Dear Family and Friends,
Christmas Greetings to you and yours! Our world has made another trip around the sun and 2019 is almost history. This family has had a memorable year. We’ve had some exciting family events, and enjoyed some milestones of significance.
In last year’s letter, Jesse and Christina had moved into the Big Bontrager House on Shawnee Road, and were still getting settled. The last 15 months at this house have held oodles of company, lots of living, and many more memories to add to the plethora already there. Christina, who loves to mow (somethin’s wrong with that girl!) certainly got her chance this summer! She tended the perennials and kept after the landscaping in ways that were outstanding. The yard and gardens were beautiful. Jesse, now 25 years at Burris Logistics, is a Systems Engineer whose job continues to thoroughly baffle me. I just know that he’s capable, he’s good, he’s faithful, and he works hard. Charis continues to be Grammy’s good helper with many things and her Grandpa’s sidekick in many adventures. She has a beautiful clear voice and she has been chosen for solos and ensemble numbers in the community children’s chorus of which she is a part. She is 10 now, and has grown up overnight! She’s practically as tall as her Auntie Beebs! (Deborah).
Deborah, who at the writing of last year’s letter was planning to be settled in her new house before Christmas, ended up with reversals of all sorts (as frequently happens when a house is being built) and didn’t accomplish that move until after the new year. But she has been in her own place now for most of this year, and has brought a welcoming charm to her Ambleside Cottage. She is still a hospice nurse, working the field as an evening and overnight home health staff nurse. She logs many miles, and gets into some interesting situations, but she carries it off with much grace. She has been with Delaware Hospice for nine years, and to those of us who love her, it feels like it’s a very good fit for her talents and temperament. A rescue cat named Julius has become her house partner and has a distinct personality. He is good company for Deborah. Daniel’s sister, Lena, still traveling for another five or six months plans to move into Ambleside Cottage for the summer months and then, when she can no longer keep warm, will hie off to Arizona or California or Florida (or somewhere warmer) for the other months.
It’s been an exciting year for Raph and Gina, along with their four children, Simon, (10) Liam (9) Franklin (8) and Elise (2). They are still in Sugarcreek, Ohio, where he works for nuCamp RV in Customer Service. Starting in January, (Lord Willing) he will also be serving on the worship team two Sundays a month at The Branch, where the family is currently worshipping. Regina works one day a week as a cashier with 61 Surplus and also as a night auditor for Comfort Inn. The finalization of Ellie’s adoption was a high point for their family (as well as our entire family) and is a miracle of no small proportions. It has been a joy this year to see each of the four children mature in their respective ways. All three boys played baseball this summer (and they are really good!) and are interested in a number of different activities. Simon loves hunting and fishing with his Grandpa Yoder and actually bagged his first deer this year. He’s a good help to his Mom in the kitchen and is a great baby sitter. Liam is a thinker and a planner and has the determination that reminds me often of his Uncle Lem at this age. He took medals in track this year, but along with being athletic, he is also gentle. He, too is great with his little sister, and is the one who often fills her demand to “Read!” Frankie is an open handed, giving young man. He has unbelievable dance moves (and doesn’t mind showing them off!) and he makes us laugh. He also loves that little sister, and for his birthday this year, asked if she could come to his party at school. Although our Sugarcreek Yutzys live pretty far away from us, they still impact our lives and we are so grateful.
Lem and Jessica are still in Washington DC. Lem, now in his seventh year as a psychotherapist with Alvord, Baker and Associates, is kept very busy. His caseload is heavy in numbers and in life issues. Jessica has been working for the US Government Accountability Office since 2015 as a research analyst and continues to both enjoy and excel in that environment. The high points of this year were team efforts in this marriage. Lem graduated with his PhD in Social Work in May, and he could/would not have done it without Jessica’s support and encouragement. It was a tough haul, and all of us are glad that he is officially finished! Through it all, they have been intentional and team parents to their little girl, Stella, who turned two in November. She is a delight to be around and is growing so fast and has quite a vocabulary. She loves books and animals and the outdoors and shows great partiality to her Uncle Rob (after her Da-da and Ma-ma). She also likes Auntie Rach and she has lots of opportunities to spend time with them. She enjoys time spent at her other grandparents’ beach house, and talks about “Cappy’s Boat!” and loves sea creatures. Enthusiastic and determined, she is a great mix of the Lee and Yutzy genes.
