Sentimental Sunday – Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would have been my mother’s 69th birthday.

Suzanne Link
1 yr old

Anita, David, Suzanne and Earl Link
July 1944

Suzanne Hannah Link Washler was born July 14th, 1944 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  She was the youngest child of Earl and Hannah (Hill) Link.  For Grandma and Grandpa Link, it was probably almost like starting a family over since my mother’s older siblings were both several years older and either out of the house or very close to it.  (As you can see from the picture to the left, my Uncle David was already in the Navy when Mom was born.

We lost Mom at the all too young age of 62 back on 27 December 2006.  I have written and re-written this post a few times, and the words never quite seem to be right to describe Mom’s life.  What I decided to do, in the end, is share with you what I said at Mom’s funeral.  All four of us kids got up to deliver our own personal eulogy for Mom.  Below is mine….

When I sat down to think about what I wanted to say today, I really had a hard time with it.  There are so many memories that I could share, but none seemed quite appropriate by themselves.  I thought that after the viewing last night, talking with someone might trigger some memory that would be the appropriate one to share. I watched people flow through the funeral home yesterday paying tribute to Mom, and I began to realize just how many people’s lives Mom had touched during her time here on Earth.  There were acquaintances, friends, co-workers, fellow parents, relatives, and the kids – and I mean kids of all ages.
 How do you share a single memory about someone who gave so much of her life to others?
 Mom was so many things to so many people.  She was the friend who sat and talked on Sunday after church.  She was the nurse who cried when one of the infants she was caring for passed away.  She was the parent who was always involved in school activities.  She was the sister who was always there.  She was the wife who was there through it all for nearly 40 years.  But most of all, she was Mom and Grandma. The amazing part of that is that she wasn’t Mom or Grandma to just her own kids.  Kids were truly her life.  In her professional life, she always said that the last twenty-some years when she was at Lutheran taking care of babies were by far her favorite years as a nurse.  Despite the heartache that was an inevitable part of that job, Mom loved being there.  I know that for her one of the hardest things to handle over the last year and a half was when she finally had to stop providing bedside care for the infants. But you know, she still managed to find a way to keep working down there at the hospital so she could be involved in taking care of kids. The same sentiment was there when it came to other kids that weren’t her own.  Over the years, as the four of us grew up, I think that my mother was Mom to more kids than even she could count.  I watched them file through last night – people that Beth and I went to school with almost twenty years ago that still think of her as Mom.  Kids that Abbey and Zach went to school with much more recently that still think of her as Mom – literally two generations of Eastside kids that she was Mom to – and she loved every one of them.  And that doesn’t even count the kids that Dad taught over here at DeKalb that probably still think of Mom as Mrs. Ed more than 30 years later. And then there were her own kids and grandkids.  For us, Mom was always there, no matter what.  Sarah mentioned the other day when there was some disagreement going on in the house that she missed Grandma because Grandma always seemed to make all of us get along.  And she did.  That was because she knew each of her children and grandchildren so perfectly that sometimes it was only her that could really talk to us.  She loved each of us individually as if we were her only child or grandchild, but most of all, she loved us as a family.  I think this fall Mom probably showed that love more than any of us have started to realize yet.  Despite what she was dealing with personally, she was there to babysit the grandkids.  She was there to offer words of comfort to a nervous college freshmen.  She was there to provide support to a young minister facing challenges in a new church.  And she wanted to be there with her family.  Just in the last few months, I know that she came down to see us at the end of the summer, and then in October, she went to babysit Beth’s kids literally the week before she somehow found a way to come to Orlando with my family to spend time at Disney World – I have no doubt that all of it was hard because of what she was dealing with, but she refused to give up time with her family. In the end, all of this reminds me of a conversation that I had with one of our ministers a while back.  He had told me that our time here on Earth is really nothing more than practice for our eternity in Heaven.  Looking back at Mom’s life, I believe that that statement sums up how she lived her life – she was an angel in our midst who was practicing for her time in Heaven.  Her love showed through in everything she did.  I truly believe that in the end, God looked at Mom, and decided that practice had indeed made perfect – it was time for her to come Home and begin her eternity with Him.  And I have absolutely no doubt, that the moment Mom appeared before Him, she heard what all of us hope to hear someday – Well done, good and faithful servant, well done. I love you Mom.

Suzanne Link
2nd Grade

Happy Birthday, Mom.  We miss you.

Suzanne Link
14 Jul 1945
1st Birthday

Suzanne Link
date unknown

Suzanne Link
14 July 1946

Suzanne (Link) Washler
Luminaria for Mom at
Pensacola Relay for Life

Sentimental Sunday – Going Home

I have to apologize to my readers – I have been AWOL from the blog and pretty much all social media for the past week.  My absence was for a very good reason.  This past week, I went back home to my

childhood home to spend the week with my brother and sisters and our dad.  I wish I could say that it was all pleasure and fun, but we were home with a purpose.  The week was a rough one in some respects, but a pleasure and incredibly rewarding in others.

My mom passed away just over six years ago, and at the time, we went through her personal effects, but we never dealt with were the years, and years (and years) of accumulated things that were in the house.  This week, we all went home to go through the house and divide up the pictures and everything else.
What we found as we were going through the house was almost overwhelming.Some of what we went through was not unexpected – there were the quilts and blankets that Mom had accumulated over the years, the pictures from her childhood and our childhoods that we needed to sort and divide up, the various memorabilia from us growing up that we each simply needed to take with us.  The memories that came back as we tackled the “expected” were amazing.  
It was Mom and Dad’s “spare room” (or as my sisters call it – borrowing a line from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – The land of Spare Oom) that provided the “wow” factor for the week.  The room contained not only things that Mom and Dad had kept from their lives, but also a large amount of things that had come from my grandmother’s house when she passed away.  As you can imagine, the room proved to be a treasure trove of not just memories, but genealogical finds as well!
Among the things that we found were a log from my grandfather’s days as an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad which my younger brother is going transcribe and “decrypt.”  (You can expect a follow-up post on that item since we believe he may have been the engineer on some significant trains!)  We also found a 160 year old bible that belonged to my great great grandmother as well as her hymnal, diplomas from my grandmothers college and high school, my mother’s college diploma, grade cards, awards, address books, newspaper clippings, letters, cards, and the list goes on and on.
Needless to say, I am sitting here at home now having just unloaded my car and I am looking at everything that came home with me as well as everything that I scanned because it went home with my brother and sisters, and to be honest I am feeling just a bit overwhelmed in a great way.  I have to sort all of this and then start the process of seeing what just gets preserved and stored for the memories, what will be used for genealogical information before being preserved and stored, and what gets put out and displayed in the house (or used in my house).  As hard as the task was last week, the one ahead of me is not harder, but almost more challenging.
Over the next several weeks (and probably months), I will have many, many posts here letting my readers know what my finds are and what exciting memories and new finds I come across.  I already know that from a genealogical standpoint, the new information, proof and leads that I am going to find will be amazingly rewarding.  
What I’m looking forward to the most, though, is sharing with you some of the memories that all of this brings back because I think that has been the most overwhelming part of the week is the memories that were long forgotten which are now stirred up and swirling through my head.
Sometimes going home is fun; sometimes it is emotional; sometimes it is heart-breaking; but most of all, going home is always going where the family comes together and the memories come pouring out and flood my head.