Tuesday, April 15, 2008
April 16th, 1928 a baby was born to an Irish maid named Annie Johnson. She worked, we believe, for a wealthy Mass. businessman and his family. How Annie found herself in the "family way", we are not sure, but she took her new baby daughter to a foundling home. When the baby was just a few weeks old she was given to her adoptive parents, Harry and Lottie Kay. They had longed for a child of their own and had lost several children to miscarriage and still-birth. Here at last they had their baby girl. Why they named her Thelma, I will never know, but they did and little Thelma Marion Kay took her place in the world. Although not wealthy people, the Kays showered Thelma with everything they could possible give her. She had dance lessons and piano lessons. Lottie was an amazing seamstress and so Thelma always had beautiful dresses. The little girl loved her parents, but was daddy's girl. She excelled in school earning A's. In high school Thelma took four years of French and four years of Latin. She excelled in the maths and sciences. She was involved in drama and oratory clubs and was a voracious reader. Thelma never missed a chance to dance and did whenever she had a chance. By the time high school graduation came around she had earned a full scholarship to Brown University.
But as she prepared to go to college her beloved father suffered a severe stroke and was sent home to die. Thelma stayed home part of that year to care for her dad and entered nursing school shortly after his death.
Thelma spent almost 50 years as an RN and she was an amazing nurse! She worked in every imaginable area of nursing. In the later years of her life's journey she worked for the Indian Health Service in Barrow, Alaska. She loved the Inuit people and the wild world of the land of the midnight sun. In her early 60's she kayaked alone down an Alaska river from one town to another. She tracked moose for 10 days walking into the mountains with just a pack horse and a gun.
I was Thelma's only child, but she had a host of friends whom she loved and who loved her in return. She had five grand-children who have become amazing adults. She would have loved watching each of them graduate from college. She would have loved going to their weddings. One time a reporter in Cripple Creek, Colorado when writing about the old hospital there, wrote of my mother... "She could light up the darkest corner of the old building." And so she did! Even in her final days she brought laughter to those who were with her. If you ever complained to Thelma about some pain or illness she would use her best New England/faux Irish accent and say "Well, now I'll tell you one thing for sure... It's a long way from your heart!"
It has been over ten years since Thelma left the planet. I miss her so much. There are great-grand children she never got to fuss over, there are new in-laws she would have adored,and there have been so many life events that she would have just been crazy about.
So tomorrow is your birthday mom... you would have been 80 going on 40! :) I love you and miss you!
PS I will tell more of your story in a future post! Yes, I will try to get it right, and no I won't tell everything, I promise!