This is perhaps one of the hardest writing assignments that I have had to undertake in recent years, if ever. Yeah, let’s go with “if ever”. This is the hardest writing assignments. How did I get it? I’m the preacher in the family. I have experience writing, and of telling stories.
Yet, this isn’t about me. This is about a lady I call “Mom”. She died the other day. It was an interesting day, one of her choosing I believe, if the nurse, who told dad, who told me, who is telling you, my reader, is accurate. When she woke that morning, she said she was going to die that day. She did. April 15, 2015.
It was a blessing, really. Mom was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. She was watching her sister from afar suffer through. And though she herself was suffering as well, her medication kept it at bay, mostly. Imagine a dam built. It doesn’t block all the water, but most of it. But then when it is removed, that water wasn’t drained away. It was still there, and now it was flooding. 7 years’ worth of HD rushed her in 6 weeks. She was proud, shuddered at the idea of suffering and being a burden to anyone.
She was born December 27, 1941, just shy of 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor. She’s told me a few times that her name was almost Pearl. It would have been if Grandpa listened to the War Department. Her name, however, was Carolyn Rae Harbour, or Carrie to those she loved and who called her friend. She was born in an odd place if you are a bit younger. It wasn’t anything like Phoenix Children’s Hospital, or St. Joseph’s Hospital. No, she was born at The Stork’s Nest in Phoenix, Arizona. See? It’s an odd name for someone such as myself, or those even younger than myself.
I know that she was living in Tucson when she met Dad. They were at a Young Republican meeting of sort. She loved politics, though she never ran for office. She was a behind the scenes type woman. She was out there campaigning for the candidates. She was out there being a right proper precinct committee person, knocking on doors, making sure people knew about who was running, even if that candidate had a “d” next to the name. People needed to register to vote and then they needed to vote. Come the county fair, you knew that she would be at the GOP booth. She would call out to people she’d not met. Then she would register them to vote.
Her love for politics spilled into her home life as well. Oh, perhaps I should mention that shortly after Mom and Dad married, they moved to Yuma where Dad started his business. Mom would be there helping, serving as his accountant. She was sharp with the money.
But as mom involved with politics, there were so many files that she kept track. “Didn’t you go to the meeting last night?” She would tell me that that meeting was the Republican Precinct Committeeman Meeting. Tonight is the Young Republican Meeting. Next week is the regular Republican Meeting followed by the Women’s Republican Meeting, and when I turned 13, she helped sponsor the founding of the Teen-Age Republicans. I think I may be missing a couple of groups, but I am not sure. But she loved working behind the scenes, and instilled in me a love for politics.
Mom wasn’t just involved in politics, though another club she belonged to was a bi-partisan group, a watch-dog group for Yuma called, Governmental Affairs Forum. They met at Tate’s. Again, this was a behind the scenes group that watched and kept the local governments, be it school boards or city council, in check. If something needed to be done and wasn’t, Mom was one of those passing the petition.
From there, she was involved in Scouting. She was my den mother in Pack 90. She and her friend Elsie were both involved in Cub Scouts long after my brother and I advanced to Boy Scouts. She loved the social setting. She loved being a homemaker. She slept little, I think. Most of the house work was done after we were in bed so that for at least a few hours, while we slept, the house would look clean and neat. During the early mornings, she would be outside keeping the yard looking nice, not only the front, but the back yard as well, even though there was a 6 foot block wall keeping away prying eyes. She loved getting her hands dirty.
Which was good because she also loved being part of the Yuma Women’s Rod and Reel Club. I don’t think she passed many opportunities to fish. There was one contest once that the fishing was slow. She put in a minnow, baby bass really, because that was all that bit her line. It was to be a joke, the smallest fish caught. But at the close of the weekend, the smallest fish was the only fish. There were a few other fish hooks to share if you ask. But Mom never fished alone. If no one at home wanted to fish, she would call on her mentor and friend, Bea Strong. (Yeah, I never got tired of the pun material her name gave me.)
But that just furthers Mom being a socialite. She loved being around people. She loved going out to lunch with her husband at the busiest time of day for Brownies. She loved going to El Charro on Friday nights. She loved Gene’s and various other establishments that are/were around Yuma. And while we ate, she would talk. When we finished eating, she would begin.
When Mom and Dad bought a new home, it had something that we kids had wanted for a long time, a swimming pool. Of course, we kids were now grown. But that didn’t stop her from making friends with the youth ministers and opening her backyard so that the youth groups had a place to meet and enjoy a time of refreshing cool water in the hot desert sun. But it wasn’t just the kids from church she had in her pool from time to time, but also she enjoyed teaching her grandchildren to swim, playing with them splashing them.
At the holidays, and whenever she could get us all home, she expected her dining room to be crowded with family. And with as many grandkids as she had, the dining room table was full, the card table was full, the sofas in the living room were full, and the table at the poolside was full of people enjoying the company. She really shined with a full house underfoot.
Now Mom is at rest. She was preceded in death by her mom, Eva June Cramer, her dad, Marion Edward “Ray” Harbour, and her step-mom, Rose Margaret Harbour. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Patrick Harvey, her daughter Michelle Harvey, her sons Steven (Carol) and John “Jack” (Dawn) Harvey, her sisters Peggy (Don) Murray and Patricia (Roger) Emeigh, and by 19 grandchildren. (I told you there were a lot!)