Monday, April 30, 2007

A tribute to my mother

As I sort through life and deal with my mother's passing, I've been touched by the words of many people. Thanks to each and every one of you.

Often, during my blogging experiences, wonderful comments become buried and forgotten. There's been a couple I want to post for all to read. This first one comes from a dear friend of my mother, Bobbie Sease.

"Bonnie’s funeral today was beautiful and touching, a poignant tribute to one of Miami County’s strongest supporters and most valuable treasures. Standing in the cemetery with Del in that raw cold wind, I couldn’t help but think that God was showing us how bleak our world will be without her.

Back in the seventies, when I was searching for answers, someone told me to read the Bible. I must have smirked. That person told me that if I kept at it, I would find a character who would speak to me. He said the Bible has someone for everyone, someone we can identify with in some significant way. I found that to be true and I’ve passed on that advice to many others over the years. When I think of Bonnie, I think of Barnabas from the New Testament. He was called the “son of encouragement.” He was the one who stood up for Paul (previously Saul) to the apostles and other Christians, when they doubted that Paul had truly been converted. Preachers and Christian writers today often use Barnabas as an example of one who “comes alongside” to encourage. And that is how I remember Bonnie. She didn’t just encourage with words. She came alongside and helped people bring to fruition what they dreamed in their hearts.

She believed in my writing ability and told me often that I should try to publish. But she didn’t stop there. One day in 1985, she brought out a clipping from New Woman magazine that advertised a poetry contest. A week later, she called and asked if I had submitted a poem yet. She even suggested which one to submit! She was the first person I called when I was notified that I had won the contest and the $1,000 prize. Later, Bonnie and I collaborated on a few articles for The Peru Daily Tribune, as it was called then. One of our biggest thrills was having our article (my writing, her photos) published in Country Woman magazine.

Bonnie’s curiosity and energy were insatiable. I never saw her idle. She was always investigating something, trying something, creating something, or going somewhere to see something. She had an infectious childlike wonder about life and an appetite to match. In my somber moments, I can’t help but feel some anger that her life was cut so short—just when she finally had great chunks of time to spend pursuing new interests. Then I remember this: to Bonnie, time was a commodity to be spent with abandon. She made the most of every moment. She gained something valuable in every experience.

She saw more, did more, explored more, enjoyed more than just about anybody I ever met. She didn’t just whip out pictures of her grandchildren to show you in passing. She carried her grandchildren with her! How many times do I remember her coming out to the greenhouse with kids in tow, or out to the pond to fish, or passing through on her way to Mississinewa Reservoir? I can’t ever remember her being alone on those ventures. She was a student and life was her school. She also was a teacher, grabbing lessons from every opportunity.

Bonnie was my first friend when I moved here in 1974. Del grew up in Peru, but I felt like an outsider. Bonnie helped me believe that there was something extraordinarily special about this place. She helped me understand how important it is to ‘bloom where you are planted.’

I will miss you dearly, Bonnie."

Bobbie Sease

"Go, songs, and come not back from your far way:
And if men ask you why ye smile and sorrow,
Tell them ye grieve, for your hearts know To-day,
Tell them ye smile, for your eyes know To-morrow."
--Francis Thompson