Today is the 30th Anniversary of my mom’s death. March is always really difficult for me.
My mom and me around Christmas 1970. I was in a Christmas program at church (hence the choir robe I am wearing) and my mom was about 8 months pregnant with my sister.
March at a Glance
March 4, 1947 ~ My mom’s birthday (Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS)
March 16, 1922 ~ My grandpa’s birthday (Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS)
March 20, 1928 ~ My grandma’s birthday (Ruby Irene PORTER)
March 20, 1987 ~ My mom’s death
March 21, 2012 ~ My mom-in-love’s death (Bernice Ann WATMOUGH)
March 27, 1929 ~ My mom-in-love’s birthday
My mom, sister, and me (on the right) while on vacation summer 1971.
As you can see… there are too many important days that all take place in one short month. My mom passed away 16 days after she turned 40 years old. This was 4 days after my grandpa’s birthday and 4 days before my grandma’s birthday. You can read about what my mom did the week before my grandma’s birthday that year in my post One Pie for Grandma and One For Everyone Else and more about her in general at My Grandma Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS.
When the day of the funeral was first discussed, the man at the funeral home suggested March 24th. We were all like, no we can’t do it that day, because that is Grandma’s birthday. Grandma quickly said that she was ok with that and she felt it should be on her birthday.
Until Grandma passed away, I had one good event and one terribly sad event on the 24th, so it kind of evened it out a bit and sort of helped in a way, I guess. However, when Grandma passed away on May 13, 2010, and the family wanted to have her funeral on my hubby’s birthday, May 17… it really upset me, but I really did not have any say. I mentioned it and the fact that my son and I were actually supposed to return home the day before. I was told that was going to be the day. I didn’t really have a problem changing my plane tickets, but didn’t want hubby’s birthday to forevermore be saddened by sharing the same date as my grandma’s funeral. If you ever have any say in a situation like this, I highly suggest avoiding it.
Anyway, 5 years ago on March 20, 2012, we got “THE” call that my mom-in-love was probably not going to make it through the night. It was the 25th anniversary of my mom’s death. You can read all about that night on my post Bernice Ann WATMOUGH, but the short version is that the 30 minute drive into the hospital that night definitely brought back too many memories of the several hour drive home from college the night I found out about my mom’s sudden death exactly 25 years earlier. She held on into the early morning hours of March 21, 2012. I still haven’t figured out if that was a good thing or not. I think it helps that they do not share the same date, but it definitely would have been better if the call had not come on March 20th.
Carol Elizabeth WILLAMS SCHROEDER LAKEY ~ Christmas at the red house at 17244 Montgall in the early 1970s
Basically, the month of March is just SO full of birthdays and anniversaries of death of some of my closest family members. Some years are MUCH better than others and some definitely are not. This year is pretty much right down the middle other than the realization that it has been 30 years since I lost my mom and 5 years since I lost my mom-in-love. It kind of helped when I realized that last week would have been my grandpa’s 95th birthday. There was some sadness over losing him much sooner than I would have liked, but it was a good day of remembering some of the great times we shared. You can read about My Grandpa Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr., too.
March 20, 1987
I was in my freshman year of college. It started out like any other Friday on campus. During one of my morning classes, however, I suddenly doubled-over in severe pain. I had to leave and go to a doctor. By the time I arrived there, the pain was gone and we could not figure out what was wrong.
I also had something suddenly come over my the weekend before. I was suddenly extremely sad and quite inconsolable. I wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong, but kept thinking about my mom. I couldn’t reach her at home, because she was at the KC Opry my uncle owned. I made a quick call there and was assured that my mom was ok and working, but didn’t have time to talk (obviously… it was always busy around that time). After my mom’s death, I was informed by my grandma that Mom had passed out later that night. She wasn’t breathing, but then suddenly “woke up” and everything was fine.
I talked to her on the phone that week in between. She was a bit scatter-brained which definitely was unusual. She was repeating things, forgetting what she sent in my most recent care package (I received about one a week.) Her last one was actually about double the size, too. I believe that she knew something was wrong. (Remember that she also gave Grandma her birthday pie a week early, too.)
My mom Carol and I believe Donald SCHROEDER (my father at the time of my birth)
Anyway, on March 20 after going to the doctor I stopped by the mail pick up on campus. I received a letter that day from the US Navy. I had sent off a request for information for Donald SCHROEDER, the man I believed was my biological father. I was never told that Jack LAKEY was not my father, but I unexpectedly found out when I was 11 or 12 and also remember the judge from when I was adopted when I was probably about 5 years old. I wasn’t supposed to know and my mom went to the grave with that secret as well as the one that my biological father is likely someone else that nobody else knows of his name.
This letter actually helped and the timing was just right. I felt reassured that day (after I found out that my mom had passed away) that I still had one biological parent alive and that I was going to be able to find him. I didn’t feel as much of an orphan because of this letter.
I hung around outside (not returning to my dorm room) thinking about how this information could possibly change a lot of things and dreamed about what he was like until time for Symphonic Band at 4:10. As soon as I arrived in the band room, I was told by my band director that I had an important call in the office. That was weird! I also saw a strange look on his face as well as the face of the secretary. They knew.
I was told that I had an important message to call home as soon as possible. When I called, my younger sister answered. She was telling me that I needed to come home as soon as possible, but would not tell me why. It was just an emergency. I told her that she had to tell me what was going on. She then blurted it out in anguish and I soon joined her. The secretary was then talking to someone else that was at our home. All I could say repeatedly was that No, it wasn’t true and I wanted to know how.
