The Case Clan: Mothering through five generations

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, May 12, 2013

Everybody has one.

In most cases, she doesn’t mind staying up late for feedings and thermometer readings and talks with teenagers who only open up after midnight. Just changing diapers, sheets, bath water, checkbooks, and attitudes can keep her busy for years. And if she’s motivated, she’ll be found on task – keeping her kids in chemistry and out of the neighbor’s flower beds.

It’s this type who’s apt to announce her child’s accomplishments in the same breath as “no, ma’am, you didn’t practice your piano long enough” and “of course, you have to write a thank-you note.”

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And occasionally – only occasionally – she might be known to jump on a trampoline. Chances are, though, she’s on the sidelines so someone else can. That’s just how mothers are.

It’s true, everybody has one. But in the five-generation Case family, the mothers just keep multiplying. Gathered at the Golden Living Center – Brook Manor where their matriarch now lives, four women, linked for life, shared their thoughts about the day that celebrates motherhood.

First Generation: Perline Case

Perline Case married at 15 and gave birth a year later in a two-room house on Zetus Road. “We couldn’t have been happier in a mansion,” the 89-year-old says firmly, though admitting she and husband, Grady, had hoped their firstborn would arrive on their anniversary. Dr. Frank Massengill delivered daughter Judy just five days shy of it.

She stops mid-sentence to ask the whereabouts of Callie Parker’s shoes. Callie Parker, playing near her great-great-grandmother’s wheelchair, is two.

“We didn’t have a car, or much of anything else,” Perline continues, satisfied that the shoes are indeed accounted for. “We just worked hard and loved each other.”

Tangible fruit of her labors is evident in group seated around her, something that brings a smile to her time-lined face. “It’s a real blessing to have lived long enough to see these babies and enjoy them.”

Second Generation: Judy Martin, 72

“The thing I remember most about the day Robin was born is how excited all the grandparents were. She was the first on both sides,” recalls Judy Martin, speaking of the day she gave birth to her daughter at the old King’s Daughters Hospital.

Those eager babysitters would come in handy as Dr. Jim Barnett delivered three more Martin babies in a span of six years. Today, each of the four children are part of their own five-generation clans, with few males in the actual lines.

“It’s like being in an estrogen ocean,” jokes Judy’s husband, Robert. He points to his granddaughter Carrie’s arrival as another monumental day in their lives. “It’s amazing what becoming a grandparent can do to you. Haven’t had a cigarette since.”

Third Generation: Robin Case, 52

Carrie’s birth was memorable for staff at the new King’s Daughters Hospital as well, because Robin Case (who regained the Case name through marriage) gave birth on New Year’s Eve, making Carrie the last baby born there in 1982.

“God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams with our children, and the blessings have only multiplied as they’ve married and given us grandchildren,” Robin says.

Set in the middle of their multi-generational family, Robin describes her life as a “wonderful mixture of the past, present and of what the future holds for us.” She also wishes moms in the ’80s had been able to buy the pacifier attachments available today.

“Boy, would they have saved me a lot of trouble,” she laughs.

Fourth Generation: Carrie Adams, 30

Carrie Adams, next in the lineup of female firstborns, recently made a confession to her mom, Robin. “I called her and said, ‘I’ve officially become you. When I open my mouth, I hear you come out.'”

That’s OK with the mother of two preschoolers. She readily seeks her elders’ advice, as well as the hands-on help that’s in current demand. Robin is on bathroom duty with one, while Judy oversees tee-ball player Chloe’s change from a dress to jersey and cleats. “We’ve got a game at 5,” the main mom reports.

For Carrie, a common thread comes to mind when she thinks of her lineage. “We love our family through food.” She references Perline’s chicken and dumplings, Judy’s (the diabetic’s) desserts, Robin’s dressing, and even Chloe’s cupcakes, which are a big hit with nursing home residents on Bingo days.

It’s a legacy Carrie doesn’t take for granted. “I make every effort to be close to my parents and grandparents.” She pauses to snap her fingers at her girls, whose circles around the sofas are gaining speed.

“We still love shopping together,” Carrie added.

Fifth Generation

This hierarchy of mothers doesn’t hesitate in naming their greatest hope for Carrie’s daughters and all the other Case descendants – a shared faith in Jesus Christ.

“We are a very tight, happy family, and that’s because we’re faith-based,” Robin states.

While Judy references Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Robin explains that like all families, theirs has seen tragedies and trials.

She herself lost a kidney to cancer 10 years ago, and her father is battling the same disease today.

Patting three-month-old Charlee Kathryn’s back, the easy-going grandmother puts it all in perspective. “We just stick together and believe God will get us through.”

Advice from the Case Moms:

• “Cherish the early years. They’re only little for a short while.”

• “Never say what your kids will or won’t do.”

•”Spend more time on your children than on other things.”

• “Having children at a young age is good, but only if you’ve grown up yourself.”

• “Hug your child, even when he’s six-foot, six.”