Armchair Genealogy--Tribute to Mother, Encore
A Tribute to a Remarkable Woman,
Born: 7 May 1918, Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri
my Mother Lena May Joslin Carroll
Died: 03 March, 2010, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
In the month in which the day of my birth is celebrated, it
is often that my thoughts turn to the woman who brought me into the
world, my sweet and wonderful mother, Lena May Joslin Carroll. As this
is a column devoted to genealogy, it seems fitting that mention should
be made of the incredible advances made in both tracking our family
histories but also in locating new members of our “cousin-ship” – that
broad plane that comprises the largest number of leaves on each of our
trees. For every parent, grandparent and great grandparent back into the
mists of time that we list on our tree, there are siblings and their
offspring down through the ages that carry the imprint of the familial
DNA. Having submitted my DNA to Ancestry a year or so ago, my
cousin-ship has grown into the thousands of living cousins who are
identified through the matching process of their DNA to my DNA. Much
can be learned, discerned, or confirmed by the branch of science that
explores the mysteries of DNA, including a controversial subject: the
genetic predisposition for inherited diseases. One of those most
discussed today is the horrific thief known as Alzheimer's.
My precious mother, Lena May Carroll, was stricken with
Alzheimer's and her loss of memory was first noticed about 1999 or so.
Prior to that, we thought she had experienced a series of strokes that
would leave her a bit confused for a day or a few minutes or so.
Gradually, over the next couple of years it became painfully apparent
that more than that was taking place. I cannot begin to tell you how
agonizing it was to have my best friend, my confidante, my adviser, my
adored mother retreat from us in her mind. She often did not recognize
me, saying, "You cannot be my daughter. Melinda is not fat!" She would
remember things from many, many years before - a poem, a conversation, a
person she did not remember as having died years before. She never,
NEVER ceased to mourn the loss of my father, who passed away in 1996.
That was the one constant throughout all her days. She would ask,
however, "When is Jack supposed to get home?" and bring about painful
remembrances for me - and a concern as to how I should respond. I always
chose NOT to remind her and bring forth a new and fresh bit of agony
There were moments, sometimes a whole day, when she was
completely lucid. Blessed moments when I would greedily grab time with
her to share love and conversation, times when her sparkling wit and
massive knowledge of things both everyday and normal and complex would
make my heart sing. Love, alone, however, did not bring about full
communication. Yes, I always, always, tried to show her love. She had
always been the most dear person to me, memories of her sweet attention
and loving way of making my most hurtful wounds stop hurting, make my
happy moments even more blessedly happy with her to share - but those
times were increasingly fewer and fewer between. I lost my mother many
years before her death. So sorry for that. I would give anything for
science to find the cure that no one else should ever have to suffer the
pain of that horrible, slow, losing.
In closing, and as a further tribute to her, I offer
the text of Mother’s obituary as published by the Fort Worth Star
Telegram, March 11, 2010. (In 1952, our Daddy wanted a portrait of
Mother before she became a grandmother the first time. This is the
portrait chosen for the obituary.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lena Carroll (1918 - 2010)
Lena May Joslin Carroll passed away peacefully at an Oklahoma City, Okla., hospital, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.
Funeral: 3 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Bluebonnet Hills,
where she will be interred beside her beloved husband. Visitation: 5 to 8
Lena May was born May 7, 1918, in Pineville, Mo., to James
Arthur and Carrie Edith Bullard Joslin and lived an extraordinary life.
She was a poet, rockhound and lapidarist, coin and stamp collector,
Sunday school teacher, leader of a number of benevolent organizations,
gardener, artist, sculptress and essayist. She served her country as a
journeyman electrician in the shipyards of Oregon during World War II.
She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Monahans, and later the
First Baptist Church of Guthrie, Okla., and was a 50-year member of both
the O.E.S. and S.O.O.B.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, John
Edward Carroll; her daughters, Noralee Edith Crowson and Jacquelyn
Earlene MacGibbon; four grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and her
brother, Jack Oakley Joslin.
Survivors: Her brother, Rex Edward Joslin; sister, Linnie
Jane Burks; daughters, Mary Elizabeth Adair and Melinda Ellen Cohenour;
eight grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; 13
great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and many beloved
No amount of narrative could possibly convey the many
facets of my mother. She was a force to be reckoned with, both strong
and tender, firm in her faith, giving and loving in her humanity,
fascinated by knowledge and dedicated to learning, a brilliant mind and a
compassionate and benevolent person who never seemed to tire of the
pursuit of beauty in nature. Her memory brings forth tender regard from
all her many descendants. Instead, your author offers some photographs
that help to portray her personality.
The month of February is most noted for Valentine’s
Day, the usual commemoration of devoted love. MomMay and DaddyJack
became engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1934 and were married 10 June of
that year. Their love was an everlasting love, they shared 62 years of
marriage before DaddyJack’s passing in July of 1996. Even though Mother
lost memories of so many other people and events, she never lost the
memory of her lifetime love. She was blessed in many ways by the effects
of Alzheimers, for she was always cheerfully “…just expecting Daddy to
come home any time now.”
May Joslin's engagement portrait - taken after becoming engaged
Valentine's Day 1934 and before her marriage 10 June of that year.
River Lady. A young and vibrant Lena May, a newlywed
of 16, DaddyJack took her photo as she waded the waters of the Pecos
River. Summer of 1934.
Mom thru Van Window as she left with her two oldest daughters and their daughters for a trip to Canada in 2001.
In 2006, Mother traveled with me to a job assignment in Sarasota, FL.
Hurricane Wanda forced our evacuation from Sarasota to Orlando. Then
Wanda became fickle and hit Orlando instead. This photo was taken on our
return trip. Wanda's flood waters are evident in the background.
On the weekend of 7 May 2007, Mother shared her birthday at our home in Phoenix, with her first-born, Mary who was born the morning after Mother was 17.
An exuberant Mother amongst the bougainvillea and oleander in our backyard in Phoenix in 2008.
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