Honey's last few years...

From mid-January until mid-March of 2006, Honey lived and spent time with her sister, under the care of Nina and Terry (Marianne's daughter and son-in-law) before she was strong enough to take a flight to Albuquerque. Words cannot express the gratitude we all have for the assistance Nina and Terry gave to help Honey regain some of her strength.

When Honey made it to Albuquerque, Lou Ann picked her up at the airport, in a wheelchair and brought her to live with her and her husband Tom. Honey had her belongings from her apartment around her and a comfortable place to live... but Honey felt a large part of her life had been left behind in Tampa... her friends... her freedom to drive... and her overall health.

Like many elderly people in that situation, she resisted the changes and rebelled by deciding she "didn't need" her insulin and other medications.  She would consciously stop doing what her doctors advised and her health would go downhill to the point where visiting her doctors became more and more often. Her health would start to fail.. she would get back on track with her meds and get better... then decide she felt better and stop taking them again. This became a regular pattern.

It seemed no pleading for reasoning could convince her of the importance of staying on her meds.

Honey did have some good times, when she was consistenly taking care of herself. Within a week of arriving in Albuquerque, we found a Senior Center for her to establish friends and she often spent the day with people her age, conversing, going on field trips, dancing and having lunch. She even became an active member of a local "Red-Hat" Club, which she really enjoyed!

It didn't take long before she found another boyfriend, Arthur. He was lonely too and after three months of friendship, he talked her into moving into his home with him. So we moved her.

That lasted three months and she called Lou Ann to come get her... "right now". So we moved her back to live with us immediately (that day!).  She stayed with us this time about six months and she decided she wanted to live in her own place, so Honey and Lou Ann looked around and found an Independent Living facility for her. When we moved her there, she felt pretty good - but after several months, she quit taking her meds again and wound up in the hospital, again. She had to move to an "Assisted Living" facility to get better. After a few months, when when she got better, we moved her back to her independent living facility and after a few more months, she got sick again, went to the hospital and so we moved her back with us - and she agreed this would be the last move she would request. (famous words...). 

In early 2010, Honey told Lou Ann she wanted to go live with her brother, Robert. I know Uncle Bob would have opened his doors to her, but I felt strongly they should visit first for a while (a test drive, so to speak), so we arranged a trip for Honey to go visit him for a week - for her 84th birthday.  After two days, Honey called Lou Ann and said she was ready to come home.  When she got back to Albuquerque, she stopped taking her medications again and her doctor told her this could not continue or she might not be able to keep bouncing back. He told her it would only take a short period of time before it would catch up with her.

In reality, at this point in her life... Honey gave up and didn't try to get better any more. On August 3rd, her balance was shakey and she refused to use her walker. She took a fall - back against the wall - and slid down to a sitting position in our hallway at 11:30 PM. Tom and I immediately called 911 and the Ambulance took her to the hospital E.R. Nothing was "broken", except for her spirit. We tried and tried to get her to accept their help - but she refused medical assistance. So she was put under Hospice care. Charley and his wife Kat came to Albuquerque to visit with her - and when Charley walked into the hospital room, Honey's face and eyes lit up more than I had seen for months! She was absolutely elated to see her "Charley-boy"!! She was happier than she had been, in years!! She just kept staring and smiling at him and reaching to touch him. Kat and I took a walk to let Charley and his mom catch up in conversation for a while. I think it made Charley feel good too. For their time together, I am so grateful.

The time quickly came where we had to move her from the hospital but she needed 24 hour care.  She could not be left alone any longer. It was now September, 2010.  Lou Ann and Charley found a "shelter home" for her - and we moved her in.  It was not a Nursing Home. It was a comfortable private home, much like what she provided to her "little ol' ladies" in Tampa, when she was a Care-Giver and she had people to talk with and share stories with... but she refused to try to get better.  She was there from mid September until she passed away January 3, 2011.  

I was by her side when she passed. She had stopped eating and drinking several days before and was spending much of her time gazing straight ahead - eyes fixated on something she saw in her mind... she was conscious... but not altogether "there".

I leaned over and she looked at me and I said, "Momma... I want you to know your life has a wonderful legacy in your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren". She smiled and nodded her head. I said, "I love you, Momma". 

Without a sound, she smiled and mouthed the words, "I love you too" and looked away - back into a far away gaze... and she took her last breath.  It was 3 PM on Monday, January 3, 2011. 

I cried.... 

I miss her more than words could ever express. That is why I wanted to write this Tribute to Her life. I appreciate all her friends for being close to her and loving her as much as she loved you... and I know she did love each of you, very much.
  
My Precious Momma lived a long, interesting life. She smiled and made the best of every situation she possibly could. She loved God, people, music, flowers, dancing, singing, and all good things. Her family was the most important thing in her life and she Always gave more than she asked in return.  She touched so many lives and has given life - directly or indirectly - to a wonderful family. Her Legacy will live on forever, as will the love we all have for her. 

Please keep her alive in your memories and stop by to write a few lines from time to time, here on Momma's website. I know it will make her smile in heaven to know you are thinking about her.  God bless all of you for your friendship to my Sweet Mother.   
 

Elderly Years

Honey and Bob took advantage of the free time they had and enjoyed life together.  Bob was a true Gentleman.  He was handsome, kind, considerate, and very easy to get along with.  Bob also had a very good sense of humor.  They both loved to go out to eat and because neither of them ate very much, they almost always shared one meal between them, where ever they would go.  They had so much in common.  They liked to laugh together, sing, and go dancing. They would go to the Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Florida to enjoy the music on a regular basis.  Several times, they traveled to different parts of the United States to visit Bob's family.  Honey became close friends with his family and his son and daughter in law (Ken and El) stayed in touch with Honey throughout the rest of her life.  She appreciated Bob and his family.  They always made her feel she was important and loved.  She loved them too.... very much.

