In Memory of My Mother
Jeanette Ann Baker
This is my mother Jeanette.† She was born in Columbia, SD on October 10, 1934 to Otto and Eleanor Krage.† Or is it Elenora? We can never figure out how she spelled it.† I think weíve seen it spelled both ways and in grandmaís own hand writing.† Anyway, Mom grew up on a farm just outside of Columbia which has a population of around 250 people.† She had an older brother Willis who passed away a few years before her, an older sister Darlene who was killed in a car accident when my mom was in her late teens, another brother Robert (Bobby) who died at the age of 15 from polio and a younger sister Marilyn who currently lives in Texas.†
(From bottom left clockwise)
Eleanor, Willis, Darlene, Otto, Jeanette(Mom) & Marilyn
After Mom graduated from high school, she moved to Aberdeen which is the third largest city in South Dakota and only about 20 miles from Columbia.† She got married and worked but after a few years decided that the marriage wasnít working so she parted ways with here first husband.† Later she met my father Richard.† They got married on April 27, 1962 and moved to Alliance, NE where my father owned his own restaurant.† Eight months after they married, she gave birth to her first son Brian (that would be me) and 11 months and 19 days later, my brother Mark was born.† After that, we moved to Torrington, WY where my dad opened up a drive-in name after his first two kids called the Jerry-Lyn.† Mom helped out at the restaurants and raised my brother and I as we moved from one town to the next.† From Torrington, we moved to Aurora, CO and stayed with my dadís uncle for a few month before we ended up in Colorado Springs.† A few years later we moved back up to a suburb of Denver called Commerce City.† Back in those days my father was kind of old fashioned wasnít too much in to the whole birth and delivery thing like most fathers are today so, when Mom was about to give birth to my sister Sue in March of 1968, we went on a little road trip back home to South Dakota to be with Grandma for the delivery.† We didnít last in Commerce City long as we were off to Montrose, CO after that.† Mom continued to be the dutiful housewife raising the three of us kids and taking care of the house.† Dad has a stock car race track just outside of town and on race days, Mom would pop up a big batch of popcorn.† My brother and I would go car to car and sell bags of popcorn while Mom ran the concession stand.† After a couple of years, mom and dad werenít getting along to well so they separated.† She loaded up the car with my brother, sister, myself and a few clothes and we drove back to South Dakota.† We stayed with my grandmother for while until Mom was able to get up enough money to by a trailer house.† Mom got a single wide and moved us into a trailer park right outside of Bath, SD.† As a kid it was pretty fun as we had fields all around us, a pond close by and plenty of other kids to play with.† Things were pretty tight at the time but I donít remember it being a burden although Iím sure it was hard on my mother.† My brother was diagnosed with asthma at the time and I can remember Mom having to give him shots all the time which always gave me the creeps.† I didnít like needles back then and I donít like them now though itís not quite as bad as I remember as a kid.† Aunt Marilyn lived in Watertown with Uncle Don and our two cousins, Dawn and Scott.† We would go visit once in a while since it was only a few hours away.† They lived in a house on the lake so we did a lot of †swimming, fishing and boating whenever we were there.† After one trip we came home to find the entryway in front of the trailer had blown over.† Mom had enough of the trailer life so she sold the place and we moved into a townhouse in Aberdeen.† Six months later, Dad convinced Mom to give another try.† He said they would buy a nice house and that things would be better so, my Mom, Dad, Mark and Sue went to Denver and found us a house.† Actually it was in a suburb called Aurora.† I stayed behind because I guess I was not all that interested in moving.† They came back and told me all about the house and how nice it was there.† As it turned out, Aurora was finally where we stayed.† We had a nice big four bedroom house in a new neighborhood.† Mom and Dad went out and bought furniture to fill up all the rooms.† Dad was an over the road truck driver so he wasnít home much.† After a while, Mom got bored and wanted to go back to work and have a little money of her own.† She had been a housewife for so long, †she really wasnít sure about going out into the working world.† Besides that, my father was still a little old fashioned and told her that she needed to stay home and take care of us kids so, thatís exactly what she did, along with several other peoples kids.† She started her own daycare business which she did until a few years before she died.† My parents relationship went well for several years but eventually started to break down and when my mom caught my dad cheating with the neighbor down the street, that was the end.† We lived in the house for a little while longer but keeping up two households was too much.† The house was sold and my mother rented a smaller house in Aurora.† After I moved out and then my brother, it was just my sister and her.† Mom often stayed in contact with the people she did daycare for and some become good friends.† One day, one of those she talked to on occasion called here up and said her husband was taking a job in England for a year and asked if she would be interested in moving into their place while they were gone.† She said yes and so we packed up and moved her and Sue into the house.† During that year, Mom had become good friends with Marilyn who is the sister of our longtime friend June.† The year was almost up and Mom was thinking of finding a new place to live.† Marilynís son Eric had just come to live with his mother so she was looking too and after talking it over, they decided to share a house together.† After the lease was up on that place, Mom and Marilyn came to the conclusion that friends shouldnít live together so they parted ways but still good friends.† Mom and Sue moved into a townhouse down the street and lived there for about a year.† After that, Sue was ready to move out on her own. They each moved into their own apartments although they were close by each other.† As a matter of fact it was in the same building. By this time, everyone was getting tired of moving and Sue wanted to find a place for my mother that would be her own.† She eventually came across a one bedroom condo that she got for a steal.† We moved Mom into her new condo and over the years, she filled the place with pictures and did little things to make it hers.†
