Don't Rush Me
The little grandma who thought she was Irish
Mildred (Fletcher) Rush, May 7, 1914 to August 25, 2011
September 07, 2011 - Like most families, sooner or later the older generation gives way, moves on . . . kicks the bucket. So it was with ours the other week.
The Rush clan lost our grandmother, Mildred. At 97, she out-lived her three children, my Aunt Pat Kessler, Uncle Terry and my father, Donald W. Rush. She out paced (by 44 years) her husband, my Grandpa, John Joseph Jeremiah Rush, her parents (Jim and Ethel Fletcher), two of her three siblings, one grandson (Mark Kessler) and a slew of friends. Of the middle generation only my mother, Shirley Rush keeps on ticking – and she's Grandma's daughter-in-law.
But, there were few tears for Granny Great as my boys Shamus and Sean called her. She lived a good, long life and she was surrounded by loved ones when she died and only a few hours before we were able to make her smile and she got out a few last, "I love you's."
On Thursday, August 25, 2011 she left behind a goodly spread of her genetic code, 16 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and a slew of great-great grandkids – kids whom I don't even know their names, gender or who their parents even are. At last count there were 12 great-greats. She is also survived by her younger sister, Lorena Soop.
She was a tough old broad, and I told her that as often as I could. I think she kind of relished the idea of being the resilient one. Some, behind her back, would call her hard, cold. All would say it was her way, everyday. What can I say, she was a tough old broad.
When she was a young girl in Sedalia, Missouri (even though she pronounced it Miz-zur-a), she survived Scarlet Fever. The illness left her with a heart mummer. I told the folks during her funeral mass they missed the opportunity to feel the dent in her head, because the casket was already closed and blessed by Father Ray. She got that dent when her mother yelled, "Mildred!" She was looking at a book, next to a screened window on the second floor of her grandparent's home. She fell out, hit the ground and wasn't 'spected to live.
When she was nearly a teen, she was out with her uncle hunting parsnips (whatever they are) in the Ozarks. She got bit by a rattler. Her uncle cut the wound, spit out the poison and carried her back to the family farm. (In my mind, I see a one-eyed fat man doing that, which means I have watched the movie True Grit, way too many times.) She had her first heart attack in the late 1950s, when the Rush family home in Detroit caught fire – after one of her sons fell asleep smoking. She had her second heart attack in 1967, during the Riots of Detroit. Not because the races were not getting along, rather because her husband had just died and her two sons got in a fight.
She survived. She was tough.
Grandma loved to travel, but was fondest of her exploits to Ireland. She loved the Irish, their music, demeanor – the whole kit and caboodle. Why not, she was Irish, right? Yet . . .
She met my grandpa at a dance in Detroit in the late 1920s. She was about 5-foot tall. Grandpa was over six. He thought she was a cute little "Jewish" girl. She wasn't – she was something far more sinister (back then), a Baptist, gulp, of mostly English ancestry!
Grandma took to grandpa's religion fully as she took to his heritage (Irish Catholic). The couple worked hard, and worked extra to send their children to St. Dominic Catholic School, and then St. Visitation for high school. They marched in the St. Patrick's Day parades and went to mass every week.
I guess being Irish isn't so much about the blood in the veins, rather than the idea in the mind. So, I guess she was more than the little grandma who thought she was Irish.
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For about the last eight years she was under the care of the Dominican Sisters run, Lourdes Nursing facility in Waterford. The care, compassion and love they show Grandma was nothing short of wonderful. I can never truly thank the Lourdes staff enough.
And, to Roy Langolf, Cara Gmerek and Bob Wilk of Coats Funeral Home in Ortonville, I tip my hat. As usual, their understanding and compassion is appreciated.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org