Mom: A Brief Biography

Mom, 3 yrs. old, 1940

My mother, Ruth Joanne Hall was born 1937 in Wadena, Minnesota. She was the oldest of three children born into a middle-class family. She had in many ways an idyllic childhood — along with a successful father and nurturing mother, she was a Girl Scout, had a paper route, sang in the church choir and yes, she even wore bobby socks and poodle skirts as a teenager. Mom graduated from high school in 1955.

Mom in 1959, age 21. On the back of this photo, in my dad's handwriting, it says: "She's Wonderful!"

After graduation, Mom completed secretary courses at the Minnesota School of Business, where she learned shorthand, dictation and other “cutting edge” office duties. Mom went on to work at IBM for five years where she was like a “Mad Men” secretary with cat eye glasses.  She loved her job.  She met my father during this time, they married in 1960 and my older sister soon came along in 1962. Mom stayed home after that, but her secretary training would prove beneficial throughout her life as she ran our household like a business. She had impressive organizational skills and balanced the checkbook down to the penny every month. (My dad benefited from this arrangement until it all came crashing down with my mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.)

My parents, 1959 -- channeling Ralph Lauren.

My parents had three children under four years old in 1966. It was only after having children of my own that I appreciated how difficult this must have been for my mom. Especially in those days without the modern conveniences we have now. I have vivid memories of my mom rinsing out cloth diapers, washing them in an old fashioned tub, running them through a “ringer,” and then hanging them on the line.

Marilyn, Joanne, and John -- 1968 I think.

When the three of us were grown and mostly out of the house, my mom began working part-time as an office assistant at a nearby company. She loved it and I’m sure she felt like she got part of her life back. She had about 20 years or so to rediscover herself, travel and spend time with her grandchildren before her Alzheimer’s diagnosis came in 2005 when she was 68.

The long and slow descent into the fog of Alzheimer’s is her journey now. Click Here to see what Stage she is in today. Her family is on that journey with her and as many of you know, it’s a long and challenging road.  It’s been called “The Long Goodbye” — I can’t think of a more perfect description for Alzheimer’s disease.

My parents, 2010

 

 

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Comments

  1. Laura Van Landingham says:

    I’m so glad you get to be with your mom on Mother’s day! Hugs and kisses to all of you. Blessings abound,
    Laura:)

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Thanks Laura, we are blessed. I hope to plant a small garden with my mom tomorrow. Happy Mother’s Day to YOU!

      • Tom H says:

        What a wonderful story about your Mom. I have known them for almost 35 years but most of what you have said is new to me. We wish both your Mom and your Dad all the best that can be. God bless you and all your family during these hard times.

        • Joanne Leonardis says:

          Thanks Tom. It was pretty tough keeping her bio under 500 words. There is so much more . . . . Thank you for your blessings. <3

  2. Barbara Anderson says:

    Beverly Miller was born June 1st 1934 in Ravenna Ohio .She had a wonderful brother and a wonderful Mother. She grew up in Ravenna Ohio. Beverly grauated high school in 1952. She attended collage in Ravenna Ohio. Beverly worked and retired from General Motors where she was a comp troller she loved her job. Beverly is a wonderful Mother and Grandmother.

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