Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life in Duluth (Part III)

Jim was never a demanding boy. He bought his very first “second-hand” bicycle with his own small savings and got a job with the Western Union – delivering telegrams. Next he got a summer at the Areo Coffee Co.

He attended Central High School and was always a good student and graduated in 1946 with honors. Soon, he got work with the Minn. Highway Dept –working from the “ground-up” – the work taking him to various small towns in the northern part of the state. He was always interested in Drafting work in High School so he kept that up in the M.H.D. He has been there ever since – and now in 1978 changed over to the Minn. Natural Resources Dept.

In April 1955 he married Doraine Lee, also, of Duluth. They lived in Virginia, Minn. for a while and then in Duluth, where they built a home on Brainerd Ave. They now have 3 children, Scott, born May 7, 1958 – Tom, born April 28, 1960, and Mary Kay, 15, born April 7, 1963. In 1971, they moved to Fridley, Minn. where they now live.

While in Duluth, they had a small cabin at Comstock Lake. They later bought a lake frontage lot at Leader L. in Wascott, Wis. and Ike and I took over the cabin at Comstock. We enjoyed it so very much, as it was rustic and we were close to Nature, which we both have always loved. Ike was so happy there, doing what he always enjoyed – fishing leisurely and rowing – no motors, no electricity, outdoor “privy” – clearing brush, fixing the cabin, feeding birds and listening to them sing. Picking raspberries in the summertime. Sitting by a bonfire – making coffee outdoors. And just walking in the woods, sometime seeing a deer, once we even saw a large moose and her young one.

That was not to last long. Ike had a stroke on Dec. 2, 1970 which was totally unexpected, as he had always taken good care of himself – eating moderately, drinking (very little), exercising diligently, without fail every morning and walking outdoors several times a day. He did suffer from a prostate condition, which had become cancerous but did not cause pain, but he didn’t feel well. He was operated on in Rochester, Minn. and was put on (stilbestoral?) tablets. The doctors said that was a slow type of cancer. For over 3 months, he was a patient at Miller Devon Hospital in Duluth. Dr. Bakkila, etc. attending. Therapy was given [to] him every day, -- and could finally walk a little with the aid of a 4-pronged cane, with someone holding on for extra support. Mostly, he was in a wheel-chair. In March, 1971, he was released to my care at home. He had become very depressed at becoming so helpless, a man, who had been so capable of doing practically anything he wished to do. The fact that Jim had to move away hit him hard. Those were the toughest days of our life together. I am thankful I was able to care for him and he was very grateful for that. It wasn’t easy on me either, combined with the prostate trouble, too, we got very little sleep or rest. He warned about me being able to hold up – I didn’t tell him that, but I was concerned myself – as I was so tired and lost then about 20 pounds – (which I could spare, of course.) My dear friend Lillian Day would come over to iron and wipe up floors – but she couldn’t give him the very personal attention he had to have.

On Nov. 21, (on his sister’s birthday) he very quietly and I think painlessly, just shut his eyes for the last time. Sitting in his wheel chair, having eaten his supper.

Death is a part of life – which none of us can avoid. But it is so very final – and takes quite a lot of adjusting to learn to live completely alone, without the strength and support that I had learned to depend on living with a good man for half a century almost! His word was his bond and when I was weak he was always strong. I have no words to adequately describe my husband – but I am very grateful that I was fortunate and lucky enough to get him – I’m sure I didn’t deserve him – but he understood me and accepted me with all me weaknesses and faults – and I’d say all in all – we had a happy life together. We both loved nature and our wants were simple.

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