Opal and Juleen
A lot has changed in the last 13 months... In July we moved Mother (Juleen) to an assisted living apartment in Henderson, NE. She was getting tired of cooking and cleaning for herself and thought it might be nice to have someone doing some of that for her. As she was considering moving, a young man knocked on her door looking for one of her neighbors who he'd heard was going to be selling her condo. After telling Jim which condo the neighbor lived in, Mother mentioned she might be selling her condo also... did he want to see it? So he looked, loved it and when she shot him a price, he accepted it. That was the end of May or first of June and by July 2nd we had dispersed of the things Mother wouldn't be needing and had her all settled in her new apartment.
A month later, almost to the day, Mother had a little stroke. If she had not been in Henderson where someone checks on you early each morning and several times a day, she may have had more severe damage or died all alone in her condo. As it was, within a couple weeks she was back in her apartment with just slight speech problems.
The next big change was last October when Opal fell and then spent the next two months in the hospital and skilled care. December 11th, after falling again, she passed away, less than a month before she would have turned 94.
A year ago, after getting together for Opal's birthday on January 9th, I wrote the following but never got it posted for want of pictures etc to put with the story. I will just go ahead and post it today with the following picture of Opal that Jerri took last summer.
Written January 9, 2007...
Today is Opal's 93rd birthday. Jerri and I met Mother and Opal for lunch... her choice... Pizza Hut for a green olive personal pan pizza. Afterwards we went to Mother's for coffee and cookies and then to Chicks for a little visit. These stories were told today...
Opal said that she was told this story about when she was a baby... she cried and cried an awfully lot and they couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. One day they discovered Charles, her older brother by just 16 months, taking her bottle away from her as she lay in her crib and drinking all the milk before giving it back.
Opal also said that she could just kill Charles as he was the one who named her... Opal... The family had a hired girl, as a lot of people did in those days, and the hired girl's name was Opal. Charles looked at her in her crib after she was born and said, "Opal" and so she was named. Her middle name Ord is worse yet... being the town she was born in.
The three of them were reminescing and it came out that Grandpa Sipple made beer, whiskey and also root beer for the kids. I suppose this was during prohibition.
Mother said, "do you remember one of Dad's firemen (on his train) who was named Reynolds?" And then both Charles and she said, almost in unison something to the effect that "he was the ugliest man I have ever seen." He used to come to the house to drink Grandpa's homemade beer.
Another man who worked with Grandpa and came to drink beer was named Alexander (his last name)... It seems he had a famous brother, Grover Cleveland Alexander, who played professional baseball. He was from St Paul, NE and St Paul still celebrates him with a weekend every summer in his honor. One day Grover came with his brother to the Sipple house and took the older kids back to West Lawn School after lunch in his big, long touring car. All the kids at school were so envious both of the car and that they knew the famous Grover Cleveland Alexander.
He is called one of the greatest pitchers in history. There was a 1952 biographical movie about him, The Winning Team in which Grover was played by Ronald Reagan. Check out the Grove Cleveland Alexander video and his biography on-line.
Grampa's journals mention both Reynolds and Alexander as people he worked with, which he noted each day along with his engine number. The journals do not say anything about making beer... perhaps that was in years before Grampa started keeping the journals, since the ones I have run from about 1937 - 1945.
I told Mother and Opal about a project for Wade and they each told several cute stories about him. Mother said that she always thought of Wade as "the sweet one" for he would always come up to you (and still does) and give you a big ol' hug for no apparent reason. One of those hugs from him when he was about 6 or 7 is also one of my favorite memories. I was sitting on our deck talking to our neighbor, Karen, and Wade just came up behind me and gave me a big squeeze saying, "I love you."
Opal said she remembered Wade the year he turned two and got a plastic baseball bat & ball. He would hit the ball and then run around in our house where you could make a complete circle, living room to hallway to kitchen and back to the living room. She said he was so funny and cute and how did he know to do that, hit the ball and then run all the way back to where he started??
Mother also told about the time she babysat Wade and Jill when Lyle, Matt and I went on our annual ski trip to Colorado. Wade must have been 4 or 5 because I think he went skiing with us from the time he was 6 on. Mother spread out a deck of regular cards and they played a game of matching... and Wade would always remember where the matching cards lay and beat her each time. When we got home from our ski trip she was telling us about it and saying just how smart Wade was. Lyle had to immediately sit down and play the game with Wade... and being the competitor he was, just knew he could beat Wade and didn't give him any breaks... Wade beat the socks of his dad!! The 5 year old beat the 37 year old.