My mother, Bessie J. Hamner, died April 21, 2022 at the age of 90 in Woodstock Georgia in the home of her grandchild Gail Peel. She had elected to be under palliative care several months ago not wanting to be in and out of the hospital as she had been for the last year and acknowledging that her time on earth was limited. She died peacefully as her great grandchild Maddie held her hand.
She was born in Indianapolis, Indiana January 18, 1932 to Beryl Spencer and Stanley Flowers. My mom and dad were married in 1951 a few days after my mom’s 19th birthday. When my parents married, they lived for months in a one room apartment with a bath down the hall. In 1957, my parents bought a house in the post-WW II tract home area Eagledale. I believe my mom thought that was incredible: a new house of about 1,000 square feet with 1 ½ baths!!
In 1964, our family moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Mom always loved her time there. She had her first air-conditioned house, and we had many happy visits to the beach.
In 1968, when mom was only 36, our family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Mom and dad loved being close to their hometown Indianapolis, which allowed easy visits with family as the drive was only 1 ½ hours. Most Sundays, my mom, dad, sister and I would get in the car and go to the church in south Indianapolis my dad attended from childhood. My parents moved back to Indianapolis in 1973. In 1976, my parents bought a new house in Greenwood and my mom lived there until 2019 when she went to live with my niece Gail, acknowledging she was old, with health problems and should not live alone any longer. When she made that move, she had lived in that Greenwood house for about half of her life and moving in with Gail’s family meant she moved to Georgia. Nonetheless, as typical for mom, she moved on and didn’t look back.
Mom did not graduate from high school because she dropped out to support herself and her brother and sister, but that did not limit her. Mom later went to cosmetology school and became a beautician. When our family moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1964, she worked as a beautician at a shop which was within walking distance of our house. During our time living in Cincinnati, she continued working as a beautician and she owned a small beauty shop. After moving back to Indianapolis in 1973, she worked as a beautician for a while and then later worked for a local department store. In 1982, she was employed by J C Penney selling furniture. She truly enjoyed selling furniture and took pride in knowing the construction and attributes of the furniture she sold. She retired from Penney’s in 1994 in order to spend more time looking after my dad.
Mom always had time for family. When my sister was in a major car accident in Germany while in the service in 1974, my mom flew to Germany to be with my sister. When my oldest child, mom’s first grandchild, was born in 1978, she came to Toledo for several days to help with the newborn. After my sister’s children were born, my parents helped raise them. All mom’s grandchildren have fond memories of being with grandma. After my dad’s death, my mom would often go on vacations with me and my family. She was always ready to go.
Everyone who met mom found her to be pleasant and joyful. When we’d go on vacations to a place such as Disney World while she was in her 70s and 80s, she would sometimes sit somewhere waiting for me and my family to go on a ride and she’d chat with whoever was nearby. She found that most pleasant and enjoyable, and she’d relate some story about the chat to the family later. It seemed no one was a stranger to mom.
With one possible exception, mom never complained or lived in the past. If you asked her about something in the past, she basically said that was the way it was and didn’t dwell on it, even if it was unpleasant. She didn’t play victim and she moved on. She was grateful for what she had and what she had experienced during her life.
The possible exception to never complaining. She said to me a time or two in recent years she was sorry I had been so far away living in Toledo. I regret that too.
My mom taught me to be considerate and think of others - to treat others like I’d like to be treated. She taught me ethics and morals. She also gave me a strong work ethic.
I love you mom. God rest your soul. You will be so missed.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband (my dad), Robert; my sister, Lorraine, and by mom’s two siblings. She is survived by me, her son, Scott (Melissa); her grandchildren, Gail Peel (David), Samantha Mattingly (David), Jessica Hamner (Jeff Steunenberg), Alex Hamner (Andrea), Clare Awada (Jafar) and Michael Storer (Markie); and by 14 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at Lauck & Veldhof Funeral & Cremation Services, 1458 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis, on Saturday April 30, 2022 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon with services at 12:00 noon. Burial at Washington Park East Cemetery, 10800 E. Washington St., Indianapolis.
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