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- Story Listed as: True Life For Adults
- Theme: Stories about Friendship & Family
- Subject: Family
- Published: 12/08/2012
Biography of My MotherBorn 1946, M, from Buffalo, Minnesota, United States
BIOGRAPHY OF MY MOTHER
My mother: Margaret Isabel Ogaard (Lively) was born in a small Northwestern Minnesota town named Beltrami on April 1, 1923. Her mother: Bertha and father: Earl were farmers who immigrated to the Beltrami area with family from Illinois in the early 1900s. Mom was also blessed with an older sister Deloris (Toots) and a younger sister Jewell. The farming Lively family raised chickens, cows, horses, geese, and very few cats since Bertha insisted on shooting the tomcats in the area with her 410. The Lively farm was located on the shores of the Sandhill River south of Beltrami and provided a great recreation spot for the girls swimming in the summer and some snow sliding in the winter. With no indoor plumbing, a two-hole outhouse was located on the south shore of the river about 30 yards from their house. The two hole temple was decorated inside with newspaper ads and supplied with yellow pages of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Life on the farm involved daily chores along with picking eggs from under the noisy hens who laid the tuition money that Bertha latter saved to send her girls to school. The four seasons of Minnesota were all happy periods on the farm and canning along with a winter meat supply were priority items in the fall. The farm layout was very typical for the Midwest with a house, barn, machine shed, chicken coupe, and garage. Bertha and the girls ran the egg business and Earl ran the barn business with cows and horses. Eggs were washed, boxed, and delivered to the Fertile feed store weekly. Very little money changed hands in those days as the method of purchase was a trade/swap for goods raised.
My mother had a very happy life on the farm. Some days were spent playing with her dog Pooch and other days were spent playing the guitar and dreaming of a radio singing career. Mom and her sisters were prompted by Bertha to be good singers and a trio group known in the area as the Lively Sisters achieved some notoriety at the Polk County Fair and local events. Some of the songs I remember the group practicing on Christmas at Gramdmas were “Mr. Sandman” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Mom and her sisters liked to swim in the watering tank for the steam locomotives north of the river instead of the river proper because of cleanliness. These days of swimming would later allow mom to participate in swimming at Moorhead State Teachers College in the Flora Frick swimming pool. Mom was very proud of a bull calf she raised yielding enough cash to buy her first bicycle, which gave her a form of mobility. Mom also had her daily chores of feeding chickens and picking eggs in the chicken coupe which was latter followed by a shower on the north side with rain water or very cold well water in the summer. As a child my mother and her sisters were all participants in the annual chicken cleaning event at the clothesline, which yielded a vast supply of meat for the winter months.
Mom had a great high school history in the 1940 graduating class of Beltrami High School composed of 8 students. Mom, Jewell, Bertha, and Earl all sat out in a winter storm on March 15, 1941 together after seeing a movie at the Fox Theatre in Fertile, Minnesota. Mom would never drive or go out in bad winter weather after that tragic experience. Mom’s growth into her adult life was fostered by earning a teacher’s certificate in 1943 at my Alma Mater: Moorhead State Teachers College. Her first and only teaching job was in 1944 at a small white country schoolhouse in Lockhart, Minnesota with a coal-fired stove for heat. Mom rented a room from the Bennish Family nearby and was very proud and well liked as an educator for some of the young farm children in the area.
Mom met Curtis Ogaard at a barn dance at Rickey Schendalls in Ada, Minnesota in 1941. Mom was a very good dancer and taught me how to keep the beat while she was leading several times. In Mom’s diary we find an entry where she wrote that Curtis Ogaard had caught her eye and hoped that she had sparked an interest in his also. Earl hired Curtis as a hired man to help with the chores and assist with the hard duties required around the farm. Curtis and Earl were not buddies at first. I suspect as a father, Earl knew that a handsome Norwegian was not going to hold his hormones in check when a flock of gorgeous daughters were running about the farm yard! The power of love overcame Curtis and Mom and they eloped to Crookston, Minnesota where they were married in January of 1942. They returned home to the Lively farm and celebrated their honeymoon in the upstairs of Earl’s home without anyone knowing they were married. It was not until a week or so latter that Earl was told that he had a new son-in-law; wow what a surprise! In the weeks to come Curtis received his draft notice from Uncle Sam and was sent to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for basic training. Dad returned home after basic training for a short leave and then returned to Texas for training prior to going overseas near Calcutta, India. It seems Mom became pregnant with Nancy during Dad’s first leave and Mom latter rode the train to Texas for a visit and a smooch, which she described to me as pure hell in the heat. Dad was deployed to India for a year and one half during Word War II where he served as an MP at the Calcutta U.S. Army/Air Force Base. Mom was busy at home giving delivery to Nancy on January 19, 1944 who was left with Bertha and Deloris during the week when she went away to Lockhart teaching school. Time passed and Dad returned from the war to settle down in a little white house on the Lively Farm where Dad and Mom were in love like Bugs in a Rug. I soon came along in December of 1946 and my Dad’s desire to become a carpenter and fix houses justified Mom and Dad’s decision to get their first house across from the schoolhouse in Beltrami. Mom told me how proud they were of their family and their beautiful home built in 1895 with a white picked fence out front.
