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Islander pens book chronicling her mom’s life

August 23, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle


When Pine Island resident Robin Anne Griffiths' mother Iva Mae Treadway passed away, one of her duties was to go through her mother's belongings. Among those belongings was a metal box that contained Iva Mae's important papers, including burial plans, family photos and a brief autobiography.

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"From the moment I opened my mother's keepsake box after her death, I knew that her story needed to be told," Griffiths said. "Her life was filled with trials and struggle, yet she remained optimistic and filled her emptiness with faith. She lived many different lives over her years with family, faith and love of new places driving her to experience all she could."

The book covers Iva Mae's life beginning in the rural areas of southeast Kansas and the Ozark mountains of Missouri. Through two marriages and 5 children, Iva Mae always managed to make the best of a bad situation.

Iva Mae was born in rural Kansas at the end of World War I. She grew up on a farm without electricity or indoor plumbing. The nearest small town included a grocery store, filling station, post office, train depot, two churches and a school.

Iva Mae was just 15 years old when her mother died.

"It's quite possible Iva Mae missed having a strong bond with her mother," Griffiths said. "Perhaps because she was the youngest in her family and her mother became ill after she was born. She appeared to need attention more than most people and had narcissistic tendencies, requiring positive reinforcement from others."

At 19, Iva Mae met her first husband, a farmer named Emerson Wyant a man 29 years older than she was. They were married and Iva Mae settled into the life of a farmer's wife. Plagued with illnesses and surgeries, Iva Mae's first child, Dennis, was born in October 1943 and her second child, Sandy, came along in 1949.

Farm life proved to be a financial struggle and when the farm's dairy cows were hit with a mysterious illness that killed the herd, Emerson began having health problems.

"This threw the already fragile marriage into a tailspin," Griffiths said. "They sold the farm and purchased a gas station with a small grocery store and a post office. Iva Mae became postmaster."

A short time later when the federal government closed the post office, Iva Mae was out of a job and was forced to close the store. Out of work and also due to Emerson's drinking, the two split and Iva Mae and Sandy relocated to Kansas City while Emerson and son Dennis went to Longton, Kansas.

"Iva Mae was a survivor," Griffiths said. "She always looked at what she was doing as the best she could at the time. Iva Mae found a job as a comptometer operator for an oil company for the next three years.

"Iva Mae was always looking for security and protection," Griffiths said. "So it's easy to speculate that she was looking to get married again so she would feel secure."

Iva Mae met William Robert "Bob" Hodge and the two were married in 1956. In May 1957, daughter Robin Anne was born.

"Bob and Iva Mae's marriage seemed to be set up for failure from the beginning," Griffiths said. "Bob was going from job to job and the family kept moving. At one point, years later, Iva Mae and Dennis counted and realized the family had 17 different addresses by the time Dennis graduated high school."

Iva Mae worked as a waitress to make ends meet while daughter Sandy raised sister Robin. When former husband Emerson died, Dennis came to live with his mother and sisters. The family lived in a gutted store where the front of the building was the town switchboard.

"Iva Mae was the switchboard operator," Griffiths said.

After another child at 38, Iva Mae and Bob's relationship spiraled downhill and Bob was diagnosed with mental illness. He spent months in the mental hospital.

"During this time, Iva Mae was worried about her children, having enough money to live on and her marriage," Griffiths said. "She started praying for an answer. She asked God for help finding a good place to live that would be close to schools, finding a good job to support herself and the kids, and staying safe. If God provided all these things, she said, she would change her life and go to church."

Miraculously, Iva Mae found all of these things and she believed that this was God answering her prayers. Shortly afterwards, Iva Mae began going to church and on the second Sunday she was saved. This was October 1963.

In her 80s, Iva Mae's health began to decline. After falling and breaking her hip, she entered a nursing home and died at the age of 91.

"Iva Mae had a way of looking at life and finding justification for her decisions," Griffiths said. "Her moral compass was the Bible, or at least the way she understood it. She would say she had regrets, but would say she had no choices."

"Iva Mae: The Book of Mom" is a historical narrative from the 1920s into the 21st century. It is well written and covers the life and times of a versatile and intelligent woman making her way through a life full of challenges. It's an inspiring read.

"Iva Mae: The Book of Mom" is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. It is also available locally in Fort Myers at the P.J. Boox bookstores.

About the author

Robin Anne Griffiths' life adventure began in Parsons, Kansas, and continued in Springfield, Missouri, until her love for the tropics led her to Southwest Florida. The lust for adventure has always been at the center of her existence. From running marathons, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to traveling the globe, Robin has never feared pushing the limits. Now filling her days are all types of outdoor activities, her family, writing, helping others and looking for the story in the lives of the people she meets. Robin and her husband, Jim, live in Bokeelia, along with their rescue dog Tiberius and eclectus parrot, Kozmo.



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