Honey's daughter went through a divorce in 1999 and as always... Honey was right by her side, providing emotional support.  Honey understood the hard time Lou Ann was going through.  She knew she had to get her daughter to laugh again... so she proposed a trip for the two of them.  They flew to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit one of her daughter's closest friends (Pam).  Honey had never been to Las Vegas and she was completely in awe of the lights and activity there.  That trip was one of the most memorable for Honey.  She talked about it for years, afterward.   

Early one morning in May 2000, Honey called Lou Ann and told her she had a very upset stomach and asked her to come over.  When Lou Ann arrived, she knew her mother needed to be taken to the hospital so she called 911.  The cardiologist told Lou Ann that a prolonged upset stomach is often a symptom of a heart attack, for people with diabetes.  Honey was in the hospital for three days and when Lou Ann was driving to the hospital to take her home, the cardiologist called her and said Honey was in the middle of a massive heart attack and was being taken to the operating room so they could insert a stint in a clogged artery.  Honey stayed in the hospital for a few more days.  She survived - but the ordeal began to take its toll on her overall health.   

In 2002, her daughter met Tom.  They were married in February 2003.  Honey welcomed Tom to the family with open arms and was happy her daughter had found someone to care for her.  She did not want her daughter to spend her life alone, as she had.  

Early one morning In April 2003, Honey again called Lou Ann and told her she had a very upset stomach and asked her to bring her a 7-Up or Pepto Bismal.  Knowing that this could be another heart attack, Lou Ann immediately called 911 and got to Honey's house just before the ambulance arrived.  The hospital cardiologist confirmed she had been suffering from a heart attack.  The cardiologist took her into surgery and they put another stint in a different artery.  She was in the hospital for about five days and her recovery was slow, when she returned home. 

A few weeks after she went home from the hospital, Honey felt she was becoming unable to take care of her home and garden and decided to sell her house and move into the high-rise apartment building were Bob lived.  The facility offered independent living with some assistance. She felt it would be beneficial to be in a place where someone would check on her if she did not show up for breakfast or to check her mail on a regular basis.  In 2004, Lou Ann and Tom helped Honey sell her home and they moved her into her new apartment.  She felt a little more at ease with less responsibility and she liked that she and Bob were in the same building. 

In March 2005, Lou Ann's work moved her and Tom to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Honey expressed happiness and encouragement to the two of them but deep inside was afraid of having her daughter so far away.  She began to feel she was going to be all alone but did not let her feelings be known.  Lou Ann and Tom bought and completely remodeled a home in Albuquerque, with the intent and understanding that they someday would need to move Honey from Tampa and in with them.  Of course, they had no idea that time was just around the corner. 

In October 2005, Honey's granddaughter Kanda was married to Patrick.  Lou Ann and Tom went back to Tampa for Kanda's wedding and enjoyed that Honey was with them for their celebration.  Kanda and Patrick had a beautiful wedding and Honey was so proud to see her granddaughter happy and successful.    

In early December 2005, her friend and companion Bob, was admitted into a skilled nursing facility, due to health issues.  Honey visited him every day.  On the evening of December 8th, Honey was sitting by his side and Bob told her he loved her and he sang "You Are So Beautiful" to her.  She told him she loved him too and told him she would be back to see him the next day. 

The next morning, on December 9th, Honey woke up with an upset stomach and chest pains, so she called 911.  She was suffering a massive heart attack.... again.  The cardiologist at the hospital took her into surgery where she had four more stints put in arteries around her heart.  Kanda was notified of Honey's situation and called Lou Ann in Albuquerque.  Kanda immediately took on the roll as her grandmother's care giver and although she was working a full time job, she visited her daily and took care of all her affairs. 

Shortly after Honey was admitted to the hospital, Kanda realized that somehow Honey's dentures and watch had gotten lost.  Kanda was able to locate the watch Bob had given her (in the hospital dumpster) but was not able to find Honey's dentures.  She knew that Honey would be devastated without them because her appearance was always very important to her... not to mention she would be unable to chew without them.  Lou Ann was friends with someone in management at the hospital and called to see what could be done.  The manager told Lou Ann the hospital does not normally do anything in this situation but would take care of replacement costs for Honey's lost dentures if the family would do the footwork.

Lou Ann called Bob's daughter on December 9th 2005, to tell her about Honey having to go to the hospital and his daughter told Lou Ann that Bob had died shortly after mom left his side, the night before.  Honey's health was so bad; the decision was made not to tell Honey about Bob's death until she regained some strength.  She was in the hospital for over four weeks. 

During her hospital stay, Lou Ann and Tom realized the time had come to move Honey out to New Mexico to live with them, as soon as Honey had enough strength to make the trip.  Lou Ann flew to Tampa on January 12, 2006.  Honey was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital that day.  Honey's Grandson, Kevin picked Lou Ann up at the airport and the two of them drove over to the hospital, picked Honey up, and took her back to her apartment.  Honey was so weak and frail.  Lou Ann realized she would not be able to take Honey to Albuquerque right away.  Honey would need some time to get better, so she called her cousin Nina.  Nina was Honey's niece (Nina was Marianne's daughter.  Marianne was Honey's sister).  Their family lived in Zephyrhills, Florida, about thirty-five miles north of Tampa.  Marianne was living with Nina and her husband Terry and they were Marianne's primary care givers.  They told Lou Ann they would help any way they could and would see that Honey got to her appointment to get her new dentures and would take care of Honey until she could make the trip.  Honey and Lou Ann always appreciated the love and assistance Nina and Terry provided.  Without their help, things would have been much more difficult.

