Of course in 1973 I started getting letters from Dot, Irene and Benny and people like that telling me that Mother was visibly fading. They said you should come and see her and at that time I was scheduled to go to Taiwan. So I asked my boss if I could stop in Minnesota for four or five days and he said “Of course, as long as you fulfil your mission in Taiwan,” which is what a good boss should do. I flew to Minneapolis and borrowed a car from our people there and drove to New Richland and all of you, so thoughtfully, kind of left us alone which I appreciate very much. I guess there’s something about our family, my brothers and sisters and their husbands and wives, that always seem to show such good taste in situations like this. In any case, I was going to be there for three and a half days. I guess I spent the first two days in the garden. Her garden wasn’t in very good shape and it was, of course, because she couldn’t get out there. She watched me from the window as I hoed it all and pulled all the weeds and watered it. And then I did a lot of work around the yard. I cut thistles and tried to clean up the weeds and stuff around the house, then I washed and ironed and of course she made little meals for us, and it was a very wonderful experience for me, and I could see that she was very happy.
On the day I was scheduled to go, I borrowed this car and I thought I should take it back to them in good shape so I drove it on the lawn and got some water and washed the car. And Mother was getting very quiet. I guess we both knew that we would never meet again on this earth. She made a little lunch for me and I was ready to go. I was all packed and we were eating the lunch together, and she was very quiet and then she said, “Well Charlie,” she said. “I notice you don’t receive when you go to church.” And then she said, “I’m going to ask you to go to confession and take communion so you can have communion at my funeral.” I suppose, if someone would say to me, “Well, you are never without words,” this was one time that I was without words. I think I blurted out something like, “I will try.” But anyway, that’s all she said. She didn’t try to pressure me in any way, she just laid it all out on the table and I’m sure that she had been thinking about the words she would use all morning, and I’m sure her thoughts were of my condition and not hers.
Of course, I got to Taiwan, and when I arrived in Taiwan I called Dot and I said, “Well Dot, if something happens and I’m in the country, I’ll come, but, if I’m far away overseas, there is really no point in me coming back.” After I had been in Taiwan about three days they called me and said, “Your mother has had a heart attack and is in the hospital.” And the plant manager in Taiwan said, “Well C.V., it’s up to you. You can go back if you want to, but we expect you to be back here to get this job done before the time is up.” So I made the decision not to come, and I guess it was a smart one because Mother was completely surrounded by her great family and everything that could be done for her was being done.
I’m sure that her passing was a sad occasion for everybody, but we have to remember that Mother led a full life. If any person on this earth ever led a full life, she did. She was happy in her little house and she was happy with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her children were all so very kind to her, and their husbands and wives were all so very kind to her that Mother Crumb was almost an institution in her community.
I guess she accepted the philosophy that we all must accept: that death is part of life. You’re going to come on this earth and you’re going to leave this earth, and if you led the kind of life that she led – useful, practical life of that kind, you’ve got to say that since she had to go sometime, that her passing wasn’t a great tragedy; that it came naturally. And she left this world among all of her children and grandchildren, with a few exceptions, and with everyone’s kindest thoughts and gratitude for all that she had done and been to all of us.
I have just replayed these two tributes, one to Dad and one to Mother, and it has been a rather emotional experience for me, I can assure you. And it sounds a little jumbled because of course this is… there’s no rehearsal here. I’ve simply tried to recall a little bit of what these two very great people meant to all those near them, throughout their lives. And I guess, probably, it would be fitting to say that we, the children of these two great people, were very fortunate and we probably had all the true advantages, and when I say that, I’m not thinking of a lot of money or any grand, formal education. When I say all the real and true advantages, I mean that through their love and their self-discipline and their kindness we (at this situation of the times we lived in), we learned at an early age that the world is a world of reality and if we want something, we’ve got to work for it. And if we want something to last, we have to take care of it and really, there’s no-one else who’s going to hand you an easy life. And I guess these are the only real lessons and I only hope that this little tribute that I’ve tried to put together in memory of our two great parents will be received in the light that I made them, and that is a light of fond memories and great reverence for our parents.