Happy Birthday Mom 🎂🎂 & A DNA Angel Announcement

Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday.

My mom; Eleanor Louise Thompson (nee Middlebrough)  didn’t actually do genealogy but when I discovered my love of family history she was always there to listen about my searches and to provide me with details about various members of the family.

One of my favorite stories is how she handled secrets. As you’ve probably discovered there are times you come across things that turn out to be a family secret. This happened to me on a couple of occasions and when  I decided that I should tell my mom what I’d discovered I would be told; “Ok it was like this”. Really mom…… you could have told me. But no she’d let me search and then explain when I found the truth.

Born to Francis and Mary Middlebrough (nee Beaton) she was the 5th child of 7.  With three sisters and three brothers she was nicknamed by her brother; Dick and was called Chic for much of her life. Although later in life she informed us not to call her that anymore.

When you look at the photos of the family you realize she came from an era of Ozzie and Harriet where you wore dresses and pearl earring to cook in the kitchen. Ane era where your children and husband were your primary concern and what you thought or wanted wasn’t important. This remained true until her children were grown and that’s when she decided that she wanted more and got a job at a major department store. She worked there until she and my father retired.

Here grandchildren were as important to her as her children had been. She was always available to help by taking the grandchildren for a week during summer vacation so that they weren’t left to their own devices.

One of her greatest joys was when she and I were able to meet my grandson, her first great-grandchild; Zander. The photos tell it all, showing her pride in family.

My saddest moment was when I realized that my mom’s change in personality was caused by Alzheimer’s. I’d always traveled for one week each year with my parents to Las Vegas or California. Each year it became harder and harder to communicate as her internal anger and frustration with the disease took over. There were changes that were noticed but not to the extent that you identified what was the issue.  But then one day my father called to say; Did you talk to your mom yesterday? I told him no and then he related to me that she thought she had and was quite upset. I left work to find that she thought I’d been detained at customs and it was this sudden change that was to become a new time in her life.

Her downward spiral was swift and the family was left to try to help her and to also deal with their own emotional issues and guilt. I often say that when you have a parent with Alzheimer’s you have to deal with the death of that person twice. Once as they slowly (or quickly) are no longer who they use to be and then again when the shell that is their body slips way from earth.

My store; Shop the Hound is my way of offering tools to help you maintain your family memories. Scanning photos and sharing them with family for me is what it’s all about. My little way of never forgetting who you are and where you came from. It’s for that reason we put a package of “Forget Me Not” flowers in our shipments and why we donate a percentage of our sales to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Despite the fact that my mom is gone her DNA continues to help me in my genealogy. It’s for that reason this month’s DNA Angel Project is for a Family Tree DNA kit. I hope you’ll enter. The contest starts today and you can find out more HERE.

 

2 Comments

  • Mrs. Davies. says:

    Lovely way to remember your mother. This disease is horrid and you are correct it is death two different times with same person. Back in 1991 my Father passed away and he likely had Alzheimer’s but there was no way to diagnose it before death and so he was deemed to be suffering severe dementia. He made my mother show the marriage certificate many times as he didn’t know who she was. He said there were bad men in the basement wanting to take over their rental bungalow. As well they had surrounded the house. It is terrifying what the brain can imagine and the effects it can have. My folks lived alone in Daysland, Alberta and although we visited twice a year to attend to some of their needs it fell upon their kind neighbors who helped many times. There were no homes for people suffering this affliction back then so one day my Mother called an ambulance and said “please take him away I can no longer handle it”. At the hospital he would be come riled and angry so they medicated him ‘all the time’. My Mother never saw him again because within a couple weeks he passed away. It was a terrible thing she had to do and she herself was never the same after that. I am so happy to see that people now have some choices when it comes to this disease.
    Secrets: I am hoping DNA will reveal my Mother’s secret which she kept from me completely yet my brother apparently knew back in the late 1960s. (He is younger than I and there are only the two of us) – or there were only 2 of us!! That is the secret. I have a half sister in Manchester England. I have been in touch with her since 1996 as I found her on my own (no thanks to distant family). We are now looking for her birth father. Her DNA test is currently In the Ancestry lab in Ireland being processed. It will be exciting to see what we can learn. All family’s have that ‘closet full of secrets’ it just takes the right combination to open that door and let the goodies fall out 🙂 Thanks.

    • Thank you for your comments. So sad that your mom had to keep proving to you dad who she was. Hard when you’ve been married to someone so long and they don’t remember you. I recall how upset my son was. He was the oldest grandchild and was devastated that his grandmother didn’t know him. He thought she should remember him because he had been around the longest. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. My cousins would always say how much my mother asked for me, but when I went she never knew who I was. Hopefully, someday there will be a cure.

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