Missing Sara

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire. -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Sara was a friend. Not just to me, but to many others. I’ve wanted to write about her for a long time, but the memories were bittersweet. I struggled to gather the words.

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Karen and Sara

Our story of friendship begins over 100 years ago with a brother and sister named Fred and Henrietta, the children of Dutch immigrants. Fred and Henrietta grew up, found spouses, married, lived a few houses apart, and both had families of their own. Fred took over his dad’s dairy farm. In 1947, Fred’s wife gave birth to a boy, Marvin. Henrietta gave birth to a son, David.

Marvin and David weren’t just cousins who happened to be neighbors. They became best friends. They went to the same church, the same Sunday school, and the same elementary and high schools. They played baseball at the farm and went to 4H Tractor Club. On Sunday afternoons they took walks, wandering around the Twin Lakes area.

Marvin and David grew up and each was married in 1970. Both became fathers for the first time in 1971 and they both had baby girls. That was Sara and me.

I suppose Sara and I played together since we were old enough to toddle around. Our parents often got together on weekends and for Bible study. Every year we attended New Year’s Eve service at church and then spent the evening talking, eating and playing games with our siblings until the exciting countdown to midnight. The next morning we would be at church, starting the New Year in God’s house.

Just like our dads, we attended the same church and Sunday school. We were in the same classes and grades all through our years at North Christian grade school. We played long days together in the summer, wandering all around the farm by Twin Lakes and often had sleepovers.  There were hours in her room with her amazing Barbie townhouse, complete with elevator. We dug up dusty dry calf bones behind the farm and pretended we had found an ancient dinosaur land.

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Riding bikes in 1982

John Deere mountain was what we named our special spot. We perched ourselves in the tall grass on a small hill above the farm. We hid there, talking and laughing as only two little girls can do. At my folk’s house we mixed up crazy concoctions in the kitchen and played with the cassette tape recorder for hours, creating silly radio programs and listening to them while we giggled late into the night.

Starting in second grade we took piano lessons together with Mrs. Grit.  Our moms took turns carpooling. The day that the tornado hit Kalamazoo in 1980, we were at Mrs. Grit’s house for our weekly lesson. We stopped at my aunt’s house to shelter in her cellar because my mom spotted the tornado over Westwood as she was driving us home. When Mrs. Grit moved to Costa Rica with her family to be missionaries, we switched to Mrs. Manni. We took turns  sitting at the dining room table and doing homework while the other had her lesson.

In high school, my cousin drove us to school every day for a couple of semesters. We sometimes carpooled to basketball games, cheering for our Kalamazoo Christian Comets.  We had several friends in common. After  graduating in 1989, Sara stayed at home with her folks and went to college. I moved in with my grandparents and went to work at a doctor’s office. We soon started getting together with friends every Sunday night after church. These were some of the happiest days I remember. Sara started dating Steve, the good-looking fellow who showed up in our Sunday school class in 6th grade. Many of us girls swooned over him, but it was Sara who won his heart.

I went away to college for one year. When I returned  home to Kalamazoo, Sara and I rented an apartment together. It was her first place away from her parents. We had great fun furnishing and decorating our little place. She would come home from her job at the flower shop and have Adventures in Odyssey on her car radio. I would have the radio on in the apartment and we would finish listening together. I can’t say how many nights were spent staying up late, talking and giggling.  There were serious conversations too, about our faith and relationships. It is almost crazy to admit, but at age 19, we joined with a group of friends for our first and only ballet class.  It was so fun(ny)! We loved having friends over and started a Bible study, too.

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Sara talking on the phone and washing dishes in our apartment, 1992

 

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A personal note from Sara.  The front of the card was inscribed with a verse:  “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

One fine summer day, we were feeling a little tired and dull. We jumped into our friend  Jeff’s red Chevy Lumina  and he drove  a group of us to Lake Michigan. At the state park entrance booth, Sara pretended to give an order for McDonald’s, as if we were at the drive-thru. Because of that, we could not stop laughing. The guys gave up on us and walked down to the beach, but we remained in the back seat, rolling around, laughing and crying for at least ten more minutes. Then we laughed our way down to the beach; into the sun and waves and joy of a carefree day.

Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected. –Charles Lamb

On a warm August night in 1992, I had the honor of playing the piano for Sara and Steve’s wedding. Going though my old piano books, I found songs I heard her play while sitting at the dining room table doing homework at Mrs. Manni’s house. I found Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart and hymns from Sunday School. All my heart went into that prelude. Our friend Rhonda and her dad sang a duet and I played the piano for that too. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the church, and there was our first piano teacher, Mrs. Grit!

Sara started teaching school and settled into married life. I married a couple of years later, and moved out of state. Sara and I wrote letters and talked on the phone at first, but gradually we became busy and didn’t keep up. Sara and Steve eventually had six children and started homeschooling. Despite living out of state, I could count on seeing Sara and our group of friends every New Year’s Eve or 4th of July whenever I was in Kalamazoo.  It was always easy to get together on these occasions and catch up on our lives.  Eventually I moved back and we continued our tradition of gathering with our friends twice a year.

Nearly every time a year turned over, Sara and I were together.

These days our parents still get together. They go out to eat. Once a month they still have Bible study with their group of friends. You will always find them celebrating New Year’s Eve at one or the other’s home.

John Deere Mountain is gone now, excavated flat to the ground.

Sara is gone too. She left us suddenly one day seven years ago. She fed her family supper, went to lay down for a rest, and quietly slipped away to heaven. We later learned she had a rare heart condition.

For a long time my heart went flat too. Flat with missing, flat with grief. Flat with fear of loving and losing. It is taking a long time to heal and maybe it never will.

I have had losses. I’ve lost babies. I’ve lost my uncle. I’ve lost young friends and old friends and great aunts and uncles and grandparents. Truthfully, I don’t cry about them anymore, but sometimes I still cry about Sara.  I miss laughing together. Really, I just miss her.

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Sara and Karen on John Deere Mountain, drawn by Esther Kamps.*

Sara had a way of spending time, listening and being present with people. You can see by her notes that she was also an encourager. People were drawn to her, but she never wanted to draw attention to herself. She was living her dream of family, children and homeschooling. God only knows why her time was up, but it was. Sara trusted God with all her heart. I trust Him too, but  I admit it took  time to trust again after she was gone. I have faith in God that I will see her again and  someday all the sorrow of missing her will be gone forever.

 

We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence. -Joseph Roux

For More Information

News article about Sara from The Kalamazoo Gazette

An online memorial (note this was created by someone named Karen, but not myself)

Update on the family  – God is amazing!

Plainwell couple celebrates new love, new life and 9 children (P.S.  Make that 11 blessings.)

*Some years ago I wrote down memories of Sara from childhood to give to Sara’s children, similar to what I’ve shared here. Mrs. Kamps  sketched this lovely picture for me to include with the stories.

You comments are always welcome and appreciated. If you knew Sara and have a memory you’d like to share, you are welcome to add those in the comments too.  I’m sure family and friends would enjoy reading them. Note: I  moderate comments to prevent spam, so they will appear after I’ve approved them.

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Josephine and Henry

“So Grandma,” I said one day as she was showing me how to make her favorite lemon pie (complete with lard pie crust), “How is it that you met Grandpa, since you grew up in Iowa?”

Grandma blushed and smiled, thinking of the day she met Henry Balkema.

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My Grandpa.  To me, he was a legend in his own time. Henry Balkema was strong as an ox with twinkling, crinkled eyes and a jolly laugh who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He was the son of Dutch immigrants and the third born of ten children.  He worked for his dad, starting out as a pooper scooper for the horses at age five.  Later on, he drove trucks to haul celery and flowers from Kalamazoo to Chicago.

Grandpa loved horses, and if he had lived in the west, I’m certain he would have been a cowboy. I’ve been told that as a young man he rode two horses bareback through Upjohn Park one day.  However, the day we were making  pie, he was  hauling gravel in the dump truck from his gravel pit.

“When I was 17,” Grandma said, “Mom decided I should  visit my dad and siblings in Michigan.  It was quite a trip for me.  I had never been so far away from home alone.  I took the train from Iowa, through Chicago and then up to Kalamazoo. Other than the visit from my dad, Anne and John, when I was thirteen, I had never seen them. ”

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Josephine with her parents, Dick and Jennie VanSant in 1940.

“Weren’t you nervous?” I asked.

“Oh yes, I sure was, but my brother John picked me up at the train.  You know, your Uncle John?”

I nodded. Yes, I knew great Uncle John VanDyk. He lived down the road from us a mile or two.

