Mother’s Sky View: The Beautiful City

This week two years ago Mother was snatched from our world just five days after her 96th birthday. Late on a Monday evening, July 28, 2014, she was transported into a new and better land.

Mother lived on a dairy farm in the Manheim – Lititz area of Pennsylvania. When she married my father Ray, she moved about 12 miles west, still in Lancaster County. Like many Mennonite couples in the 1940s, they honeymooned in Niagara Falls, New York, where I most likely was conceived.

Over the years, she visited the Philadelphia Flower Show and strolled through Longwood Gardens exclaiming, “Oh, my, such beautiful flowers we saw!”

When my sisters and I studied at Eastern Mennonite College, she and daddy drove to Harrisonburg, Virginia several times, back then a four-hour drive to the Shenandoah Valley. “My, look at the mountains in the distance – so pretty,” she said.

Mother seemed happy to be a homebody. She never seemed curious about seeing world capitals as her daughters were. Traveling around the United States in five weeks with a friend as I did once would seem incomprehensible to her. “Why would I want to do that?” I can hear her say.

But when her first great grandsons were born seven weeks apart in 2003, I was able to goad her to fly to Chicago where our son and daughter lived.

MomMarianHancock

Viewing the city from the Hancock Building, she sat in awe at the vast expanse of skyscrapers.

MomViewingChicago

These photos recall pleasant memories and now re-confirm in my heart and mind her citizenship in a heavenly world.

In her life on earth, she was confident she would one day live in a Beautiful City full of brilliant light and everlasting joy.

Hebrews 11:10

For s/he looked for a city, which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Mother often sang about heaven at the top of her lungs in front of the kitchen stove, making breakfast for her children before school. Her voice, always off key, sang about a beautiful city I imagine she could visualize as she scrambled eggs with shakes of pepper and filled cups with cocoa, each with a dollop of butter.

We miss you, Mom!

 

magnoliasCRISTA

July 23, 1918 – July 28, 2014


Mother kissing her great grandson Patrick, held by Grandpa Cliff
Mother embraces her great grandson Patrick, held by Grandpa Cliff, 2004

 

Coming next: Give and Take with Cake

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Home-made Butter: 3 Easy Steps

This week at Mom’s house, I attempted to re-create a scene from my childhood – in the same house, on the same chair, with one of the same Ball-Mason jars from the mother’s stash in the cellar. The kind with tiny bubbles crystallized within the glass of the jar. Mother says these jars are valuable.

The cream of bygone days for butter-making came from one of the Holstein cows that Sam and Mabel Hoffer kept on their tiny farm down the road from us on Anchor Road. For this re-enactment, I buy whipping cream from Giant Foods up the road toward town.

Butter 1

Did I mention that my sister Jan and Mother are both skeptical that store-bought cream will yield real butter.

Janice says, “You’re probably wasting your time shaking that jar back and forth with cream from the store. Think about all of the additives and preservatives they put in.”

Mother doesn’t say much but looks skeptical. I’m out to prove them wrong.

Butter 2

I stop the shaking long enough to notice that curdles of cream are clinging to the jar’s insides. That’s all it takes.

First, sister Jan and then Mother get in on the action, now past the 12-minute mark.

Without a shadow of doubt, real honest-to-goodness butter lumps are forming.

Butter 4

And voilá . . .

Butter 5

Fifteen minutes later, more or less, we have two fat butter-balls!

Did you catch the steps?

  1. Pour cream into 2-quart jar.
  2. Shake until you rattle and roll.
  3. Remove the congealed mass from the jar. Add a pinch of salt.

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What scenes from your past have you tried to re-create?

Anna Mae and Hiram: A Mennonite Wedding

This is the wedding portrait of my mother and father

Ruth Landis Metzler and Ray Martin Longenecker 

October 26, 1940

Ray and Ruth Longenecker_4x5_72

June is the month for many American weddings. And so is August. Because many Mennonites were farmers, Mennonite weddings often took place in October, a month that signaled a break in heavy farm work after most of the crops had been harvested. My dad was a farm implement dealer, so his work cycle mimicked that of the farmers he served, which would probably explain the October date for the wedding.

The bride and groom, my parents, are dressed in Mennonite attire and comply with the rules for weddings prescribed by the church in this era: no bridal party prancing down an aisle to “Here Comes the Bride,” no flowers, and definitely no exchange of rings.

Excerpts from Article II, Separation and Nonconformity, Section 2. Public Worship. (19) from the Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Mennonite Church, 1968:

  • “We deem it improper to employ instrumental music in worship and church activities.”
  • “Weddings shall be conducted in a Christian manner avoiding all vain display and in accordance with the prescribed regulations for weddings.” 

*  *  *

Anna Mae Longenecker’s father John is my dad’s first cousin on his father’s side of the family. Anna Mae with her brothers and sisters lived on the farm at Bosslers Corner, a farm bought from William and John Penn by Robert Allison in 1762,  and subsequently bought from Jacob Bossler by John and Nancy Longenecker and kept in the Longenecker family for five generations.  On the lawn of this homestead, one of John’s daughter’s, Anna Mae, poses  for wedding photographs with her new husband, Hiram Aungst.

Anna Mae Longenecker with her sisters on her wedding to Hiram Aungst.
Anna Mae Longenecker with her new husband and sisters posing for wedding photos on the lawn of the John Longenecker homestead.

Either the rules for wedding have relaxed a little in the ten or more years since my parents’ wedding, or brides have become more bold. This wedding accessories include corsages for attendants, a white Bible with streamers for the bride and the groom and groomsmen in non-Mennonite suits and neckties.

As the video shows, there was muted frivolity after the wedding which included rice throwing. Yes, it was real rice, not bird-seed!

Note the cars decorated in full post-ceremony regalia, worthy of any “fancy” wedding.

OldCar

 

Then and now: Your thoughts on wedding ceremonies welcome.