This week we are waving our last goodbyes to a grand old lady. I’m not so sure about the last goodbye part–she will live on in the lives of those of us left behind–goodbyes are messy like that. I don’t know that it’s right to think of her as “dead” or “gone” either. I think she’s merely transitioned to another way of living, leaving behind a tangible part of herself but continuing to live in essence. The tangibleness of Margaret Emily Clark is what we are laying to rest this week.
She was born and raised a farm girl through the Depression years. Her folks tried raising ginseng for extra money–unfortunately something happened that the market collapsed just as they finally had a crop to sell. That’s farming. She stayed in town during the week, coming home for weekends, in order to go to high school. When a tag-along baby brother showed up, she stayed home from her junior year of high school to help her Mom so her older sister could finish her senior year with her class. While in nursing school she met a dapper fellow named Keith and got married. She was able to keep it quiet and continue in school until her first child was on the way, forcing her to quit school. In order to find work, Keith had to travel to California while Margaret went back to her folks on the farm. He made it back just in time for the baby to arrive. They lived in town for awhile, adding 4 more children in quick succession. The story goes that when one of the boys picked a lovely bouquet for his mother, consisting of all the neighbor’s flowers, she decided her family needed to be out of town and found the farm that they then called home for many years. They raised 5 kids there, grew their meat and vegetables, had a milk cow who generated lots of stories, and had a work horse and various other animals who also generated lots of stories. Was my 90 year old Grandma really once a young mother of many children like me, trying to keep up with the house, so many busy, dirty children, a garden with it’s weeds and produce, and a busy husband? There’s pictures to prove it! Grandpa had a couple different businesses and I just recently learned that it was Grandma who kept his books and was the office help for many years. Her faith and her family were the priorities of her life. She taught her daughters and granddaughters the practical skills needed for making a home–and did it with class. She was always a lady, teaching us that a lady is made by her attitude and behaviour. She was kind, generous, and loving–though she possessed an undercurrent of strength to make her a good match for her strong-willed husband and energetic children. She was the kind of lady who went fishing in the Canadian wilderness with bright red lipstick, looking like a movie star while catching trophy fish.
Grandma was a farm girl who carried herself like a queen and treated everyone like lords and ladies. May her legacy live long in those of us fortunate to have been touched by her.
**Please feel free to share your stories and your thoughts about Margaret Clark with her family as a comment (your contact information is not displayed). There’s also an article in the “articles” tab that several of her grandchildren wrote for her to honor her 90th birthday this summer.