Marie Balmer, RIPAnother of the Greatest Generation has left us for heaven. Most of you will have never heard of this woman and yet she was one of that generation for whom the word greatest was somewhat of an understatement.
She and her siblings were born in the US to parents who weren't in the early part of the 1900's. At that time, in most of the US, citizens of German descent did everything they could to assimilate quickly while at the same time they generally lived in areas that were predominately German. The Germans in Germany weren't well thought of and the Germans here had to do everything they could to make sure the rest of America didn't associate them with the bad guys in Europe. It must have been a most confusing world to grow up in when you and all of you friends are from the same part of the world, speak two identical languages, eat the same kind of food in their homes and have to pretend it isn't so because of a bunch of people half a world away.
She grew up in a small farming community. She fell in love exactly once. Her parents didn't want her to marry her true love so in her early 20s they secretly got married. She continued to live in her father's house and her husband continued living in his father's house. This arrangement continued for years. Eventually they broke the news to their families and he moved into the home she had been raised in under the roof of his mother-in-law who did not think him worthy of her daughter.
During the "big war", as she called it, she went to work in an ammunition factory as well as helping her husband on the farm. She continued working there until she was forced to retire at 70. She had 4 sons. One of them was killed in a farming accident just before his 13th birthday. She suffered a severe back injury in the accident and could not attend her dead son's funeral. Her husband suffered multiple heart attacks and a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side. She continued to work making ammunition for the armed forces by day and farming some in the evening and weekends as well as tending her husband back to some level of health. After his stroke, he became a very unpleasant man to live with. You would never have known that if you only knew him through hearing her talk about him. She never saw him as anything but her one true love and she loved him until the day she died.
The last years of her life were spent in great pain and essentially bedridden. Those who love her are glad that her pain is over. She carried her burdens here long enough.
She was a great woman, a pillar of her church and her community. The best thing about her was that she was a phenomenal grandmother and great grandmother: loving, kind, strong and without all of that cheek pinching and lipstick slobbered on your face. She let her grandsons be boys, get dirty, wrestle, hunt, play with snakes, get hurt and bring out the mercurochrome. She let her granddaughter be a prissy girl or play with the boys at her own pleasure.
How did I know this woman? I was lucky enough to be one of those grandchildren. I will miss her but am blessed for the many years I had with her in my life, most especially those of my childhood where I could walk with my dog to her house. I am one of those that is actually glad she has gone home to God. Her pain was beyond unbearable to see for the last couple of years.
Goodbye Grandma, and save a place at table for us. We will get there, just as you did, in our own time.