“John had a good sense of humor.  He picked me up from the train station and I quickly felt at ease with him.  On the way to my dad’s house, he stopped at the gas station. I didn’t know it at the time, but your Grandpa was also at the gas station.  That was the first time Henry saw me.  He didn’t introduce himself, but told me later he was instantly smitten.”  Grandma smiled and wiped her hands on her blue and white checkered apron.   “Boy, was he smitten.”

“So when did you meet him?” I asked. Grandma put that pie crust together so quickly, I pretty much missed what she did. Maybe I would catch it next time.

“The next day, John drove me around Kalamazoo for a tour. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had often told the Balkemas he had a  pretty blonde-haired sister in Iowa. My dad lived on Walter street, and the Balkema family was their neighbor around the corner a couple of blocks from them on Vine Street.   They were good friends, and John worked for them too.”

Grandma put the pie crust in the oven and started separating eggs for the pie as she continued her story.

“John and I walked into Balkema’s house and he started to introduce me to some of the girls.  At that moment, your Grandpa came down the steps, and you’ll never guess what he did next!”

Grandma took out her glass lemon squeezer and went to work getting juice out of the lemon, leaving me in suspense a few moments.  She looked up at me with laughing eyes, knowing I was waiting impatiently.

“He came straight down the steps,  gave me a hug and kiss and said ‘Josephine, I’m going to marry you!’

“What?” I said, shocked.  “What did you say to him?”

“I don’t think I said anything,” she shook her head,  “I really  had no choice in the matter.”

That was the beginning of their courtship.

Grandma started up the stove to cook the lemon filling. “Our first date was the Root Beer Stand.  You know the one on Cork Street? ”

I nodded.  I had been there several times with Grandpa and Grandma.

“When I went back home to Iowa, Henry started writing me big letters.  I found out later he showed all the lettters to his mother first, and they were  pretty much alike.”

“What did they say, Grandma?”  I watched as she whisked the filling on the stove. “Well, that is, if you don’t mind telling me?”

“You know, Grandpa only went to second grade, and he didn’t write very well.  Most of his letters wrote the same scrawling lines over and over;”  Grandma paused from stirring and smiled to think of it.  They said, ‘I love you!  I love you! I  love you!'”

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Josephine’s Lemon Pie Recipe

2 egg yolks (Use the whites for meringue)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 T. butter

1 T. cornstarch (heaping)

Juice and rind of one lemon.

Cook together till thickened.  Pour into baked pie crust.  Use egg whites to make meringue.  Cool in refrigerator.

*Note to those of you who arrived from following my weight loss journey:  Of course I won’t make or eat this recipe these days.  I can’t have the sugar.  But I posted it fo family and  those who might like to have it.   It’s straight from Grandma’s recipe book.

As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.   If you know remember additional details or suggestions about these stories, I would love to hear them.

More Josephine Stories

Josephine’s Birth

School Days 

The Surprise Visit

Birth Family of Josephine (Pictures and Documents)

The Faith of Eda Stek (a story about Josephine’s aunt)

Our (Frugal) Christmas Traditions

This week for The Loft we are linking up to share some of our Christmas traditions!

My husband and I have enjoyed celebrating Advent season with our children. The past couple of years we’ve wrapped up our manger scene with wrapping paper in individual pieces. The kids were allowed to unwrap one piece per night as we shared each part of the Christmas story, culminating in the cradle with baby Jesus.

Manger Scene

This December we are reading through Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”. We printed out the free printable ornaments that are on her website and carefully colored them. After each story we hang the ornaments on our Jesse tree, (in our case, it’s a tree drawn on our chalkboard wall). The kids look forward to it every night, as do the adults.  The readings are helping us keep our focus on the the love that God has for us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

My husband’s family loves playing board games, so we started a tradition of buying a game that our family can play.  This is the only gift that our children receive from us.  (They get plenty of gifts from their grandparents, aunts and uncles!) In 2013 we purchased Enchanted Forest. It is interesting and challenging enough for children and parents alike—we are all on equal footing! Our family has played it many times over the past year, and you never know who will win. 🙂

Playing Enchanted Forest

Playing Enchanted Forest

Last week, my mom and I made a large batch of banket, a Dutch almond pastry, and not only did we have the fun of baking together, but we gave them as gifts for my husband’s bosses, co-workers and others. In other years we have made babbelaars a Dutch candy.

