Why? my blog title "Better2me"

As a woman, mother, and wife my first instinct is to take care of those around me. I nurture those I love in many ways through out the day, but sometimes find myself neglecting me. Recently I realized that I need to nurture myself as well. So this blog is about ME!!!!! What fills my heart; my simple life of kids, husband, animals, home, and creativity. For being better2me leads me to be better to those I love.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My fathers life

Ernie Venton Mason was a man with many roles during his 85 years of life.

His first was that of son. Born on August 11, 1926 in Alton Illinois, the only son of Lola and Jesse Mason, an oil refinery worker and his wife. Ernie, or Venton as he was called until he entered the military and learned his first name, lived a rural life in Roxana Ill. Since there was only one bedroom in the two room house, his room was created from the small pantry off the kitchen that eventually became the bathroom. He learned to hunt and fish to help put food on the table, and was one of the original noodle fishermen along the muddy banks of the Mississippi River catching catfish with his bare hands. His parents doted on their smart, beautiful boy and “only child syndrome” was definitely prevalent throughout his life.

As a young man Ernie joined the Boy Scouts of America, which became a lifelong commitment for him. The Boy Scouts are where he learned many skills that he used throughout his life, even in his later years he could shoot a crow with a slingshot filled with buckshot from the back patio. He earned his Eagle Scout as a young man, the Silver Beaver, the Distinguished Commissioner, the Award of Merit, the SIXTY-FIVE year veteran award, and many district and unit awards. Although his family teased him that he was active in the boy scouts to get away from the five women living in his house, really the Boy Scout ideals and beliefs were something that he truly believed in, and which he felt made young men better human beings.

The day before his seventeenth birthday his parents signed on the dotted line, allowing their only son to join the United States Military and hence a soldier was born. A month later he began his tour of duty as a rifleman in the thirty-six infantry division in Europe. During his service he received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart, the European Theater with Three Bronze Stars, and the Occupation of Germany Victory Medal. Although he was proud of the service to his country, he never liked to speak of the war or his role in it. He did speak however about being one of the first soldiers at Dachau concentration camp the day it was liberated, an event that changed his life and his viewpoint on the world.

Part of his willingness to join the army was patriotism for his country, but he also had ulterior motives. He was an extremely intelligent man who longed for more than the 6th grade education of his parents and saw the G.I. bill as an opportunity. So after being discharged, he attended Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla MO. where he received an Electrical Engineering degree.

As a professional, Ernie’s employment included various aerospace companies and thirty-two years with General Dynamics. G.D. is where he designed, supervised, and implemented many of the missiles used by the United States Military. As an employee Ernie was a great asset, in fact when his obituary was published a neighbor of his daughter, Sharen, came over impressed that her dad was THAT ERNIE MASON FROM G.D.

Although small in stature at 5’7”, his dark good looks and quiet personality gave him the title as a Don Juan early in life, known as a ladies man even in high school, he asked his English teacher to the prom and she accepted, we hear she may not have been asked back to teach the following year. That role quickly changed when he met Shirley Lee Jenkins, a petite blond with striking blue eyes, at North American were they both worked. He was smitten, they dated and soon were engaged. When Ernie was transferred to Washington D.C. he diligently saved his pennies until one day he called Shirley and told her to get on a plane. They were married that afternoon, February 21, 1953. Together they have remained a great example to their family of what a marriage is all about, as their love and dedication to one another only grew stronger through their 59 years together.
Less than a year later, Ernie added father to his titles, when his first daughter Debra Susan, or Susie as he called her was born. Two years later a second daughter Denise Ann, or as her dad called her “Danny” (a fruedian slip as he was hoping for a boy) Danny became the tom boy of the family. Nine years later Ernie promised Shirley a sewing machine if the newest baby was a boy………….twin daughters were born; Sharen Nanette and Karen Babette or Shegglebee and Kegglebee, shortened through the years by Ernie to Sheggy and Keggy. Shirley stated with four girls she needed a sewing machine more than ever. Although, during some eras of his life he realized what an asset a daughter could be. Such as each morning when he came down to breakfast, he had to make sure his tie choice was approved by Sharen, if not he would turn around and search for another.

Ernie was the strong disciplinarian of the family and not the demonstrative type, but even if he did not show it with physical or verbal affection his daughters knew he loved them. His rhythmic and slow, Pat…… Pat……. Pat….., on your back when comfort was needed, is the one thing I will miss most about him. As he walked each of his daughters down the wedding aisle, he whispered in their ear, “Are you sure you want to go through with this, we could still back out?” And just steps from the alter he reminded me that airline pilots have the highest divorce rate in the United States and that it was not too late. “I love you” is something we did not hear growing up, but as he aged he softened and an “I love you daddy” would be returned with an “I love you more”, which became his trademark phrase.

The Masonic Lodge became another haven for Ernie (again remember ALL GIRLS, only child syndrome). He was fifty year member of the Masonic Lodge, Cammandrey and Royal Arch. Ernie treasured his time there so much that the first things on his list of, who gets what, were items he had earned through the Masonic Lodge, left to each of his daughters.

