While going through my late grandmother’s genealogy files, I found an issue of the Scales Mound, Illinois, hometown newsletter, The Weekly Visitor, from October 20, 1955. Published in the newsletter with a most intriguing letter from Mrs. LaVerne Schoenhard. It seems Mrs. Schoenhard made the hard decision to place her grandmother, Mrs. Lena Kilian, in a nursing home and was receiving a bit of flack about the decision.
I think anyone who as ever had a loved one in a nursing facility knows what a difficult decision it is.
If my research is correct, Mrs. LaVerne Schoenhard’s full name was Virginia (Williams) Schoenhard, daughter of William Wilbur Williams and Elizabeth Schmidt. Elizabeth Schmidt’s mother was Lena Kilian, whose second husband was Charles Kilian.
An interesting side note about the newsletter: there are phone numbers listed as 87 and 117. I guess phones were pretty rare if someone could have a two or three digit phone number.
Mrs. LaVerne Schoenhard’s letter
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
There are a few facts which I believe need explaining in regard to my grandmother, Mrs. Lena Kilian.
First – She has been very ill and is of the last few weeks very much improved. These attacks, such as she has suffered, can and probably will occur again if she doesn’t have competent care. Competent medical advice given us stated that she must not be allowed to stay alone day or night.
Second – She made her own decision to enter the Hicks Nursing Home at Warren of her own free will, not because anyone forced her or would not have her in their home. She has told me time and again she will not make her home permanently with any of us in spite of what she may have told some of you at some time or other when she may have been feeling particularly depressed.
Third – Believe me we tried to find a heated room with adequate facilities and some one to care for her in Scales Mound but we were unable to find anyone willing to take the responsibility and believe me none of us are financially able to pay the current prices.
Fourth – My grandmother is a diabetic of long standing who should follow a very restricted diet, which she does not do when she is at home or with any of us. Yes, we can fix the foods she needs but forbid your own grandmother to sample the dessert, etc. which the rest of the family has and see how she feels about it even though she knows it is for her own benefit. Would it be fair to put one’s whole family upon a diabetic diet?
Fifth – We call upon her at Warren as much if not more than it was possible to do at Scales Mound as Warren is the trading center for most of us. She has been coming to stay with some of us a few days of each week and has always been happy to return to the Home. Each time she has come she has been feeling much better when she came than when she left. Why? Because she receives only the foods she needs and have been especially prepared and when with any of us this is not the case.
Now, Friends, to get to the point of this discussion. She has been perfectly satisfied and happy there until just of late when some of you friends (well meaning, I suppose) have written or called upon her and have suggested that she acted hastily in going to the home. Others have suggested that she perhaps doesn’t get enough food and that we placed her there to be rid of the responsibility, etc. My grandmother is almost eighty years old and we certainly want what is best for her. We also want her to be happy. We thought we had found the solution until these well-meaning suggestions upset her moral to the point that she in again at sea as to what she should have done. I wish to tell you it was a difficult decision to make when we took her there. I want you to know it was one of the hardest things I ever did the day I took her to the Nursing Home. It gives you the feeling that you are taking them to the Nursing Home just to mark the time and wait for the Grim Reaper? When I went in to the home and saw the cheerful surroundings, the cleanliness of both the aged ladies and the surroundings, the kindness with which Mrs. Hicks and her nurses treated each and every one I couldn’t help but feel that we had done the right thing. When she came to stay with us she was full of enthusiasum [sic] and has remained so until the above suggestions came along.
Now, Friends, won’t you please continue your visits and letters but help her to make the adjustment to her new home for the winter months at least rather than discourage her in the decision she has made. I only wish all of you would call on her and really see for yourself just what the situation is at the home and when you do bear in mind that we have acted upon competent medical advice and as the doctor suggested, at eighty years of age we can’t always take each and every whim and act upon it.
Friends, if there are any of you who have a better solution to our problem, please, come to us as we would be only to happy to have any helpful suggestions that will make grandma’s last years as happy as possible.
Thanking all of you for your concern, I am,
Her Affectionate Granddaughter,
Mrs. LaVerne Schoenhard