Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Lifelong Love Story

Ora Silas Gage and Florence Christine Shawver shared 73 ½ years of marriage together and there was no question that they loved one another.  They were loving and caring towards one another and illustrated to all who knew them a good marriage.

By the time Granddad Gage married Grandma Gage in 1917, he had already been in the military, worked as a post man, and worked on a farm.  Grandma Florence had also worked as a teacher.   They were 25 and 20 when they married on 4 Sep 1917 in Lincoln, NE. Within a short 5 years, they already had 3 children and their own farm in Mapleton, IA.  By the time the depression hit them; they had 3 sons and 4 daughters and were facing the first financial crisis in their married lives.  It was an unfortunate circumstance at how difficult it was to come by cash.  Granddad Gage could feed his family and he could pay his loan, but he couldn’t pay his taxes.   There was no money to be had to make that payment.  Being a proud man, he preferred to leave his farm rather than have it taken away from him because of taxes.  He signed the land over to his friend, Linus Brenner, and took his wife and 7 children and went o Philip, SD.  This supposedly good opportunity turned into a disaster and within a short two years they were on their way to Idaho. 

Before they left, they were forced to leave their oldest son in a sanitarium to recover from pneumonia.  They had been told by the doctor during the worst of the sickness that they were likely to lose him…but somehow he survived and spent several months in that sanitarium recovering.  It must have been incredibly difficult to leave their son in that sanitarium while they took the rest of their children west.  They arrived in Dover, ID in early 1935, and after a search for land, ended up in Hatter Creek near Princeton, ID.  During these early days in Hatter Creek, their older children got jobs to help support their family and Granddad worked his farm and a ranching job nearby.  It wasn’t until about 1940 after the birth of their last child (they had 10 children in all) that life started to get a bit easier.  In July of 1947, they experienced the most devastating period of their long marriage.  They lost their youngest son in an accident (he drowned in the Palouse River).  It was a loss that they never quite recovered from.  They clung to their faith and the rest of their children and grandchildren to make it through.  They had moved to Potlatch a few years earlier so their younger children could more easily go to school…but they decided that they needed a new start and moved to Lewiston, ID.  They were there for the next 15 years and then moved to Genesee, ID for a few years before moving to the coast at Yachats, OR.  They made their last move in 1975 to live near their oldest daughter in Canby, OR. 

I think that just about all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren think of the Grandfolks as the perfect grandparents.    Granddad was a man who trained his sons and many of his grandsons how to work and conduct themselves as men.  By following his example, they learned how to treat their family.  Grandma was a patient, kind loving person who somehow could recall when each of her grandchildren were born.  This doesn’t sound impressive until you consider that she had almost 100 of them by the time she passed away at 93 if you include great grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Throughout their married lives there were three constants that helped them through the challenges of life; each other, their family, and their faith in God.  No matter what they faced – they presented a united front.  At the end of their lives, it was rare to see one without the other until Dec. 30, 1990 when Granddad Gage passed away at 98 years old.  I still remember going to Grandma after Granddad’s funeral and she told me that she really couldn’t face the funeral.  In reality, she was just too weak to go…but within a few months Grandma passed away 8 March 1991 at 93 years and joined Granddad.  They had been together for over 73 years and shared everything that such a long marriage entails.  Throughout their long lives they took care of each other - Grandma made sure that Granddad ate properly and she took pleasure in taking care of him.  Granddad washed the dishes every night and enjoyed watching over his wife.  There was no mistake that these two people loved each other and everyone knew that one would not survive long without the other.  They shared a love story that lasted 73 ½ years and I would like to believe that they are together for eternity and watching over their family just as they did in life.