Making Banket with my Mom

Making Banket with my Mom

Our Christmas tree  was purchased at Wal-Mart after Christmas for less than $4.00 nine or ten years ago—when I was still single! Yes, it’s a half-sized pitiful sort of Charlie Brown artificial tree, but my kids know nothing else, and they ooh and ahh over it every year, and have great fun putting on the ornaments.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our (frugal) Christmas traditions.  What is one of  your favorite holiday traditions?  Feel free to comment below!

My heroes

A hero – The classic idea of a man who gallantly rescues a damsel in distress.

In some way or form, all of these men have been heroes in my life:

Heroes I’ve met:

  • My husband. With his calm, quiet ways, taking on this crazy, up and down, enthusiastic and sometimes troubled wife, working all day and coming home to help with the dishes at night. He always prays with and for me.
  • My dad. Hard working and STRONG. He has had some physical struggles the past few years, but is still that strong dad– and always will be in my mind. I think of His fortitude and dedication to his faith, my mom and the farm.  Perhaps the only person I know as stubborn as myself. (Well, maybe brother Fred, too?)
  • My Grandpa B. Another super strong man but with the greatest personality and so generous. He will get his own blog post some day, but it’s hard for me to think or write about him without a few tears, because I still miss him.
  • Steve Schlissel. I first heard him speak when attending “Concerned Members of the Christian Reformed Church” meetings. He spoke up bravely in the middle of a dark time in the CRC. I spent a couple of weeks visiting with him and his family in Brooklyn when fresh out of high school.  The experience opened up my world and changed my life.
  • Uncle Dave B. He faced cancer with courage and faith. He lost the battle at age 39, but won the victory. He comforted others (including myself) in his last days. “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
  • My brothers. When it all boils down, they are there for me. They have rescued me off the side of the road  with car trouble at one time or another, and helped me financially when I was going through the divorce. My former childhood arch rivals.
  • My friend Greg. Greg was a hero to me after my divorce. He was kind to me and brought me back to the  gospel and who I was in Christ. He kept insisting I attend his single’s group, where I met other guy hero friends and eventually met my husband. Also a former arch rival.
By chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 - 1457)

St. George the Dragon Slayer by chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 – 1457)

Heroes I haven’t met (yet):

Three of my great-grandfathers. They made the brave choice to leave their home country in the Netherlands and travelled by ship to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity.  I met one of my great-grandfather-heroes and remember visiting him as a child, but the other three died before I was born.

C.S. Lewis, my author hero.

St. George the Dragon Slayer.  His story has always intrigued me.

Heroes of the faith.  If I had to pick a few favorites out of the list they would be Abraham, Gideon and David.

Jesus.  My ultimate Hero of all heroes.

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. -Psalm 18:6 (ESV)

If you don’t know Jesus, here is a good place to start:  The good news

 Note: Don’t think I am neglecting my heroines!  I am currently working on a couple of posts about my grandmothers, and look forward to sharing them soon.

Age 9 Diary

Introduction:  This diary has survived numerous moves and somehow still remains with me.  I didn’t post all of it.  Many entries were “We went to church” on Sundays, and “We watched Chips” on Saturdays.  A few names were purposely omitted. All spelling/grammar/punctuation errors are left intact for your reading pleasure.

 

Diary cover 1980

Diary cover 1980

Inside front cover:  From Aunt Esther, Christmas — 1979  I am 8 years old!!! and turning 9!!!

Tues. Jan. 1, 1980 Today we went to church, to start the year in God’s house.  The __family came to have dinner with us.  I showed them my Lay ‘N Egg game, my painting, my Fashion Plates.  We went to the farm and cut wood.  Tonight we are going to my grandma’s.  She will make Oleycooten.

Wed. Jan. 2  Today I had piano lessons.  There has been no school for 2 weeks.  For christmas I got a new bike, a purse, nail polish, nail remover and perfume.  I also got a comb, three necklaces, Fashion Plates and an Lay an egg game.  I also got this diary.  We have a dog his name is Spottie.  We threw are cat in the barn.

Thurs. Jan. 3 Today me and my brother went to the farm.  I played the piano in the house (Not in the barn) I called my friend Brenda on the phone.  Tonight we watched the Waltons.

