Communion Of Dreams

February 6, 2008, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Hospice, Predictions, Sleep

The following is the obit for my MIL which will run in our local papers. After checking with my wife, we decided to go ahead and post the information here as well, even though I have through all my posts never used my MIL’s name, out of respect for her privacy. But she deserves to be now named and recognized for her long and rich life of involvement in her community and devotion to her family.

Martha Burr Bates John, 90, of Columbia passed away on February 6, 2008 at her home.

Memorial services will be held at 2:00 on Saturday, February 9, 2008 at Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia.

Martha was born on June 14, 1917 to Archie Burr and Martha Frances Breiner Bates and they preceded her in death. She was married on October 5, 1940 to Hurst John in Bonnville, Missouri and he preceded her in death.

Martha was a 1934 graduate of Laura Speed Elliot High School in Boonville and a 1936 graduate of Stephens College. She graduated in 1938 from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Architecture. She worked as a draftsman for noted Columbia architect, Harry S. Bill, where she met her future husband. After World War II she worked occasionally, mostly for her husband, and began raising a family. During the next 30 years she was involved in many activities relating to the family, PTA President at both Benton Elementary and Jefferson Junior High School, Camp Fire leader and local board president, Cub Scout den mother. She volunteered at Ellis Fischel Hospital for thirty years, serving at least once as Auxiliary President and was a long time member of First Baptist Church in Columbia.

She is survived by daughter, Martha K. John and husband Jim Downey of Columbia; son, John John, his wife Karen and their son, Justin all of Columbia; daughter Susan Newstead of Navarro, California; granddaughter, Miel Newstead of Philo, California; grandson, John Newstead, his wife Holly and their sons, Kai and Max, all of Navarro, California.

She was also preceded in death by her son, Lawrence Edward John; sister, Ida Frances Bates Dyer Kalb; nephew, Bob Dyer.

Tributes can be left online at

Thanks to all who have sent me messages or posted comments here. My wife mentioned that some flowers would be welcome for the service, but I think we would both also welcome donations made in my MIL’s name to your local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter or Hospice organization.

I’ll be posting more, later.

Jim Downey

13 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Jim, this is RabidNation from Dkos here. Again, my condolences on your loss, and my many, many thanks for sharing your story with us.

I really have felt as though your diaries were ones I NEEDED to read. They have expanded my understanding, and hopefully they have made me a somewhat better person.

All the best to you.

Comment by David

David – thanks, for your kind words here and over on dKos. Seriously, this kind of ‘community’ really makes a difference at times like these.


Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

You and Martha certainly devoted yourselves to making Martha Sr.comfortable at home. We are saying prayers for all of you and are thankful for the good memories you will have. She was, by all accounts, a really great woman.

Comment by Nancy and Phil

My condolences to you and your wife Jim. It sounds like it’s been a long road and that you made her final time on our planet as comfortable as humanly possible which is the best we can do.

Comment by RickU

Nancy & Phil, Rick – thanks to you all for your kind words and thoughts. It was indeed a long and difficult road, but one also with joys and lessons learned.

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

Hi Jim,

It’s CJB from dkos. I left a comment in your last diary, which I missed when you wrote it.

You’ve handled this situation with such grace, and written of it with such beauty.

My condolences for your loss, and my thanks for your willingness to share the journey with us.

Best to you and your wife,


Comment by Kelly Brickner

Jim, my heart goes out to you and your lovely wife. May your mother-in-law be well remembered for her acts of love in her better years, rather than for the difficulties of illness she suffered late in life.

Comment by Ann

Jim, condolences from the Hawk clan. We’ve been on a similar path for the past few years, and seeing and sharing your journey through your writings has served us as a touchstone for our own concerns. May Martha Sr. rest in peace, and may you and your wife take comfort in the knowledge that your caregiving has benefitted not only your patient, but also all those who were able to share in the loving embrace of your care through your postings.


— GreyHawk

Comment by GreyHawk

Danke, GreyHawk,

Thanks for your strength, and your support, on the road both of us traveled. Likewise, your stories of Mumsie were always so close to my own heart, with what we were going through with Martha Sr.

It is almost trite to say that anyone who has not been through this will not understand it, because it is so true – yet I have tried to communicate some of what the experience has been, to provide insight for those who may face walking that road themselves or have friends/family going through it. Because without some inkling of understanding, without some insight, they will not realize what crushing demands/rewards are involved.

Again, my thanks. Go in peace, and enjoy this world by making it a better place.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

[…] subject her to the disconcerting effect of having ’strangers’ in the house.  Following Martha Sr’s death in February, other aspects of life had kept either my sister or us busy and unable to schedule a […]

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[…] we’re now to the point where my wife and her siblings have sorted out who gets what of Martha Sr’s household possessions and things are getting ready to be moved out. Some has already been taken, […]

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[…] and stress about my health and desire to get the house ready for visitors, plus the upcoming first anniversary of Martha Sr’s death.  That was what I was attributing my feelings to.  But this morning, a […]

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[…] been seven and a half years since my mother-in-law passed away from Alzheimer’s. A couple years later, we published Her Final Year. Since then I have kept […]

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