Monday, January 07, 2013


Note: The reference to McPherson Kansas in this post may seem out of place but the magaizine this was written for covers all of Nebraska and Kansas.

This has been a grueling Holiday Season for the Morrow’s.  Marilyn’s mother passed away just before Christmas and it was quite unexpectedly. It was complications from emergency surgery so our opportunity to prepare mentally for all of this was short. I guess we’re never prepared for such things but it’s hard to think that the head of our family has been cut down. She was the singular head because my parents have been gone many years, Marilyn’s Dad died mid 2012 and that left Maddie as the sole surviving Matriarch.
G G was 91 years old. She never could grasp the thought that she was old enough to be called Grandma but Great Grandma was the last straw and G G was her idea to avoid having to hear the words “Great Grandma” from 13 little renegades.
Maddie was fearlessly proud of her Scottish heritage. She was born Madeline McPherson. She was a card carrying member of the McPherson Clan and had traced her lineage deep into Scottish history.  Her family tartan and crest were proudly displayed in her abode and was eager to talk about them.
Maddie and I butted heads sometimes. Okay often. Well, really it was nonstop from the day we first met back in 1970. She always had a singular focus and wanted things done ASAP and I did did them for her but usually not soon enough.
 She moved from Denver to be near me, (or maybe it was my wife she was moving to be near) in 1995. That’s when we really began to know each other.  She had a keen sense of humor and cutting wit about her. I once called her at night; I was trucking near Wichita Kansas and explained that I needed a phone number from back home. I told her I was driving and couldn’t write the number down. She came back with “Cliff, here’s the number and it’s so easy, even you will be able to remember it.”  She laughed, I didn’t.
Other times she would get her jabs in early. She was always glad when I came for a visit but she would sometimes open the door, and then say in a disappointed tone, “Oh, it’s you.” But she did it with a smile and then invited me in.
She moved from Denver to our small town, and just like her daughter, completely embraced this farm community and the people. Maddie dove head first into her church, her bridge club, quilting group and those with whom she dined. She seldom missed concerts and recitals and grandkids at sporting events and as well as 4-H shows. She was quite proper about all things and kept her appearance up right to the end. Like her Father and Grandfather she was fiercely independent, completely organized, and documented her life in diaries and when the funeral arrangements were made they were made well in advance, by her.
She had a special place in her heart for McPherson Kansas that bore her maiden name. Marilyn took her mother down to the ‘Highland Games’ there in central Kansas. For those unfamiliar with them, the Highland games are athletic events originating from ancient Scotland.  They involve many events that require brute size and strength.  Like throwing what appear to be telephone poles so they flip forward away from the thrower. The poles are big enough to require a power company truck to perform the same stunt if you don’t have a Scotsman handy.
They also throw BIG hammers for distance, and heave stones over standards set quite high. I would tell Maddie that the show of strength by these guys were pretty amazing especially for some guy in a dress. The comment was meant to get a rebuttal and did. Immediately. “Cliff, those aren’t dresses, they are kilts, and by the way it’s pronounced Mc-‘fur’-son not Mc-‘fear’-son. So of course I always used the latter. But she loved the pageantry and rituals of being Scottish.
As a sidebar, I suspect the Highland Games in McPherson, KS are sponsored by the local hernia specialist.
In the game of gotcha that Maddie and I played with each other, I was always behind and trying to catch up.  Her ‘coup de grace’ for me was the time I took her to a Robert Burns banquet (famous Scottish poet) and she had me unknowingly try ‘haggis.’ I’ll not explain the ‘delicacy’ just in case you’re dining while you read this, but suffice it to say ‘she got me.’
Every place we went in our home town we’d hear, “Wow, you’re Mom is really something Marilyn.” Well, she was something. Trusting me with her daughter the past 41 years was top among my reasons to agree. Maddie, on the other hand, would have told you that very fact just showed a lack of sound judgment on her part.
But only if she thought I was within earshot.
Rest in peace my friend.
Maddie   1921~2012


Lee said...

Maddie would be very proud of you, Cliff, for this wonderful tribute to her. She sounds like she was a strong woman with a big heart.

I dare venture to say that she loved you dearly; and she enjoyed the game of teasing you. I can almost see the mischievous twinkle in her eyes. I think it's a Scottish trait...and not a bad one. (I'm of Scottish and Irish heritage...we're a strange lot...but a good lot)!

Thank you for sharing Maddie with us who never had the fortune to meet her. My best wishes and thoughts go out to Marilyn...and to you. Hugs to you both. :)

Donna said...

Wow, my sister's son lives in McPherson. He's a big shot in some insurance company there. I NEVER heard of these games, but I'm going to check out these Highland games on the Internet. Maybe it's about time I paid my nephew a visit.

Ralph said...

Maddie was a spunky lady with a great sense of humor. She will be missed.

Granny Annie said...

A wonderful essay and eulogy that would make Maddie proud...even though she probably wouldn't admit it:) Your love and admiration for her is quite obvious. Our thoughts and prayers have been with all of you through this difficult time.

Dick & Kathy said...

Cliff & Marilyn, Your portrait in words is lively and vivid. Just as Maddie IS. I can just picture Maddie and your Aunt G. in Heaven having a cup of tea or just catching up with the latest news about what you are doing in Tekamah and the scattered places the rest of us live.

She was a special lady. We celebrate the opportunity we had to know her as long as we did.

Love to you two and your family.

Jerry in Texas said...

I think the Scottish and the Irish are a lot alike. In my family, if you were nice to someone, you didn't much care for them. The more hell they gave you, that just meant that they liked you.

I think Maddie really liked you a lot, Cliff.

She was a very neat lady. I'm glad I got the chance to meet her.

EV said...

Special moments, special people - I'm sorry for your loss.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Maddie sounds like she was quite a terrific woman---despite her teasing of you. (lol) I know your whole family must feel this loss deeply---especially your wife....It is hard to lose a parent no matter our age.... My heartfelt condolances to you and to yours and to your whole family.

Jim said...

You did very good with your nice tribute to Maddie. Although I was fortunat to meet her in person she did not talk much about herself even when asked.

I now know that you were good for her when she moved to Tekamah. She needed a new challenge and you surely gave her a cheerful one.