Good Bye

Saturday, October 5, 2019 8:05 PM

How do you say good bye to your Mom?   I don’t really know, so please bear with me.  As you no doubt know, Mom was under Hospice care during the last few months of her life.  On Monday, September 30th, she peacefully passed away in her sleep.   This was the first picture of the two of us together, taken when I was 6 weeks old.   Even though it is black and white, it is still my favorite.  

Clarice Marie Heeck was born on July 27, 1922 in a “Sod Hut" on the Montana plains.  Grandpa Fred had a homestead near the town of Dotson, and also was part owner of the Livery Stable in Dotson.   Just after my aunt Barbara was born a year later, they moved to the Seattle area as drought and an unscrupulous partner had cost grandpa his farm.  My grandmother’s family had moved the previous year to Seattle, and after a few months, the Heeck family moved to Concrete, Washington where grandpa went to work for the Cement plant. 

Concrete is where Mom and her sisters grew up, and where she met my father, Allen Tingley.   They were married on February 15, 1941 and never could anyone say that their lives together were dull.   As a wedding present, my father made a bed frame for his new bride, and this was the bed that Mom was in when she died.  That was her wish, to be at home in the bed that Daddy had made for her.

My sister Margaret and I were fortunate to grow up in a house Sedro-Woolley where adventures were always happening.  And we were also fortunate to have had two parents who showed us every day of their lives what being an ethical person was all about and the need to always be open to new and different things.   Mom and Dad were married for 54 years, Dad passing away while enjoying being in the desert during the Winter.   

Mom took to writing after Daddy’s death, and her book “Wildcat” was a story about the Tingley family (Dad’s) on the Skagit River.   “Wildcat” refers both to the river and to the family that for 80 years was entwined with the river.  Mom eventually turned over the rights to the book to the Sedro-Woolley Museum, where it is still for sale.     Subsequently she did a tribute to her family, both the Heecks and the Gundersons (though not exactly flattering to the Gundersons) and Dave and I were thrilled to be able to get it published for all my cousins.   In the last few years she worked on writing about the advertures that they had on their sailboat and again, Dave and I got it done up as a small book for the family.   When she moved to Mill Creek to live with Margaret, she became involved with a writers group at the Mill Creek Senior Center and was sad when she had to give it up last year because of her deteriorating health.

To think of all the changes she saw in her lifetime almost boggles the mind.  She lived through the depression, saw the start of WWII, worked as a deckhand for their towing company when men were drafted, worked for the Navy at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for the first part of the war and then enlisted in the Navy in 1944 in order to go to college.  She had been told that she would never have children, so decided to enlist as my Father was in the Pacific on oil tankers.  She then received a medical discharge - due to being pregnant with ME.   As a child I cringed at that story, but looking back I realize that she told it with love and though she never got to go to college, she instilled in me the notion that I WAS going and for that I will be eternally grateful.   

She and Dad ran their successful log towing company from the end of WWII until the late 1950s when the logging business was declining on the upper reaches of the Skagit River.   She then went to work for Skagit Steel, a local company that made winches used in logging and for offshore oil rigs until her retirement 1979.  She learned to ski with my sister and I in the mid 50s, both snow and water; and while never graceful, she always was willing to try.   

And she could embarrass her daughters by doing things like riding up the chair lift at Mt Baker Ski Area, getting off, taking a look at the trails down the mountain and GETTING BACK ON THE LIFT WITH HER SKIS STILL ATTACHED!   Two early teenage girls were mortified, but also a little in awe that she judged she wasn’t that good a skier and shouldn’t tackle those challenging trails and did what was necessary to insure she wasn’t injured.  

She went from riding in a buggy on the plains of Montana to flying in jumbo jets to Australia, Norway, and Germany to go on tours.   She saw the development of the auto industry, radio, television, men walking on the moon, the growth of computers, a woman run for president (and win the most votes) and this summer visiting with her granddaughter via Facetime.  She loved the fact that we had purchased a hybrid car and so enjoyed her couple of rides in it.

She was always willing to get involved in a cause, and after my Dad died, she and a neighbor went to bat against the homeowners association where she lived on Whidbey Island to get a new entrance to the subdivision in place and to get better management of the water for the subdivision.   And she while she was only just over 5 feet tall, she intimitated our 6’ 3” son-in-law the first time he met her by letting him know that he would NEVER hurt Megan or she would hunt him down!

This was our last photo as a family, taken July 5th, 2018 at Margaret’s  house with all of us except Kenneth, who was back in Texas working.   

We will all miss her,  but we have wonderful memories that will last the rest of our lives.