When Lou Ann's arrived in Tampa she knew she had to act fast.  She took Honey to her primary care physician for a follow up visit.  He told Honey would need to give up driving because she would no longer have the reaction time needed to avoid an accident.  Honey said she understood and she gave up her driver's license.  Because Lou Ann had Power of Attorney, she found someone to buy Honey's car.  Lou Ann also had to make an appointment to get Honey fitted with new dentures, and took Honey for her initial visit, with Honey in a wheel chair.  The doctor told her it would be a week before they were ready.  Lou Ann called Nina and Terry and they set aside time in their busy schedule to take Honey to get her new dentures, in case Lou Ann had to leave before they were ready.

The rest of Lou Ann's time in Tampa, she stayed with Honey and took care of her.  Honey was unable to do much more than just sit in her recliner.  Lou Ann spent most of the time going through everything in Honey's aparment and packing things she needed to send to Albuquerque.  The task was slow because Honey was in and out of sleep and Lou Ann would wait until Honey was awake to ask her about each and every item.  There was so much stuff!!  Lou Ann would make quick trips to the UPS store, as she went along, and wound up shipping over fifty boxes to Albuquerque when all was done.  Tom was at the receiving end, in Albuquerque.  He later made the comment that the boxes "just kept coming"!!  This barely scratched the surface of what Honey had.  Everything else was given to Nina and Terry.  During the process, Terry completely packed two or three large U-Haul trucks and took them to their home.  Lou Ann told them they could have it all and do whatever they wanted with the stuff they got.  Lou Ann felt because she had no money to give to Nina and Terry for their help with Honey's care... perhaps they could sell some or all of what they got from Honey's estate to help pay for their assistance. 

The last day Lou Ann was in Tampa, she closed the door to her mom's apartment and drove Honey out to Zephyrhills.  Nina and Terry took Honey in and Honey got to spend a few weeks with her ailing sister, Marianne, while she regained her strength. 

 

 

Middle Age

By this time, Honey was 46 years old and starting over... again.  She knew she had done the right thing by going to Tampa because her mother was approaching 81 years of age and her health was beginning to fail.  Within a year of her arrival in Tampa, her mother had to quit driving and Honey became the primary care-giver for her mother. 

Mom attended several different churches and found a strong spiritual connection with the services and congregation in her attendance of the Manhattan Baptist Church.  She sang in the Church Choir where she met many people who remained life-long friends.  One lady, Joy, always stayed close with her and mom enjoyed their friendship very much.

Honey missed the companionship and fun of being in Sweet Adelines and her research found there was no Chapter of that organization in Tampa.  So Honey put on her "organizational hat", ran an advertisement in the Tampa newspaper, and in the early 70's, she Chartered the very first Sweet Adelines' Chorus in Tampa.  She was thrilled at the response and enjoyed many years of singing with that group.  The Chorus prospered from the very beginning and continues today, much to the credit of Honey's dedication to her love for music and the art of Barbershop Harmony.  The gift of music.  What a wonderful tribute to mom's character and hard work.

Honey met and became friends with a sweet lady, Norene, who joined the Sweet Adelines.  They remained close throughout her life and relied on each other for friendship and support.  Mom treasured Norene's friendship and often spoke about their fun times together. 

Honey went to work for a major department store chain in the Inventory Control office and then took a better job in a local bank.  She suffered from a lay-off some years later and then went to work for a Payroll Service company.  Her mother's health continued to decline and because Honey had to take so much time caring for her mother... she lost that job in 1980.  At the age of 54, she found it very difficult to find another job she could take which would allow her to care for her mother... and her mother was her most important concern.  Mom worked temporary jobs through a temp agency, just to make enough money to keep her financial obligations met.

Honey helped her mother with all of her day-to-day activities.  She took care of her mother's beautiful garden, household chores, activities with the Garden Club, visits to the grocery and hair dresser, and was her mother's closest companion.

Honey joined the Tampa Chapter of Parents Without Partners shortly after her move to Tampa, so she could meet people with similar interests.  She dated and had some fun but was never again inclined to marry.  She remained single and committed to caring for her mother.  She felt strongly that marrying someone would take away from her ability to provide the love and attention she knew her mother needed and deserved.

In 1975, Honey's daughter, Lou Ann, was married to Alan.  In 1978, they had a daughter of their own (Kanda).  Honey was So proud to finally be a grandmother!  She often took care of Kanda and enjoyed letting her play "dress-up" and put on make up.  She took a lot of pictures which Kanda always liked.  Mom enjoyed being a part of Kanda's life.  Honey's son Charley, was married to Kat in 1979 and in 1980, they had their first baby boy (Dustin).  When Dustin was almost a year old, Honey, Lou Ann, and Kanda took a trip to Colorado to visit Charley, Kat, and their new son Dustin.  Honey was absolutely bursting with pride about her children and grandchildren and she began to realize her legacy would be her family.

In 1981, when her mother was 89... Honey arranged for her mother to have an in-home hearing test, so she could have her fit for a hearing aide.  When the test was over... the salesman left with an order to be filled.  Within an hour after the transaction, her mother collapsed and was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she died of heart failure as they were wheeling her into the operating room to put in a pacemaker. 

Her mother's death was absolutely the hardest thing mom ever had to bear.  She had lost the One person in her life who had always stood by her - - with consistent and constant love.   Honey held a small memorial service for her mother with her sister Marianne, her brother Robert, and her daughter Lou Ann in attendance.  They spread her mother's ashes on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, by the sea-wall at the University of Tampa, at her mother's previous request.  Mom was left with a big void in her life and knew she had to find something to fill that gap.  Caring for... and giving to others was an important part of her life.

