This picture is about four years ago taken in Mom's back yard.
This is a very long blog about saying goodbye to my mother who died on July 15, 2014 at age 90. I wanted to record my feelings and memories before they are lost. These next two blogs are about my Mom, but really for me.
I have made many trips to the West over the years to be with my Mom. My dad died in 1998 and after that Mom also made many more trips to Virginia. We've had some fun times, some great trips together and some filled with a little stress. In the last five years, I have spent lots more time visiting Mom. Often we could never decide who was in charge, but wow, what I have learned about heir in the last couple of years while writing her history, is what an amazing woman she is. A month before she died, I was able to visit her and finally read her life history to her that I had also recently finished. It was so fun and exciting for Mom. Mom's sisters, June and Helen came for a special lunch and also admired her completed history. She was so thrilled and between the two of us we thought of a couple of other events to add to the history. She was quite frail, but was always ready to go where her kids were. Mom was able to attend Lauren's graduation party. (Thanks, Darryl for getting her there.)
And, she talked me into a field trip with the assisted living residents on their bus to an ice cream parlor. She wouldn't go unless I went with them. She said, "Oh come on. You'll have fun." And I did. It was our last hot fudge sundae together.
Looking back I feel so fortunate to have spent time with her in June. Our plan was to have a fun birthday celebration in August, but she didn't make it to August.
I received a call in the middle of the night on a Thursday in July from Mom's assisted living facility in Draper, Utah . The nurse felt like she wasn't going to make it through the night and they couldn't get in touch with anyone in Utah. I told them to call 911 and told them one of my brothers would meet her at the hospital. I was able to get a hold of my brother, Mike who went straight to the hospital. He was exhausted having just returned from the hospital for 21 hours straight with his wife. His wife and mother were in the same hospital. Mom was diagnosed with pneumonia and a bad infection. By the weekend Mom was still on a ventilator off and on. I bought a ticket on Monday to go to the West and by that evening she needed the ventilator constantly. I landed at 1:06 pm the next day and my brother, Kenny picked me up and we drove straight to the hospital.
Mom was so little, fragile, and helpless. Her heart kept beating erratically but then would beat normally. We all knew she was barely clinging to life. I stroked her cheek and held her hand. Through tears Margo and I sang the Poky fight song to her. She loved that song. We also sang 'You Are My Sunshine." We love her so much and couldn't do much so we sang. She was really struggling. Surrounded by her family, my brothers and their wives, and Darryl's children, Natalie and Mark, Mom's heart stopped at 4:13 pm. I had been there only three hours. It seemed like my own heart quit beating too. It felt completely unreal. She had come back from the edge so many times, but this time, it was not to be. I knew when I left her in June, she was so weak, I had left part of me there with her. Now she was gone. Just before she died, she opened her eyes one last time and I told her I loved her.
Boy, it was all so final. After a while everyone left. They had been with Mom for a few days, but I had trouble leaving there in the hospital so Kenny stayed with me and I was able to stay a few more hours. I couldn't believe she was really gone. I knew this was coming, but I thought we had more time. Even as I write this now, I can't believe how sad I feel about saying goodbye. The hospital staff kept coming in and we would ask to stay just a bit longer. Then it was time to go and Kenny and I left and yes stopped for a diet coke in Mom's honor! She would have loved that idea.
The next day we set about making arrangements for Mom's funeral service. We (my brothers and I) decided to take her back home to Idaho for her funeral even though she had been in Utah for fourteen years and it turned out to be a very good decision. It all felt right to have her home and for us to be home to honor our mother and celebrate her life.
This is Mother at age 17. What a cutie!
