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I was grumpy yesterday. Oh, I knew why.

I miss you, Mom.  Even if you passed in 2007, it still seems like yesterday.

For those of you who love the Castle and the ideal it represents, Mom made it possible.



Elegy

Mom's Daffodil

A good life, well lived.

Mrs. Ann Donovan, of Columbia, passed on 13 March after a tough struggle with cancer. She is survived by her husband Tim and daughter Kathy Donovan Hanson, of Columbia, and son John of Leavenworth, Kansas, and grandchildren Tim, Patrick, Erin, and Andy of various and sundry addresses.

Born Elizabeth Ann Meriwether in Denver, Colorado, she was a scion of the Meriwethers of Paragould, Arkansas, a fact of which she was immensely proud, much to the bewilderment of her more sophisticated friends. Her proud parents were father Lilbourn Hays Meriwether and Alma Elizabeth Meriwether, nee Hickson, also of Paragould. Touched as she was by the humor of her father, Ann was cracking wise literally to the end, as she endeavored to make her passage as easy as possible on her family, who were with her to the end. Her last conscious sight of this world was the first daffodil bloom of the season. She loved daffodils.

A graduate of South High School in Denver, she then made her way further east to Columbia, Missouri to attend Stephens College. It was while frittering away her father's money at that august institution that she ran into a dashingly handsome Mizzou football player, a solid Irish-descended beau ideal of a man, who became as putty in her hands. Much to the horror of her mother, Ann decided she would have this man as her own. She should have checked the closet in his bedroom (of course, back in those days, unmarried ladies had *no* idea what their beau's bedrooms looked like). In that closet was the uniform of a 2nd Lieutenant of the Missouri Army National Guard. This being 1951, that had a significance beyond simply a darn fine-looking piece of kit. The newlywed Mrs Donovan waved her bright and shiny Lieutenant off to fight in Korea.

Three Purple Hearts later, Lieutenant Donovan returned from Korea, convinced that soldiering was for him. Eschewing the life of idle comfort that her mother felt she should have, Ann went with her Lieutenant to Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Sill, Oklahoma (whereat daughter Kathleen was born), Fort Riley, Kansas, where Ann made her family a home in the Riley County Poorhouse (a sad commentary on the parlous state of Army pay and quarters) and then took an exotic cruise on a troopship to set up camp in recently un-Occupied Germany. It was while in Wuerzburg that son John was produced, 9 months to the day after a 4-hour break during a month-long gunnery session at Grafenwoehr.

Returning to the US on another luxury troopship, at Fort Benning Ann learned the intricacies of protecting her children from scorpions by putting the legs of their beds in little juice cans filled with turpentine, and the other joys of being a late 50's/early 60's Army wife. Somewhere during all this fun travel and adventure, she developed a card shark's skill at Bridge, a talent that would come in handy later in life. In addition to Fort Benning there was another stint at Fort Sill, followed by Captain Donovan's assignment to the ROTC faculty at Mizzou, and the purchase of a house on High Ridge Circle that would function as an anchor, bringing the Donovans back to Columbia.

After a stint at Fort Leavenworth, where Ann learned the subtle art of smuggling liquor past the sneaky Leavenworth police (Kansas being a dry state, even if federal property at Fort Leavenworth certainly being very, very wet) the family dodged the bullet of an assignment to Taiwan with the disappointing news that instead they would be going to... Paris, France

This time they forwent the luxurious accommodations of a WWII-era troopship and flew on a new shiny Boeing 707 operated by Eastern Seaboard Airlines. Landing at Orly, the family discovered that housing in still-recovering postwar Paris was a challenge. Living in two cramped rooms in a little hotel on the Rue de la Grande Armee two blocks from the Arc d'Triomphe, Ann kept her sanity by spending lots of time at the Louvre, Tuileries and other places while husband Tim gallivanted about Europe and the Middle East and John and Kathy attended school and read lots of comic books. Eventually, suitable quarters were obtained and Ann discovered the joys of oddly placed floor tile heating, water with a curious white sediment in it and that wonderful little bakery with astoundingly tasty bread, croissants, and French Onion soup.

President DeGaulle in a fit of pique tossed NATO out of France (while, of course, staying in NATO so everybody else in Europe would still be prepared to die for La Patrie) so Ann got to pick her family up again and return to Germany, this time EUCOM headquarters at Patch Barracks in Vaihingen, near Stuttgart. It was there that serious Bridge skills were honed, much volunteer work supporting soldiers was performed, some very nice travel around Europe done, and son John's Christmas present of Twister was taken to the New Years party at the O Club where 3 and 4 star generals were seen putting "right hand blue" and "left foot green..."

