“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Proverbs 31: 29
A Tribute to Aunt Katie
I read somewhere that the big difference in people is not if they have been rich or poor… rather, it is if they have known love or not.
It is clear to me that Aunt Katie has known love, from those she surrounded herself with, to the ones who wanted to be near her. Aunt Katie knew love and she gave love, she was the dearest lady.
My own memories of her are filled with times of sharing love, showing interest in my children and my grandchildren, always giving from her heart, deeply from her soul. From the sitting down to coffee and apple pie at McDonalds and sharing words of her life, the life she shared with Jake, the man she was devoted to… to the walking about shopping for the right gift to give her granddaughters, every purchase, every thoughtful gift was considered with love and grace. We shared the value of books, the meaning of scripture and most recently we shared our hearts, speaking out the thoughts we held to the loss of our husbands...tears.
Aunt Katie was sophisticated, in a simple way… she was soft spoken, a woman of integrity, a woman who despite her losses, was filled with love, over flowing with generosity and exceeding in grace.
The memories from those who loved her are laden with childhood gatherings, growing-up-together-dreams and growing-old-at-last-satisfactions.
There are childhood memories… of the Esau’s, gifts received to the Congo from across the miles of land and over oceans, packed in barrels of love, given in the way of hand sewn gifts, baking and books. And once they were home, memories of hospitality, comfort and being made welcome…welcomed home. Memories of the ‘Eastern’ Martens…crossing Canada for summer visits, picking berries, melting in the eating of them, and sneaking cookies from the freezer. Memories of how she loosed her bun and let her hair fall down over her shoulders to touch the ground. Still others who lived nearby, remember that spending time with Aunt Katie & Uncle Jake was always special…on the farms in Sumas Prairie and in Yarrow, sleepovers, playing dress up in her grown up clothes and being fascinated by the process of milking cows by hand…and all have memories of her smile, how it lit up a room and the hearing of her giggle, sweetness and joy.
There are memories of sharing and forgiving, memories of crime and punishment…always fitting and fair…justice served; memories of laughter and memories of the never ending appreciation of Aunt Katie’s generosity and grace.
Memories of a gracious hostess with wonderful home-made goodies…memories of cookbooks, covered with splatters, jotted notes and many inserts of hand-written recipes, all tested by the wonderful cook she was…memories of munching her famous pickles, of eating her chicken noodle soup, of her giving lessons on the making of borscht and sauerkraut. Her changing from hand mixing to Bosch turning…the baking of cookies and pies and breads all with names spelled with German letters and pronounced in heavy accents zwieback, portzelky, platz, rolchucken, perishky, hirschensalz cookies, all of it always served with a table cloth-spread out, on rose painted china, with coffee cups and saucers, tinkling with silver spoons.
Memories of roses growing in beds where weeds weren’t allowed, nor deer to nibble, only the roses, sweet and blooming from pruned bushes surrounded by the many other plants and flowers that Aunt Katie loved; flowers that she made into arrangements for occasions of celebrations, church gatherings, the weddings of her nieces and for her daughter.
Memories of sewing and stitching and threading, needles, scissors and patterns, fabrics and lace, sewn into childhood dresses-smocked, teenage skirts and blouses-pressed, choir outfits- altered, white suits for sweet boys, beautiful bridesmaid dresses…wedding dresses…all sewn with dreams, stitched with love and given freely. Quilts put together from squares, sewn and then more; again and again and again and laying there still, folded across her sewing machine.
There are those who have memories of watching her drive her scooter on errands along with Jake …and then by herself, she was determined, and she was brave…memories of a life with no complaints…only encouragement, encouraging all of us to look only at the blessings that God has showered down.
Memories; of those in the church and in the communities that Aunt Katie along with Jake were dedicated to, families like the Friesens and the Koehns, who were taken under wing to be cared for and loved and cherished.
There are memories of song, singing out with a full voice, sweetly, with her sister, in high heels… and of prayers, of calling out to God begging for wisdom, for understanding and for health, on her knees. Memories of watching her sit beside a dying husband, she was the sweetest wife … memories of her bearing the loss of Lynnette her eldest granddaughter…she was the sweetest grandmother...Then later of standing steadfast at the bedside of her sister, losing another part of her heart…she was the sweetest sister.
Memories of brothers, Aron and Victor who called Katie sister, even though a sister through marriage, a true sister in heart. Jake's brothers who cared deeply, for a woman who went beyond measure to return that special care and love that being part of family means.
Memories of caregivers, those taking tender care of the sweetest Aunt, days of listening to her stories, days of holding, watching, loving… softly remembering a woman who was once whole, who lay sweetly broken, in dreams of going home…and then of breathing in the last air God had given her.
There are too, now and forever, the memories of her daughter Frieda, memories of childhood dreams and wishes that only mother and daughter can share…things inside, hidden in their eyes and held in their hearts. Memories only they could share, bittersweet losses and overflowing joys, true sadness and heartbreaks tempered with laughter and the shared knowing of heart felt love…love that only a mother and daughter can know.
Charlene holds the sweetest of these memories… they are all wrapped up in her own heart and soul.
“Charlene is sad, why? “
“Because Grandman has gone to be with Jesus, to be with Jesus in heaven, she will be young again and she will see Grandpa and Lynnette and Aunt Louise, she is happy now.”
“Yes, Charlene, Grandman is very happy now.”
Aunt Katie was the dearest friend, sister, wife, mother and grandmother…we will miss her.
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”