Donna Hansen Neider passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on July 15, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born in a little farmhouse in Newdale, Idaho on December 15, 1923 to Antone Vernstine Hansen and Stella Butler Hansen. When Donna was two, her family moved to Lavaside, Idaho just outside Blackfoot. Donna was 15 when her family moved to Tyhee, Idaho. Soon after, she met Boyd Neider in Tyhee and a year later they eloped in 1940. The Tyhee farming community became the most important part of life for the Neider family. Together Boyd and Donna raised their six children in Tyhee: Kenneth Boyd (Margo Yates) of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Andrea Leona Neider Crowley (Rich Crowley) of Culpeper, VA; Michael Antone (Rosemary Curtis ) of Draper, Utah; Mark Lee (Renee Hobson) of Pocatello, Idaho; Julie Neider Selders (deceased) (Jack Selders) of Murray, Utah; and, Darryl Leroy (Anna Marie Hunt) of Granite, Utah. Boyd and Donna and their children were later sealed in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple.
Boyd and Donna owned and ran the IGA store in Tyhee for many years which further connected their family to the Tyhee and Fort Hall communities. When the store was sold, Donna went to work for Garrett Freightlines until she retired.
Donna's entire life centered around her family, faith, and friends. She was generous and never met a stranger. She loved everyone. She was knowledgeable and proud of her pioneer and American heritage and was always interested in the politics of the day. She was very patriotic and loved her red white and blue.
She had many hobbies which she enjoyed throughout her life. She loved reading and writing and music, and was often called upon for musical and theatrical productions in the church community. One of her favorite activities was participating in the Tyhee Literary Guild with her dear friends. She also loved oil painting, mainly Southern Utah landscapes, and China painting. She also enjoyed history and was an accomplished horse woman who rode with the Silver Sage Riders (a women's drill posse) for many years. She was a prolific quilter (like her mom and sisters) and made quilts for her children and for each grandchild in their high school's colors when they graduated.
Boyd served as the Bishop of the 33rd Ward in Pocatello with Donna right by his side supporting and loving each and every ward member (or pushing from behind). She was famous for her German chocolate cakes. Boyd and Donna started spending winters in St. George, Utah, but interrupted their snow-bird time to serve a mission at the LDS Employment Center in Pocatello.
When Donna's daughter, Julie, died in 2000, Donna moved to the Salt Lake City area to be near Julie's young sons to help out. She volunteered at their elementary school everyday until they moved into junior high. She was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award from the school district during this time. Donna loved working on the computer well into her 80's and kept herself and others busily engaged in her many projects. Over the past six years, she was also a key attraction at the opening of one of her son's 26 Five Guys restaurants in California, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Utah where everyone loved her Five Guys "costume" and enjoyed her enthusiastic interaction. More recently, Donna lived at Assisted Living of Draper, Utah where she loved her care center family who loved and treated her so well. A special thanks to all of her caregivers, especially Don, Hannah, Casey, Leslie, Marcia and Susan.
Donna was preceded in death by her husband Boyd; daughter, Julie; three grandchildren, Brant, Thomas Boyd and Jennifer; her parents; a brother Arvel Hansen; and a sister Vella Mecham. She is survived by two sisters, June and Helen five of her children, 28 grandchildren, and 69 great grandchildren.
Here's Mother on her 89th birthday with her happy smile.
It was a bitter/sweet task to write Mother's obituary. I wrote it from memory as I had just finished writing her history over the last year and a half. I think when someone dies, it is helpful for your brain and emotions to switch to auto pilot to be able to accomplish everything that needs to be done. It is such a labor of love. Darryl added a few things to the obituary and then we sent it to the paper. It was so hard to see it in print. Everything we did made it more real. I had wondered what it would feel like when Mom was gone, you just can't imagine this type of reality.
My brothers and I had to plan Mother's funeral and we wanted every detail to be perfect for her. We remembered planning Dad's funeral, but the difference was, Mom was there with her input. We thought about what her input would be and worked toward that end.
As I was looking for pictures for her funeral program, I ran onto this picture from the '80s. Three of the people I love with all my heart all gone from me, but they are together and I imagine they are smiling, just like in this picture.
Mother's funeral and other memories in Part Two to follow when I get it finished.