The world is being overtaken by bellyachers, according to Mary, a 94-year-old woman I won’t forget for a long time.
We talked on the phone for about an hour last week. She told me about growing up in the Allen County Children’s Home, having a husband who walked out on her and their three children, and working for a pittance trying to make ends meet.
Then she said what a good and exciting life she’s lived.
“As long as I can find the refrigerator, a bathroom, the TV remote and my chair, I’m fine,” she assured me.
That was vintage Mary. Not one to ask for much and expect even less, she opened the book about her life with the candid innocence of a 5-year-old child.
“Times were tough for my mother when I was born,” Mary said. “She wasn’t educated, but my mother always worked. She just didn’t make much money.”
She also wasn’t married.
“Back then to be unwed with a child, that was a disgrace … not like today when people don’t make a mountain of it,” Mary said.
When Mary turned 10, she was sent to the children’s home. The country was spiraling into the Great Depression and her mother was unable to take care of her.
“It wasn’t a bad place. I know it was okay for me. My mother was right in sending me there,” Mary said. Later in her high school years she would go into foster care in Bluffton, but when she turned 18, she was on her own.
She never did graduate, but she learned how to be independent.
She thought things were going her way when she met a man and they had three children. However, he walked out of their home one day and never came back.
“I found work so I could raise those three kids. I don’t know what happened to him. I cannot say I now much care.”
Her oldest son lives in Munich, Germany, where he runs a business. “He had a year of college and has worked all over the world,” she says. A daughter works at a local grocery store “where people talk to her all the time.” She’s lost track of her other daughter, something she says with a sadness in her voice.
She spends her evenings watching “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” “Sometimes I just close my eyes and listen. That Alex Trebek keeps going even though he has cancer. … I wish him the best.”
If she wants to get her blood pressure boiling, she says she watches the news.
“What a mess we’re in. We have people who want to defund the police … now there’s a really big brain fart. And I had the news on just a while ago and Trump was trying to postpone the election until later on. How dumb is that? People thought Trump would be the next Reagan. I don’t want to judge him, but he’s no Ronald Reagan.”
Nor is he a John F. Kennedy, her favorite president of all time. She still has a stack of LIFE magazines that focused on his presidency. “After he died, people would talk about all of his mistresses. I don’t care what he did in the bedroom. I admired him as a leader.”
Today, Mary lives in the same small house she’s had for years. When she moved there, it was out in the country. It is now off one of Lima’s busiest roads.
“A 79-year-old neighbor man looks in on me. I’m a cougar and he’s my buck,” she laughs. “I do my own work myself. The house is not as clean as it should be. I’m losing my eyesight now, but I get around.”
She tells the story of going to Wal-Mart and asking an elderly worker how she was doing.
“She told me she had nothing to complain about, that as long as she had both feet on this side of the Earth, she was doing fine. I’ve gone back since and have never seen her. That’s the toughest thing about growing old … losing all those familiar faces.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A change in attitude is worth a visit to the rose garden.
Rose: Gail Johnson, a recent graduate of Elida High School, picked up a $15,000 scholarship when she was selected as the winner of the National Exchange Club ACE Scholarship. The award goes to a student who had a “dramatic change in attitude and performance” during high school. Earlier she won the local award and a $1,700 scholarship.
Rose: To Lima’s Allen and Carol Schmidthorst, whose gift of $15 million to Bowling Green State University business school was the single largest academic gift in the history of the school.
Rose: There is a good possibility that next year’s leaders of the Ohio House and Senate will both be from Lima. Bob Cupp was named Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday and Matt Huffman will be one of the leading candidates to become Senate president in January.
Rose: To Crystal Miller, who was named the Kiwanian of the Year by the Lima Kiwanis Club. The Heritage Elementary School music teacher had a busy year working with children’s programs.
Rose: To Theresa Allen, of rural Forest. She is beginning another decade of advocacy work, this time being named the chairperson of All Aboard Ohio, a group promoting passenger rail and mass transit for all Ohioans. She started her advocacy work in 1999 when she led an almost seven-year fight to defeat a proposed stone quarry in Blanchard Township.
Thorn: Bath Township is experiencing an uptick in burglaries that target sheds, garages and cars.
Thorn: Allen County residents looking forward to eating funnel cakes at this year’s fair can forget it. Because of the virus, only junior fair competition will take place this year. There will be no midway, games, entertainment or public allowed.
PARTING SHOT: The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.