Sunday, January 13, 2013

In Thoughts, Prayers, and Memory


Dorothy Pearl (Freitag) Bilyeu 

My almost 97 year old mother-in-law, Dorothy, began her journey into a new world and a new consciousness, last week during the early morning hours of January 8th.
Dorothy was born and married into two Oregon Trail pioneer families. She was one of 9 children and learned to wash dishes as soon as she was able to stand on an apple crate, to peel potatoes as soon as she could hold a knife, and to cook, and clean at an age when most children are outside playing and having fun. 

Dorothy attended school through the 10th grade but had the intelligence, and love of learning beyond her years. She taught herself to cook, to sew, to quilt, to crochet, to knit, and to do embroidery.  She met her husband, Orval as he went by her school bus stop each day, and he quickly decided this was the little gal that he wanted to marry. Dorothy was only 15 that December, but going on 16 in January, so she needed her parent’s legal permission to marry at such a young age. Her parents gave it, liking Orval, and trusting him to take good care of her.   

Orval and Dorothy were married on December 30, 1930 and shared a long and happy life together. Married for 57 years, they had four 4 sons together, living through the hard, and challenging time of the Great Depression raising each of the boys through a lot of illnesses, accidents, and other challenges.  Dorothy was a very hard worker. She did fieldwork in hop and berry fields, worked at the Wilson’s Chicken Hatchery and for Stayton Canning.  Dorothy learned to make do with what she had, and do the best with anything else that she was given.  

When she was first married and especially during the Depression, she bleached flour sacks and cut them apart for fabric. She made all of her boy’s baby night gowns and little embroidery trimmed shirts, their little short overalls, and her own crisp curtains ,and embroidered and quilted bed quilts.  She was an excellent cook, a particular housekeeper, and was always dressed in coordinated outfits that she usually made herself. 

Together, Orval and Dorothy raised their boys with a love of the outdoors…and with gardening… whether it was her beautiful flowers or the many vegetables they grew for canning…with swimming up the North Fork, and camping along the Metolius River, almost every weekend.  Dorothy and Orval were proud of their boys and all that they did, and accomplished. 

Dorothy was known for clipping out newspaper articles about almost anyone she knew, but mostly for any mention of her boys, or even her daughter in laws, or the grandkids, and then saving them in big photo albums, and scrapbooks. Later, those albums were taken apart and shared between her boys and their families. She may not always have been able to say how much she loved us, or just how proud she truly was of everyone in her family, but all that she did for us, clipping articles, saving photos, and even making us her famous potato salad,  showed us that deep down inside, she really was.  

When Dorothy and Orval lost their firstborn son, Bill,  at the age of 53 to cancer in 1987, they were devastated. Bill had survived going overseas and serving in the Korean War.  He had worked so hard all of his life to do the best he could for his wife and children and yes, even his mom. Over and over all they could say was that it ‘just wasn’t natural, it just wasn’t natural’ that Bill died before either of them. I know for sure that it truly broke Orval’s heart because he, himself, didn’t last very long after that sad loss. Orval passed away on November 17, 1987. 

He lived to see all 12 of his grandchildren born, and several of the great-grandchildren, that followed, as well. Dorothy’s life after the passing of Orval, was a hard one. She missed him terribly and was lonely even with all of the rest of her family left to comfort her. She met a very nice widower, and he was a dear companion for the second chapter of her life. She shared 17 happy years with Bruce in his house in Stayton, a house that she quickly made into a loving home. After Bruce’s death, Dorothy lived in their home for as long as she could and valued the friendship of her daytime helper, and good friends.

Eventually, we all found that it was time for outside help and moved her to Salem to a small care home near us. She missed her own home, terribly, she missed having all of her own things instead of just a few, and never really ever adjusted to living in one small room no matter how pretty it was, or nice it might really have been. She may not have been able to tell most of us just how grateful she was for our visits, there. But she was.

I used to blow her kisses when I left her care home each day, and she always smiled, and sometimes even laughed out loud, and a few times she even blew them back. When I told Dorothy that I had written a long speech about her for later on, and what she would most like to be remembered for, she replied:  "That's for you to say!"  And so, Dorothy..I did.

I gave a ten minute eulogy at her Funeral Service yesterday, on Saturday, January 12, 2013. Some of that is shared with you, here today, a lot more shared with family and friends at her service.  Even at almost 97, she looked beautiful in the carefully chosen outfit that I selected. And she was completely beautiful.... from her peach blouse with cut-work, embroidery, and beaded pearl collar...by the addition of a pearl necklace, pearl and rhinestone earrings, and a beautiful lacy hanky peeking from the pocket of her velvet blazer....and hidden within that pocket a photo of her beloved husband and father of her four sons. I share this, because it was so very, very important to her that she look nice for her own funeral.

Dorothy is survived by three sons and their wives, 12 granddchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren.

We love you, Dorothy, just as you were. And we will miss you.... always and forever.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska and all of her AAQI Quilting. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!

34 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute! I know you will miss her.

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  2. A wonderful tribute, Michele. Enjoy all your memories!

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  3. My thoughts to you. Sounds like Dorothy led such an interesting and full life. Lucky lady.

