(Written by Frank Kasdorf for mom’s 90th birthday.)
Our Dear Mother, God bless her!
Somewhere long ago there was
a spring time in her life;
a time when pretty stylish clothes and boys
and girlish things, giggles and secrets
thrilled her heart.
But somehow, today that season is so far removed
that the image of our mother
in that setting is foreign to our mind.
Oh, sometimes when she would sit with us
looking at pictures of yesteryear,
reminiscing of better times in the motherland,
we’d catch a fleeting glimpse of Mother
waiting at the gate of the white picket fence
at their home in Glayden,
for Peter, our Dad.
She is wearing a blue print dress
with ruffles at the neckline
sewn with rookie hands
under the watchful eye of Grandma.
Suddenly the picture fades,
swept away by a thousand and one memories
more vivid in our mind.
We see Mother, not in blue print and ruffles,
but wearing a brown cotton print housedress
and gingham apron.
This was the standard uniform of her profession,
the dress a reminder that she was never
far removed from her responsibilities,
the apron signifying she was always on active duty.
We see her apron dusty with flour
as she greased the ball of bun dough
in the large blue kneading bowl.
We see her gathering eggs and carrying them
to the house in her apron.
We see Mother in the garden with her hoe,
stooping now and then
to tuck a few pods of green peas
into her apron pocket.
We see her return from the garden
and empty an apronful of green beans
across the kitchen table,
an ingredient for the ‘grene schaubel sup.
And long after the raspberries had disappeared,
we see evidence of the
canning stains on Mother’s apron.
Our mother’s apron was a symbol
of her willingness to cope with any situation,
and she never hesitated to use it to that end.
Yes, it was the summer of Mother’s life,
the season when she had to cope
with all us children and with the many chores,
with dusty drought of the dirty thirties,
with being bone weary and dog tired,
and still carrying on—for the sake of us,
Oft-times as toddlers and preschoolers
we were in the garden with her,
even with children underfoot her work had to be done.
So we played our childish games beside her,
unaware that our constant chatter
was her therapy and the beauty and sounds of nature
a vivid testimony of her belief
in the unfailing goodness of God.
Mother mastered child psychology.
She gained our respect
not because she demanded it
or even asked for it;
she just deserved it.
Her trust in us children spurred us on
to greater heights of achievement.
“Dot yun baste,” she would say,
and we did.
When the end result was less than we anticipated,
the inner assurance that we had tried our best
was our biggest consolation.
In those hot summer days of long ago,
Mother would sometimes carry ‘faspa’ to us
as we were working in the sugar beet fields;
Our sagging spirits lifted as we saw her
waiting at the corner of the field,
her apron spread over the large basket
in the grass beside her
containing fresh bread, ‘kolde shinke fleisch’
and ‘hovagrets kouke’ or ‘puffiets cake;
with ‘kolde coffe’ and ice-water in canning jars,
and on occasion Watkins orange drink.
Mother’s responsibilities shifted
with the season’s
as she entered the autumn of her life.
The empty nest came all too soon;
the brood of sixteen all testing their own wings;
with some coming back more, while others less;
but mother never forgot any of us.
Her never ending love was felt by all
through her meals at family gatherings, her prayers, her calls (she never waits for us to call)
and many other ways.
During much of this season she was on her own;
dad went to his reward in Heaven
when she was sixty eight.
Mother, you and we know
that your winter season is approaching;
we take comfort in the knowledge
that your garden has been cleaned and tilled;
your house is in order;
you are ready for the season,
and you are looking forward to it.
Your efforts on our behalf,
and you would be the first to admit it,
were not always ideal,
certainly not perfect,
but they were your best.
Today we acknowledge them as such
and pause to extend our gratitude.
Thank you mother. Vielen dank, liebe mutter.
Frank P Kasdorf