Here is another posting from my grandmother Jessie Lehmer’s 1959 journal. Jessie kept her journal for at least 29 years. You can find the first post in this series here.
Jessie (age 57) is recovering from a lengthy hospital stay for a sore back and has yet to return to her job at Kilpatrick’s Department store in Omaha. Her husband Harry (age 60, who she refers to as Daddy), a boilermaker’s helper at Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, was recently hospitalized with a serious illness.
Other people mentioned this week include Harry and Jessie’s daughter, Agnes Grosvenor (37), who lives across the street with her husband, Jack Grosvenor (40) and their three children – Judy (18), Linda (16) and Jackie (3). Another daughter Phyllis (35) lives in Pasadena California, with her husband, Don Lidikay (42). Also mentioned are their oldest son, Walter (referred to as Jack L., age 38), Mr. Wolmer (a neighbor) and Miss Miller (one of Harry’s nurses).
June 16, 1959 (Tuesday)
“Sure did hate to leave Daddy, He isn’t so good today. So weak, doesn’t look good, hadn’t ate anything all day. I fed him tonite. He had a bowl of soup, mashed potatoes and gravy, coffee. Put some roll in coffee, he liked that. He had been trying to vomit but up till I left, he still kept his supper down. God bless him.”
June 17, 1959 (Wednesday)
“Daddy isn’t good, was sick to his stomach. They gave him a shot, which helped, but made him sleep and he was groggy. He isn’t eating, is so weak, hard for him to move around. They gave him an enema, no results. I only got a few spoons of soup down for supper. He was getting restless before I left so I told Miss Miller. She gave him another shot. So pitiful to see him lay there. He was asleep so I came home. Dear God, be merciful and make it easy for him. … I don’t think Daddy knew any of us today.”
June 18, 1959 (Thursday)
“Daddy was better today. He was awake when I went in (1 p.m.), knew all of us. He said ‘Hi Jack’ to Jack L. Agnes was over, he knew her. Mr. Wolmer stopped in for a few minutes. He knew him, hard to get the words out. He was awake most of the afternoon, couldn’t swallow too well tonite when he ate his supper. I hate to leave him, so dear God, take care of him. I got his check this a.m., $102. I banked $72, kept $30. I had to get some pills for my back. Hated to do it, have to keep going.”
June 19, 1959 (Friday)
“Daddy is so quiet, just sleeps, so weak, hasn’t ate all day. I got him to take ½ glass of milk, nurse said he had a glass of apricot juice, but spit some of it up. … He seems worse to me. I had to give up feeding him his supper.”
June 20, 1959 (Saturday)
“I left the hospital at 8:50. Wanted to wait until the nurses came in and turned Daddy. He had laid on his right side for 4½ hours He can’t turn by his self. He was awake when I got there before 1 p.m., stayed awake until about 3 p.m. He knew me today. He put his hand on my head and arm, kissed my cheek, looked at me so sweet. Tried to talk, I couldn’t hear him. The children here sent him a beautiful bouquet of carnations – pink, white and red, white snapdragons – for Fathers Day. I showed him the flowers, he looked at them. I told him they were from the children, he took it all in. Had a letter from Phyllis. She said kiss him & hug him for her, tell him she loved him. I did. He said, ‘yeah.’ God bless him.”
June 21, 1959 (Sunday)
“Daddy has been awake some, knew me when I went in at noon. Rested a lot, breathes so irregular, can’t hardly see him at times, gives you a scare. They said he ate a good dinner, only a bowl of soup, ½ glass milk tonite. He is quivering a lot.”
June 22, 1959 (Monday)
“I left hospital at 8:40, hated to go. Daddy gave me a scare. He got to shaking so bad, breathing so hard and cold sweat. I called the nurse, he settled down, was alright after that. He vomited this a.m., nurse said it was brown & red. So sick. They gave him a shot for sick stomach, isn’t eating hardly anything, not much liquids. God bless him, he knew me at noon. … I cleaned dining room window & shade, put up my clean drapes. They look nice. I can’t see any use cleaning the house without my Daddy here. I ate lunch with Agnes, she isn’t feeling good. Poor girl.”
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and chief legacy planner at When Words Matter, Ltd., who connects generations through their stories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.