Honey moved into her mother's home several months after she passed away and she formed friendships with many of her neighbors.  Mom enjoyed frequent conversations with Toni and Maribel and would take evening walks around the block with other neighbors she met.  Honey met and became close friends with a lady named Monnie - who bought and moved into the house directly across the street.  Mom and Monnie both had a strong love for the Lord and Monnie inherently shined the light of her positive attitude and caring personality upon everyone who knew her.  Honey always enjoyed the times she and Monnie were able to share and they stayed in touch with each other for the rest of mom's life.  Mom always felt very honored to have Monnie as her dear friend.

After Honey's mom passed away, she realized she felt "a calling" to reach out to other people in need.  Honey began weekly visits to local nursing homes to visit with the elderly.  She would go to thrift shops and garage sales to acquire small stuffed animals, take them home and wash them, pack them in boxes, and take them with her - to give to the residents - so they could have "something to love and hold onto" (her own words).  The gratification she received when she witnessed smiles on the faces of the residents helped her feel she was doing something worth while.  Honey continued to give her attention and love to the elderly any way she could. 

Within a few months after her mother's death, Honey was trying to figure out how and where she could go back to work full-time.  She found that her age of 56 was an obstacle and she just did not know what she was going to be able to do - to earn a living.  Mom told us she was watching television one morning and there was a beautiful lady being interviewed on the show.  Mom was so impressed by the lady's comments that her company put God first, family second, and business third.  The lady's name was Mary Kay Ashe and her company was Mary Kay Cosmetics.  Mom felt such an overwhelming "connection" with Mary Kay that she immediately called the company, found a contact in Tampa, and joined the sales force.  About six months later... mom was awarded a new Oldsmobile Ferenza from the company, for her achievement in sales and recruitment. 

Throughout her whole life, Mom took a lot of pride in her appearance and had such a love for people, she knew Mary Kay Cosmetics would provide exactly what she was looking for.  Mom said her goals were not to make a lot of money... although deep inside, she had hopes of doing just that.  More than anything, she wanted to help make a difference in women's lives... by showing them they too could feel good about themselves and look beautiful along the way.  Mom was a Mary Kay consultant for close to twenty-five years.  She attended annual seminars in Dallas, personally met Mary Kay Ashe, and became very close friends with many women in the organization.  The camaraderie mom felt with the other consultants was probably the most rewarding part for her.  One special friend Honey had because of Mary Kay Cosmetics was Mary Lou.  Mom and Mary Lou had a lot of fun together and they remained very close friends for the duration of mom's life.  Mom often spoke about how she admired Mary Lou.

In 1983, Charley and Kat had their second son (Jesse).  A few weeks after Jesse was born, their family took a trip to Florida and Honey got to visit with them and meet her new grandson.  Honey enjoyed their visit and wished they could live closer so she could watch their two boys grow up.  Lou Ann and Alan had their son Kevin in 1985.  Honey took care of Kevin a lot when he was growing up.  She was especially proud when Kevin expressed an interest in music by joining the school band and when he learned to play the piano.  Honey felt very proud of everyone in her family and talked about her grandchildren to everyone who would listen. 

Sometime in the mid 80's, Honey went to her doctor and was diagnosed as being a diabetic. She was around 60 years of age at the time.  Honey didn't understand the disease and because she had such a "sweet-tooth", it was difficult for her to manage her illness.  Her attitude was that she was determined not to let something like that control her, or her lifestyle.  She was completely in denial because most of the time, she said she felt fine and had "too many other things" to think about.

Mom continued her work as a Mary Kay consultant but as with any sales position, the economy had a large impact upon mom's successes.  In late 1982, Honey found an opportunity to supplement her Mary Kay income by becoming a Certified Home Health Care Provider.  Through her visits to the nursing homes, she met a family who was in need of placing their elderly mother somewhere other than in a nursing home.  So Honey applied for a home equity loan and built two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a large enclosed patio on the back of her home.  She then took in the family's elderly mother to provide her with daily care.  Within a few months, she took in two more elderly ladies and she became the primary health care giver for the three ladies... twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, at a minimum cost to the families.  Honey took care of these elderly ladies until 1997.

Funny thing... in early January 1997, Honey told Lou Ann she wasn't sure about what was going to happen... but she felt that her life was about to change and that God works in mysterious ways.  Boy!... she was sure right about that!  

In mid January 1997, Honey was eating lunch at a local Village Inn restaurant, when she noticed a man about her age sitting alone, also having lunch.  She decided to say hello.  His name was Bob Hamill.  He was a widower.  The two of them sat and talked for quite a while and they became the dearest of friends. They cared for and loved each other very much.  Although they did not get married, they were the closest of companions - for over eight years.   

The first week of February 1997, a lady-friend asked mom to take-in a tiny dog owned by the lady's father, since her father had recently passed away.  The deceased man was a neighbor of Honey's and mom said she would give it a try.  The very first night she had the little dog, she stepped out her front door, onto her porch, to take the dog outside.  Honey's next door neighbor's Chow dog was in its front yard with his owner.  The owner of the Chow had trained his dog to chase and kill squirrels in his back yard.  The Chow dog saw mom's little dog and immediately headed her way.  He jumped the hedges between the houses... ran up on mom's porch... and grabbed the little dog in its mouth.  Because mom had her dog's leash wrapped around her hand, when the Chow chomped down on her dog and took off - the chow pulled mom down her two steps to the ground, where she landed with a hard "thud".  The owner of the Chow dog came running, straddled his large dog, and pried the little dog out of the Chow dog's mouth.  Somehow... Mom pulled herself up so she could try to help her little dog.  She rode with the wife of the Chow dog to an emergency veterinarian clinic - little dog in hand - to try to save the dog's life.  Her little dog had suffered major injuries.  The veterinarian told mom she would take care of the little dog and let her know if she could save it.  Mom went back home and called Lou Ann early the next morning to ask her to bring some ice over because her ankles and feet were swollen and painful.  When Lou Ann arrived, she realized the situation was much more serious than just a sprain so Lou Ann called for an ambulance and the hospital determined that Honey had broken both her legs and ankles.  She was sent home with both her legs in casts.  The veterinarian called and told mom the little dog was going to survive and mom told her about her broken bones.  The veterinarian told her she would keep and take care of the little dog.  Mom spent the next several months in a wheel chair and rehabilitation to gain back her strength to be able to walk again.  When this incident happened, Honey lost her ability to work and any future income she might have.  Honey immediately had to contact the families of the three elderly ladies she took care of, to tell them they had to find another place for their mothers to live because she was not able to take care of them in her situation.  Fortunately, at the time, Lou Ann was self-employed and was able to devote the time necessary to help Honey recover and to take care of the three elderly ladies until the families could move them to another facility.  Unfortunately, all three ladies passed away within a year after they were moved to new places.  That saddened mom very much because she had grown so close to each of them.