As a child in Beltrami I have endless memories of my time with Mom. As a little gy I remember Mom always having breakfast ready so I could eat by the hot air register in the front room. Mom also had Dad’s breakfast ready and would yell up the stairs “Daddy”. I remember Mom sitting at the kitchen table one time crying because she didn’t know how she was going to pay an $ 85.00 grocery bill at the store. One time I saw a garden snake and came home screaming. She hit me in the head until I told her what was wrong and she took the grass scythe and killed that snake and brought it home to me so I could see it was dead. I always loved it when mom would play the piano and sing. I always remember the songs “She Wore a Tulip, a Big Yellow Tulip, and I wore a Big Red Rose” and “It is no Secret what God can Do” and “Mockin Bird Hill”. The funniest items were of Mom doing household chores. One time making donuts the grease caught on fire and almost burnt the kitchen down. The real humor came when Mom would bring in Dad’s rigid frozen underwear and hang them in the front room: thank God for the dryer. Mom’s old ringer washing machine was cool. I was always taking it apart and she would have to fix it before it would operate properly: I wonder if she knew who the stinker was? There were always people visiting our house and Mom was cooking and baking her famous sour cream cookies. Mom sent me two dozen cookies when I was in the Navy and they were green when they arrived in Iceland and we ate them anyway: still alive. As a child I would have tested even the Devil’s patience! I sassed my Mom one time and ran out of the house and climbed the apple tree to escape. She stood at the bottom and threatened me with bodily harm until I came down and I immediately got my mouth washed out with soap: ever eat Lava? Yechh!!
When I was in grade school in Beltrami, Mom was also there helping me get through the rough times. Mom went over to the school and told the principal Mr. Wiery to keep his hands off her child. I was about to get a whipping in his office when I wet my pants and went running home: that’s all it took for Mom to spring into action. Mom also cooked a squirrel for me and Steve Mjelde. I remember the look on her face as I took the first bite: Mom offered mustard and then it tasted great! Ha? I was always building forts and fixing up a new club house where me and the Newell boys could hang out and attack the Mjedle Boys. One time I shot Tommy Mjelde with my sling shot and World War III Started. Dorthy Mjelde was on our steps and Mom informed her that her kids should stay at home. My passion and drive was alittle upset on the day I drove the sewing machine needle through my index finger. Mom grabbed the sewing machine head and rotated it until my finger fell off the needle and a kiss and some words of encouragement made it heal a whole lot faster.
Mom had many get togethers at our house and the quilting parties were the best. Many ladies talking, singing, and saying prayers kept this little gy occupied for hours. Mom’s involvement in the American Legion Auxiliary after World War II was amazing. They had parties, games, fairs, wore uniforms and saluted the flag: I was told to behave during those ceremonies. Mom always had a big garden: almost half an acre. I remember the weeds growing faster than the peas and guess who got the honors of pulling weeds when he got in trouble? Mom was also a substitute teacher at the Beltrami Grade School. Mom substituted for my 6th grade class one time and Louis Doyea got lifted up by his hair for smarting off. I was popular that day cause I had the strongest Mom in Beltrami! Mom also attended all the PTA Meetings at the school and was very active in their music programs. My favorite memories in the fall were Mom and Toots picking choke cherries over by Fertile. I remember ladders and pails full of berries that went home with us and made into jelly and winter syrup. Mom was also a great fishing woman and always caught the fish in the boat. Dad was alittle reluctant to take her fishing cause she caught all the fish and he was just the guide, which Mom rubbed in his face every second! Ha! Mom loved being the manager of the Beltrami Coop Store. She worked with Carl Nornes, Emma Olson, and Violla Allen. The town gossip came through her store and the process of feeding farmers was an ever-ending bowl of issues that Mom always seemed to find herself stuck in the middle.
As I grew up Mom expected more of me and made me sing a solo at a Christmas concert at the Methodist Church: “Today is Jesus’s Birthday”! Mom was always there for me and yelled loud at my basketball games and wrote me letters and sent me tapes in the Navy in Iceland. I still have the tapes and they are a very funny item to listen to because everyone is so scared of that microphone! The day my Mom took me to Fargo to go to the Vietnam War was a very somber event. I don’t think I ever saw Mom cry so hard in my life. I knew I had to come home alive or this lady was going to go out of her mind. I guess the event brought out old memories of Word War II and saying goodbye to Dad when you would have rather said “Hello”.
My Mom and I had good times together after Dad died in 1983. I took her to Yellowstone and the Lewis and Clark Trail in 1985. Her mind was so sharp and the history lessons gained while driving were nothing that could be gained at any American University. Our trip to Fort Clatsup in Oregon was very rewarding for me. I never knew squat about the winter of 1805 in Oregon but Mom knew how many elk Lewis and Clark consumed and every thing Sakakawea ate for breakfast! What a mind! Mom was a fan of Johnny Denver and kept his picture on the organ in the front room. The day Johnny Denver died in a plane crash almost killed Mom. I don’t think she talked to anyone for a week until she got her composure back. Mom had many hobbies and didn’t sit around and watch Oprah. Mom loved puzzles, crocheting, dish towels, making comforters, and unique blankets that couldn’t be bought for any amount of money. My greatest treasure and memory of Mom are the decorations and sewing articles in my house: they are everywhere! Guests to my house always ask “Where did you get that”? My answer is always the same: “an Angel made it for me”.
