I was a very frightened and distraught seventeen-year-old who, having returned home twenty minutes late from church choir practice, was locked out of my house. My boyfriend had brought me home after he and I finished rehearsing for an upcoming cantata. I pounded on the door but my mother wouldn’t let me in. This was an era of no cell phones. Daniel took me to the closest phone booth and I called home. Mom answered and when I asked her what I was supposed to do….she said she didn’t care. So Daniel called our pastor who told him to take me home with him.
I was heartbroken and scared to death. I hadn’t met Daniel’s parents. They lived on a farm about twenty miles away and had been raised Amish, his Dad now being the pastor of a small Conservative Mennonite church. This was the ’60’s and I was dressed in a mini-skirt, make-up, fancy hairdo, jewelry….all those things not befitting a proper little Mennonite teen. But I had nowhere else to go.
This was how I met my future in-laws. And this was the beginning of decades of a dear and loving friendship with my mother-in-law, Clara. I’m not sure what she saw in me….perhaps it was the look of desperation in my eyes….and I was so drawn to the sparkle in her lovely blue ones.
Clara Rosa Miller gave me a mother’s love I so craved. She taught me to cook, to bake fresh bread, to can and freeze fresh vegetables in the garden, to hang fresh laundry properly on the clothesline, to raise babies, to sew clothes for my family and to laugh. I loved hearing her laugh till tears came over some silly thing I did or said. I taught her about makeup, fashion, hair and jewelry and movies……I was as much of an enigma to her as she was to me and we loved each other mightily.
On this Thanksgiving…as on decades of Thanksgivings, I am grateful for the woman who nurtured in me a desire for peace and love and family. Her legacy lives on in each of my children and grandchildren. Her spirit lives in the corners of each room of my home.
Who in your life touched you and profoundly changed you? And, how are you passing along that love? I pray I have had an impact on others in the way Clara had on me. I wish every day I could tell her thank you. I hope you will take time to thank someone who has made you laugh…..who has touched your heart and your life. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving and may peace be with you through this holiday season.