Uncle Rob and Auntie Rach. The Christmas Card picture tells some of their story. On October 19, 2019, our Rachel-girl married Robert William Orr. It was a beautiful day in Washington, DC, and all of Rachel’s family was on hand for the momentous occasion. The nieces and nephews were all part of the festivities and what a hoot that was! From two formal guest receivers (Simon and Charis) to a ring bearer with shades and a strut, (Franklin) to an amicable and gentlemanly escort for the two tiny flower girls (Liam) to the precious two girlies, one of which joyously threw flowers in the air and all around (Stella) and one, somewhat cranky from “hand, foot, and mouth” disease, resisted going at all until she suddenly saw a bribe at the other end of the aisle and went to the safety of her parent’s pew (Ellie) it was a delightful day. Lem and Jess led the service, and “Dr. Lem” performed the ceremony. This Mama made pies for the reception at the request of the bride and groom, who preferred pie to “plain old wedding cake” and Rachel’s Daddy made himself more than useful in transporting supplies and procuring needed items and providing encouragement to a very disgruntled Mama when there was a pie disaster. (You can read about that -as well as several other family things that have happened in the last year- on my blog at this address: https://maryannyutzy.com/ ) Rachel started a new job the month before their wedding, when she was accepted into The Bethesda Group as a psychotherapist. This job was desirable because she has more control over the hours and the client load (and the pay is better, too!). Rob still works as a Guest Services Captain for a company called Towne Park. Last year he was at the Hyatt next to the White House, but now he works for The Hotel Monaco in downtown DC. They are living in the basement apartment of the house where Rachel has lived for the past two years. It’s small, of course, but well suited for them. They are good friends with the gals upstairs, and since the common kitchen is upstairs, an amicable relationship is certainly an asset.
One very exciting high point in our lives this past year was reconnecting with one of our foster children from the late 1970’s. Those of you who knew our family during those years just might remember the baby that we called “Raynie” who came to us a little under 11 weeks old and stayed until his second birthday. Raynie is now Freddie Lee, is all grown up and had done very well for himself and his family. After connecting through social media and private messaging, we visited him and his wife, Amanda, in their home in Pickerington, Ohio. He is daddy to 4 beautiful, brilliant girls and has a lovely wife, Amanda. It’s an incredible story of despair and hope and grace that has been woven through these last 40 years, and we are in awe of how God continues to orchestrate this particular “melody” in our Life’s Song.
Daniel and I are alone in the big farmhouse at Shady Acres except for Cecilia who will have been a part of our household for 20 years on January 1st. She is 70 now and her age is telling on her. She had two hospitalizations, (including one cardiac arrest) this year. Both times it was thought that she had a partially obstructed bowel. They finally did surgery, expecting the worst. However, the problem was resolved with a simple snip to a loop of scar tissue that was causing a “back up” and what a relief that was – not only to her, but to those of us who love her, as well. She is doing well at this writing, and we are grateful.
Daniel and I are also experiencing some of the ill effects of getting older. Daniel has been having treatments for Macular Degeneration in his right eye for five months. Both eyes were diagnosed as having “dry” Macular degeneration back around the first of the year, but the right eye went suddenly to “wet” and treatment has stayed the progression pretty well, but seemingly not helped it too much, either. It’s a scary diagnosis, and troubling, but he is following the recommendations, and we are trusting that we are never out of HIS care. What a comfort to know that we have a Heavenly Father who knows us, knows what is best and that we can trust him. Not that everything will go the way we want it, but that He will never leave us, never forsake us. We are not alone.
Another milestone (of far less significance than any mentioned heretofore) is that we have now lived at Shady Acres for thirty years. I’m pretty certain that a Certain Man had no intentions of staying here this long when we first moved in, July 1989. “Seven years is long enough,” he would often intone with gravity and purpose, “for anyone to live in any one place! You need to move so that you can clean out the corners and get rid of stuff!” I’m not in the least against “getting rid of stuff,” but moving has been the making of some of my most difficult dreams, and it has been the last thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Granted, our early moves were good, but once we settled down here, any time a move was mentioned there was loud indignant outcry from the Offspringin’s, and quiet prayers from their Mama. Of course, no one knows what tomorrow may bring, but at the insistence of those same Offspringin’s, Daniel and I did some estate planning and it looks like we can stay right here as long as we are able. So! There are large empty bedrooms upstairs, and anyone who needs a place to stay is welcome to come. (Just please give us a little warning!)
And that is the latest news from Shady Acres and the Yutzy Crew. Merry Christmas to one and all!
Daniel and Mary Ann for ourselves and the rest of the family