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  4. I just read you tribute to Dorothy and it made me cry. The timing was special for me because my wife and I just returned from Ohio late last night were I gave the eulogy for my friend Don of 35 years at his Home Going Celebration. Don like Dorothy was a child of God and touched many lives. Don's wife Carol knew that I loved and collected quilts. As I left Carol's home she called me to a private side room and told me she had something for me. I pulled out of a pillow case a quilt, but not just any quilt. This pine burr quilt was cut out by Don's mother in Wise Virginia many years ago, but she never finished it. It was stored in a box until 1997 when ladies from the Chapel Methodist Church in Madison Ohio pieced the top and hand quilted it. I have always enjoyed the idea of a multi generational quilt and I am blessed to have one from dear friends. life takes such special meaning when friends touch the lives of others. Peace be with you and be with God.
    Tom backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/

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  5. Blessings on you, Michele, for being the kind daughter-in-law any mother would love. You are the rock of many people's lives. Take special care of yourself.

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  6. what a lovely tribute, Michele.I'm sending thoughts and prayers your way as your mourn your MIL.

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  7. Your MIL was an amazing woman. I think you are too, she was blessed to have you for a DIL, I have a DIL like you and know what a treasure you are. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  8. The journey certainly isn't easy, but so worth it. Take care of yourself, as well as you take care of those around you. Kindly thoughts, prayers, and lots of positive karma are there for you.

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  9. Sorry for the loss of your mother-in law, but so glad she was such a positive influence on you and all around her for so many years.

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  10. Michele, what a lovely tribute. You and your family will be in my prayers during these sad days. Blessings

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  11. What a beautiful post and great tribute to someone you clearly loved and admired. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Michele.

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  12. Michele, a lovely tribute to your mother in law. May she rest in peace and hope you hold strong.

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  13. Michele, what a loving tribute to your mother-in-love. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Hugs

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  14. What a lovely tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss. My heart and prayers are with you. Hugs.

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  15. You have written such a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. How lucky she was to have you in her life, especially during these last few months.

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  16. What a beautiful lady! Thank you for sharing Dorothy with all of us. She sounds like a rare jewel. :) God bless your family in their time of mourning and loss.

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  17. Such wonderful words. What a legacy to leave behind.

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  18. Its a beautiful tribute Michele, and she will at last be reunited mith her beloved Orval and son Bill. Take good care x

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  19. What a beautiful and loving tribute, Michele. We should all be so blessed to have someone as thoughtful as you to be so lovingly kind to us. :) Hugs, dear friend

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  20. Lovely story and lovely women, thks for sharing it with us...<3

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  21. Beautiful tribute. I'm touched. Blessings to the family for their loss and their joy that Dorothy has moved on to a better place. I'm so moved by her ability to stay with her life and keep it growing and flourishing. Thank you for sharing.

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  22. OMGoodness...this is so beautiful. I agree with the first sentence. She's begun a journey into a new world and you were just blessed that she decided to stay in this one for so long...and that you got to love her.

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  23. As always Michele,you have written a touching piece filled with love for a woman who you obviously enjoyed a loving caring relationship. What more can one ask for than be given such a loving tribute by a loved one. Thanks for sharing her wonderful story so eloquently.
    My condolences to you and your loved ones. Dorothy was well loved and will be missed by you all.
    With warmest regards and a big Cyber hug,
    Anna

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  24. she was so lucky to have you in her life and I know she was thankful for all you did for her-what a moving and lovely tribute to a dear family member gone from this earth. She of course lives on with you and all her children and theirs, and so on...I am glad you were able to do this for her. hugs Cher

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  25. Your mother-in-law was an amazing person. Your words paint a beautiful picture of a special woman. You are very much like her in your giving ways. My prayers are with you and your family.

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  26. What a moving tribute you have given to a lovely lady. She must have been so proud of you all.

    God Bless!

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  27. A beautiful compliment to your mother-in-law. You were both blessed to have each other.

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  28. I'm so moved by your eulogy for your MIL. What a blessing that we have such women in the world. I'm including you in that too BTW.

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  29. Looks like 2013 will be a year of many transitions for you. Praying for you and your husband today as you continue to share memories of your mother-in-law. Rita

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  30. How wonderful that you were blessed to have this special woman in your lives for so long. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. May God give you the strength to deal with her loss and fill your hearts with with peace.

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  31. He leido tu escrito a Dorothy, y se me han llenado los ojos de lágrimas, es hermoso, y hay mucho amor. El 24 de octubre del año pasado he perdido a mi padre, mi gran amor, estabamos tan unidos, tenía 88 años, le siento siempre a mi lado, pero le echo mucho de menos. Un beso y un saludo.

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  32. Thank you for your beautiful comment. I lost my own father two years ago so I know that sadness, too.Gracias por tu comentario hermoso. Perdí a mi padre hace dos años, así que sé que la tristeza también.

    Un beso y un saludo.

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  33. Michele,

    What a beautiful tribute! You were so fortunate to have her in your life for so long and she was equally fortunate to have such a caring daughter in law.
    Hugs,
    Sujata

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  34. I just found the tribute to your MIL. It is beautiful. You are blessed to have had a wonderful person in your life. I'm glad you realized what a blessing you had while she was alive. Many people don't realize what a gem they had until it is gone.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.