Mina Storer’s next to last choices, her next to last decisions…was that how newly created widows thought? When some decisions had already been made for her, what would happen next? First, there were the grief and the shock of Wash’s sudden death. Second, there were widow’s weeds to place like a mantle over her shoulders. Third, there were family members to rally, consult, and console. How was the 74 year old farm wife expected to continue on her own?
Mina’s husband, Wash, had been ill for several years due to emphysema. It came from harvesting crops, and the small grain dust that invaded his lungs. Doctors could offer no relief, and suffering from the hardship of struggling for breaths had worsened Wash’s will to fight this condition. Evidently, he made a secret plan that would help himself and his wife. No one knew of the secret. The plan would unfold in time.
The spring of 1946 had brought visitors to the farm. Their son Leslie and his family were visiting from sunny California. Three of their eight children had moved off the farm when they reached adulthood. California was touted as the place to live with year-round warm weather and better jobs. Leslie had urged his parents to relocate, but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Osborne County, Kansas, was Wash and Mina’s home…they would not leave their farm.
During the last week of the visit, Wash put his plan into action. One morning when the rest of the family was out of the house, he left this Earth to find peace in the next life. He knew that without him by her side, Mina would chose to leave with son Leslie. Maybe with three of her children with her in California, she could have warmth and sunshine in her final years.
And so, Mina made her next to last decision. She would go to California to live with three of her children. The remaining five would care for the farm and make it prosper. Sometimes, newly created widows find comfort and solace in those next to last decisions…maybe.
Postscript: Mina (Sarah Almina Nickel) and Wash (Washington Irving) Storer were my great grandparents. I never met them, and I have only two pictures of them. Mina lived for 11 years with her daughter Hattie in Fullerton, California. She died peacefully in her sleep after which she reunited with her beloved Wash.