This beautiful baby never lost that beautiful smile. The last time I saw her alive she gifted me with one. I will NEVER forget that. I only really remember her crying one time. She always looked for the bright side of anything. She is the reason that all of us find humor in anything. In fact she would be the first to tell you when she married she went from a car to a card. (Clara Caroline Agnes Reisdorff CCAR to Clara Caroline Agnes Reisdorff Dvorak CCARD) Don't get me wrong she was serious when the situation called for seriousness. But when things got too serious when it didn't need to be she was the first to find something to make us smile. We did not go through many band aides growing up because if we came with a little cut she would say something to the effect of, "maybe we should cut the whole limb off." She was the rock in the family and the one we all went to for advice first. I'm sure it drove dad nuts, but she was always there when we came home and needed to vent. She was a stay-at-home mom until my brothers were in Junior High or High School. I always came home to mom.
She was our protector and now I find myself doing a lot of the same things to/for my children she did for me. We had a longer driveway (with a curve in it) and she would walk us or drive us down the lane to the bus every day. She didn't like the idea of us standing on the end of the driveway where she couldn't see us. I don't know if she continued it for my brothers through high school or not, but it was something she did for me.
She shared her love for animals with us. There wasn't a pet we didn't have, raccoon, pigs, lambs, sheep, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, rabbits and even a pet pigeon that we rescued from the cats (more than once). She showed us how to love unconditionally through her caring for the animals especially when they were sick or injured. We often had a lamb or calf in the house to warm up and nurse back to health. She taught us so much, but I still wish I would have paid attention more, about life and death. We buried favorite pets, had mini funerals etc. Of course the older we got the less that was necessary and she seemed to know just when the time was to quite things and move on to the next stage in life.
She was an EXCELLENT cook. She always had a warm meal ready for us at noon and 6pm, or when we came in from working outside. I still don't know how she managed to get a balanced meal ready so quickly all the time. She never did share that secret. She made the best kolaches and rolls. In the last couple years we have ordered them but the extra love she put in them is missing. When I went off to college and beyond she would make my favorite meal or food item. (Usually macaroni with tomatoes. I've tried to make it SEVERAL times but it never tasted like hers.) She took amazing care of us. That extra love and compassion made us the people we are today.
She loved music. Of course we didn't know what she played until we were choosing what we wanted to play in school. She never forced us to do anything (OK we felt like she was when we had to practice, practice, practice). I remember not wanting to practice piano and she would say you can practice or.... and the or was usually horrible in our eyes. She always encouraged us to do our best. If we didn't do well at something she would ask, "Do you think you did your best? That's all that matters." I still am amazed at the HOURS she spent taking us to piano lessons, practices of all sorts, games without a complaint. She was all about equality too. In fact when Paul and Roger were in Junior High and High School and they had a basketball game on the same day at the same time she didn't go to either one. She didn't want to show any kind of favouritism between us. She even kept track of what she spent on each of our weddings. She then gave us the difference at Christmas following the last wedding to make it "even". We all knew we were loved and no one child more than another. She was AMAZING.
But above all the things she gave us, that is the most important and impacting is her gift of faith. No matter what Dad and her knelt down (while they could) and prayed together. There were many nights that I waited outside their bedroom to talk to them because they were in the middle of prayer. They prayed for everyone and everything. We prayed the rosary as a family every night during Lent. You knew she was worried about something when she had the rosary in her hands. One night it was snowing and dad called he was coming home from town. She told him to stay in town for the night and he insisted on trying to get home. (This was before cell phones) She picked up the rosary and paced the house praying until he called that he was stuck and staying the night at someone's house. They did their night prayers over the phone that night. The day my brother got his fingers pinched of in the baler we prayed all the way to the hospital and during the surgery. If there was a bad storm outside she lit a blessed candle and we all prayed. She ALWAYS turned to prayer when she didn't know what else to do.
Her favorite saint was St. Gerard. She turned to him when she was having problems having another child. During the 5 years between my brother and I she prayed to him A LOT! That is why my brother's middle name is Gerard. She gave me a medal and prayer card for him when I was having problems too. She always ended every conversation with God bless you!
She was a silent sufferer. I don't ever remember her complaining about anything hurting, or not feeling well. Toward the end of her life on earth I'm sure she was in some pain, but you never knew. I'm sure she wanted to go home to heaven, but she never said it to me. Maybe she didn't want me to worry since I live 2 hours away, but I never heard her complain. She didn't burden others with her problems. But she was always there to try and help you with yours and be your Simon the Cyrene and help you carry your cross. She was on the prayer chain for the church. When a call came for someone in need of prayer she would stop what she was doing, go in her prayer book and find the appropriate prayer and pray it right there. She was the perfect example of a faithful warrior. In my opinion, if she didn't go right through the gates of heaven (keep in mind she received Last Rights four times in the last week of her life which is another story all it's own) then I don't think I stand a chance.
I miss her like crazy. I called dad the other day and he didn't answer the phone and the answering machine was her voice yet, I couldn't leave a message. (I want to go there and copy it so I can hear her voice anytime I want.) I know she is in a better place and I know that she is looking on me right now with tears flowing down my face and thinking how crazy I am, but I'm pretty selfish and I know it. I am the luckiest girl in the world because I had the best mom anyone could hope for. I lived with a person who was the best example of unconditional love and showed me how to love others as God loves us. I hope and pray that I am half the person she was. I know I struggle daily and I don't ask myself what would Jesus do, I ask what would Mom do? She was my living saint. I pray that she is in heaven and I bet she is begging God to give only the best to her children and grandchildren. She wouldn't know what else to do, she never did sit still.
Happy 1st Birthday in heaven, don't get too messy with your cake. Until I see you in heaven (at least I hope I make it there) I love you bushels and bushels, and barrels and barrels, and heaps and heaps, and lots and lots, and miles and miles. God bless you!