Those that knew Ernie well knew that his sense of humor was dry as dry can be. His favorite repeated sayings where things like “Your troubles have touched my heart, never before have I heard such a story…”said in a sarcastic voice of course” and when Shirley joined a knitting club, he quickly named the group “the Knitwits.” He also used to tease Shirley that she had bird legs, so one night before bed he snuck into the bathroom and tied her pajama legs into knots, explaining later that she should have no trouble getting her legs through them. To retaliate, Shirley, knowing that Ernie always waited to the last minute to use the restroom, sewed his fly shut. Ernie always said that he never would forget the look on the janitors face when he realized the predicament Ernie was in.

Methodical was a definite trait of Ernie’s. Every morning would find him at the kitchen table with his little black book, not the kind with girls names in it, but the kind that included lists upon lists of what he needed to do that day, the next, even next month. Throughout his life he kept just about everything, his daughters lost teeth, and report cards were filed chronologically. As his son-in-law Phil states shopping with him was an adventure, Rome could be built in the time it took Ernie to scrutinize each aisle. A trait his daughter, Debra, also has. Before his death he organized everything that would be needed. A master list with each item in a separate envelope.…….He even wrote his own obituary months in advance and included that he would like Mr. Lockhart to officiate.
One of his greatest roles was that of grandfather. Unburdened from the stress of work and fatherhood, his grandchildren became his greatest joys. Michelle, his first grandchild remembers when she had her first loose tooth, Grandpa told her it had a spot on it and asked her to get a Kleenex so he could clean it off. Next thing she knew, she was toothless. With some, he built a birdhouse, with others he taught them to whittle. In fact, yesterday at his burial a small wooden piece could be spied under his casket, turns out it was the first thing Marc, now 33, made, when Grandpa taught him to whittle when he was nine. Marc kept it all these years and paid tribute by placing it eternally with grandpa. Ernie also became a mentor to his grandchildren, two are following in his footsteps as Engineers, one has the same mathematical mind, one shares a love for old cameras, one has his shy exterior, another his gentle spirit. One shares the need to help others and one learned through Grandpa how important a sense of family is.

Two recent great grandchildren were added to his dynasty and we know their genetic imprint has already been affected by their great grandpa: Grey and Aubrey we have a lot to share with you.

For the last couple of years Ernie fought hard to stay here, wanting to make sure that his wife and family would be o.k. When he thought he was causing them more harm than good, he decided it was time to leave. A proud and private man he went the way he wanted too with dignity and grace. On February 20, 2012 as his family stood by his bed, Ernie said goodbye to this world and hello to his daughter Denise, who welcomed him to heaven.

Throughout his many roles of Son, Boy Scout, soldier, student, employee, Mason, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend Ernie Venton Mason never wavered from the motto of his youth. His priorities remained God, Country, Family and Self. Through these roles he touched each of us in some important way. I ask that you think of what touch he bestowed upon you, and that you share it with another, whether through memory, act, or association. In this way his spirit will live on through each of us.

“Goodbye Daddy, We love you………….. mostess.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thank you for the great meeting......

Recently we had my sons 504 meeting in which we got nothing we requested and what we did get is at the discretion of the school district and teachers, which of course still means he got nothing. However, what really angered me is the email the head of special education sent me the next day in which she ended it with "Thank you for the great meeting yesterday." Unfortunately, I cannot respond to her email because we have asked for independent testing for our son and they have denied it. Therefor the district must engage in a legal battle starting from their side. She does not want to do this and doesn't realize we know our rights, thus she is trying to get us to rescind our request. Although, this has not stopped me from thinking of what my response would be if I could......

Dear Ms. Head of special Ed.

I am glad that the meeting was great for you as it saved the district money, which I know is your intent, too bad it was not also great for my son whose education and life will be impacted from your "great meeting".

However, the meeting did make me think of something father told me recently as I sat at his bedside two days before his death. I could tell something was bothering him and so I asked. He stated that he had been trying to figure out how to ask God for forgiveness for all of his sins. I know in large part he was thinking of WW II and his part in it as a seventeen year old boy fighting in Europe. Although, it saddened me that this was still affecting him, it also made me realize what type of person he was. That even though he was doing his duty to his country, he could still be impacted by what he had to do to achieve that. It made me look at my own life and especially this fight for Keaton, I was thankful that I believe when I stand before God and ask him to forgive me of my sins, they too will be for a good reason, not for a whole country as my fathers was, but for one person, my son, I will have made a difference. Then it got me thinking of you, when you stand before God will he forgive you of your sins, or will he say you put money above the needs of people, therefor you did not help humankind, but instead helped Satan in the downfall of it.


Mom to Keaton

about me

Alta Loma, California, United States
I am a wife of 28 years to Kevin, a pilot, a mother of 22 year old Kellan and 15 year old Keaton. I am caretaker to a zoo of animals including dogs, cats, chickens, fish, birds, turtles, etc. I am a gardener, a cook, a writer, a painter, a teacher, and I am truly blessed to be able to live life the way I wish too.