A Tribute to my Mom – Ila Hamilton

24 Apr

Cari, this is a story about your Great Grandmother Ila Hamilton, she was my Mom.  You met her twice during your very early years, once when you were a few months old, and again when you were 3 almost 4.  My Mom thought you were very special, and quite a lovely baby (don’t get the big head).  You are still lovely and you are indeed special.  During your 1st meeting with Mom you sat in her lap and did all the baby things that great grandmothers truly loved.  You smiled, you goo’d and giggled, you waved your little hands all about, and your eyes sparkled when you look at her.  She truly loved you.

Mom was born on February 12, 1927 in Lincoln County Kentucky.  She passed away on November 30, 2011, in Louisville Kentucky. Her maiden name was Ila Belle Williams.  And she absolutely hated the “Belle” aspect of her name.

She was raised on a farm in Waynesburg KY.  Mom attended elementary and high school in Eubank KY, and college at John Hopkins University, School of Nursing.  Mom was a nurse her entire professional career.  In all of our conversations when she spoke of working it was either as a nurse or as a kid working on the farm.  I have seen the farm she grew up on, I have worked on it a tiny bit, and I have spoken of it in other posts.  It was no picnic living and working on a farm in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  At one time I almost believed Mom when she said she had to walk up hill  going to school and coming from. She also rode to school on a horse-drawn sled (go look that up). As a farmer’s daughter mom had all the required chores a farm kid had, milking cows, plucking chickens, gathering eggs, picking all manner of wild fruits, cleaning the barn, weeding the vegetable patch, and chores I can’t even imagine.  I got my work ethic from Mom, I got my sense of self from Mom, and I my stick to it-ness from her.

Cari, I loved my Mom, just as you love yours. I loved her like a son should love his mom, and I respected Mom because she was Mom, but I also respected her because she had earned every ounce of respect she got from work or the neighbors.  I looked up to Mom, I trusted her, I hid behind her many a time when Dad was mad.  She was the 1st person to give me a book with the word “fuck” in it, (I was 19) which I thought was so cool, but it also embarrassed me at the same time, that mom would have books with that word in them.

Even though I put forth so little effort in school, Mom always found ways to support me in my efforts.  I am sure she was quite proud of me after I got out of the navy, and started college.  She was probably even prouder when she I was actually making very good grades.  I know she was proud of what I managed to accomplish during my professional career.  Mom wanted to know everything about each promotion, the change in title, the increase in responsibilities, would I be travelling more, how many people reported to me, and of course how much more money did I make. LOL

Mom and I used to have wonderful conversations (one such conversation was regarding the Weeping Willow Tree), she would ask about my job (not having a clue as to what I did) and acted interested and amazed at my ever changing responsibilities, and accomplishments. We would talk about, the places we have lived as a family, what it was like growing up on the farm, how special it was that she and her sister both got to go to college, and on  an on. She gave her support without reservation.  She always made me feel loved.  I am sure that each of my brothers and my sister all have similar memories and feeling about Mom.

It couldn’t have been easy being Mom to the 5 of us, hell I can’t image a tougher job.  I know I struggled being a good dad, and a good parent to Allison, I can’t imagine having 4 additional children demanding attention, having different needs, having different abilities, having different emotions, having different needs for attention, and finding a way to balance all of it.  But Mom did!  Then she also worked full-time, she was a nurse forever and a day, and from every word I heard regarding Mom during her career she was an extremely caring nurse and very highly regarded and respected.

Mom also was the main bread-winner in the family, and yet she put herself aside and allowed Dad to be the man, chasing jobs, changing careers but always at his side.  Mom was always willing to start over at a new hospital, no matter where Dad’s career choice took him.

Mom’s last few years were difficult, health issues were winning. Mom had several small strokes before the major one in March 2009.  In addition, post-surgery hip issues made it difficult for her get around.  The stroke she had in March 2009 put her in the assisted living home.  The only good thing from her being in the home was that her short-term memory had gone away, and that allowed her to live there on a daily basis without the anger of knowing she was in the home for the long haul.  Her memory issues did make for some interesting conversations. And sometimes John would call me from her room (or shortly after leaving her room) to give me an update and just explain that Mom didn’t feel like talking that day. It was just how it was, and I didn’t have issues, I understood.

I wasn’t there when Mom passed away on that gray wet chilly day in November 2011.  I have mixed emotions, a large part of my heart wanted to be there, but because of her struggle, and pain she suffered at the end, I am grateful that I wasn’t.  According to Nancy, Mom’s exit wasn’t a quiet slipping away it was supposed to be, but more of an ugly struggle.  I guess that says a lot about Mom.  It was always a struggle and she always fought, she never gave up, even to her last moments.

