Sunday, September 21, 2008

Home, at Last

Last night my mother-in-law breathed her last breath. I'm so happy her struggle in this life is over and she is now at peace. It was a blessing to spend some quality time with her a couple of weekends ago. She was alert, happy, and shared some of her personal feelings. Most of her family members were around her bed and recounted time after time the fun we had had together.

As I mentioned earlier, I have known Erna most of my life. She came from a small family. When I first met her, she had her mother and twin sister. She was widowed with three kids at the age of 34. Erna was very proud of her Danish heritage, and talked of her father and mother going to the Danish get-togethers in town. A harder working woman I have probably never known, and her hands bore the brunt of her hard work. But that didn't stop her from knitting us the nicest mittens (made with 4 knitting needles) I have ever owned, and crocheting me gorgeous, sugar-starched stars and bells to adorn our Christmas tree.

While reminiscing a couple of weeks ago, I shared with Peder how one Friday after school (I must have been in 9th grade at the time) I got the brain-storm with CeCe to wallpaper Erna's kitchen. Did we check with her for permission? No. We hadn't thought of that. I had no idea how to properly hang wallpaper, but thought I had a pretty good eye for decorating, so together we went to a paint store, picked out some paper, and proceeded to wallpaper the entire room while Erna was working. I think we must have stayed up until near midnight putting the paper up - and let me tell you, it was very pretty (at least, that's what I remember). I stayed over-night with CeCe. Erna must have come through the kitchen after work without noticing it. She was most likely tired and anxious to drop into bed. But to our dismay, when we awoke in the morning and entered the kitchen, we discovered nearly all of the paper had fallen off the walls during the night. I guess we were supposed to use wallpaper paste!

When Hans and Peder were little, Erna personalized blue chambray shirts for our entire family. I remember mine had Dutch windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes beautifully embroidered on it. Once when she came down to Illinois to visit, all of David's and our family proudly sported our embroidered shirts.

I'll always think of Erna as a special, generous, caring Christian woman. She had beautiful handwriting, loved to play bingo, and was thrilled each year at the "silly, outlandish, one of a kind" Christmas gifts my adult sons gave her every year. Where they found such things, I have no idea, but Erna proudly displayed them in a corner of her living room.

I'm happy for you, Erna, to be Home at last.

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