Front: Dorothy, John, Mary
Back: Dale, Betty, Carolyn, Anna Belle, Walter [Archie]
TRIBUTE TO MARY
Carolyn Aschliman Stephens
Where do I start? Mary was a daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a woman of many talents. She cooked, baked, gardened, sang in the Women’s Choir, attended Sewing Circle at the church, attended a Women’s Club, besides sewing and crocheting at home. She was a true role model to follow. Right up until the time she became ill, she was crocheting baby hats and prayer shawls. Besides all her activities and work, she loved to watch sports, as well as the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Before she moved into Assisted Living she was noted for making dozens of pies for our family reunion. Often the relatives would get their favorite piece of pie before going through the line for the main course. They didn’t want to miss out on their favorite pie being all gone before they got theirs.
Mary was grown when I was still a baby. She and Dorothy stake claims on raising Betty and me. We can’t vouch for which one should get credit but from the baby pictures, whichever one it was they dressed us cute! We lived closer to Mary and Ed when we were growing up and Betty and I would spend time with them on the farm, I guess she was giving our mother a respite because Mom and Dad still had four, and sometimes five, of the eleven kids still living at home.
In adulthood she was my mentor, as well as my older sister. She and Ed would visit us in Texas for Thanksgiving. The first time they came, she walked me through stuffing the turkey and making the fixings, then after that I was on my own. She would teach, then expect you to assume the responsibility. We have fond memories of those visits and our Scrabble games after dinner on Thanksgiving Day and other times during their visit. Brett often joined us when he was around. They were surrogate grandparents to our children. Brett has fond memories of the dollar bill that would float out of the birthday card he received from her. She was always so good about remembering the birthdays of both family and friends.
After our parents died, Mary became the matriarch of our family and was instrumental in keeping our family connected. Over the years their home became what we called “Command Central.” It was the place to check in to see what was going on and where everyone was. The infamous note was always by the stove when she went anywhere.
Hospitality was her gift. One year when the family had gathered for our annual reunion, Mary had gone to the store. When she came home, her table was surrounded by people who had arrived for the weekend event. They were eating the chicken salad she had in the refrigerator and were making themselves at home. She just laughed about it. She always made everyone feel welcome. They hosted many chicken barbeques over the years. When we started having our family reunions at a clubhouse, afterwards we would gather at their house with all the leftovers and continue the festivities. A hymn-sing would be going on in their living room, while others were gathered around the table snacking and telling stories.
Whenever anyone wanted to know something about family or the date of an occurrence, it was always, “We’ll have to call Mary!” She kept a diary all her life and could often dig up the information a person was seeking. Mary also had an uncanny talent for remembering faces and names.
She was noted for having dozens of filled candy dishes and we all succumbed to the temptation to start noshing the minute we walked in the door. Even after she moved to her assisted living apartment her table was filled with stocked candy dishes and the aides were always welcome to help themselves. They had a plethora of sweets to choose from.
When they moved to Greencroft Assisted Living, their apartment was still the gathering spot. And the Sideboard Restaurant became the coffee time spot.
Like St. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7 “ She fought the good fight, she finished the race, and kept the faith.”
I know she is reunited with her beloved Ed in the Church Triumphant and I know one day I will see her again. But even so, I will miss her and our frequent phone chats and our occasional visits to Indiana.
Sweet Mary, may you rest in peace.