Monday, January 17, 2011

Helen Mary Harrington Black Humbarger



February 11, 1912 - January 16, 2011
We all miss her already, but you couldn't wish for a better exit from the stage of life. This one-time director and college-level teacher of theatre kept us company all day long during our most recent family get-together on the farm. Dozing off as needed, and watching thoughtfully while awake, she seemed to kind of like it when a great-grandchild or grandchild or daughter would take up the spot left at the end of the couch next to her feet. I'm not clear on the events or the time line, but I know that not long after we all left, she stopped wanting any food, sleeping more and more often, and finally refusing water, too. This sort of a goodbye to life is a gentle exit, free from discomfort. It is not a rapid exit, allowing time for her children to return once more to keep her (and each other) company. Her "children" (all grown with children and grandchidren of their own) by her second marriage were also able to come and say goodbye.

Helen was married to my grandfather for over 50 years. She raised a son and three daughters. She did the sort of hosting and traveling expected of the wife of a professor in those days. When I went to Ohio Wesleyan, they were mostly at home in Ohio or at the farm in Indiana, and I have written before about how much they meant to me while I was there.

I will link to an obituary when it is posted. Here it is: Obituary of Grandma Helen

I cannot post about Granma's passing without saying that the peace of mind and care she received in this past decade would not have been possible without the incredible sacrifice of time and energy on the part of her daughter, my youngest Aunt, Charlotte. Charlotte's care meant that Granma had both a trusted confidante and a highly trained personal nurse daily. It meant she could stay in a very nice assisted-living home even when dementia took a toll in the last few years. We didn't have to worry about Grandma with Charlotte at the wheel. I know we are all grateful for that.

5 comments:

Tama Chandler said...

Thank you for such a lovely statement about Grandma Helen. I was blessed to have her come into my life when she married my grandfather Lloyd. She's been my grandma ever since.

She is deeply missed but I too am so happy she could pass on with dignity at her home.

I thank the Black family for their continued acceptance of my family into your lives. She was married to my grandfather for a very short time before he died, it means so much that you have all kept us as part of the family.

Patty Edwards said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Alaska. I know from reading your blog over the years (and all that time on the AOL mom boards) that she meant a lot to you. You honor her with your post here.

The Queen said...

I remember when she first told me about Lloyd. We were changing the sheets on the bed in the condo apartment she was living in then and she stopped in the middle and said, "He's quite handsome. Do you want to see a picture of him?" I said, "Sure!" and she fetched a photo of him. In the photo, he couldn't have been more than 22 or so. That was how she remembered him, and how, I think, he always looked to her. I know it was a short time, but it was a good time, and we are thankful for that.

Thanks for visiting the blog, Tama :) Maybe we'll see you in April.

@Patty--thank you, friend.

kittygeorge said...

So sorry to hear about your grandma. I am glad she was able to be cared for at home and had a peaceful experience of going to the other side.

Judy said...

Alaska , What a lovely tribute to your grandmother, a most remarkable woman. Our family was so blessed to be able to be a part of her life for the past 20 years and I will hope for years to come. I look forward to seeing you and all my extended family in April when we can celebrate the beautiful live of Helen Mary Harrington Black Humbarger. Much love, Judy Humbarger Norman