January 26, 2012
Ma, October 7, 1936-January 26, 2012
Hilda Dorothy Wallent “Ma” (nee Ward) 75 passed away today peacefully in Hercules, California after 74 good years and one really tough one. She was the beloved and eternal wife of more than 50 years of John Wallent who passed away in August 2006. She is survived and remembered by so many, including her daughters Sheila, Nancy and Megan, and grandkids Holly, Joni, Peri, John and Daniel; and also great grandkids Emily, RJ and Malachi. Ma was also the beloved virtual mother to a number of others, but not without special mention Keith, who always brought a smile and tear to my mom’s lovely face.
Ma was born in Mansett, Maine to Malcolm and Margaret, and also survived by her siblings Sis, Wayne and special little brother David. She lost her eldest brother Malcolm Jr. too early to remember, and 2nd eldest Charlie a few years back.
As a youth she moved to Abington, Massachusetts (but not her accent, which was always from Maine) where at the tender age of 14 she met the future Mr. Wallent who was a troublemaker from the start, and love was kindled. When she was 16 (and Mr. Wallent was 18) they were married (’51), and true mayhem ensued.
They moved in rapid succession through hurricane and snowstorm through Colorado and New Jersey, through the Army and then back to Massachusetts where their big family then began to bloom. In ’58 and ’59 Sheila and Nancy were born, and then later after nearly ten years of eventful life (kidneys and brains!), in the age of aquarius in ‘69, Michael was born (that’s me, Megan, but that’s a whole other story).
After a couple of years more in Abington, Hilda and John (not yet Ma and Pa) moved again furtively from Long Island through Alexandria (Virginia), and then to Mystic in ’74, to a house on a long road that Ma really loved. On the way there Ma taught her kids about bike rides, and peanut butter, and the value of love and working hard.
While in Mystic, Hilda became Ma. Ma loved babies. All babies. And she wanted to help them. So she and John (also known as Dad or Pa) decided to become foster parents. Every few months it seemed like there was a new little voice in the house, that would get fed, changed, sang too (she loved them all a Bushel and a Peck), and then they would move on to a family that would love them forever. There was one catch though – Ma loved them forever too. Sometimes the birth moms who had the right idea – that they needed to love by letting go – held on a little too tight – and they couldn’t let go. Then there was Benjamin. Benjamin was in our house for a long time…. Ma loved him like all of us.
Finally, Benji’s birth mom let go, and Benji became part of an awesome family who’s name I can’t remember. (Benji, you are out there somewhere, and you are a 36 year old man who likely has a whole life that’s awesome. Ma still loves you: Do great things.)
That was hard. John’s commute was hard. Change was needed. After Sheila and Nancy were all set with high school they moved with Michael to Wickford, Rhode Island. Ma hated the house on Stonegate, but it became her, and she was there for more than 30 years.
While in Wickford, she walked (how many thousands of times around the block), and she and Pa again became foster parents, and the sounds of nighttime feedings filled the house. Then again, there was a problem. One of the kids that she loved so much couldn’t be let go. Keith…. You are her youngest son. My youngest brother. It tore her heart out, but finally he was let go and caught in one fell swoop.
While on Stonegate, Ma perfected so many things: Green Christmas Tree Cookies, Baked Beans, Babca (God’s food for the first Pa), flat chocolate chip cookies and more than anything, loving all little hearts that came through the door.
Keith was the end of the foster period, and in the early 80’s Ma started to do day care, which was really an excuse to have kids in the house all the time, and she again grew her family. I am not even going to begin to remember all of the names, but Ma would. Morgan, Derek, Emily…. Was it 50? She knew them all, and it became her.
She and John began to travel, enjoying the time they had together. Cruises, Vegas, even a Thanksgiving in Europe! They had a full life.
Ma and Pa retired in the late 90’s from making stuff and managing rooms of children (Ma and Pa respectively), and started to travel even more, but after a few years of the good life John’s kidney cloud returned and from 2002 to 2006 it got hard. John got sick and passed away, and in the interim Ma was the do-er of the stuff that needed to get done. It was wearing.
The Stonegate house went a few years back, and Ma moved to Niantic to be near Nancy.
Last spring she decided that a walk in the back yard with her beloved brother David would be fun, but a bit of the stubbornness that was her hallmark came out and she didn’t need help (when she really did), and she took a tumble, and everything tumbled from there.
Over the last nine months, Ma became at peace with her world, had some more Long Island Ice teas, went to Disney one last time and gave a few more kids a hug.
Today was the end of her breath but not her heart.
That lives on.