Archived Story

Take time to preserve your family history

Published 9:17am Sunday, January 12, 2014

Column: Preserving the Past, by Pat Mulso

Christmas and New Years have passed as well as my wedding anniversary and my birthday, and we are almost two weeks into 2014. We have had several funerals, both friends and family. This is always hard, but especially around the holidays as it brings the memories rushing back of that cold Dec. 31 morning in 1968 when I took the phone call saying that my dad had passed out or had a heart attack and what hospital should they take him to. I quickly told the caller what hospital and then called my mom at work to advise her where to meet the ambulance.

My mom got a ride to the hospital from a relative that worked where she did and headed to the hospital. About 15 minutes later a policeman arrived at our home. He asked if my mother was home, and I said no she is on the way to the hospital to meet my dad.

He said, “Does your mom have any relatives close by that you can call to be here when she gets home?” I said no, but my dad’s sister lives close by.

He said call her and ask her to come immediately. Because I was a minor he wouldn’t tell me that my dad had died before the ambulance arrived and had been taken to the morgue rather than the hospital, but I knew he had died, and I called my aunt Ethel at school where she worked and she came over right away. My mother called from the hospital a short time later and I told her to come home that a policeman was waiting to see her. They told my mom the news when she arrived, and shortly thereafter my dad’s other sister and her husband and his brother and his wife were all at our house.

Dad’s Christmas presents were still under the tree, but suddenly the holidays were over. Just the night before Dad and I had watched Perry Mason on late night TV after he got home from work at 11:30 p.m. He worked nights, but was going to work 7 to 11 a.m. the next day because of the holiday. He had not been feeling well, and I am sure it was heavy on his mind that the other individuals that had open heart surgery at the same time as him had all passed away already. When he had the surgery on Jan. 3, 1966, (on my 12th birthday) the surgeon told him that if he had not had the surgery he would not have lived two more weeks and that by having it he would probably live three years. He missed the three years by just three days. My dad never complained and even though he did not feel well, he thought he could make it through the work day since it was only four hours. He didn’t go up to bed that night, he slept on the couch because he said he didn’t feel good and would not sleep well and wanted my mom to be able to get a good night’s sleep as she had to work the next day. After Perry Mason was over he said, “You go to bed now and I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”

My oldest sister was expecting her first baby any day and my next older sister was living in Japan, as her husband was in the military. My older brother worked at the same place as my dad, he was 19, and then there was me and my younger sister, Deb, age 12.

The next few days were busy making the arrangements and contacting our extended family. My sister in Japan didn’t make it home in time for the funeral and my sister Sandy made it through the viewing on Friday night, but went into labor that night and my niece was born the morning of my Dad’s funeral.

My mom went to the hospital to see her new granddaughter before my dad’s funeral. She never ceased to amaze us at her calmness and self control. She was one special lady. All of her family was there on that extremely cold January day, and the bond between her and her family would never waiver.

As I sat through the funeral for her youngest sister just before Christmas there was a feeling of peace that now she was seeing her siblings again. There is only one sibling still living, my uncle Don, the youngest sibling, he just turned 80 on Jan. 4 and will soon be undergoing a new procedure to replace the aorta valve without open heart surgery this is the valve that my dad had replaced some 48 years ago.

The service for my aunt concluded with a poem that she asked one of her granddaughters to read, “I’m spending this Christmas with Jesus.” We never know when our lives on earth will end, but she was ready to be with Jesus. She had spent one last time with all of her family and they all knew her love for them.

Does your family know how you feel about them, about life or stories of your childhood? Don’t put off telling those you love how you feel or what is important to you. If you can’t say it, then write it down, but somehow preserve the thoughts and make it possible for those after you to know you. Traditions will bring warm memories for a lifetime.

With the new schedule at the museum, our regular hours being 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday we hope you will take the opportunity to work on your family history and preserve it for future generations. We are currently working on a schedule of events for 2014, and I will have those dates for you in my next article.

Happy New Year – may 2014 be a safe, healthy and happy new year!


Pat Mulso is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum in Albert Lea.