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 (4). Also mentioned are their oldest son, Walter (referred to as Jack L., age 38), Harry and Jessie’s granddaughter Debbie, the daughter of their youngest child, Calvin (29) and his wife, Opal, Mrs. Waugh (a neighbor), Miss Miller (one of Harry’s nurses), Rev. Miller (their pastor), Verle Green (a friend.).
June 23, 1959 (Tuesday)
“Daddy has been asleep most all day, couldn’t get him to eat. 2 glasses of milk, a few bites of creamed potatoes, a few spoons of soup. It was so salty he wouldn’t take it. A little ice cream. No breakfast or lunch, he just can’t swallow at times. The nurse told me he is failing. God bless him. He knew me, Jack L. Mrs. Waugh came this afternoon. He acted as tho he might know her, didn’t say anything. In fact, he just doesn’t talk.”
June 24, 1959 (Wednesday)
“It was 9:10 when I left the hospital tonite. Had to wait for the nurse to come in and turn Daddy, get him fixed for the night. He has been quiet, slept most all day. He knew me when I got there, wanted to kiss me. The maid helped him raise his arm, he put it around me. God bless him. He is so precious.”
June 25, 1959 (Thursday)
“Opal came over tonite, I was so glad. I ate breakfast and lunch with Agnes, went uptown to get my gas bill straightened out. I read the meter wrong, was $5.13 instead of $12,74. I got birthday cards for Debbie & Jackie, gave each one a dollar. Warm today [Hi: 93]. I have a.c. going. Guess I will be alone tonight, stayed alone last nite. Agnes had me over for ice cream & cake. Jackie is 4 years old today. I washed my hair. Agnes put it up for me.”
June 26, 1959 (Friday)
“It was hard leaving my darling tonite. He was awake, just got him turned on his left side, all set for awhile. He is getting weaker, just refuses to eat, only a few sips of liquids. The nurse said his time is short, they are not going to feed him through the veins. He knew me all day. At noon when I went in he was awake. For almost 2 hours he kept his arm around me or had it on my head. Patted my face, pulled me down, kissed my cheek. So hard to know he is going to leave me, I won’t have him near where I can feel his touch and kisses. Oh God, help me.”
June 27, 1959 (Saturday)
“I left hospital at 8:45. Daddy has been quiet and sleeping all day, first time he hasn’t recognized me. I was with him all day. He did take a little liquid. I bathed him. Oh, how I love waiting on him. … I have had a sinus headache, sorta dizy. Hope I get over it. Just can’t get down.”
June 28, 1959 (Sunday)
“I got to the hospital at 8:45. Daddy isn’t so good, doesn’t recognize me. I gave him his bath. Calvin, Jack & Debbie was here, Calvin shaved him. Daddy took a turn for the worse. Color bad, pulse 130, he stopped breathing for about 30 seconds. Miss Miller asked me to stay all nite. They fixed a bed for me in consultation room, gave me my supper tray. I had the children call Pastor Miller. He came over after 10 p.m. Jack & Agnes got here about 6 p.m. Daddy isn’t taking anything. His mouth is so dry. A sad day.”
June 29, 1959 (Monday)
“Daddy still the same, no response at all. He hasn’t recognized me. They gave him 500cc water & dextrose IV this a.m. When they irrigated his catheter last nite, pure blood came thru. He was in lots of pain this a.m. when they irrigated it so they gave him hypo for pain. He has some bladder irritation so it doesn’t drain free, clots form, causes pain. Starting yesterday they turn him every 2 hours and rub his back. We have kept his back in good shape. A couple of spots, starting of sores. … Verle Green was here. Daddy seemed to know him, tried to hold out his hand, so he was awake. Knew Agnes, kissed her. The nurse came after me. I was so happy, first time since Friday he knew me. His big eyes looked so sweet. He puckered up his lips, kissed me weak but he tried to put his arm around me. When he did with help, he patted me. Took his left hand, patted my face & head. He was awake until 1 a.m. I asked him if anything hurt him, he shook his head no. God bless him. He is so peaceful.”
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.