Saturday, May 07, 2022

Clara Ann (Brown) Gootee - August 4, 1933-May 1, 2022


Clara Ann Gootee – American Classic

 I became part of Clara and Bernie’s family in 1970 when Beth Ann and I had our first date – It turned out to be our last date for a while. I like to think Clara kept nudging Beth Ann to give me a second chance. Sometime in 1971 Beth Ann gave me a second chance. We’ve been together ever since. I’m not talking about Beth Ann – I mean Clara.  She and I have been together for over 50 years. Not as long as Clara and Bernie, but I don’t believe any son-in-law has ever had as wonderful a life with a mother-in-law as I had with mine.

She was a strikingly beautiful blonde mom then just like I remember her now. She is an American Classic. Not like a Corvette or Harley – but just as strong and enduring.

They started their family with not much more than the love in their hearts. So much love that it lasted the rest of their lives together. And that itself is a testament to her strength and the power of their love. Clara’s path to forever wasn’t paved with marshmallows.

With four little kids in the house and a husband with two jobs she cared for her dying mom in their home until she died. She cared for a son who passed in the prime of his life. She cared for two sons and a nephew who suffered but survived from serious accidents and she cared for a husband who was taken soon after their fiftieth anniversary. Clara was a care-a.

For the past few years it’s been our turn to care for Clara. All of us cared, but Beth Ann was able to care in a way she could only have learned from her mom. Beth Ann leaned in – just like her mom – because she learned from her mom that you care for your family without care for your own needs.

Over the past few months and weeks that care graduated from hospital visits to hospice visits. Beth Ann would say there would be no happy endings. Like all of us here know: life ends, usually at a time and place of its choosing, few would say happily.

The most we can hope for is a Classic Ending. An American Classic deserves a Classic Ending. Surrounded by our loved ones, tenderly holding our hands and our heart. The love grows stronger as the body weakens, as Clara found peace and absence of pain, in the care of those for whom no sacrifice, no duty, no responsibility was too great a burden to assure that what comfort we could offer would be given.

A preacher at Tom’s funeral said those who die in our midst just get there first. We imagine – we believe – that those who got there first were overjoyed when Clara arrived. Her mom, Jeff, Bernie and all the others she loved and cared for while she was here are now together with her forever.

We now look up to Clara from behind. We are the ones comforted by our personal memories of an American Classic who, with the help of her family, had a classic ending.

See published Obituary on Dignity Memorial