Here are a few words that tell you some of my thoughts and feelings about what I believe is important.
Hanging in my closet this minute is my 5th grade picture that my mom framed with this statement (it hung in my room during my “growing up” years): “Smile a while, and while you smile, another smiles. Soon there are miles and miles of smiles, and life’s worthwhile because you smile.”
My dear family: In reading my Heritage Will, I hope you will smile as you read what I’ve written because smiles are truly important.
Life has been such an interesting adventure, and you have been a big part of this journey. When I was a little girl, I had 10 aunts. Two months shy of my 64th birthday, I still have 7 aunts, and they are all precious to me. (And, all live within 55 miles of me since Aunt Lora moved back from Denver at age 82.) May you who come after me, have that very same wonderful feeling of “family.” Nothing beats it!
To you who are reading my Heritage Will: Please know how important you are to me and how much I love you. Maybe God should have arranged it so that we’d be “older” first – then younger – so we could’ve used all that wisdom all along the way. Why? Because with being “older,” I realize how awesome, terrifically important my predecessor family was and now you, my successor, family, are! What would I do without you? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, “Ich liebe dich!”
Comments about my values and beliefs: Remember to take time to play and “smell the roses” along the way. It’s no secret what a game “player” Connie is – I coax and beg for somebody to grab a game or deck of cards from the game closet. We have to change our FOCUS at times and “smell the roses.” Young people don’t seem to relax (and I don’t mean in front of the TV or computer). We didn’t used to get so uptight about our kids walking so close to the edge of a trail or whatever. The comeback of course is always, “Times have changed.” Of course! They’d better! BUT hasn’t every generation said that? Doesn’t every generation think they’re different? So – lighten up – not everything is that serious.
Thoughts about education and learning: You have so many more opportunities with good education. That’s why I squirreled away $11 per month per child ($44 total) with the ALC right after your births, to help make this happen. And that’s why we made you get jobs to pay for your half of college. “Helps to build character,” you know. (You say you have another name for it?)
Some feelings about family and other relationships: As I’ve grown older I continue to value family more and more. It’s so important to keep in touch by calling or writing. You know, if I called home three times in the three years of my nurses’ training – that was a lot. I only recall calling home once in the two years in college – to tell them I was engaged. But, I wrote tons of letters (3 cents postage). Thank God today for my 4-cents-a- minute Foncard!
So much of what I am is because of my two grandmothers and I dearly miss them. They were very special ladies. Life without my grandmothers would’ve been totally different! I can’t begin to describe how giving, pleasant, family oriented, involved in church, and industrious, etc., they were.
While living in the tiny town of Okolona, Grandma Kenning helped run their store, then the switchboard. Wow! When I was 5, Grandma and Grandpa moved into our home in an upstairs apartment fixed up for them. A week before I started 1st grade Grandpa died of cancer, but Grandma remained there until I was confirmed 8 years later. She was a terrific baker, so ask if I didn’t love having her there! During the World War II blackouts she came down to our living room, and we did lots and lots of visiting. (What else could we do?) She was a terrific housekeeper. Her one thorn-in-the-flesh was that she never learned how to drive a car. (Her sister said that was a good thing because she drove the horses too fast.) So when I was only 10, she started with, “Connie, you have to learn to drive a car so you and I can go all over the place!” She was a real extravert and this appealed to her! Then she remarried, and she and Henry moved back to little Okolona. Thank goodness Henry could drive just fine.
Grandma Wiechers had to be made of steel! She had 8 children in 13 years, all born at home with no indoor plumbing! She milked the cows, drove the tractor, got up at 5:30 a.m. to feed the chickens, and baked huge sheets of coffee cake every Saturday. If my cousins and I coaxed to stay overnight, she whipped out a feed sack and had a nightie made for us lickety-split on her trusty sewing machine. She bought me my first ice cream sundae at Red & Ted’s Drugstore. It was shiny white—marshmallow! (We were waiting for the elevator to grind the grain.) For 25 years she taught two and three-year olds in Sunday School. She came out to Iowa for Paul’s ordination – and he was her only grandson-in-law! She was the rock that held that big family together. We number about 300 today.
