Transitions: The Eighties and Nineties
Their last grandchild, Laurel Elizabeth, daughter of Craig and Kendra, was born on September 27th, 1981, in Colorado Springs, El Paso Co., Colorado. Fortunately as things tum out, Ken and Marian were able to travel together to Colorado to see their last grandchild.
Kenneth was diagnosed with a form of leukemia within the next year. He was hospitalized in Mason City, and he was later transferred to a Mayo hospital in Rochester, Olmsted Co., Minnesota. Both Kenneth L. and Craig had returned home to be with him. He died suddenly and unexpectedly early in the morning on June 8th, 1982, from a pulmonary embolism resulting from a blood clot which had developed in his leg. Although it was not likely that he would have lived too long, he seemed quite well when we left him the previous evening. He had had a rough night the night before, likely because of some side effects of his medicines. I had stayed with him the night before his death helping out where I could and keeping him oriented. My brother Ken had suggested that he stay with his father the night he died, but dad seemed to be doing well. I suggested that there was no need so we all came back to Mason City. As things turned out, I have regretted that suggestion ever since.
Following a service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Mason City, he was buried in Elmwood St. Joseph Cemetery also in Mason City, Iowa. Kenneth joked that the gravesite was chosen so that he could overlook the competition, a Piggly Wiggly Supermarket in a shopping center adjacent to the cemetery.
He received the Masonic rites at the time of his funeral. Prior to the funeral a representative of the Masons came to the house to express condolences to Marian, but first he made sure that Kenneth had paid his dues to the organization so that he could be recognized/adorned with Masonic paraphernalia at the funeral home. I do not remember my father ever making a big deal about belonging to the Masons or ever attending a meeting, but for some reason he had kept up with his dues payments. Bothering a widow at such a time about dues payment was not a good advertisement for the organization. Marian was one to harbor a grudge.
At the funeral home, Marian slipped a ring that my father had kept since before their marriage into his coat pocket. The ring was obviously for a woman, but even my mother did not know anything more about the ring. We speculated that he had purchased it for a woman some time before he met my mother and had given or tried to give it to her. It apparently meant something to him for him to have kept it all those years. I am proud of my mother for giving the ring back to him at the time he died when she could very easily have tossed it into the trash. It is likely that the woman was Fay Rundberg whose documented relationship with Kenneth was documented earlier in the section about Kenneth's early adult years.
Marian continued to live in Mason City in the house at 1143 Crestmore Way and traveled from time to time to visit her sons and their families. She was especially happy when they lived near each other in the Washington, D.C., area--Kenneth in Great Falls, Virginia, and Craig in Potomac, Montgomery Co., Maryland. This simplified things and meant that she could see both families and that the two families could have more frequent contact with each other.
When she was not visiting her sons, she would often visit her sister, Mildred Janasak, in Antigo, Wisconsin. The two of them were never at a loss for conversation and as they put it, "giggled like school girls". Mildred and Marian exchanged visits regularly, but Marian always liked to go to Antigo. Although she had lived in Iowa for over fifty years, her heart never seemed to have left Wisconsin. She would remark when crossing the Wisconsin border that the air somehow smelled better.
Marian sold the Buick LaSabre she had to Donald Janasak, one of her nephews, and bought a 1986 Oldsmobile 88. She needed the power seat adjusted so that it was as far forward as possible and at its greatest height.
The nineties continued with more of life's transitions.
Craig and his family moved from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis in August 1990, and Marian decided that she had had enough of trying to keep up her house during all of the seasons. · The washer and dryer were in the basement, the house needed painting from time to time, and the yard and driveway required maintenance. She sold her house for a little over $50,000 and moved to a seniors' high-rise, Ridge Pointe, Minnetonka, Minnesota, in August of 1991.
She bought a Ford Taurus in 1992--again with the power driver's seat. Driving around the Minneapolis area was becoming difficult for her, though she could drive to Craig's house, to the doctor, to the grocery store, and to the pharmacy. More complex travel plans, however, usually meant riding with Craig or Kendra. Having lived in smaller towns all of her life, she must have struggled with the traffic congestion and the speed of vehicles around her.
In 1994 two of Marian's granddaughters married. Karen Lynn married James Alton Wiseman on September 17th, in Wilmington, New Hanover Co., North Carolina. Megan Elissa married Scott David Subeck on December 17th, in Chicago, Illinois. Marian, however, was not able to attend either wedding because of failing health, and she was greatly disappointed. She did watch the video of Karen's wedding and did see pictures from Megan's ceremony.
At about this time, she began to complain of increasing fatigue, but the initial tests revealed nothing amiss until about May 1993. At that time she was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Marian was hospitalized in December 1993 after a fall in her apartment when she could not get back up. It quickly became clear that she could not live independently, and she was placed at Hillcrest Health Care, Minnetonka, Minnesota, just a few miles from Craig's house. While attempting rehabilitation with the idea of moving back to her apartment, her leukemia became worse, and Marian was given chemotherapy early in 1994. She never seemed to recover, and she became a permanent resident of Hillcrest in the spring of 1994. Dementia developed. Her gradual decline became more rapid in the six weeks prior to her death on June 1st, 1996. Kenneth L. was present with her when she died.*
Funeral services were held at St. John's in Mason City with burial at Elmwood next to her husband. Both sons and all of her grandchildren were able to attend. It is an interesting coincidence that the name of both the cemetery in which she was buried and her father's cemetery is 'Elmwood'.
*As listed on the certificate of death, the immediate causes of death were cor pulmonale, restrictive lung disease, and severe osteoporosis and kyphosis. Other significant conditions noted were chronic lymphocytic leukemia and thrombocytopenia. Alzheimer's disease was not listed.