While not a single mother per se, the pace of military business and Tim's travel made Ann's life a challenge at times. Never more so than when things like the 6 Day War occurred and EUCOM headquarters was lit up like a small city 24/7 and any time the Soviets rattled a saber, the tension level skyrocketed.

Leaving the frenetic pace of EUCOM headquarters, the family returned to the relative calm of Denver, Colorado. And then waved Dad off to his tour in Vietnam. While waiting for her soldier to return home, Ann watched the news of America's first televised war, took phone calls from evil people who said evil things about her soldier husband, protecting her children from those two-legged vermin, just as she had protected them from the 8-legged variety earlier. She endured two major surgical events, one per child. A very dense Red Cross Director at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital discovered that Ann could be très formidable when bumbling bureaucrats stood in the way. During this time Ann also experienced the dread of a visit by the Western Union man, delivering a WIA telegram. It was only after his return from Vietnam that the family learned there should have been three more WIA telegrams. During this time, Ann had managed to see a daughter well into puberty and son starting same - with no casualties or bruises.

As a reward, the family returned to Germany, where Ann was the Colonel's lady, presiding over the Battalion Wives Club and continuing her volunteer work supporting the military community. Being reassigned to Frankfurt, Ann once more picked up and moved, into the cockpit of the early 70's activities of the Baader-Meinhof gang of terrorist thugs. When her father passed, Ann was in Denver when news came of a bombing at the Frankfurt Officer's Club which killed an un-named officer. Pins and needles in Denver until Tim could get in touch to confirm all was well.

Returning to the US, the family settled in Columbia, putting down permanent roots. Tim was the Professor of Military Science, Kathy was attending Stephens, and son John went to Rock Bridge, and Ann was the central linchpin that held it all together. Ever the dutiful mother, Ann attended every home football game and wrestling match that John played in. Being a mother, however, she never once actually saw him play football or wrestle, always looking away or leaving the stands, not wanting to see those brutes trying to knock down her little boy. The only reason she actually saw him win the state wrestling championship was because it was filmed, and the film was shown at the post-season awards banquet. Even then she might have looked away...

Ann spent the rest of her life maintaining the family hub, while husband Tim gallivanted about being a Rotarian, daughter Kathy got married and started producing heirs, and son John attended Mizzou. Then she got to relive the joys of the soldier family as John joined the Army and Ann spent the next 20 years worrying every time the news got bad overseas. This time, thankfully, she was spared any telegrams. She played ruthless bridge every Thursday afternoon at the Columbia Country Club, there wasn't a crossword puzzle safe from her pencil. She enjoyed herself immensely with her grandchildren, secure in the knowledge that she could always pass those babies back to their parents.

A pillar of strength in the bad times and a beacon of humor always, Elizabeth Ann Meriwether Donovan will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved her.

I know I do, and she hasn't been gone for two hours yet.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when the Armorer dances, For Mom.

Adagio,

Coda.

8 Comments

Truly a wonderful life well lived... your tribute speaks volumes.  Please accept my sincerest condolences for you and your family.

Frank
 
O God of spirits, and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to the world: Do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the soul of Thy departed servant, Ann, in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sorrow, and sighing have fled away. Pardon every transgression which she hath committed, whether by word, or deed, or thought. For Thou art a good God, and lovest mankind; because there is no man who liveth and sinneth not; for Thou only art without sin, and Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is true.

For Thou art the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Repose of Thy servant, Ann , who is fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, and good, and life-creating Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Grant rest eternal in blessed repose, O Lord, unto thy servant, Ann,  who is fallen asleep, and make her memory to be eternal!
 
Ooops.  I need to fix that.  This happened in 2007, Frank.  Not yesterday.
 
 Ann was the best mother-in-law ever!!  And a great step-grandmother to Andy!
 
 likely she is sitting in heaven and saying to her friends; "Sigh I bet he will forget again and still does not eat his vegatables, forgets to take his boots off and wash his hands...." 

I swear sometimes I can feel my Mom's spirit scolding me.
 
 One of your best, John.
 
My Dad passed ijn 1983... at times it still seems like yesterday.
 
Yeah, Frank, I hear you. My dad passed away in '95. I want to joke and say that he was such a romantic that my mom still gets flowers on their anniversary. She does, but my sister sends them.