Margaret D. Davidson Boushka

November 23, 1913December 14, 2010
Obituary of Margaret D. Davidson Boushka
On January 29, 1956, when I was twelve years old, I was baptized by immersion at the First Baptist Church at 16th and O Sts. NW, with my mother at the same time, also present in the baptistery. She was 43 then. This was during my seventh grade which socially was becoming a difficult time for me. The Church had just opened its new sanctuary four weeks before, on Christmas Day 1955. I remember the blue light coming into the sanctuary, to be replaced by stained glass windows which my parents would be active in supporting. Mother was a stay-at-home mom who experienced her life through family. She did not expect independence, self-expression or self-display, or the absolute right to choice, the way modern society has come to encourage. She accepted that some circumstances were given. She was born in the family farmhouse in Camden Township near Kipton, Ohio, on Monday November 23, 1913. She was the oldest of six children who survived (two more did not). She lost a year of school surviving appendicitis around the second grade, in an era before antibiotics. I think that is where she learned strength and resilience. In 1934, during the Great Depression, at the invitation of Great Aunt Frances in Alexandria, she came to Washington DC to look for a job, and found a job as a receptionist and secretary for the YMCA on G Street in Washington. She would live in a YWCA nearby and come to work on a streetcar. She would eventually meet my father there and start dating. She and my father were married at the First Baptist Church on May 15, 1940. I would be born on July 10, 1943. My father, John Joseph Boushka, was born in Iowa in 1903, and became a manufacturer’s representative. He had graduated from Berkeley. He had been too young for World War I, and had been just barely too old for the draft for World War II. Still, as did many people in that time, my parents developed of sense of becoming witnesses to history that they could not control (and certainly could not “choose”). They would be riding a train from New York to Washington on December 7, 1941 when they would learn of Pearl Harbor from people who got on to the train in Philadelphia. My parents set up a stable home in Arlington in which to raise me. I had some issues with physical development, and even my early report cards (which I still have) show that. Nevertheless, the home and family nurtured me and sheltered me from the uncertainties of the world more than maybe did those of many other families. It would be some years before I understood how the world “really is.” I remember the years of school and the Sundays at church, and the route home, where we would eat at Hogates, or a place in Arlington called the Good Food Shoppe. In those days, I was not as aware of danger and of crime and of the social instability of the world as I would become later. I felt physically safe from too much external disruption when at home. For every summer from about 1947 until 1961, we went to Ocean City, MD for a week in June with another family, the Scotts; and we usually spent the month of July in grandparents’ home in Kipton, Ohio. Father usually left mother and me there for several weeks while he traveled for work. I started taking piano while in third grade, in February 1952. I don’t remember why I wanted to in a conscious way. But I definitely had the ear for music, which guided the way the rest of me developed. There wasn’t room for other things outside the music and schoolwork world. Sports and physical development were to be crowded out of my brain, but for moral reasons (as things were seen during these postwar times), that would not be allowed. I remember my mother’s character guidance during those days. The most important issue for her was my “willingness” to do what others needed, not just what I wanted. I am an only child, and I know that she wanted grandchildren, which I did not provide her. At one time my parents considered adopting a younger sister, but did not. My father briefly mortgaged the house (which had been paid for in 1949) to help raise money for the new sanctuary at church. But my own mind stayed on its own track. My life took a different direction, which would take her into other areas of political controversy beyond what she would have chosen. But again, she understood that life poses everyone their own unique challenges, and does not owe anyone just what they want. The most serious emotional crisis of her life would occur at the exact chronological midpoint, because of certain issues that came up during my own college years. That provided the only occasion when I heard her cry as an adult. I won’t go into this right here in detail, even though I have in published books and websites. At the time, father would have a “mild” heart attack at age 59. After that, her life settled back into its old rhythm. She would develop breast cancer in 1980 at age 68, but early surgery would be successful and she would never need chemotherapy. In the meantime, I would live and work in several places, including New York, Dallas, and Minneapolis. Father would have an aorta aneurysm repaired in 1977 but would die on January 1, 1986 after being ill only a few weeks with cancer. Mother, then 73, stayed on her feet, and took care of the house and her own finances with conservative precision. I would spend the years from 1988 to 1997, however, living in nearby apartments in northern Virginia. I would bring over my laundry on Friday mornings and she always did it, and I usually ate dinner with her at “The House” (which I called “Drohega”) on Friday nights. She helped me clean up and got after me when I moved from one apartment to another in 1995, when she was already 82. She was very close to all of her younger siblings, and she would outlive all of them. Earlier in 1995, she went down to South Carolina to take care of her younger widower brother, Leonard, who was dying at 70 of heart failure. She would take care of his estate perfectly. She was particularly close to the youngest sister, June, who, after severe meningitis when a girl, never married and took care of everyone else. June has just passed away herself in October 2010 in Ohio. My musical ability seems to have been evident in June and another sister Frances. In 1996, Mother fell while cleaning the porch and sustained a hip fracture. It was repaired and she healed quickly while June came down to look after her. In 1997, she had a hip replacement, shortly before I would take a job transfer to Minneapolis. Again, June and then a live-in helped the recovery. I remember her waving as I left for Minneapolis with a loaded car. In 1999, she had coronary bypass surgery, which she recovered from very quickly, despite some abuse in a skilled nursing facility; she would recover at home with the help of a live-in. I came back to help look after her in late 2003. She got at least eight great years of life with full quality and activity, including engagement with her church and Eastern Star, on the surgery. She was not engaged with the social and political issues of the “outside world” the way I was my entire adult life. For her, life was to be “lived”, and history was to be accepted and perhaps watched. For me, it seems, it became the opposite. She was, in the end, The Good Mother. But she had led The Epic Life. The last time she was able to understand me in the Hospice facility, the Hospice music radio played the close of the Symphony #2 by Robert Schumann, a work that has unusual significance for me, with its famous theme in the Finale. That is the last music she ever heard.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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