October 22, 1928 – July 14, 2015

May Day centerpieces for dinning room

Last week would have been Mom’s 87th birthday.

She was born October 22, 1928 in Mankato, MN. Her parents were Earl and Dorothy Starboard. Her brother came a few years later, David.

Her father was an often unemployed salesman during the depression. She remembers them moving from rental house to rental house, never owning their own home. And he changed jobs often, sometimes working out of town and money was non-existent.

She remembers her mother as being distant and she always felt that her parents loved David more. However, in later years when I knew my Starboard grandparents they did not show favoritism and were very proud of her.

She remembers her mother taking a nap every day. Dorothy did this until the day she died. Mom also said her mother was an excellent cook but never wanted her underfoot in the kitchen. Mom said her to-be in-laws in Hawaii taught her how to cook. A side note here, I remember when Julia Child first came on PBS and I was a teenager and Mom and I would watch the show and then try to make the recipe. Our best success … coq-a-vin!

When she was 8 or 9 the teacher sent her to the eye doctor and they found she was legally blind in one eye and poor eyesight in the other that could never be corrected to 20/20.

Later in life she found the “Betsy-Tacy’ books written in the 1940s about two little girls raised in Mankato, MN. But she said her life was not that idyllic.

Mom told stories of ice skating on the river in the winter. And she remembers high school as fun, but didn’t date. She liked to attend the sporting events. She traveled from California to Minnesota for her 25th Class Reunion and for several other years, as well.

When the war came her father enlisted, and was happy for the dependable paycheck. He was transferred to Washington state in Mom’s senior year and she was furious that she would not be able to graduate with kids she’d known since elementary school.

After Washington her father was transferred to Schofield Army Barracks in Wahiawa, Oahu, Hawaii.

That is where she met Dad. Dad’s father was a civilian employee on the base, and Mom’s father was an Army officer.

Mom and Dad were the same age and there were lots of other teens that hung around the Army Base. This is another story I heard growing up. At age 19 Mom and Dad wanted to get married but her parents didn’t approve. Starboards were typical WASP’s and thought that Hawaiians were low-class minorities. Plus, his family was Catholic and although Starboard’s did not attend any church they looked down on Catholics, as did most Americans. In Hawaii if you are under 20 you need your parents permission to marry and they would not sign. So, they planned to get married the day after she turned 20. Her parents told them they would not attend. However, the morning of the wedding they had a change of heart and attended. And, as I’ve written elsewhere, they later were very found of Dad.

Mom had a miscarriage and then had me. When she went into labor the doctor took a long time to get there for some reason and the nurses held Mom’s legs together because they were not allowed to deliver babies. And this was in the Army hospital! She had permanent damage and was never able to conceive again. Sometimes priests in various Catholic Churches we attended questioned her to make sure she was fulfilling her wifely duties.

When I was two we took the USS Lurline from Honolulu to San Francisco and we lived for a short time with my Starboard grandparents in Concord, then into a rented house. Dad wanted to move to the mainland so I would get a better education, even though he had a good job with the Army Corps of Engineers on Oahu.

Dad was always embarrassed of his Hawaiian heritage, the way he looked and talked. In California he did everything he could to remove himself from his parents. He hated his mother visiting because she wore muumuus and still spoke broken English. His father often talked in Hawaiian or Spanish. In his parent’s later years they lived with Mom and Dad but after a year Dad was so mad at them for the way they were, not attractive, not educated, not speaking American English, he put them on a plane back to Hawaii and never contacted them again.

Dad got a good job in San Jose at a steel company and we bought a house and moved there. Mom was always clumsy and tripping or falling. It took me years to figure out why Dad left such a good job to live out in the country near Placerville. We were 10 miles from town. Mom didn’t learn how to drive until we moved there when she was 30. Then we moved 5 miles closer to town.

Mom said that by their 50th wedding anniversary they had moved 37 times.

Mom never worked in California until I started high school. She had a great job as head checker at Raley’s supermarket.

Right after I got married and was living in Sacramento, Dad was transferred by Bechtel to the nuclear power plant there. Mom had several jobs as a bookkeeper. Bechtel transferred them to Bullhead City, AZ. They loved that climate and lived there several times in their lifetime.

Now, they say to not look into your family tree if you don’t want to see the good and, unfortunately, the bad. It’s wasn’t until my parent’s 25th Wedding Anniversary that I found out that Mom was not clumsy, but that Dad physically abused her. I only include this because they lived in a different generation, one that did not reach out to a wife in this situation. This was one of the reasons he liked to live with no neighbors around.
When I was putting on a party for their 50th anniversary she told me it was still going on. I often wondered why I could not feel any real motherly love but now I understand that it was all she could do to get herself through life, much less give a daughter love and support.

From Arizona they moved with Bechtel to the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Orange County, California. They lived in several different towns, but loved the ocean and the weather. And, of course we got to visit and go to Disneyland a lot.

Before the end of her life Mom lived in Washington again, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Eureka, CA, Oregon, Arizona again, Petaluma, CA and Maine.

We think Mom had a stroke at the end of June and she had trouble swallowing. Several months earlier she was no longer able to stand or walk. Even though I felt I had lost the Mom I knew ever since she moved here in 2012, I still was not prepared for her passing.

When the doctor wanted to put her on end of life care I agreed. I knew she wanted to be a DNR. On Monday she was struggling to breathe. Monday night Mom’s roommate’s son, a pastor, prayed for her. I planned to meet my Pastor (retired) at the nursing home early Tuesday morning. So, he was holding one hand and I was holding the other. We prayed her right up to those Pearly Gates and then we said “we’ll see you later, don’t know when, but we’ll be together again.”

She stopped breathing very quietly. It was a gift from God that I was there to see her go so peacefully. My heart was at rest. I was being held in the arms of our Lord. I may now be an orphan, but I know I am not alone, because I am the daughter of the one, true King.

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