Sat. Jan. 5  Today I went to my friends house.  Me and Sara went to the farm too play.  This morning me and mom changed my room around.  January 7 school starts again and we have to write EVERY SINGLE WORD in cursive!  YUCK!

Wed. Jan 9 1980 Today I went to school.  We had art.  Tonight Dad will finish paneling my room.  I found out I will have purple carpet.  It was Mom and Dad’s Aniversary.  I had piano lessons And it was hot lunch

Wed. Jan 16 1980 Today it was hot lunch at school.  I had piano lessons.  Susie S. called me up and told me a bunch of jokes.

Thus Jan. 17 Today I had school.  Tonight we watched the Waltons.  Fred went to Awana.

Friday Jan 18  Today I went to school Sara D.B. came over to play.

Sat. Jan 19  Today there was NO school.  I went to the farm with Dad.  Grandma, Grandpa and me went for a walk all the way to Nichoulse road.  I got new overalls.  Tonight we watched Chips.

Tues Jan 22 Today I went to school. (as usual.) I went to Kim’s house and played soccar.  She showed me her Barbie perfume maker.

Wed. Jan 23 Today I went to school. (as usual.)  In school it was hot lunch.  I had piano lessons.  Me and Fred hauled in wood. (we always have to. yuck.)  At hot lunch Mom came to my room.

Thurs. Jan 24 Today I went to school (as usual). I made cupcakes.  Mom went to the Gospel mission. Fred went to Awana.  Tonight we whatched the Waltons.

Friday Jan 25  Today I went to school (as usual) It was Dad’s birthday.  Tonight we went to Upper Crust pizza and the walked around in the mall.

Mon. Jan 28 Today I didn’t go to school because I got sick.  Tonight I watched Little house on the Prarie.

Sat. Feb. 2 This morning we whatched cartoons and I sorted out lids.  This afternoon Joel V.D. came over.  Tonight we watched Chips.

Wed. Feb. 6 Today I went to school.  It was hot lunch and Sara came over and we biult a fort in the snow.

Fri. Feb. 8 Today I went to school (yuck.)  Well tonight at school there was a play at school called the Electric sunshine man.  boy I wonder how they can memorize all those parts.

Sat Feb 9 Today there wasn’t any school (yeah) Fred, Randy and Dad went to a harvestore free dinner.  Grandma B. came over and gave me a perminent.  When dad and Fred came home, they were drawin names and we got the grand prize a harvestore picnic basket.

Sun. Feb. 10  Today we went too church.  After Church, we went to Aunt Lena’s and then too Grandma’s house for dinner.  Tonight Aunt Nellie came over.

Mon. Feb 11  today I went to school (of course) After school I went to Sara’s house and we went sking.  Tonight we had a baby sitter.

Thurs Feb 14  Today was valentines day.  I passed out my valentine cards.  Fred went to Awana And we watched the Waltons.

Friday Feb. 15  Today I went to school (of course.)  Tonight Aunt Grace, Uncle Berney, and Betty and Andy came over.  We smoked candy ciggars.

 

Original diary page

Original diary page. Apparently at some point I went through and put blue bingo stamps on every page.

Med May 14 Yesterday there was a tornado.  School is closed because of it.  Boy we’re lucky it didn’t catch us!

Sun. April 19, 1981 Sorry I haven’t written to you for about a year.  Well, I’m 9 years old and going on ten.  In March I performed a program at Miller Auditorium.  It was exciting.  There were about 60 other kids in it.  It took hard practicing.  Today is Easter.  We went to church.  The Senior Choir was pretty it sang with the trumpets, organ and piano.  Tonight our Senior Choir will sing with the Third Chirstian Reformed Church.  This year we have a Junior Choir.  I’m in it.  (I love to sing).  I’m als in Calvinettes, next Sunday is Calvinette Sunday.  I am still taking piano lessons.  I have been going to ROCK CLUB.  Miss Vandyk is my teacher.  I like her.  Next year she’s going to England.  We have a new car.  Kathy’s getting big.  We are having Spring vacation this week yahoo.  My boyfriend is _____________

Mon. April 20, 1981  Today is the first day of SPRING VACATION!  Aunt Esther babysat while Mom went to work for ________ at Friendship Village.  My boyfriend is_________but he doesn’t know it.  Tonight I’m going to Sue’s house to spend the night then tomorrow she will come to my house and go to the church skating party!

