Well, Mom, here it is, a final writing just for you, my greatest fan of my LCN column. I hope I can live up to your expectations for you were a woman who worked very hard for everything she had in this life; you certainly knew how to enjoy and have fun along the way.
My mother was born Feb. 8, 1940: Charlotte Jane Hanley, youngest child and only daughter to Ross Henry Hanley and Harriet Mildred Bryant.
Mom, you grew up in Bristol with three brothers, Robert (Bob), Oscar, and John, a major task for the only girl, but they loved you and you them.
You grew up and married a wonderful man and your lifelong companion, Lowell “Rig” Simmons. Together you had four children of your own. First came two daughters, Monica L. Simmons and Victoria L. Simmons. Then along came the sons, Lowell R. Simmons and Scott E. Simmons. Your expectations had been met — four children, two of each.
Then, as life would have it, came the death of your mother-in-law in 1968 when I was only 5; you and Dad suddenly had three more added to the fold — Waite, Annette, and Dale, albeit briefly. And as the years went on, there were many others that you guys took under your wing while one or another of us healed or whatever it was that was needed. Always there!
And as it happens, your children grew up, got married, and had children of their own giving you grandchildren: Kory Simmons Whitfield, Steven L., Ross E., and Colleen J. Nichols, Megan Simmons, Crystal James, Michael and Michaela La Cross, and Brian and Sarah Simmons.
Your parents taught you many wonderful life skills, and one of them was gardening and putting up the food grown for the winter months ahead, and that you in turn passed along to your children and grandchildren. I remember during the summer/garden months of my much younger days that it went something like this: “I’ll take you swimming after you weed a row in the garden.” So we did, and we went swimming maybe at Evie and Boynton’s cottage on Pemaquid Lake or at “the head” of Biscay Pond, but we got to go. What the right incentive can do – smart woman.
Mom, you were a woman that never sat still very long. As I travel through the time warp of the world of old photos (and new), I realize what an incredible journey our lives have been. Full, well-rounded, and certainly never dull. Me, I’m still waiting on that “dull” moment. Do you think it will ever happen? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned to find out.
Memories of Wiscasset Speedway back in their racing days, and they were both winners of the sport. Mom participated in what was called the Powder Puff Derby. She placed first one year and second in another – see, driving is in your blood.
The summer breaks we got at Biscay Pond. Thank you to Chauncey Follett and family. Those summers were spent swimming, boating, fishing, and relaxing. We did so love being on the lake!
From Biscay Pond to Louds Island, where the incredible summer adventures continued and friendships were made – for example, Batcheldors (Betty and Bach), Priors (Cecil and Elizabeth and Mike), and the Jacksons (Elizabeth and Brewster), and continued through. The memories of this place are too deep to get into but a real special time in history.
You’ve always been in the world, a force and pulling your weight (and then some). A school bus driver for the heft of it – as Sandra Lane, Scott, and I figured you started in 1974-1975, or 43-plus years of your life (which by my calculation is more than half). And you didn’t just drive a bus — you were a trainer of drivers, a coordinator, rodeos, pulled double-duty when drivers were right, etc. Always there!
Here is the part that breaks my heart, and that is that I have a for a number of years pleaded with you to retire so that you would have some quality time with Dad and family and friends before time ran out. The scheduled five days out of a week (on most school weeks) worked well for most of your younger years and then age started to descend – not just your own but those of Dad, Monica, Aunt Ruby Hanley, and so many others, that maybe, just maybe, had you taken a step back for yourself, who knows? Wishes: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”
I know deep down inside me that you loved your job, your four generations of riders, the sense of purpose that came with the job as well as the aggravations, but you loved it!
All I can say is that I am so very thankful that you did what you loved and that on the day — May 22, 2018 — that we lost you to a greater purpose, how very grateful I am that you were not behind the wheel of that beloved big yellow bus! There I said it — my greatest fear over the past few years was that your 43-plus years of superb dedication to a job of driving all those children did not end in tragedy.
There are a great many things that you achieved in your life other than the bus driving, and each and everyone has left its mark on so many lives. Though too numerous to mention them all, I’ll (try) just to put out a few: Wife! Mother extraordinaire to your own and beyond! A love for gardening that lives on in your children and grandchildren, involved in Girl Scouts for many years, an Eastern Star member, an EMT/ambulance attendant for many years (thank you to Tom Aldrich for your kind remembrance of my mother), volunteered for the GSB Bike Rodeo every year, etc. …
With families, there are holidays, with Thanksgiving and Christmas being the largest concentrations of us, and there are many photos to wade through and stir up all those precious days. Going through this reiterates that we all need to take that time to be with family and friends, for no one is going to give it to you.
There is so much more to the life and times of my mother, Charlotte (“Charly,” as she was known, and as “Cheechako” when she worked there), that I could keep writing on. But for now, I will call this my best effort under severe duress.
I love you, Mom, and will miss our daily phone chats that told me how things were going and how you were feeling. We were so in tune with each other that our voices relayed everything. But don’t worry, I have plenty of people to look out for me — just you worry about you. Always there!
P.S. Steve and I will do the cemetery plantings and carry on your tradition.
All my love, daughter No. 2.
Have a good one!
Thank you all for listening as I spewed out another of those life experiences that there is no avoiding for any of us.
Very truly yours,
Vicki (Simmons) Nichols