“She was a reader of books and of people.”
Those are the words Audrey’s daughter, Anne, used to describe her mother.
LaVonne “Audrey” Froiland was born on August 15, 1916 in Dawson, MN and died on January 10, 2014 at the age of 97, in Dawson at the Johnson Memorial Care Center. On February 1, 1939 she was married to Hjalmar “Sonny” Froiland and together they raised five children. Much of Audrey’s story, as it appears in this writing, was taken from Audrey’s funeral folder as written by her children.
“The Froiland farm became a welcoming place for friends and relatives alike. There was always room at the table for anyone who dropped by. She was a good cook, loved food, and loved feeding people. Her hospitality demonstrated her warm heart and her genuine interest in people. Audrey found people as fascinating as the books she loved to read. She had a nose for stories and drew them out of people. She also loved to write. Audrey researched and wrote both local history and family history, history being another kind of story. She wrote letters and communicated with many friends and family, using during the earlier years a Parker ink pen that Sonny gave to her. Many people have known the joy of being on the receiving end of a well-expressed letter that was, like her, warm, observant, and thoughtful. Those who knew her well also know she had a sharp intellect and quick dry wit. She could deliver a zinger as well as anyone, an ability she retained to her last days. She enjoyed laughing long and hard and found humor even in ribald comedy, much to the (supposed) chagrin of her husband!
Audrey loved music, as did her extended family, and music was always a part of reunions and parties at the farm. That tradition continued as their children had their friends congregate at the farm, many of whom became life-long friends of the whole family. She was an accomplished and creative seamstress, especially interested in redesign of existing garments and patterns, often adding handwork detail.
Norwegian family roots and migration were of great interest to her, and her genealogy research resulted in close connections with family still in Norway. In their 80’s, Sonny and Audrey went to Norway to meet their relatives, hear and share stories, and experience the mountains and fjords of their ancestors. That trip was a culmination of a long history of travel across Canada, Mexico, and almost every one of the United States. Part of each summer was spent “at the lake.”
After Sonny’s sudden death in 2008, Audrey moved to the Johnson Memorial Care Center in Dawson, where she lived her last five years. It was at the Care Center that Audrey was seen by the former Rice Grief Center. Throughout these visits Audrey shared stories of life with Sonny, their children, and Sonny’s family. At the time the Grief Center coordinator met her, Audrey’s long-term memory was sharp but her short-term memory was failing. One of her main concerns was that as her dementia progressed, she would lose the long-term memories which she so treasured. Memories of her almost 70 years with Sonny were bitter sweet for Audrey. She cherished the memories but missed him immensely. In some of her journal writings she discussed feeling like she was “wandering in a wilderness” as she discussed her memory loss and her grief.
Audrey was admitted into Rice Hospice on March 27, 2013 with a variety of health concerns which included dementia but also a Gastrointestinal Bleed. Understanding that Audrey had a strong faith life, the Hospice Music Coordinator recalls singing hymns and Sunday School songs with Audrey which appeared to bring Audrey comfort. Hospice also had volunteers who visited and a pet volunteer who visited Audrey with a Rice Hospice Therapy Dog.
Anne reminisced about Hospice visits. “They were so sweet and not intrusive. It was apparent they were there to help, support, and loved Mom and us. They treated her like they would have their own family.” Anne discussed the training she had from the Hospice Social Worker about the changes happening. The social worker reminisced with Anne at Audrey’s bedside and pointed out to Anne that Audrey was showing signs that she was hearing what they were saying. “That’s why Hospice is so good. They helped us recognize that dying isn’t just biological. They saw that Mom was still in touch and that she was still a person.”
Travel had been such a passion for her and as it became apparent that her health status was progressing and her dying was near, her family and Hospice were present to witness her final journey. Audrey died peacefully and quietly at Johnson Memorial Care Center in Dawson on January 10, 2014 with many of her family members present.