Just a quick note to remember one of the remarkable ladies mom took care of.  Her name was Blanche.  She was in her late 90's when she started living with Honey and was 105 years old when she passed away.  Up until the very end of her life, Blanche's mental capabilities were very sharp and she had a very quick wit and great sense of humor about her.  Mom had a "century-birthday" party at her home for Blanche, when she turned 100, and a reporter came to interview Blanche and wrote a nice article for the Tampa newspaper about Blanche. Mom was thrilled at being able to honor Blanche this way.  She always made sure the ladies felt loved and were well taken care of.  She spent almost all of her time with the three of them.  She took them to their doctor appointments, to the hairdresser each week, out to eat frequently, and for rides in the car on Sunday afternoons - so she could get them all out-and-about for a while.  

After mom recovered from the dog incident, Honey went back to work as a home health care provider, except she did not take anyone into her home.  She concentrated on working for a local agency which sent her to the homes of people who needed assistance.  She stayed busy and enjoyed having a little freedom to travel and go places.  She had been tied close to home for a long time, when she was taking care of the elderly ladies.   

 

Adult Years

Honey's life was full and busy when they moved to Roswell.  On top of taking care of her two children, she went to work in a local bank... then got her real estate license... and began her new real estate career (which she enjoyed for twelve+ years). 

Honey worked for a couple different Real Estate Brokers in Roswell where she met several people who had strong influences on her life.  One of the companies she worked for was Wayne Adams Real Estate.  Mr. Adams had a 'once a week' advertising show on television and mom was always fond of the slogan he used at the end of his show: "There will always be more people but there will never be more land".  From this, mom often said she learned the value of effective advertising. 

Honey became very close friends with another female agent named Carmelli while she worked for the Adams company.  Carmelli was an Italy born, tall, statuesque woman with no-nonsense ideals and a wonderful sense of humor.  Carmelli was boisterous and she always "used her hands" when she talked... especially when she wanted to make a specific point in her conversation.  Mom often told the story about one weekend trip to a real estate convention in Albuquerque, in the late 1950's.  Carmelli decided to drive her brand new Edsel car, and mom was her passenger.  Carmelli bought the car because she was impressed by the car salesman's pitch that "everything is automatic".  Well... the road between Roswell and Albuquerque was a long stretch of highway, with no civilization and very little traffic in sight for miles and miles.  Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on that long stretch of road, Carmelli's car ran out of gas.  Carmelli was absolutely livid that the "everything is automatic" pitch she was given didn't include an unending amount of gasoline.  In true Italian style, Carmelli ranted and raved as she paced up and down the side of the road, waving her hands and cursing the predicament.  After she calmed down, her attitude was "make the best of the situation".  Mom told the story of how Carmelli reached into the glove box and pulled out a paper bag filled with beads.  She and mom sat on the side of the road for hours re-stringing beads from a broken necklace Carmelli had stashed, as they waited for a passing motorist to come by and help them.  They did finally make it to Albuquerque where they had the pleasure of meeting many celebrities at an evening dinner, including Dan Blocker and Lorne Green (aka Hoss and "Pa" Cartwright) from the western television show Bonanza.  That was a fun trip for mom.

For fun, she joined the Roswell Sweet Adeline's Chorus in late 1954. (Sweet Adelines is a women's version of old-fashioned "Barber Shop" acappella singing; in four part harmony.).  Mom sang "Baritone" in the Roswell Sweet Adelines chorus and in several quartets for close to sixteen years, competing in many State-wide, National, and International Competitions. The chorus and quartets in which she sang won several First Place awards.  Mom really enjoyed the music and friendships she experienced as part of that organization.  She often said, "You can't be angry when you are singing". 

At bedtime, Honey would often comfort her children with music.  Her two children would drift off to sleep to soft songs of the 1940's she knew how to play on her organ.  Sometimes she would sing an old lullaby to them, while rubbing their backs.  Their favorite lullaby was "When You Come To The End Of A Day".  The lullaby was soothing and thoughtful.  Her children will always remember these words:

"When you come to the end of a day... Do you dream all your troubles away?  Do you ever watch the setting sun... and dream of things that you might have done?  Do you turn from your work with a smile?  Do you think that it's all worth the while?  Do you dream the twilight hours away?... When you come to the end of a day......".

A very important part of Honey's life was her unwavering faith in God.  She made sure her children were active in church and praised God for all His blessings, every day.  Her faith endured throughout her life and helped her and her family get through many tough times.  Because of mom, her children grew to understand the importance of believing and relying on God's strength.

Although Honey's life had taken her miles away from her home and her mother, in Tampa, Honey continued to do everything she could possibly do for her mother.  Her love and caring for her mother was constant.  Honey made it a point to call her mother and talk with her every Sunday... something they both looked forward to with great joy and anticipation.  They wrote to each other often and Honey kept every letter she received from her mother, throughout her life.  Honey relied on her mother's kind words and guidance and her mother treasured the love and friendship Honey was able to provide.

