Bob Lamb of Centerville has many memories of dates that fall on the first of the month. He met his future wife, Jean, in speech class at Iowa State. Their first date was on Nov. 1. They cut classes and went to the last football game of the season. He asked her to “go steady” the next June 1, but that date was just a coincidence.
The first of November, they became engaged. They got married on the first of September the following year, 1948.
Sadly, the last memorable date on the first of the month was Jean’s passing last year on March 1. She was 91, and had suffered from Meniere’s disease during her last 14 years, coupled with Alzheimer’s disease the last 10 years.
The year before she passed away, the family was gathered together for Thanksgiving and came up with the idea of putting all of her creations together in a book. “A Kiss on the Magic Spot” is a collection of Jean’s literary creations, poems, short stories and drawings. It is divided into chapters that include Seasons, Memories, Family and A Mother’s Wisdom. It also includes a forward by Bob and letters from her five children: Kevin, Larry, Chris, Jenni and Becky.
“My wife was an exceptionally creative person. The title is a meaningful part of her creativity,” said Bob, who retired at 64 many years ago from a 38-year career at 3M Company. “We had her literary works published as a tribute to her. She always had a smile on her face.”
When her children were young, she would kiss the tip of her finger and place it right above their noses. When they were a little older, she would explain: “It’s a magic spot because it goes straight to your heart and means ‘I love you.’ ” When they were grown and out of the house, she started a business called Precious Pockets. It was a cozy stuffed lamb that held a pocket of love for the recipient.
“Growing up, I just figured that everyone’s mom could do the things that my mom could do. I guess I must have thought it was all part of the job description,” states Larry in the book. “As I grew older, I came to realize that my mom was different from the others. A lot of our friends had great moms, too, but our mom was really…something…special.”
Bob had osteomyelitis in his heel, and gets around using a specially designed walker with a seat. Bob jokingly refers to it as “Tonto, his faithful friend.” He and his wife have had part-time caregivers over the past five years. Thirteen of her caregivers came to her service because they had enjoyed getting to know her.
“When people ask about my childhood I tell them, ‘I grew up in Donna Reed’s house,’ ” states Jenni Allard in the book. “I used to laugh when my friends called you ‘Saint Jean.’ Now, I’m not so sure they were wrong.”
All proceeds from book sales will go to the local chapter of Alzheimers Association and Hospice of Dayton. Both organizations have copies of the book, as well as St. Leonard, the living community in Centerville, where Bob resides.
“I’ve had many goals in my life, and I’ve accomplished many things, but I’ve never been more proud than I am of this book,” said Bob. “I can sit and read through it and remember our life together. It’s a treasure for me, as well as the rest of the family.”
Contact this contributing writer at PamDillon@woh.rr.com.