June 1, 2012

In Loving Memory

A beautiful spirit has gone Home.

Yesterday we laid to rest a woman who, in her quiet, gentle ways, impacted the generations. A woman of unconditional and unlimited love. A simple woman who served her family and her God, and shared her love for family as her lasting legacy.

I first met my mother-in-law–to-be more than thirty years ago. Back then, their family held nearly weekly family parties, or so it seemed to me. This was hard for me, as a twenty-year old who wanted to be spending weekends going out with my man. And I wasn’t accustomed to sharing that much time with extended family, as my own extended family got together only for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Not so with the Reske clan. Every birthday and anniversary was cause for celebration, and celebrate they did. Plenty of good food and fellowship were shared as the large group jostlied for space in Ma’s kitchen. After the dishes were washed, out came the cards as the men played Sheepshead and I tried my best to learn to play poker with the ladies. Grandkids ran around and played, and often my husband-to-be would be wrestling and playing with them as they all tackled and climbed on him at the same time. I knew then he would be a great father.

Fast forward several years, and it is our sons who are the little ones running through my in-law’s house. Living out of state, we would fly back home with the little ones for visits and for their Christenings. Mom and Dad would host a big party after the Baptism as well as putting us all up in their home for the duration of our stay. Their graciousness and love for family showed through everything they did.

While we lived away, Mom and Dad would send “care packages” for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Mom would send big containers of cookies, baked with love, sent across the miles. Oh, how we loved to get those packages!

Sixteen years ago we were able to move back to our home state and share Mom & Dad’s golden years together with our growing sons. More frequent visits were a blessing for all, and many more memories were made and shared.

As they crept into their upper eighties, Mom and Dad were requiring more care. As Mom’s health declined, the four siblings and other family members helped to provide in-home care. For many families, this would be a time to look into placement in a care facility, but not this family. It was difficult at first for me to understand how the siblings could sacrifice so much of their own time and their lives to care for their aging parents.

One day I figured it out. It was all about love. That beautiful, unconditional love that Mom and Dad had given all of their years was being given back to them through the loving care of their children and grandchildren. Many sacrifices were made so that Mom and Dad could remain in their home. 

As a young woman, Mom taught me many things about love and family through the example of how she lived. Before we moved away, she taught me how to make her son’s favorite cookies, chocolate nut peek-a-boo’s. Somehow mine never came out as good as hers did. And her famous carrot cake was requested for every family gathering we held at our own house after we moved back. Her cake was so lofty. Mine never rose that high! And the thick layer of cream cheese frosting was the perfect delightful topping.

Mom never had a harsh word to say about anyone, and she didn’t waste her time complaining. One stand-out memory for me is when we were running errands together one day. Someone was in more of a hurry than us, and pulled out around us driving aggressively. Mom simply said, “God Bless You!” in a tone that showed she meant it. No profanity or incredulity at their rudeness. But a simple blessing. I still shake my head in wonder of her example to this day.
Our culture spends so much time concerning ourselves with our outward appearance, when what really matters is who we are inside. Our lives should not be measured by the things we possess. Instead our lives should be considered well-lived if we have given with our heart to the betterment of mankind. 

Many lives have been blessed to know the generous, caring spirit of my sweet mother-in-law. And the example of her life will live on through the generations.

A favorite quote of mine from the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin states that "we are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience." Our life on this earth is temporary. While we are here it is up to each one of us to nurture our own spirit while sharing the gifts we possess with others.

Give freely of your love while you can. A simple act of kindness can spread further than you may ever know. Love is an easy gift to share, and the world needs all that we can give. 

 In loving memory of Blanche A. Reske
Love you forever, Mom

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