Life was not always kind to Honey but through her trials she concentrated on keeping a positive attitude and cheerful disposition.  Her family was the most important part of her life and she focused on holding her family together the best way she could.  Unfortunately, after eighteen years of marriage, mom realized she and her children were in a terrible situation she could not improve and her marriage to Alvin ended in divorce in 1964.  Mom felt as though she had let everyone down during that time but on the other hand she realized staying in the relationship was not an option. She mustered all her strength... gathered her two children, and started a new life. 

Carmelli, her friend from real estate, helped mom through the tough times of starting over.  Mom often told us how Carmelli's no-nonsense approach to life helped her "grow up".  Carmelli provided shelter for Honey and her two children when she needed it most with the stipulation that mom move forward with her life - and not look back.  Carmelli's friendship was one of the most profound influences in mom's life.  Honey began to focus on what she needed to do... get back to Florida so she could be closer to - and take care of her own mother.

Honey went to work at Atlantic Richfield Oil Company where she met and became close friends with Gail.  Mom told stories of how they worked in the same office and their grouchy boss sat in the next room.  Mom told of how they shared "quiet" laughs by writing and tossing notes to each other so their boss wouldn't hear.  Mom's favorite funny story was when Gail tossed her a note one day...and when mom opened it, she read the words... "Shirk, shirk.  I hate work."  Neither of them could suppress the laughter.  Gail was one of mom's dearest friends and together they learned to "take on" the world as single parents. Mom said she often learned a lot from Gail and appreciated her friendship more than words could say. Gail had a big influence on mom.  The summer of 1965, Honey's two children (Charles and Lou Ann) traveled by bus to visit relatives in Oklahoma City and when they returned to Roswell... found that during that week, Gail had convinced Honey to "bleach" her brunette hair.  Gail had told her that "blondes have more fun".  The change was so dramatic, her two children hardly recognized their own mother!  Honey remained a blonde for the rest of her life.

Honey loved to perform in Sweet Adelines.  She had many opportunities to show off her talents.  One year, the chorus had an "internal" talent show and Honey decided to put on a comedy skit... as the renowned star: Phyllis Diller.  For weeks, she studied routines of Ms. Diller and captured the sounds, body language, mannerisms, the distinctive laugh, hairdo, and make-up of the star.  When the time came for her presentation, Honey walked onto the stage and the chorus members thought she was really Phyllis Diller.  Everything about her routine was absolutely impeccable... even down to the blonde hair!!  Honey won first place in the talent show and was very excited.

There were several times in her life when Honey would pack up her two children and the three of them would take a road trip from Roswell to Florida, to visit Honey's mother for a week or two.  She always made the trips fun for her two kids by stopping along the way to visit unusual tourist sights.  While driving, Honey taught her two children the art of singing in harmony.  As they rolled down the highway, they would harmonize together with songs like "I've Been Working On The Railroad", "Me and My Shadow", "You Are My Sunshine", "Let's Sing An Old Time Song Together", and many other tunes they knew.  Sometimes she would ask one of her children to whistle a tune and she would join in - whistling in harmony.  She had such a keen musical talent that her "close-part" whistling would create a harmonic "overtone" and everyone would start laughing. 

One time, when mom and her two children were driving down the highway, on one of their road trips to Florida, Honey noticed the odometer on the car was just about ready to turn over to 100 thousand miles.  She brought the subject up to her children and they all got excited and wanted to watch.  In her excitement, mom said, "Let's stop so we can All watch!!"  Then they realized if they stopped, the odometer would too.  Everyone got such a good laugh out of that.  Her sense of humor will be remembered forever.

In early 1966, Honey realized she was missing the companionship of adult relationships but wanted to include her children in activities, so she joined the Roswell chapter of "Parents Without Partners" (PWP).  She and her children attended get-togethers with other parents and their children... and some activities with just the adults.  One evening in May 1966, she and a friend of hers drove down to Artesia (about 40 miles) and attended a meeting of the Artesia chapter, as guests.  She and her friend noticed a couple of men there who she later said "were acting really silly".  After the meeting, she and her friend drove back to Roswell... with thoughts that there was nothing to get excited about.  One week later... she got a phone call from one of the "silly acting" men... to ask her to go out to dinner.  She accepted the invitation and when the man came to the door to pick her up (he drove up from Artesia)... he was in his pick-up truck and was wearing a Stetson cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a Bolo tie.  Honey's two children answered the door and took one look at him and ran in to Honey's bedroom to tell her "How Cool" he was.  Honey laughed and said, "Well... don't leave him standing on the porch!!"  She invited him in and introduced him to her children.  His name was Ezra Clamon Davis... otherwise known as "Pop".  He was nine years older than Honey.  They went to dinner and when she got home, she commented on the fact that he had customized his pick-up truck to have a "cooler" in the driver's door.  They must have had a great time because he called her again the next day... and from that time on, they saw each other as often as they could.  Just a few days after their first date, Pop came up from Artesia to pay a visit and brought a new record player with him for Honey's two children  He told her he "just had it layin' around" but the truth was he had already learned how much Honey liked music and wanted to give her something she could really enjoy.  Honey and her two children were absolutely thrilled by his generosity.  They played their records on that machine as often as they could and enjoyed it more than words could ever express.