Cari, I hope that someday (when you’re a bit older) I will have the opportunity to share this with you face to face, smile to smile, but if not, then hopefully these words will help you understand my Mom.  Love Grandpa.

As always if you have any comments or questions. Please feel free to leave them.  Take care, Bill


Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Grandpa Stories, Ramblings


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14 responses to “A Tribute to my Mom – Ila Hamilton

  1. Chatter Master

    April 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I am sure your grand daughter will treasure this, and other of your writings. What a wonderful thing to do for her. For yourself. What a fantastic sharing of love and respect for your mom.

    • FlaHam

      April 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Chatter, thank you for your kind words. I had all my grandparents well into teens, I don’t have any memories of my great grandparents. At least this way, my granddaughter will have my words for the years after I am gone. Again Thank you, Bill

  2. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    April 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    What a beautiful homage to your mother, Cari’s Great Grandmother, Ila Hamilton. She sounds like someone I wish I could have met, known and yes, worked with. It’s wonderful to be a fly on the wall to what you write, this one straight from the heart. I won’t forget it, Bill. Thank you, friend. Paulette

    • FlaHam

      April 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Paulette, I truly believe you would have liked my mom, and I am sure you would have enjoyed working with her, she was the strength of our family, and the glue that kept it all together. She was highly regarded as a nurse, and a good friend. And she was MOM. Take care, Bill

  3. DeeDee Granata

    April 25, 2013 at 6:51 am

    I love that she gave you your first book with the word fuck in it. 🙂 She sounds wonderful.

    • FlaHam

      April 25, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Dee, Thank you for your kind words. Mom was indeed a wonderful lady. You would have liked her. Please take care, Bill

  4. 1stclassmedical

    April 25, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    That was a very touching piece. I admire and love my mother the way you do and I will always cherish my special bond with her. Your grand daughter will love this piece when you get to share it with her and for the many years to come after that special day!

  5. Linda

    April 26, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Bill, This is a wonderful story about your mom. Cari will forever be grateful that you did this for her. I too loved my mom as well.. My mom too was the strong one and having 4 children in 30 months after age 33 was not an easy task. Yet I remember the patience that she had with us as we were a military family and she had to shlep us around to numerous locations when my dad was transferred. She too had had a stroke and passed away 5 weeks before my son was born so he never got to meet her. Over the years I have told many stories and he has loved them. Keep up the wonderful writings and thank you for bringing back memories for me. :)))

    • FlaHam

      April 26, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Linda, Again thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. I might suggest that you sit down and create a journal for your kids, sharing stories about your mom and dad, and about the early day with Big B. They would enjoy it, and future grandchildren would as well. And believe me you will find a joy in writing them down if for no other reason than it makes you think about times you thought you forgot. Take care, Bill

  6. My Tropical Home

    April 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    A beautiful tribute to your Ma, Bill and an excellent way to record who she was for the next generation.

    It’s something I want to do also for my own parents and grandparents so my kids will have a record of some sort. This was really good.

    Enjoy your weekend and take care.

    Warm regards,

    • FlaHam

      April 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read my tribute, and offering such warm words as to it’s impact. It is true that in part I hope thru my words, my Mom’s memory is carried on for future generations. Again Thanks, Bill

  7. Wanda

    April 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Bill, I really like that you addressed this one directly to Cari, that you have chosen such a personal way to share your mother’s life with her. I am sure she will treasure this.

    On another note, WRT walking uphill both ways–I have absolutely no problem with that statement. In my experience the upbound side of the hill is soon followed by the down side of the hill–and, unless a body takes a different route home, they are probably going to be going uphill for at least some of the way on the homeward trek too. My two cents…

    • FlaHam

      April 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Wanda, Your two cents are always worth a dollar. As for the walking up hill both coming and going to school, Mom always implied that it was never downhill LOL LOL. It was just another attempt on her part to grab my leg and just pull. I have been to the farm where she grew up, and while the farm house was in a low spot, your assessment was dead on, at somepoint she had to walk downhill to get home. I believe in the future I will be addressing some directly to Cari, of course depending on the nature of the post. Take care, Bill

  8. Paula

    April 30, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Bill what a beautiful tribute to your Mom. She sounds like a remarkable woman that I would of loved to have known. This story will be a blessing to pass down to your family
    God bless


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