After my husband, Bob’s 2nd great grandma, Mary LuLu Taylor remarried, following the death of her first husband, James Leary, on March 26, 1888, she and her second husband had three children, bringing to four the total number of her children. Her life had taken her from Forsyth, Montana to Shelby, Missouri, where she met James Begier, who became her second husband. Later, they would move to several other times, but Montana always seemed to be in her blood and she would return there several times. Her daughter Mabel Claire Begier met and married her husband, Edward Anthony Brown in Rosebud, Montana. I’m not positive at what point Mabel became a telephone operator, but she did, and as it turns out, that’s where she was working during one of the floods that took place in Montana. That job, at that time in history, put her right in the middle of a serious situation, and in a position to help those in need of assistance.
When we think of any disaster…be it fire, earthquake, tornado, or flood, our first instinct these days is to dial 911 on our phones. That has become the go to number for all kinds of help in times of need. That wasn’t always the case though. Years ago, it was the operator you called for help. You simply dialed “0” to get in touch with someone who could connect you with any branch of emergency help there was…as well as to let everyone else in town know about the emergency…at least back then they could. Privacy laws would have prevented that these days. Of course, if it was a big emergency, letting everyone know would be her job.
Mabel Begier was an operator during an emergency that would have qualified as one in which it was acceptable to let people know, but then my guess is that most people already knew that it was coming. Floods in towns where you live near a river are common in the Spring, especially after a particularly high snowfall year. People who live near rivers already know that Spring means that you have to watch the water levels, stay prepared to evacuate, and stay informed at all times. At that time in history, when a warning needed to be sent out, you called the operator to get the warning out. That was where Mabel came in, and she loved her job. I think the job that she had was very important, and she was a key part of the emergency efforts of that era.
When you have a family member in a nursing home, and you visit them often, the other residents of the nursing home soon become…almost like your family members too. You get to a place where you know their names, their personalities, and their funny little quirks. Of course, I’m not going to tell their names, even though I know them, but there are the two old ladies that didn’t know each other until they went to the nursing home and became roommates. Now everyone calls them the twins, because they are inseparable. They may not know where they are going, but they will be going there together…and together, they wander the hallways, always smiling and totally happy.
There is the little old lady who is often the first one to tell you hello when you walk in the door, and she doesn’t mind giving medical advice if you have a cough or some other simple ailment, because “she raised 7 children, so she knows what to do for a cough” and for just about any other ailment. She isn’t pushy though, she just wants to be helpful. There is the little old lady that walks down the halls and out of the blue, she just starts dancing a jig, and can even click her heals. While her mind doesn’t work as good as her body, she is perfectly happy and content in her surroundings. Of course, every nursing home has the sad ones and the grouchy ones, but many of them are happy and cheerful, and they always put a smile on my face.
The one that really surprised me the most though, was my mother-in-law’s roommate. She is a happy little lady and quite talkative when you get to know her. She will tell you that she was “born in Oklahoma 94 years ago, and that is the place where the tornadoes are…you know”. It wasn’t the things she said or the way she acted that surprised me, but rather…the way she looked. I mean, who would have guessed in a million years that my mother-in-law would end up sharing a room in a nursing home with a woman who looks so much like her mother-in-law. Yes, grandma was 10 years older than mom’s roommate, and Grandma never made it to 94, but I can easily imagine that she might have look just like her if Grandma had made it to 94. It makes me feel kind of good about mom’s roommate, because when she talks to her, it seems like she knows her, and maybe she thinks she is her mother-in-law. The other day she told her, “I was wondering if you were coming in.” It was just like something she might have said to her mother-in-law…like she thought her roommate was her mother-in-law, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did.