I wasn’t told how, what happened, when, etc. I got my boyfriend at the time to drive me the several hours home…. all the while with my imagination trying to figure out all of the possibilities. That definitely did not help!
I couldn’t figure out how she could have died since she wasn’t sick… as far as we knew. She smoked a lot and didn’t like going to the doctor even though she was a nurse (by then substitute school nurse and Girl Scout camp nurse).
It also didn’t help that my boyfriend at the time got us good and lost on the way home, too. He later became my first husband, mostly because of my mom’s death. He had already asked me to marry him, but I had said that we needed to wait until after graduation. Because of things in the home, I told him on that ride that I would marry him, but it had to be right after the semester was over, because I couldn’t go back and live in that home. It wasn’t simply because my mom passed away there (which I later found out), but because of other dysfunction.
Looking back, I could have easily moved in for the summers with my grandma or probably even one of my mom’s best friends. Those scenarios never crossed my mind. By the time that we arrived in Belton, he was my fiance.
I found out after I arrived that she suddenly passed away in the kitchen probably about the same time I doubled over in class on the other side of the state. I have no idea what was going on, but my grandma and I and a few others in our family apparently have done this from time to time with significant others.
They did not do an autopsy. I don’t know why this wasn’t required. They told us that it likely was a “heart attack that triggered a stroke”. Since then, my sister and I have wondered several times if it was actually something else. It would definitely help us, her biological daughters, know potential health problems we may have inherited.
The Visitation and Funeral
My mom on July 4th. That look is because I was going to be in REAL trouble for taking her picture (which she usually avoided at ALL costs). This would have been in the early 1980s.
The night of the Visitation was a rainy one. The funeral had been planned for the next day at the funeral home. There were SO many people who came to the visitation and were even standing out in the rain waiting in an extremely long line just to come support us and attend the visitation/viewing. The visitation lasted much longer than planned, too, in order for everyone to get in. The people who worked at the funeral home decided that it was obvious that they would not be able to hold everyone who would likely come in their funeral home. They arranged for the funeral to be moved to a big church in town on the next day.
It was surprising and humbling to see everyone who was there to support our family and loved my mom. She was one who never knew a stranger and had been involved in various things like being a Girl Scout leader, camp nurse for years, PTA President several years, etc, etc… She was a LPN, but was mostly a stay-at-home-mom from the time that she married Jack LAKEY in 1971.
Camp Prairie Schooner Staff ~ This was our first year there. My mom, Carol aka Stitches, was the camp nurse for several summers and I was the first official “Trading Post Clerk”. I wasn’t paid until the next year (or the one after that). My mom is in the back and 5th from the left. My camp name was Gopher and I am the last one on the right in the second row.
The church was quite full the next day. If you really know me, you know that I do NOT like speaking in front of people. I try to avoid it at almost any cost. There was a letter written about my mom and how much of a difference she had made. It was from one of the teachers at one of the local schools. All of the teachers from Hillcrest Elementary (mainly) who really wanted to come to the funeral could not, because there were only so many substitutes available. There were THAT many who were really close to my mom.
The letter was amazing! Someone mentioned that it needed to be read at my mom’s funeral. I immediately said that I would read it. I surprisingly held it together and evidently did a really good job of reading this letter in front of everyone. Of course, as soon as I got back to my seat, I pretty much lost it. I am still to this day, surprised that I could do it and so thankful for that teacher’s letter as well as honored to have the opportunity to do that for my mom on that day.
I was just 19, but I remember a lot of this like it was just yesterday. It is strange being 9 years older than my mom ever was. I cannot imagine my mom being 70 years old. WOW! She will always be 40 in my eyes.
Important Dates and Details
Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS was born on March 4, 1947, to Carlton Nathanial WILLAMS (March 16, 1922 – July 15, 1991) and Ruby Irene PORTER WILLAMS (March 24, 1928 – May 13, 2010) in Humansville, Polk County, Missouri.
Carol had three full biological siblings and two adopted siblings.
Carol married Donald Irvin SCHROEDER (May 7, 1944 – probably still living) on January 6, 1968, in Kansas City, Missouri.
I was born just over a month later in Independence, Missouri, on February 8, 1968. From the time that I was 11 or 12, I had believed that Donald SCHROEDER was my biological father. Now, I do not believe that he is my biological father even though I look a lot like him. He told me in 1987 that he probably was not my biological father and my grandma later told me that they did not know each other until after I was conceived. I have only talked to Donald twice in 1987. I have been told that my biological father was 6’7″, had red hair, and drove a motorcycle. I believe that he was or at least looked Irish. Things my mom said as well as my grandma’s impression was that he was very Irish. I need to do the DNA testing so I might find out.
I believe that Carol and Donald divorced in late 1970. It could have been any time from August 1968 to January 1971.
Carol married Jack Fredrick LAKEY, Sr. (February 27, 1927 – October 17, 2003) on January 27, 1971, in Kansas City, Missouri. My sister was born about that time and her biological father was Jack.
My mom passed away suddenly at our home on Chestnut Avenue in Belton, Missouri at 40 years and 16 days old. She was buried on March 24, 1987, at the Belton Cemetary.
If my mom was still alive, she would have 4 biological grandchildren, several step grandchildren and several step great-grandchildren.
The last picture of my mom and me together. This was at my high school graduation in May 1986.
I miss you terribly Mommy! You left us WAY too soon! ♥
You can read my dedication of the poem “She Is Gone” to my mom, grandma, and mom-in-love here.