A Tribute to Ida Arnette
Mother, Sister, Friend

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On August 16, 2009, Alzheimer's took my mother away. In the end it was a mixed time of deep sadness and relief. Thankfully we had discussed such a scenario in our family many years before so we knew how to handle it when the time came. She was under hospice care after spending the previous three years in a nursing home. Ida Arnette was a remarkable woman who's enormous spirit shown brightly. She will be missed.

Gerard McDonnellMom was our memory keeper. One of the best gifts she ever gave Ken and I were our own picture books that followed our lives from birth to leaving home in pictures, captions and stories. I look at it often these days.

She was a private person but if she thought her story could help others she would be the first to say yes.

Mom had Alzheimer’s disease and it took her life as it did her sister Chris.

It is a disease for which there is no cure and researchers are struggling to understand why it happens. But we know what it does to a person, to our mothers, sisters, and friends.

Mom was a complex person. She had many interest and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. She was curious.

I remember when she and dad came to visit Cathy and me in Europe. She looked at the quaint villages and towering cathedrals like an eager child. I remember her standing on the snow after a gondola ride looking up at the Matterhorn with amazement. You could feel her curiosity being quenched.

Mom had a keen eye for business. As Ken and entered the workforce, she would drill us with questions on the phone about our jobs, careers and how things were run. She spent almost 25 years working at Sears. It was also part of her family. And she grew up in an age of men in business and held her own – just ask any of her bosses!

Ida Arnette

As a mom, she was quite dedicated. She took a few years off from working to make sure Ken and I had that “Leave it to Beaver” life with a mom seeing us off to school, there when we got home. She made sure both Ken and I were always well dressed no matter where we went – new shorts for vacations, the best polyester pants for the first day of school and of course a jacket and tie for church – yes, we hated it!

And of course she took her own appearance just as seriously. It was rare when mom wa not totally put together! From her shoes to pants to hair. I never really figured it out but her hair do was a pivotal part of her life. How much she paid was a state secret she never revealed but I think it was all of $15 a week!

Her patience was endless for our never ending antics or Dad’s long winded blessings at holiday gatherings. She just rolled her eyes at whatever we handed her and passed it off with a smile to who ever would catch her eye.

But her love and attention went well beyond Dad, Ken and me. As almost everyone in this chapel knows, she always had time for you. If you were sick or hadn’t spoken in a while, Ida would call or drop by for a visit. If she had a spare magazine, she would drop it off. She was glad to bring a dish to a family event. She wasn’t just family, she was a friend.

Mom loved to cook, especially for big events. While there was the occasional grumble, her actions spoke loudly of her convection. She loved turkey and dressing and homemade banana ice cream, well OK, we loved the ice cream. But she always made nuts and bolts or what some call party mix at Christmas and of course she made a killer pecan pie.

She loved her home and kept it in immaculate condition. Rarely was the floor dirty or a bed unmade. Dad did the yard, Mom did the rest.

Weatherford Family Reunion

However, Crowley was special in her heart. When Grand mom was alive we would go there often to visit her and all the aunts, uncles and cousins. She loved to sit on that sing on the porch, taking it all in. She was at peace, she was at home. It was an enduring memory that she held up until the end.

Family reunions were special to mom. She looked forward to catching up with everyone and seeing all the new babies – and there were a lot!

Chris Lane told me he remembered mom’s knack at managing a conversation, albeit brief, with every single niece & nephew who showed up at the annual Weatherford shindig. I am sure many of you can remember mom talking to you, asking about your families and your job. Showing concern about the events we all go through in life – marriages, divorces, births and deaths – yes, she cared deeply about everyone.

So she is gone. It was tough to visit her or call her on the phone knowing that she would not remember but somehow, I think she did deep down.

Her laugh, her smile, her contagious sense of humor. She was our friend, our sister, our aunt, our mother.

We love you mom.


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