When Gail Lost Her Mother – Flower Cards
My mother’s mother, Ruth McGhee, died of a heart attack at age 63. It must have been a great shock to my mother, to lose a parent when she herself was only 36. That happened over 50 years ago. Now I am older than my grandmother was at the time of her death.
Among the family papers that I now have are the small cards that were attached to the funeral flowers. Many years have passed but she kept them still. Dozens of people sent flowers. They came from individuals and groups and businesses and even towns.
My aunt Carol said these triggered some memories for her of her mother’s funeral. “My one outstanding memory is when we first came in to the church with Daddy just before the service began, and saw all the multitude of flowers. Daddy sagged, and with our arms around him, supporting him, with tears streaming down his face, he said ‘They . care. . . They . really . care.‘”
Some were from family who couldn’t attend the funeral. Bronze and white mums came from grandpa’s brother, Lealon and Alice McGhee in California, and their married children, Larry and Carolyn McGhee, and Barbara and Bob Fischer.
I wonder if I list the names from these cards, if someone related to them might find this post. Although most of my grandmother’s contemporaries are probably no longer alive, perhaps their descendants would search for their names. The groupings on the cards might indicate a relationship between the people. Perhaps they worked together or were related somehow or were neighbors that ordered flowers together. One card was from Susan Curry, Merle Harlan family, Harold Engle Family and Mr & Mrs. Charles Cochran.
On the backs of the cards, the funeral home staff wrote the kind of flowers sent. That’s for the convenience of the family in writing their thank-you cards. The area around the casket must have resembled my grandmother’s flower garden. There were bouquets of red and white carnations, salmon rose carnations, and pale pink carnations in a spray with a rose satin tie. One arrangement was daisies and glads and another was pink daisies and blue carnations.
The community of Tyro, where both my grandmother and grandfather grew up, sent an arrangement of wine carnations and yellow mums. Loren McGhee, my grandfather’s brother in Alturas, California, sent a spray of pink and white carnations. It was displayed on an easel at the funeral.
One card was members and friends of the Madison Christian Church where my grandparents attended. Friends from Eureka, KS (Lester Kidd, A.R. McAnacly, C.J. Kendley, Riley Hill, Leon Sander) sent orchid mums with wine-colored carnations.
My grandfather’s mother and brothers are represented on one card: Mother McGhee, Jesse & Dora, Roy and Viola, Bertha, Ethel & Chleo. (all McGhees except the last which is Davidson)
Names from the flower cards: R.J. Hill, Frank Castor, Bert Dunfield, A.R. McAnaby, Roy Van Burton, Raymond Ridgely, Lase Milan, Dick Wiggins, Archie Morton, R.A. Gravatt, Fred Zimmerman, Ronnie Barnes, M.J. Sprague, B.E. Forester, Lenard Raines, Jim Sears, Otey Bell, Ovie Hardesty of Emporia KS, (these names are all Mr. and Mrs.).
More names: Frank and Edith Gomez, Mr & Mrs. Junior Robinson, C.M. Aikman and family, Wanda & Butch – Emporia, KS, Jesse and Dora McGhee (grandpa’s brother), Earl Buster families (red carnations and lavender asters),
I think this group who sent carnations were friends of my mother (Mr. & Mrs. Leroy Eaton, Mr. & Mrs. Marie? Smart, Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Eaton, Mr. & Mrs. J.H. Swisher). Mom’s homemaker group sent flowers from El Dorado, KS (West Branch Ladies Aide).
I see family names like Sylvia Lour and family from Neodosha who sent an arrangement of asters. She was grandma’s older, half-sister. The son of another sister sent flowers from Colorado City, Texas (Albert Brock and family).
Another nephew, Everett Bolte and wife Ruth, sent flame glads from Blackwell, Oklahoma. Grandma’s sister Lucy Bolte, her son Delbert, daughter Velva Ruth and C.B. Price and Connie sent flowers from Winfield, KS. The A.L. Bolte family from Caldwell, KS sent a spray of flame gladiolius. I think that is Alonzo LeRoy Bolte, Lucy’s son. Mervin, Pauline and girls of Great Bend, KS sent a spray of orchid gladiolus. I think this is the Sheeks and Pauline is Lucy’s daughter.
Some of the flowers were potted plants like geraniums, yellow mums and lavender mums. I wonder if those were planted by the grave at the cemetery or if my grandfather planted them in the yard at the farmhouse.
Three of the cards represented my grandfather’s work:
- Phillips Petroleum Co. Eastern Kansas Division, Eureka KS
- Phillips Employees Maintenance, Well Service and Warehouse, Hamilton
- Glenn McCollough and South Area Pumpers, Carl Dobson, Marion Churchman
More groups of names from the flower cards:
- Jessie Williams, Albert Brock
- Treva & DeeWayne Paugh, Neita and Franklin Robbs, Nancy and Robert Courter, Sam and Shirley Davidson
- Mr & Mrs. Fred L. Brown, E.H. William, L.F. Brown, G. Anliker and children
- Roy Butchers, Roy Rutledges, Glenn Butchers, Albert Butchers, Opal Smith of Emporia KS (red roses)
- Mr. & Mrs. C.L. Martin, Mr. & Mrs. Glenn Jones, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Stafford, Mr. & Mrs. Tom Baysinger, Mr. & Mrs. Howard Martin (my father’s parents and siblings).
- Mrs. Eva Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Marvin Harlan and girls, Mr. & Mrs. Roy Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Dudley Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Ray Harlan, Mr. & Mrs. Cloide Hensley, Mrs. Davey, Mr. & Mrs. Harry Miller (Aunt Melba, mother’s sister’s family).
- Mr. & Mrs. Ardale Vining, Mr. & Mrs. Donald Vining, Mr. & Mrs. Milford Vining, Mr. & Mrs. John Birdwell, Mr. & Mrs. Leo Goatley (Ruth’s brother, Luther’s children).
- Ruth & Virgil Challis, Wanda & Wayne Brower, Hazel & Bill Van Ness, Bess & Myron Bolte, Roy & Edna Bolte, Don & Marilyn Nichols, Viola & Roy McGhee (the first 5 couples are children of Bessie Vining Bolte, grandma’s sister).
- Mr. & Mrs. Roy Cornelius, Mr. & Mrs. James Young, Mr. & Mrs. John Faylor, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Straub, Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Crabtree, Mr. & Mrs. Bill Hegemier, Mr Harold Beamont, Mr. & Mrs. Howard Martin (Mom’s brother-in-law), Mr. & Mrs. Dale Haney (Dad’s cousin), Mr. & Mrs. Jr. Holland (I think, related through the Martins). I’m guessing that most of these are Madison friends.
I’ll follow up in May with several more posts about Ruth McGhee (sympathy cards, photos of her life).