In February of 2002 I got a call from my sister Sue.† She said that she had just talked to our mother and that she was talking very strange and wanted to know if I could get away for a few minutes to go check on her.† I worked really close and it only took 5 minutes to get to her place so I ran over.† When I got there, Sue was already there.† Mom seem to be confused and disoriented so we stuck her in the car and took here to the emergency room.† Luckily, when you pull up in a squad car, they take you right into a room.† Yes, my sister is a cop.† Even though we got right in, it seemed like hours before they did anything.† Eventually, they did a catscan to see if they could figure out what was going on.† We waited what seemed like a few more hours before the doctor came in with the results.† He said that she had a stroke.† I remember feeling a little dazed myself when those words came out of his mouth but then my mother immediately disputed his diagnoses saying ďI did not!Ē.† It turned out that† here carotid arteries were pretty clogged up and some of the plaque had come loose which caused the stroke.† The doctors were amazed that she was even walking based on the size of the stroke they saw on the scan.† This would not be the last time they would be amazed by her.† A few days later, they did surgery to clean out the right artery.† She spent a couple of days recovering in the hospital and then went home.† Sue and I decided to take turns spending the night until Mom got better but, after two days she had had enough of our doting and kicked us out.† Soon after, the therapists starting paying visit but she eventually kicked them out too.† Slowly, she got better and even started driving a little.† Not that she drove much in the first place.†
On October 1, 2002, Mom went to the doctor because here feet were swollen and hurting.† They immediately admitted here to the hospital because they were concerned about the circulation to here legs.† Now the arteries down to her legs were getting clogged.† We consulted with the same surgeon that operated her less that a year before.† He wanted to do a procedure to get more blood flowing to her legs but was concerned about the other carotid artery.† He felt that he would need to fix that problem first to lessen the chances of another stroke. †On October 10th they finally did the surgery which she came through fine.† The following day I went up to see her before I went into work.† When I got there, she was still pretty drugged up due the surgery and here legs were hurting here even more.† It looked like they tried to feed her breakfast because there was crumbles of scrambled eggs all down the front of her.† Later that evening, I got a call from Sue.† Mom had take a turn for the worse and had developed pneumonia which I am convinced was caused by feeding her while she was so heavily sedated.† We had to make a decision† whether or not to put her on a ventilator.† After some discussion, we authorized the ventilator but no CPR.† The next day we were being told that she probably would not make it and it would be best to bring in the grandkids to say goodbye.† That evening, my brother Mark and Sue brought the kids in.† At this point, we all were preparing for the worst but then, all of† a sudden, she started to get better.† This was the second time she has amazed the hospital staff.† By this time her feet were getting really bad but she wasnít well enough to go through the next surgery to get blood flowing down to the legs.† The doctors monitored the blood work every day and eventually decided the surgery had to be done if there was going be any hope of saving here feet.† She came through the operation without any problems but it was too little too late.† A Week later they told us that her feet werenít getting better and the risk of infection spreading into the blood stream was getting to risky.† The doctors told us she would die if they did not amputate the legs.† We explained the situation to her as best we could given the amount of drugs she was on.† †Based on previous conversations with here, we made the decision to amputate but we wanted to give her the best chance possible of being able to live on her own again.† This meant to us that both procedures would have to be BK(below the knee) in order for her to be able to manage with prostheses.† BK would have been difficult at best but if one leg would have to be AK (above the knee), it would be nearly impossible for her to do anything.† Mark and I were at the hospital when the surgeon showed up to discuss the surgery.† We explained our thoughts and discussed the situation at great length.† It was apparent that he was becoming short with us at which time I told him we were just trying to get as much information as we could to make the best decision and give her the best chances.† At that point he lost his cool and said ďThis is the way it is.† She will have one BK and one AK and within a year we will have to do an AK on the other.Ē† This was not the type of person we wanted doing surgery on our mother so, the next day we talked to one of her other doctors and told him they would have to find another surgeon to perform the procedure.† We said we would go along with the second opinion.† Unfortunately, the second doctor felt the same way but he didnít have the ďGod ComplexĒ problem the first guy had.† After the surgery, the doctor came out said that it was done and he was surprised at the amount of blood flow.†† I often wonder if they made the right decision.†
Here are some more picture of my Mom.
Mom in Glenwood Spring for a little R&R with my sister.
Mom on the right and Aunt Marylin.
Mom, I love you and miss you so much.