Pop was a True old-west cowboy who drove a concrete truck for Halliburton, out of Artesia, raised and showed Appaloosa horses, and loved to dance with "his Honey".  Their courtship was often "spur of the minute".  He would be "on-call" for his work and would call her and ask her to meet him half-way between Roswell and Artesia... at a rest stop.  They would sit at the picnic tables there and talk until he had to go back to work. That summer, Honey was preparing to make her move back to Tampa, to be closer to her mother... Pop just couldn't bear to see her move so far away... so he asked Honey to marry him.  She told him he "must be crazy" to want to take on a wife with two teenage kids.  She realized she loved him too and they were married August 2, 1966.  Honey, Charles, and Lou Ann moved... not to Tampa, as planned... but to Artesia instead.  Pop had three adult children who were all on their own and during the first twelve months of their marriage, his children came to visit.  Honey was thrilled to have them come visit and welcomed them with open arms. 

The lifestyle change for Honey was like something in a story book.  She went from being a "city girl" in dresses and high heels to a "country girl" in jeans.  Pop even took Honey to Juarez, Mexico and had her fit with her first western "cowboy" boots!  They took care of his Appaloosa horses and traveled to horse shows, where Honey experienced a completely different type of life than what she was accustomed.  Their love for each other grew as they shared their day-to-day lives.  Honey's two children were just as smitten with Pop as she was.  Charles and Lou Ann learned so much from having Pop in their lives and they both had hopes that he would adopt them so they could share his name.

In late September 1967, Pop was driving a Halliburton 18-wheeler concrete truck to a job-site, when one of the axels of the trailer disconnected from the trailer as he was taking a curve in the road.  The axel and trailer tried to go one way... as the cab of the truck went the other way.  Pop was able to hold the cab on the road to a stop by standing up in the cab.  It took all he had and when he finally could sit down with a jolt.. the back of his right knee came down on the gear shift.  Ouch.  He went to the doctor and they told him he was bruised but should be okay.  One week later, Pop had a cerebral hemorrhage, while he and Honey were in Lovington, New Mexico.  He was taken to the Lubbock Methodist Hospital, in Texas, where he had surgery to correct the problem.  He was sent home with strict instructions to get bed-rest for several weeks.  Being still was not his style - and after a few days, he said he felt better, so he went down the street to visit with his "horse buddies".  That night.... he had another hemorrhage.  The Artesia hospital transported Pop back to the hospital in Lubbock, where he died October 11, 1967.   

Honey was absolutely devastated and heart broken by the loss of her love and best friend. Unfortunately, Honey was unable to settle Pop's estate... so she could move on with her life because Pop's ex-wife and children protested Honey's right to his estate and they kept his assets tied up in probate court for almost five years.  

After Pop's death, Honey struggled to maintain her household, working several part-time jobs at a time.  She remodeled a local fabric store for a lady named Martha, worked in the school cafeteria, sewed for other people, and stocked shelves for a local Five & Dime store.  

Honey also became active as a volunteer in the Artesia Hospital Auxiliary and was elected President of that organization in 1968.  She was responsible for the activities of volunteers, organized schedules, and ran the gift shop and snack-bar within the hospital.  She recruited her daughter (Lou Ann) to be a volunteer and they worked together to see that things ran smoothly.  Honey was a tremendous success, helping the organization's pool of volunteers and revenues double during her two years as President.  Her leadership qualities and dedication to the organization shined.  More than anything, mom felt she was helping others. 

Honey knew her ultimate goal was to get back to Florida.  She planned a two week road trip to Florida for her and Lou Ann, shortly after Charles graduated from high school, in 1969, and went out on his own.  They took a close friend of Lou Ann's (Dinah) along for the trip.  When the three of them arrived in Tampa, Honey's mother (Grandmother Mitchell) announced she had made a decision to sell the house Honey had lived in as a child and get a smaller house.  The two-week trip turned into an eight-week trip because Honey had to take care of the real estate transactions and she, Lou Ann, and Dinah had to go through everything in the old house and move Grandmother Mitchell to her newly acquired home.  It was a lot of work and was an experience the two girls would never forget.  Honey also found fun things for Lou Ann and Dinah to do while they were there, including time at the beach and sight seeing.  The three of them made it back to Artesia just in time for the new school year.  

After returning to Artesia, Honey continued to work her part-time jobs and take things day by day.  The stress of everything going on in her life was unbelievable.  In early 1972, Honey had her first heart attack and survived.  In May 1972 Lou Ann graduated from high school.  The same month, the probate was settled in court for Pop's estate... and Pop's ex-wife and his adult children got absolutely everything, including his house and life insurance.  The probate decision left Honey with only her own personal belongings.  She felt so betrayed by his family.

Honey somehow made it through.  She knew she had to once again concentrate on her own long-term goals. In July 1972, Honey packed up the few things she had, put them in a small U-Haul trailer, and headed to Tampa so she could finally be closer to her mother.  Thus began a new chapter in her life...

Footnote:  When Honey moved to Tampa, her daughter, Lou Ann stayed behind, in Artesia, but moved to Tampa a few months later where she lived for the next 32 years.  Honey's son, Charles, moved to Tampa in 1973 but he missed the southwest United States... so he moved back to New Mexico about a year later.

School, Family, and Friends

Honey attended Ballast Pt. School in Tampa from first through the ninth grade and went on to attend Plant High School where she graduated in 1944.  During her school years, mom sang in the school chorus, played some sports, marched in the high school band, and did some fashion modeling for a local agency.  In her Senior Year Book, the committee stated, about her... "She makes the best of every opportunity".

Mom's family lost her oldest brother, James, in World War II. The loss devastated her mom.  Although mom had always cared deeply about her family, that tragedy reinforced how much Honey loved and cared for her dear mother.  Mom talked a lot about how she used to pay a nickel to ride the street car from their house to downtown Tampa so she could pay another nickel to buy her mom some flowers and then ride the street car back home to take the flowers home to her mother.  Honey's mother was a horticulturist. She always had a beautiful garden and taught Honey how to care for flowers and plants. 

Mom told stories that as a youngster her mother would gather her brothers and sisters together on Saturday mornings... get them to go get their neighborhood friends... and her mother would put them all to work in the garden.  At lunch time, her mother would make a big pot of spaghetti for everyone to share.  One time... mama said there was a little neighborhood boy who said, "If that's spaghetti, I don't like it".  Her mother just told him that was all there was so if he didn't like it; he would have to "do without".  Mom told us the lesson she learned from that was that she should accept and be grateful for those things they had.

Her family's home was surrounded by trees... a little "out in the country".  The lot across the road was vacant and full of trees and palmettos. Mama told us she and her younger brother had a rope swing hanging from a tree in the vacant lot, where they use to play.  They would take turns pushing each other and when they would come back down on the swing... they would spread their toes apart and yell "Wheeeeee....".  She always got a kick out of those memories with her brother.

Mama also told us how she learned to whistle very loudly, positioning her thumb and middle finger in her mouth... to get the sound and loudness "just right".  She would stand at the back door of their home with her foot propping the screen door open while she practiced her "famous" siren-style whistle.  Mom carried that talent for a unique whistle with her, throughout her life... and she used it every chance she got.

Honey was also a great "yodeler".  When she wasn't practicing her whistle... she was "hanging out the back door" (mom's own words)... practicing her yodel.  Her mother always enjoyed listening.

Honey made many life-long friends while growing up in Tampa.  During the years of her youth, two of her closet friends were Trudi and Joyce.  She always enjoyed reminiscing about the fun times they had together.

Honey learned about music early-on in her life because her father, Samuel Smith Mitchell, wrote music on the family's piano in the living room of their home.  She told stories about how he would make the children sit and be completely quiet while he was working.  He was a strict disciplinarian. Mom's love and talent for music stayed with her all her life and her beautiful voice brought pleasure to many.  Honey often sang her mother's favorite songs to her and those moments comforted her mother greatly. 

Honey's father (Samuel Smith Mitchell) passed away in the early 1960's, due to his acute diabetes.  For much of his marriage to Anna Rose (Honey's mom), he did not live with his family. He traveled as a salesman and took residence in another part of the city, leaving his family to fend for themselves.  Honey's mother provided as much as she could for her children by working out of their home and always seemed to "pull a rabbit out of her hat" (words of Robert, Honey's brother) to make sure her children had what they needed.  Although the family's finances were minimal, she never made her children feel "poor".  Honey's mother taught her children the intrinsic values of love, dignity, self-pride, unselfishness, and forgiveness.  Honey lived by those values throughout her life.

Mama talked a lot about learning proper etiquette "of the times" for entertaining, from her mother and enjoyed helping her mother prepare for family gatherings and parties.  Her mother always maintained an environment of love and caring for her children, although the family's financial circumstances were on the meager side. Honey was always grateful for everything her mother did - and Honey spent her life taking care of her mother - and showing her how important she was, while her mother was alive.

After high school, mom joined the USO and attended many activities with that organization on MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa.  Mom met a tall, handsome Air Force man, Alvin Ray Beasley, on the Base and "Oh... how they loved to dance together".  They fell in love and were married in Oklahoma City in 1946.  She and Dad lived in Oklahoma City where he graduated from Oklahoma University as a Geologist and mama worked as a teller in a local bank.  Most of his family lived in Oklahoma City as well, and she and his family became very close.  Mama told us stories of how Dad's two sisters, Jesse and Chris use to play cards together to pass the time... and how all three of them were expecting their first babies during that time.  Mom always looked back on those times with good memories.

Mom talked a lot about how much fun she and dad had in Oklahoma City.  She talked about going to OU college football games and family gatherings at Grandma and Grandpa Beasley's home... with all the family around.  Family meant everything to mom.  She was very happy to be a part of the Beasley family.

Mom and Dad's first son, Charles Ray Beasley was born in Oklahoma City on January 29, 1951.  Alvin's job took them to Jackson, Mississippi in 1952 where their daughter, Lou Ann was born on January 12, 1954.  Mom told us a story about the day she had Lou Ann.  Dad wanted to go look at new cars... so on the way to the hospital... they went "car shopping".  They made it to the hospital just in time.

About eight months into 1954, mom told me Alvin came in and told her they were "moving to Roswell".  Her reply was, "Where on earth is that?".  A few weeks later...they found themselves in Roswell, New Mexico.

Early Years

Norma ("Honey") was about four years old when her family moved from Michigan to Tampa, Florida.  Their first home was on beautiful Bayshore Boulevard.  Her mother wasn't fond of living right on the water, so they moved to a nine room house on Main Avenue, where she lived until she got married. 

Mama was the third child of four; a brother James, sister Marianne, and a younger brother Robert.  Mom told us she got the name "Honey" because her brother Robert couldn't say "Norma" when he was small, so he called her by the name "Honey".  Throughout her life, her friends and family knew her as Honey Mitchell.  How right he was.... to choose that name.

Prelude

Our precious mom, Norma ("Honey") Mitchell was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan on April 16, 1926.  She only weighed 1 and 1/2 pounds when she was born in that rural community... literally on the side of a mountain, in a small shack.  When she was born... she was not expected to live.  But God had a plan for her.  Mama had a wonderful purpose on this earth... to live and love and care... for those in her life...... for many, many years.  Through the grace of God and the love of her mother, Anna Rose Mitchell, she did live. She grew to be a beautiful and wonderful person during her 84 years and 8 1/2 months on this earth.  This memorial is a story of our mom's life and a tribute to the gift she gave to everyone she came in contact with.  It is about her unconditional love, her devotion to caring for others, her unselfishness, and her wonderful sense of humor, which she shared with everyone who knew her... told by the people who have known her... and loved her... during her time here on earth. 

If you have a memory or a story about our mom... please take a few moments to share them with us here.  She touched so many lives in such wonderful ways and we all loved her very much.