I found Dick to be a delightful guy in his 80's. I never got even a hint that he was not tracking. Oh, he did mix up a daughter with a grand daughter once in conversation, but big deal. That can happen. I was then told that they had put him into Judy's Cottage, a special unit at Golden Age nursing home for dementia sufferers. He would not take his medicine and Mable could not make him.
Mable is his bride. Interfaith has asked me to give her a ride from Turtle Lake to see her husband on Tuesdays. She gets to see him 3 times a week; T., Th, and Sundays for church. She is quite hard of hearing. She wears hearing aids but I wonder how much good they do. For a long time, I found myself yelling at her for our conversations and to avoid hearing, "huh?" It got to a point that I would find myself yelling at the first person I came in contact after letting her off. I got quite frustrated a few months ago and just refused to yell at her anymore. For the next few rides, there was not much conversation. She is such a neat gal that I did not want this situation to persist. I got the phone number of one of her daughters and had a visit with her. She suggested that I lower the pitch of my voice and talk slower. Next trip with Mable and Voila, it worked.
Since then we have many interesting visits and I want to recall a few with you. She gives a little laugh after about everything she says. It is not irritating at all. She has made me laugh out loud several times: Last spring we were riding in our 4x4 truck over the heaving country roads and in one place we both sort of got launched up into the air straining against our seat belts. I apologized and she remarked, "at least I know I'm moving!" During the summer, coming into Amery, there was a long haired, long bearded man walking towards us carrying a weed whip. When she saw him she remarked, "he should take that weed whip to his hair and face!" This from a sweet old lady.
I asked her how hard it was to know that Dick and she will not be living together again after 60+ years. She got choked up and said it was very difficult. Mable is a "glass half full" kind of person and she immediately commented that at least she still had him to visit.
Back to her riding in the truck. You would not believe how she gets up into the truck; no problem and she will be 89 this June. I told her our last trip that I know no one that is as limber as she is at that age. I was reminded that she was a farm girl and had been active all her life. That her relatives had all lived to a ripe old age. She went on to say there were 6 children in her family and that she was the second youngest. Only she and her younger sister were left. It was her job to drive the team of horses on the farm. Her Dad did not get a tractor until much later.
She had to walk a couple of miles to her school. When she got to high school, they needed to walk across a field to a neighbors house where they caught the bus into Turtle Lake. In the winter, they skied across the field. At this point she laughs and states that she spent more time on the ground then she did on the skis. They would leave the skis at the neighbors until after school and use them to return home.
Speaking of school, she told me that school was always quite easy for her. She was 5th in her class of 40. I asked her if many went on to college and she said no. A few may have gone to a normal school. (These were 2 year schools, post high school where one could get a teaching certificate) She was always good in math so she worked in offices in book keeping after graduating.
She and Dick had three girls. One became a teacher and I'm not sure about the others. She has 6 grandchildren. One of her girls lives in Turtle Lake which is a blessing to her for she lives alone.
Our rides always have conversations about farms or crops in them as we drive through the country side. You can take the gal our of the farm but not the farm out of the gal, I guess.
I gave her a Christmas card with a personal note inside and she gave me a box of candy. (Just what I need)
After walking her into Golden Age, I go and see my friend Don Bruckner that I have written about earlier. A note about Dick, here; he is doing quite well but still is not allowed to live with his wife. She lives about 200 ft. from him in the assisted living facility, connected to GAM. He does not know why they will not allow him back to live with his Katie. Only that neither can take care of the other and they both need help. It seems that something could be done so that they could spend their last years together. I took my lap top into his room the other day and showed him the old pictures from the resort and he so much appreciated them.
These seniors that God brings into my life are such a valuable addition/resource to me. A walking, living history book, filled with wisdom; God knows I need all the wisdom I can get.


  1. Good for you for helping those folks out. That is a great act you are doing for people who I'm sure appreciated as much visitation time as they could get. Hopefully they can get them in the same room, now too.

  2. im glad those people are helping you out Gary...i hear in your writing that they make your life evenmore meaningful ...and thank you for your sharing with all of us ..God Bless...steve stickels

  3. thanks for sharing, dad. she sounds like a great lady! david