(From that point on, the diary is blank.)

 

Your comments are always welcome!

 

 

I want to be like my mom

It was many years before I was able to become a mom.  My first child was born a month before I turned 36.  When he would.not.sleep. on his back,  my mom visited and gently rolled him over on his belly in the bassinette.  She told me to  get some sleep and reassured me she would watch him.  I was a conscientious new mom and trying to follow all the “sleep on your back” rules.  Mom told me “You all slept on your tummies, and you all survived.  I will sit right here and watch his breathing the whole time.  Go get some sleep.”  I watched as she pulled up a kitchen chair right next to the basinette. For the first time in a few days, the baby and I both had a blissful time of sleep.  I think Grandma was pretty blissful too, having some one-on-one time with her first ever grand-baby.

That was the first of numerous times I discovered my mom has great advice about raising kids.

Always happy to be with her grandbabies!

Fast forward six years. A few months ago I called her, disturbed because this same child–who ended up sleeping on his belly from that moment on– was now caught in several little lies.  She told me “Seems like all of you kids went through a stage like that about his age.  You can’t let them get away with it.  Stick with it (discipline/consequences), and it will pass.”  She was right about that, too.

On a cloudy morning last week the kids were having numerous battles and I was overwhelmed. Time to call mom.  She told me to send them out in the yard to pick up sticks.  After another fight or two outside, it worked like a charm, and my husband was pleased with the big pile of sticks they set up to show him that afternoon.  “Make them run around the house a few times” is her cure for loud crazy kids in the house.

My mom is not a stand-out-of-the-crowd type of person in any way.  Unlike me, she is fairly shy.  She is quiet when there are lots of people around, but when she is with her kids or close family members at home, she can be the life of the party.  She is so much fun, and loves to laugh.  When times are tough, she hops on the John Deere Gator to get some fresh air at the farm, or she sits down at the keyboard to fill the room with a hymn.  She always thinks she should get a job!  (How many times has she told me that!?) However, she is always working, even though she doesn’t get a pay check.

 

Ready to go for a Gator Ride!

 

 

I told mom once that I felt her job was called “being available”.  When my dad calls to ask if she wants to run out to Filmore Equipment with him to pick up some parts, she is always ready to go.  When one of my brothers needs a ride to Martin Spring & Driveline to pick up their truck, she heads out the door to pick them up. She takes her sister-in-law grocery shopping nearly every week.  She hops in her car and drives an hour or two to visit her daughter (ME!) who is feeling overwhelmed with life, illness and  homeschooling her kids. This past week she took us all out for lunch.  Stopped and bought supper for us too, so I wouldn’t have to cook supper that night!   If she hears of someone who is ill, grieving, or having a hard time, she will bring them a hot meal–often that very evening. If you are ever at her house, you will hear the phone ring several times.  It is one of her daughters calling just to talk and share the events of the day.  Her sons call nearly as often,  and know there is always a meal ready if they are hungry.  She is a wonderful cook.  She knows 999 delicious ways to fix ground beef, after many years of being married to a dairy farmer.  Nothing makes her happier then taking a little road trip with dad, whether going to a toy tractor show or visiting antique stores and any place that fancies them along the way.  She doesn’t mind a little adventure now and then.

 

Always ready to go for a ride with dad.  On a combine, or in the car.

 

She can be a little crazy.  She will go buy a pack of Swisher Sweets every few years and smoke them with her daughters out on the porch while they laugh and laugh—all of them normally being non-smokers of course!

 

Mom knows how to have fun!

She has always shown by example how to respect the elderly.  As children, she took us to visit relatives and friends in the nursing home.  She still helps every month with a senior luncheon. When her dad wasn’t doing well in assisted living, she moved him into her house and took care of him.  She loved her parents and treasures their memory. My mom would never “toot her own horn”, and most of what she does is behind the scenes. She will blush like crazy to know that others are reading this about her.  She never spoke to us kids about these things like they were a “lesson to learn”.  She just lives it, and we see it.

She’s not a saint.  (Though you might consider her one, if you knew how I behaved during my teenage years.)   She is a sinner, saved by grace. To me and my brothers and sisters, and others who are privileged to know her well, she is a beautiful woman.  There are many godly women I admire and respect and consider to be heroines as well.  Of all of these,   I love my mom the most, and hope to be just like her.

 

My beautiful mom

My beautiful mom