I hope for my family, that you all continue to get along well in life. I wish that you would make specific plans for regular family reunions and gatherings. It’s no surprise to my children that I’m a family reunion person. I’d get so excited the third Sunday in June every year when we headed to Adrian, Michigan for the Grandma Wiechers’ reunion. (Wiebeck was her maiden name, and she was one of 13 children.) Know what? In this year (2002) the descendants of those Wiebecks still had a reunion! The youngest of those, Uncle Fred, died in 2001 (age 96).
My Dad was the oldest of Grandma Wiechers’ 8 children, and what a great family that was. (I am the 2nd oldest of the 34 grandchildren.) I never heard a squabble or spat among those 16 (eight plus eight spouses who called themselves “the outlaws” – not in-laws). I happened to be standing next to my uncle Norm the first Thanksgiving after I graduated from high school (I was in nurses’ training), and when I mentioned to him how well they all got along, he said, “Connie, that’s because we’re good friends as well as brothers and sisters!” That stuck with me over the years. Three of my uncles were in World War II at the same time.
The importance of humor: Humor should be a large part of every person’s day. Laughter lightens the load and is really quite healthy. Current stats say, “If you laugh three times a day, you’ll be able to handle life better and feel better physically, too.”
About giving and receiving: Make your gratitude greater than your success. Strive to live a grateful life. You’ll be healthier for it. It doesn’t hurt a thing to thank your Heavenly Father every day for your countless blessings, though they’ll seem more abundant some days than other.
“Do Good:” Do good things and stay away from what’s bad for you and bad for others. That’s advice all our parents gave us when we were real little – nothing new, huh?
Learning from your mistakes: Please be sure to learn from your mistakes. It’s impossible to be successful in everything you try to do. You have to keep trying things in order to succeed. Failures can be stepping-stones to real success.
My beliefs about religion and spirituality: I hope and pray you continue the Christian faith and traditions of our family. This is much more important than any material possessions you pass on. Why? It’s forever. And, it takes special effort – lots of it! “Passing it on” just doesn’t happen.
My faith in God has helped me survive incredible challenges. At times I could not have made it without God’s help.
Some personal reflections: Be courageous and persistent in your efforts.
Life is such a precious gift. Savor its sweetness. Realizing how precious life is comes with age. Youth just takes it for granted.
Hopes for the future: I want you to have good memories about our times together. That’s why I’m so bossy (oops, “persistent”) about gathering ‘round the piano to sing (we’re good!), cranking the homemade ice cream freezer, and playing all the wonderful games of “Fruit Basket Upset,” “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button,” croquet, badminton, cards and on and on. Agreed?
I hope you all are as fortunate as I was in finding a soul mate like Paul to share your life with. (That could be an entire book!)
Love: My love for my grandchildren is too great to express in words. They are my hope for the future and really keep me going. Most of my life’s goals have been met, but it’ll be mighty interesting to watch the grandchildren tackle their dozens of goals. Especially when I take my walks, I pray, “May my #1 priority be to nurture my grandchildren’s’ faith so as they go into the uncertain world, they’ll take GOD with them and be ok.
To my precious family, I express my deep, steadfast love, because you have been a great part of my life.
Forgiveness: I apologize for the times I wasn’t the Mom you would have liked me to be. But I have a feeling that as you yourselves go through all the parent experiences you’ll understand. Yes? No?
Please forgive others and me if I have hurt you in any way or if I have been too hard on you at times—it happens totally unknowingly sometimes. (Is too much discipline better than not enough?) We’re too human to always be ideal about it.
A request: Time is precious, don’t waste it or take it for granted. You already know how I do not, repeat – DO NOT, appreciate wasted time. Do the best you can with it – end of sermon!
Concluding thoughts: Finally, I am thankful for all who have been such blessings in my earthly journey. I’ve lived a good life. My hope is that you also have a good life. Goodbye – until we meet again in heaven.
My love will always be with you – you get to keep it and remember it forever, and hopefully gain strength from it, and pass it on.
Much love forever,