The greatest love, admiration, and thanks I have for my Mom was the day she saved my life. Hiedi, Mom and I were at a cabin on Balm Lake in northern Minnesota enjoying a vacation in 1984. During the night I had stayed up drinking beer and reading Outdoor Life Magazines. As I went to the refrigerator one time I heard this voice say to me “Alan would you please come here”. I went into Mom’s bedroom where she softly padded a sitting spot on her bed with her right hand and asked me “why do you drink so much”? I could not excuse the obvious that I was addicted and broke down and told her the truth. We both cried and decided to come up with a plan of action: I would go get help and Mom would watch Hiedi. Every day of my life from that day forward has been a growing experience for me. I entered treatment, started a new life, joined various AA Groups, and have remained sober for 25 years. I had known there was a problem for a long time but Mom’s courage to face the truth gave me the power to overcome the denial, take action, and get rid of the Devil’s Nectar in my life. Thank you so very much Mom!!!!
My final farewell to Mom was so very special and wonderful. My friend Bill Walker told me that if I did not say a final goodbye it would haunt me for the rest of my life. On Wednesday January 28, 2009 I made the drive to the Fair Meadow Nursing home in Fertile, Minnesota. As I entered the room two nurses were setting Mom up with pillows so I could visit with her. When her eyes caught mine I heard a very strong and masterful “Alan”! I was shocked and saddened when I saw the woman I loved sitting up on the side of her bed like a child with her left hand on the clinical railing so she wouldn’t fall off. Her arms were both shaking violently and I was scared; but only when I looked into her eyes did the reality and fear come together to establish the power and beauty of the moment we were about to have together. My Mothers eyes were glazed over to a dark gray from the morphine drugs she had been given. It was apparent that my Mom was on the last episode of her journey. I asked her if she could hear me and she replied “Yes”. I asked her if she could see me and she replied “Yes”. I showed her my new coat and hat as she tried to focus and no words came. I started to cry and she scolded me and said “That makes me sad”; so I quit. I then held Mom’s hand and she scolded me again that it was making her sad. She then asked for a Kleenex so she could rid her throat of something she had coughed up. She then asked for “Orange Juice” and I ran out to the nurses and they brought in a cup of juice with a straw. I hand fed the juice to Mom and you could see the look in her eyes that she was tiring. I went and asked the nurses to lay her down and that was very hard work for them. Mom laid there as I read the 23 Psalm from my Bible and also Matthew:18. My tears were falling on my Bible and so it was that the Humility of a Child that Jesus referred to in Matthew:18 as a requirement to enter Heaven was taking place right in front of my eyes. Mom opened her eyes every minute or so to see if there was someone there and said to one of the nurses as she left “Don’t leave me”. I said “Mom everything will be fine” and you could see a smile come to her face. A few minutes later I arose and left knowing that I would never see her alive again. I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and said “I love you Mom” and left the room. I hugged the nurses and left with tears flowing like rain and a soothing calm came over me because I knew that I had experienced one of the greatest gifts of all: “A MOTHER’S LOVE”! As I drove down the highway the feeling of a loss was with me but I also carried the feeling of happiness that Mom was in the Lord’s Hands forever.
I wish that my Mom: (Peggy) be remembered for her outgoing personality and teaching spirit. Mom could be very blunt and in most cases she was right but Mom was best remembered for being the Cheerleader in our family: “Go Live Life” she would say! Mom set a good example in her childhood, marriage, and final years as an elder in the Fertile Fairview Nursing Home. Mom always took time to make anyone anything and wanted so much to meet and comfort Johnny Denver’s mom. Mom was obedient to her family, children, Lord, and husband to the day Dad died. The greatest example was sent to us children seeing Mom and Dad in love up to the final days when he went to the hospital and also in earlier years when Mom would hide in the fruit closet to scare Dad when he came home from work. They enjoyed each other’s company so very much. Dad called Mom “Poops” and mom called Dad “Curtass”! They were so much in love and today Jesus is surely letting them laugh and smile together in between the interaction with all the other people in Heaven. I am sad my Mom is gone, but I celebrate her life of almost 86 years as: a Mother, a Teacher, a Buddy, a Christian, a Grandmother, an Artist, a Piano Player, a Singer, a Sewer, a Cook, a Laugher, a Joker, a Leader, a Wife, a Comforter, a Business Lady, a Giver, and most blessedly a HAPPY SPIRIT! Jesus has received the Best of the Best! Amen.
Margaret I. Ogaard Died Sunday February 1, 2009
At 10:00 A.M. in Her Sleep while I was in Church.
2/9/2009 – Rusty Winters Author
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