Ellen F. (Nedland) Silbaugh - Mother's Day - In Memoriam - 2013
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 17:37
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Mother, God mercifully took you to heaven on October 21st 2007, after a weary and exhausting six year battle and struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
When you finally lost the battle and left us at 98 years, you had outlived three husbands.
I was born during the beginning of the "Great Depression" at a time when you were a young lady of 19. As my childhood progressed into high school, WWII was just beginning. The "Great Depression" was ended by the nationwide mobilization and huge government spending with defense industry jobs or military service for every able bodied man.
Those early depression years were tough years for you. I never met my biological father (Royce Candler) who chose to desert his duties as husband and father before I was born. You went through the pains of my childbirth and my infant years alone.
My first stepfather (Percy Berg - married August 1932) during my pre-school and grade school years was an alcoholic, a heavy smoker and a constant challenge to your ability to run a home. I remember the time when you had saved a little money which he found and quickly "blew" it in a single night of drinking. He returned home in the early morning hours, with no money and falling down drunk. This loss was a terrible blow to you. Because of his drinking and heavy smoking he suffered an early death (Dec 1942) due to cancer, leaving you alone to handle the farm. At the time of his death I had just finished grade school.
During my High School years you met Tom, (Tom Silbaugh) a kindly hard working man who finally gave you the good life you deserved. It was Tom in later years who introduced me to June Rolstad, the lady who became my wife of 56 years and the love and light of my life. June also fell victim to Alzheimer's and passed on almost 1 year to the day from the day you left us.
In those early years of my life we were the poor family in the rural Rice Lake neighborhood in which we lived. Nevertheless; you were able to give me a normal childhood. You encouraged reading and it became my favorite pastime. You had a big garden and a few apple trees and you did a lot of home canning. Of course the old swimming hole and the old fishing hole did not cost money. Your objectives were to put food on the table and buy warm clothes for winter. Doctors were not affordable so you took care of sickness, aches and pains with your home remedies.
I still don’t know how you managed to buy me the two prized possessions of my early life. A Daisy air rifle for my 10th birthday and later a bike for my 12th birthday. Even though the bike was a used bike that you bought from Montgomery Wards in Rice Lake, it certainly gave me a lot of pleasure and made me feel on par with most of my friends.
It must have taken a lot of budget juggling from the income of a small 20 acre 5 cow dairy farm. Our neighbors all ran farms of 80-120 acres with 10-15 milk cows. You had no horses or machinery to work the fields. The neighbors did it for you in exchange for labor. Most months you did little more than break even.
I also recall the year in which the December income for the milk sold to the Rice Lake Creamery was only one dollar. Yet, to me, that Christmas was as nice as any other year. Singing the old Christmas Hymns was free and has provided a lifelong traditional joy and pleasure.
There was no electricity or refrigeration. Cooking and heating was done by wood stoves. Light was from a kerosene lamp. The outside unheated toilet was enough to make a Spartan sob on sub zero winter days.
Friends presented you with a farm dog as a gift and it soon became my dog. He was a combination Collie and Shepard and being an only child, he became my buddy. Dog food was not affordable but he got along just fine on scraps and left over's from the family meals. Some of my most pleasant times were roaming the woodlands with my dog and my trusty air rifle.
When I look back at those times, I marvel at how much you accomplished with so little. I know that you made many sacrifices to give me a good life. You were the heart and strength of the family. You effectively shielded me from the hardships of the great depression and you did it alone. You did it all with out any complaint, with a cheerful disposition and a good sense of humor. You always set a good example.
Mother, you taught me my first bedtime prayer. I was only about 4-5 years old at the time and we were temporarily living in a house that was then (1933) considered to be on East Main Street near the dam. Now that address is 1151 East LsSalle Avenue on the NE corner with 12th Street. It was then owned an occupied by Percy's mother Etta Berg. It was a beautiful two story grey stucco house with an open front porch and dormer style upstairs windows....you would put me to bed or a nap in a 2nd story bedroom and would recite this prayer:
“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my Soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake…
I pray the Lord my Soul to Take.”
Although I did not know at the time, I now find out that this little prayer originated in the 18th Century and came from the famous “New England Primer.”
You believed in God, honesty, and moral values coupled with a strong work ethic. You saw to it that I had my confirmation instruction in a small Swedish Lutheran Church in Rice Lake. The only childhood memories that I can remember were those of happy years and happy times. You were my moral compass in those early years. Whatever have been my life’s accomplishments, I owe much of it to you. My failures are my own.
Your grandchildren also have happy memories of you. Let me recount a few:
Julie remembers - "I think of the funny faces you used to make - the fun times going fishing on your lake - how exciting it was when you came to visit on Christmas with the car trunk loaded with Christmas of gifts - as a kid it seemed like so much - the peanut cans full of fudge - the big tight hugs and kisses on the cheek - your sense of humor to the end."
Susan remembers - "One of my favorite memories of you would be when you lived in the house on the lake. When I was very young, you would take me down the dirt road that you lived off of and we would look for turtles. When we found them, we would put them in a large coffee can and bring them back to the house. Later, it was fishing on the lake. Still like to fish now when I get the chance."
David remembers - "my fondest memory was talking with you on a later in life birthday, speaking to you of all of the things you must have experienced during your lifetime. From the flapper era, the great depression, and two big wars. You saw and experienced a lot. I don't think you ever forgot life's experiences. You lived through difficult times but had a good life too; evident in your smile and optimistic outlook."
David and Dan remembered - "your house on the lake. Lots of wild strawberries on the dirt road to the house...we would pick them and we would bring them to you. You would wash them, help us take the green tops off and we would eat them either with cream and sugar or on breakfast cereal."
Dan remembers - "You were inquisitive, had a positive attitude, great sense of humor, and genuinely accepted and was happy with life no matter if you were married, living alone or in a nursing home...you were always grateful for visits and never judgmental about length of time between visits."
THANK YOU MOTHER - THANK YOU GRANDMA - WE ALL LOVE YOU and MISS YOU!
Stan and the Grandchildren
(Originally Published in the Barron News-Shield, Weekly Edition 7 May 2008 for Mother’s Day, Sunday May 11th, 2008. Republished for Mother's Day 2009. Revised and updated with Grandchildren's memories for publication on Mother's Day 2010. Slightly revised and republished in the Barron News-Shield on 4 May 2011 for Mother's Day 2011. Slightly revised and updated in 2012 for publication in the Barron News-Shield on 9 May 2012 for Mother's Day May 13th, 2012. Slightly revised and updated in 2013 for publication in the Barron News-Shield on 8 May 2013 for Mother's Day 2013.)
Tara P. Lodzinski - Kamloops, British Columbia - (14 December 2012): "Very nice tribute to a remarkable woman."
Susan Day - Dayton, Ohio - (14 December 2012): "This is just beautifuly written, Stanton. Your Mother had a beautiful smile and what an interesting life she lived. I see where you get your strength."
Merideth Sindel - Sydney, Australia - (14 December 2012): "That's a lovely tribute to your mother. I have a similar piece for my mother somewhere. It is a very important thing the remember those who lived through the times that were hell on earth and gave us everything."
Amy Stiel Almas - Waterford, Michigan - (11 May 2013): "Beautiful."
Note: The funeral notice as published in the local newspapers at the time of Ellen F. Silbaugh's passing along with one of the funeral service handouts can be viewed by clicking on the below link: