The Last Goodbye


(WOMR file photo)

This is without a doubt going to be one of the most difficult, and challenging articles to complete that I have yet written.  It has now taken me nineteen days to try to compose my thoughts, emotions, and arrange what you are bout to read.  Having said that, I feel compelled to share my loss with you.

Ola Mae Hammack

June 13 1918-June 30 2012

Those two lines appear to be self-explanatory, right?  Oh contraire, my friend!  How can a date, a dash, and another date define, adequately describe the person?  That dash between the birthdate and the date of death is a lifetime, in Mom’s case, 94 marvelous and glorious years.

Those 94 years encompassed a multitude of highs and lows.

Her life started out, in 1918, as the daughter of John Addison and Annie Myrtle Smith (nee Fletcher) in the little farm town of Sayre, Oklahoma.  Being number four out of a total of eight children, only seven lived to adulthood, having an extremely poor childhood, part of which was growing up during the depression, helped to formulate Mom’s naive conservative pentecostal point of view.

Mom’s family migrated from Western Oklahoma to South Texas while she was still in elementary school, they were chasing the agriculture work in the early 1920’s.  It was there in South Texas, at the age of 12, that my Mom was introduced to, accepted, and made religion an integral part of her life for the next 82 years!

At the age of 14 or 15 her family, once again, chased the farm work to Buckeye, Arizona.  It was shortly thereafter that Mom met another Oklahoma native, my Dad, Archie Wilson Hammack.

The courtship was very short and they were married in Buckeye, AZ on February 20, 1934.

Just eleven months after marrying, Mom and Dad welcomed into their family on January 19, 1935, with much joy, a new son named Donald.  However, just ten days before Christmas, December 15, 1935, and ten months after his birth, Donald passed away while battling pneumonia.

From 1934 through 1942 Mom and Dad worked as migrant farm workers, following the crops from the Imperial Valley, throughout the Central Valley of California, and occasionally up though Idaho, and back to the Imperial Valley of California.  All the while adding two more sons, Ted and Jim, to their family.  It was the lifestyle that was illustrated by John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath”, in a nutshell!

During WWII, Mom and Dad settled into San Pablo, CA, an East Bay town of the SF Bay area metropolis.  During those years, the family was increased by two more mouths.  It was there that, both Zeeva and Jerry, were added to the family role.  The surviving children now totaled four at this point.

After the war ended, Mom and Dad decided to move to the Alaskan Island of Craig to try commercial fishing.  That venture only lasted about 2-3 years.  My Dad came down with Tuberculosis in 1948, and the decision to return to California.  After entering a TB sanitarium in Monrovia for treatment, it was decided that the whole family would relocate to Visalia where my maternal grandmother was residing at the time.  Later the family would move to Monrovia to be closer to Dad during his recovery.

In 1950 my Dad exited the hospital, and moved the family to Tulare, CA.  It was there the following year, 1951, that the last of the children, yours truly, Leon, arrived.

For the 61 years that my Mom and Dad was married, Mom was the backbone of the family, instilling her beliefs, guiding, and teaching her children, as mothers always do.  It was through those 61 years that she tried to be the best Mom that she possibly could be.  It was through those 61 years that she did her best to try to show her children, through example, as well as words, how to be a responsible adult.  Her efforts will forever be felt, and greatly appreciated!

However, for the last 16 1/2 years, Dad passed away on December 30, 1995, Mom has lived a more lonesome lifestyle.  Notwithstanding the fact that her five children were able to provide her a very comfortable living, growing old by one’s self makes for a lonely existence!

This past March Mom’s life started to unravel.  Her health began to decline, as well as her will to live, began to decline.  Fortunately, however, Mom’s mental and physical were soaring high for her 94th birthday, June 13th, as we gathered around her to celebrate that huge milestone!

But that was short-lived, on the morning of Tuesday, June 26th, however, Mom’s health took a huge U-turn!  She slipped into a coma, it was obvious that her time on this Earth was rapidly coming to an end!  It was at that point that our family gathered together around Mom, offering her love and support, knowing full well that she was about to answer that long distant call from God that we know we all must answer one day.

That call from God was made to Mom at 2:45 pm on June 30, 2012.!

That afternoon, was for me, “THE LAST GOODBYE”!  

For those who have not visited the web site we created for Mom, check out the following link.  Your comments and stories are encouraged!

Til we meet again, this is YOUR Captain speaking, I love you and miss you, Mom!