Dette Jean Norstrom was born September 28, 1933 and died January 13, 2020. A native South Dakotan; lived 35 years in California and the past 23 years in Arizona. Survived by her husband, Don; two daughters, Ilene and Debbie; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She worked for the Daily News-Sun with her husband for three years, and also sold antiques and collections as private dealers for 25 years. Enjoyed baseball that stemmed from childhood. A true Dodgers fan since 1981. Anyone she would meet, enjoyed conversing with her, as she would catch the interest of the listener. Enjoyed 1940’s and 1950’s music including Country. But most of all, she loved to Dance! She had a gifted singing voice too! She leaves behind her dog “Honey”; a rescue retriever mix who misses her greatly.
BACKGROUND: For those not aware, Dette had a 5 year journey of Dementia. We noticed increasing symptoms such as balancing checkbook which would previously take an hour, now would take a day. Crossword puzzles would be increasing difficult with just three or four words completed. Word search puzzles, which she loved to do all day long, became harder and harder to do.
LONG MARRIAGE: How long? She would give a mischievous smile and say too long! Sixty-four years, long by today’s standard! I was 18 and she turned 21 when we married. She always said she robbed the cradle!
HOW WE MET: I had a summer job as a Bell Hop before going to College and she was a Switchboard Operator at the Hotel we worked at. We only lived 4 blocks from each other. We would walk home and brushed each other’s hands; then one of us grabbed the other’s hands; and that was the beginning of our relationship. I loved holding hands at the end. She would cup hers over mine.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD: We would have harsh words at times and go to bed angry sometimes as well. Sometimes we would wake up still angry. But we took one day at a time and that’s what kept us going.
HOUSEWIFE: Was housewife and homemaker and loved Ilene and Debbie as they grew to adulthood. We enjoyed playing board games, with SCRABBLE being her favorite.
JOBS: Worked off and on as a PBX Operator for Newspaper Companies in Fresno, CA and Sioux Falls, SD. One favorite story was about the JFK Assassination. Had to crank the switchboard as the power went out as too many people were calling in at the same time. Another favorite story was about Babe Ruth when he came over for dinner one night after playing an Exhibition game for her Father who was a Manager for the Sioux Falls Canaries, a Minor League team in the 1930’s and 1940’s. He signed baseballs for the whole family. We still have the one signed for Dette.
She had a loud laugh, which was contagious and would make you laugh.
GATHERINGS: We would gather at Christmas at her sister Doralene’s home in Stockton, CA. All members of the family had great times.,which I will always remember them. She would also host my co-workers at our house.
PARENTS: She had parents who she was close to; they loved her and she loved them as I did as well.
HOBBIES: In 1981, we started buying and selling antiques, but mainly collectibles from the 1940’s and 1950’s. We would bring a large UHAUL to Sun City, for a few weeks and go to Estate Sales, garage sales and malls. It became our ‘together’ hobby for 27 years. Never a money maker, but did not lose money either. We would have our own garage sales which would take several months to prepare for. They were always the cleanest and best organized.
LAST MEMORY: My biggest memory is her last four months. She went from the hospital to Brookdale Dementia Facility. She progressed from mild to severe dementia. Went from walking and eating well to a wheelchair and not eating much. At the end, she was in bed, unable to do anything for herself. At all times though, she knew us and spoke to us, but conversations didn’t always make sense. Talked about things of the past. We believe at her last hours, she opened her eyes when we said “who was there” Ilene, Josh and myself. She loved Josh when he visited on her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She would say, “Oh Josh” and kiss and hold his hands. I will always have a mental picture of her one morning, when she woke up and saw me and said with the sweetest smile, “Oh you are here?” and then asked “Is Ilene here?”. I would bring our dog Honey and she was always glad to see her. But when I didn’t bring her, she would say” Why didn’t you bring her?” You never bring her even though I had brought her the day previously. I would always say “I Love You” and “See you later.” Not too long ago, she responded, “I Love You too”. We are sad, but glad too. She is in Paradise with Jesus with no sorrow, pain or tears. We look forward to meeting again.
My Remembrances and Fond Memories of Mom:
Mom had many talents – She was articulate; capable of expressing ones’ self orally, precise, sensitive, constructive, compassionate, witty, well liked, intelligent and responsible.
As a woman and wife, she had her measure of fears and tears, insecurities, simplicities, desires to be accepted, disappointments, guidance and strength.
As a Mother; helpful, as a Teacher, firm, trusting, loving, gentle, protective, directive and corrective.
She was born in to Baseball as my Grandfather was a Manager for a Minor League Ball Team; the Sioux Falls Canaries in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Mom was often taken out of school, but my Grandmother made certain she took her school work with her so as not to be behind in her classes when they traveled to the locations where the games were played.
Often times, Mom would speak of her experiences with ball players, famous at the time of her growing up years and continued to do so until the last three months of her life, to anyone who would eagerly lend an ear to which when she captured the attention of the listener was what she thrived for on most any subject. Oh! She was also a true Dodger fan and the importance of wearing her Dodger blues to any of the games she and Dad attended, including the one, I was invited to attend, and a game my sister treated them to. She even has a baseball signed by Babe Ruth; another interesting story, as to ‘how’ she received it and so now my Sister and I will continue the legacy of story telling.
Her fears and tears, insecurities, disappointments, etc., defines most women, but often times, she would capture inner strength and project it to my Sister and I when we would fall apart to be a pillar of strength to uphold and lift us up through our trials and difficulties in life, so we could be better than her weakest moments of imperfections as any Mother hopes for the best in her children. She would praise our achievements and be there when we stumbled with encouragement to recognize our mistakes and correct them, but to be there until the broken pieces were mended.
She enjoyed buying practical and enjoyable things, which were helpful and often times, needful for both me and my son, as she knew my struggles being on a fixed income were often difficult to make ends meet, and I often felt empathy from her because I was single and alone and she wanted to fill in the gap of what her definition of a husband’s role was to be, like her parents were to her and Dad in their earlier years of marriage. She had great admiration, respect and love.
The need to be accepted, loved and the importance of both, reflected the insecurities and pit falls in life causing disappointments in which the role became reverse, as my Sister and I became her advisor giving direction, inspiration, overseer, protector and confidant. Isn’t that how it is, as our parents age, the children become like parents? The cycle of life repeats itself.
I will miss her laughter, her presence, her voice, advice in conversation, togetherness, and adjustments often made when our loved ones go before us, but I have hope in Jesus and know we will see each other again with rejoicing as his promises are true.
You are in a better place now, Mom, where your suffering has ceased and the joy of the Lord surrounds you. The reuniting of family awaits you as those who went before you, but also, for those of your family who still remain, will acquaint again when the Lord calls us home.
Bye-bye Mama, until we meet again.
In closing, I would like to read to you the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, my favorite verses:
1: To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
2: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
3: A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.
4: A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
8: A time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.
11: He hath made everything beautiful in his time and set the world in our hearts, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
15: That which hath been is now, and that which is to be hath already been and God requireth that which is past.
20: All go onto one place, all are of the dust and all turn to dust again.
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