Friday, February 24, 2012

91 and Counting.........

     Mother will turn 91 on March 1. We will celebrate her birthday and Brent's 35th birthday tomorrow. Since it wasn't Leap Year, Brent missed his grandma's birthday by a day. But right now, my focus is on Mother. 

     Carol Janice Culver was born March 1, 1921 spending most of her first 42 years of her life in tiny Tekonsha, Michigan. She graduated at the top of her class in Tekonsha  and attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI (known then as Western State Teacher's College) where, again, she had the "highest standing in the 1938 graduating class".  Her "claim to fame" is that she was among a group of 7 who were the first "student teachers" to ever go off campus to live and teach. The newspaper headlines read: WSTC Students to Teach In Novel Educational Project. (This type of "project" had only happened in California.)

     These students were "assigned to a one-room school in one of these counties to teach full-time during the next six weeks. Not only will these students do full-time teaching, but each will live in the community to which he or she has been assigned, become as familiar with it as possible, and actually participate in church, club, Grange, and PTA activities. They will be required to spend their weekends there and will live in homes in the respective communities. They will teach all subject matter and every grade level in the school."  (From the Kalamazoo Gazette)

     A few years later, she married my dad, Kenneth A Walbeck and they began their family.
My Grandma Grace, Great-Grandpa Randall, Barry and Mother

Music and family have always been a huge part of Mother's life. If there was music in our house growing up, it was because Mother was sitting on the high metal stool as her fingers flew over the keyboard. She used music to  accompany people, choir rehearsals, and such but to play for fun, Mother didn't need music! Her music was in her head and in her soul. She will tell you that she doesn't have perfect pitch but when she is yelling from two rooms away that "it should be an F# in your left hand...not an F natural", I tend to refer to that as 'perfect pitch'.

There was always a large stack of Etude magazines on top of the piano. Here, Paula gets ready to "perform".

Mother is resting with Debra on her lap.

Well, here is the entire Walbeck clan in our Tekonsha backyard. Just looking at this photo, I can smell those huge, gorgeous lilac bushes that we are standing in front of. 

This is the most favorite photo of my parents that I have. My sister, Paula, happens to be in it since we were walking home from the elementary school after her Kindergarten graduation. My mother is beautiful! She was dressed to perfection down to the white gloves and little hat.
See that camera around my dad's neck? My love of photography is all his fault! Now, I'm wondering who took this picture?

Mother spent a lot of time in the kitchen. If I recall, she wasn't usually smiling. She was a busy mama!!!  Oh! Does this bring back memories!

Time to fast forward. Such a busy life with her kids and a husband to raise, church music responsibilities for more years than you can count (she finally "retired" from church pianist in the last few months!) and Grand Organist/pianist for three OES (Order of Eastern Star) organizations. Few people can do what my mother does, though she would poo-poo this idea very quickly,  and she has used these gifts to make people smile, dance, sing and clap since she was a youngster. Her "1 year of piano lessons taught her to read music" she took it from there.

Grandma Carol has 11 grandkids, 11 great-grandkids and 2 great-great grandkids. In this photo, Great-Grandma Carol loves on Layla.

It was fun to get the family together for Mother's birthday not too long ago.  Here is one of our rare photos taken together. 

This was taken at  Birchwood Methodist Church in Battle Creek on Mother's 90th birthday. Several family members "appeared" and it really made the day extra special.
This year, we promised that we would not buy her gifts so this blog is my gift to her. (I will be buying her a gift for her 100th birthday even if she gets mad at me!!!)  She has been a gift to me and I love and appreciate her very much. She is my friend.  Happy, happy 91st Mother!

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