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). 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 or Jack L., age 38), his wife Elsie (36), Harry’s brother Warren (64), Harry and Jessie’s youngest child, Calvin (30), Miss Morton (Harry’s nurse) and many of their friends.
July 1, 1959 (Wednesday)
“Daddy is so weak. Several times he had weak spells – sweating, fast pulse. I stayed in his room all nite, made a bed on 3 chairs, dozed some. … Miss Morton came in, looked at him, told me to use the other bed as long as no one is in it. I hate to. The night nurse asked me why I didn’t. … Jack L. was here for a while. Daddy got his intravenous. Agnes left 3:30, Daddy woke up. Jack L. asked how are you. Daddy said ‘Alright,’ so weakly, just a whisper. He has tried to kiss me several times.”
July 2, 1959 (Thursday)
“This is the saddest day of my life. My Harry went to his heavenly home. I can’t even write. He passed away at 5:43 p.m. He went so easy so God has answered all our prayers. That has been my every prayer – that he would be merciful, make it easy for him. Jack, Agnes, Calvin & Opal were there most all day. The boys went to work, not knowing it was so soon. Agnes, Mr. Greiss and Linda was with us. Jack G. came in, Jack L. just when he drew his last breath. I got to hold him in my arms to the last, and then I hated to leave him. Part of me has gone with my darling, if I could have gone along with him.”
July 3, 1959 (Friday)
“Almost 11 p.m. I am going to stay with Agnes again. Thot Phyllis might get home, not until Sunday morning. We went up to Meyer Funeral Home 9:30, made arrangements for funeral. The children all went with me. We have decided on Monday, 2 p.m. Calvin and Opal came and cleaned my house all over. Calvin was so good, scrubbed and waxed kitchen floor. I can’t think, everything is so hazy. We took Daddy’s clothes up to funeral home, we got to see him tonight. He looks so good. We are surprised because he had lost so much weight. He looks so natural, almost a smile, so peaceful. We have his glasses on, that looks so natural. We went up for about 2 hours, stayed. I still hate to leave him. I am so tired, sleepy. My legs have a funny feeling. I slept good last night, hope I do tonite. When I woke up this morning, it came to me. Daddy is gone.”
July 4, 1959 (Saturday)
“10:25 p.m. I am staying with Agnes again. All of us went up to funeral home, Ray came up. I just can’t leave my darling. I sat by his side tonite, thinking back 40 years ago this summer when we first met, our good times we had thru our marriage. As years passed, the children came along, our happiness, hard times, troubles, all brought us closer together. The sickness, death of loved ones, always each other to lean upon. So God has certainly blessed us, even tho we may not have deserved it at times. So now God has taken my loved one home and I am left alone. I know he will take care of me as he has these past weeks. The children have been with me all day. Phyllis should be in about 4 o’clock, we are going after her about 6:30. Calvin is 30 years old today. Rained during the night.”
July 5, 1959 (Sunday)
“Another day. So lonely without my darling. We went over to the Union Station, got Phyllis. She has to leave Monday nite, would love to have her stay longer. Agnes doesn’t feel good. Everyone is so tired and weary. The neighbors have been so thoughtful and our friends, bringing in food. We all went to funeral home again, stayed until 9 p.m. So hard to leave. I want to go, be with my Daddy so much. I still feel if God will take me home, I am ready. Phyllis will be with me tonite. Charlie & Eva Taylor came down after we left Meyers Chapel. Mr. & Mrs. Steve Buck. It was late. We appreciate their calling.”
July 6, 1959 (Monday)
“This was a sad day, such a heart-breaking one. We laid our Daddy to rest. It was so hard, no one will ever know until they experience it. My heart is so heavy and burdened. Oh dear God, help me, give me strength to go on. I just hope the Lord will call me home. I had a Western Union draft from Warren for $10. I can use it any way I want. May use it for myself. I am short of money. I have $17.60 for cancer fund. Doris & Roy Smelser came this eve, Don & Emma Lou McMullen, Donna Thompsen & daughter from North Bend. Daddy’s check came, it had to be returned. I needed it badly. I was sick thru the nite, have done fine until now so thank God for it all.”
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.