Five years ago, on Jan. 31, we buried my mother, Mary Gladys Midgorden Reeder Carter. She was 74. My mother’s death made me, and my two younger sisters, “adult orphans” – a term used today to describe adult children whose parents are dead. My father died when I was 14, at the age of 44.
My mom taught in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. for 30 years – first at Wheeler Elementary School, now closed and demolished, and then at Caze Elementary, which I attended through sixth grade. When friends and relatives speak of my mother, it is almost always about her easy laugh and good sense of humor.
My family moved to Evansville, my dad’s hometown, in 1970, to settle down from the nomadic life of his career as a high school girls basketball coach. My parents had met in 1951 at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. (My dad followed his best friend and W. Florida Street neighbor to college in Lamoni.) My mother worked in a travel agency, department stores, and taught school as they embarked on marriage chasing coaching jobs in small communities across the state. The Iowa communities – mostly small towns not unlike we have in Indiana – where I recall they lived are Osceola, Lamoni, Des Moines, Patricia Park, Winterset, Indianola, Pleasantville, Emmetsburg, New Virginia, Baxter, and Melcher.
Somewhere in the mix, they worked in more than a year in Independence, Mo., and also moved to Montana. Under the big sky, my parents lived near Flathead Lake, and my mother taught school on the Flathead Indian Reservation. They returned to Iowa after learning I would soon be born.
It can be sad to be an adult orphan, yet I’m thankful for healthy stepparents and in-laws – and the opportunity to share a bit of history.