As I said to our families, “Some of you have gotten this, and some of you haven’t–
and some don’t really care!
For those of you who do, here is our family Christmas Letter and Photo Card”
Dear Family and Friends, December 25, 2021
It’s Christmas Day all over the world! What Good News to a world that needs good news today as much as any time in history, “Unto you is born . . . A Savior!” To this truth, we have given our very lives, and we believe it today as firmly as we ever have.
This letter is late, but it has been incredibly sweet to receive Christmas cards and pictures from many of you in these past few weeks. The cards are inspiring and precious, the faces are dear, and when there is a personal note or letter? That’s just icing on the cake! Thank you each and every one who have remembered us.
There is some really BIG news for us as a couple that has truly defined this year in exciting and unexpected ways. We ended 2020 with both of us, (as well as our handicapped adult, L) sick with COVID. Daniel & I recovered fairly well, although there were days when I wondered if I was going or coming. Bursitis had settled into my hip, I had some other health issues, but L needed care, even when my own vitals were worse than hers. It was in those hard and lonely days that I felt strongly that my 35-year career as a care provider was coming to an end. I had a strong sense that I had God’s word to me on it, that it would happen soon, and that when it happened, no one would miss that it was HIM and no one else that did it. The story is a very long one, and I’m not at liberty to tell it all, but following her extended bout with COVID, L had a stroke, ended up in the hospital for about 6 weeks, and was then admitted to a long-term care facility near her mother and sisters in upstate Delaware. The move, the timing, the place, the 24-hour care, and a whole lot more were all part of a miracle. She had only eight months to be near her mother, to have whatever visitation was allowed, and to be as comfortable physically as was possible. We didn’t know it then, but her journey was almost over, and on November 21st, she went quietly into the presence of Jesus. She was a part of our family for over 21 years, and she taught me Life Lessons that often stopped me in my tracks and refined me in ways that nothing else could have, and I’m grateful for the years we had with her. I’m also glad that her suffering is now over. We miss her quiet presence in the corner of our little room off the kitchen. Through most of the year 2020, she was here 24/7, and I seldom left her. I sometimes still think in terms of arranging care for her, and have dreams about being somewhere and thinking that she is still at home, and I haven’t gotten her up, showered, dressed, fed and medicated. (“Oh, dear! Poor L!!! I need to get back home right now!!!”) It’s disconcerting! However, the ensuing months have proven that the timing of her leaving was nothing but a “God Thing” as the events of this year have unfolded.
For the first time in almost 46 years, Daniel and I find ourselves alone without another dependent human being in our care, either foster child, our own children, or one, two or three handicapped adults. It’s more than a little strange to suddenly be free to do things together, to pick up and go if we want to. I am no longer responsible to another authority for time spent, medications given, classes taken, appointments met, daily documentation done, monthly paperwork and reports for case managers, state nurses, and support personnel submitted, and it feels really good! To both of us! One night in particular was pivotal in our understanding. I was getting something ready to take to a young family in our church and giving Daniel instructions about the delivery, when we suddenly looked at each other and realized that I could go, too! And I did! The realization gave us an almost heady sense of freedom!
Even in the things this year that were not easy or what we wanted, there has been reassurance over and over again that God went before and freed up my time to do things that would never have been possible. In February, Daniel was on the chicken house roof and slipped on some ice and slid to the ground, suffering a couple of compression fractures in his vertebrae (Lumbar #1 and Thoracic #12). He didn’t need surgery (thankfully!) and it could have been so much worse, but it has impacted Daniel’s usual busy moving about and strong-arming just about anything he wants to. The pain is real, and it does haunt him still, sometimes worse than others, and he has learned that there are some things that he just shouldn’t do. That doesn’t necessarily stop him, (although it should!) but I am free to help and to spend time with him, and we are both learning a new normal.
Daniel has been recruited often for sundry jobs in the plumbing industry since his retirement. He really didn’t want to go back to running his own business and even more, knew it wasn’t wise to take a job that required daily, physical labor. However, in the early summer, he was asked to help out at a local private inspection agency and after much thought, and discussing it with each of his five children (“Dad, if it’s what you want to do, go for it!” was the unanimous response) he agreed to help out part time. He has proven to be a valuable employee to First State Inspections, and has enjoyed it very much. He works 3-4 days most weeks, sometimes less, occasionally more, and has procured a Maryland license as well so that he is more useful to the company. I like him to be home, but I also enjoy seeing his interest in the contacts that he makes and the places he gets to see as he travels up and down the coast.
We enjoyed a Mark Yoder Family reunion this summer, held at the farm that belonged to my grandfather, then my father, and now belongs to my sister, Alma, and her husband, Jerrel Heatwole, Sr. It was a most gratifying time for me. The memories of being a child on those very acres, and spending time that day with all of our children and grandchildren, all of my brothers and sisters, and many of our nieces and nephews, made me feel peaceful and happy. I was reminded of how good a childhood our Daddy and Mama provided for us, and how they lived their faith before us in ways that impacted us. We cannot really know how much they sacrificed for us, but the older I get, the more I understand how important the values are that they taught us, and how they must have felt as they watched us grow into adulthood. They weren’t perfect, (they never claimed to be) but they were safe to follow, and they loved us. I am grateful for Daddy’s prayers and Mama’s nurture and for the memories that are always with me.
After the reunion, our three Ohio grandsons; Si, Liam, and Frankie (now 12, 11 & 10) spent about another week between here in Delaware and Washington, DC. One day we took our oldest granddaughter, Charis, (12) and the three boys to the Sight and Sound production of “Esther.” We had such a happy day, and the production was so good that we hope to take them to see next year’s production of “David” when, if plans carry, they spend another week on the east coast. What a time to look forward to!
Daniel & I had been planning a trip up through the New England States for some time, and on Saturday, September 18th, when the chickens were finally gone and the local things arranged, we headed out. It was a magnificent time! We headed west, stopped at the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania the first afternoon, and got to Raph and Gina’s that evening. We spent a happy Sunday and Monday there, and left Tuesday morning, stopped in Solon, Ohio, for a delightful breakfast with Daniel’s youngest aunt, Esther Zeitz. She not only made the breakfast but sent us on with fortifications for our trip! Later that day, we got to Waterloo, NY, and spent two nights with Rachel (Daniel’s sister) and Ivan Zehr. There we had supper invitations to the homes of two of their children, and met members of the family that we had never seen. From there, we revisited Boldt Castle on the St. Lawrence Seaway (a place we visited on our honeymoon over 48 years ago, and have followed the renovations since by stopping whenever we are in the area). While there, we got to witness a wedding on the lawn of the beautifully refurbished estate. The happy days seemed to run together after that—we visited the Almanzo Wilder Homestead, stopped on whim at the spectacular High Falls Gorge near Wilmington, NY, crossed Lake Champlain by ferry 3X! (It wasn’t planned, but it was still fun!) and stopped at covered bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire. We took a canoe portage trail near Leed, Maine to see an impressive, turbulent section of the Androscoggin’s River, then headed to Bar Harbor where we took an afternoon cruise on a 151-foot Schooner, the Margaret Todd. We took various scenic routes in our travels in hopes of seeing a moose in the wild, but there were none to be seen, much to Daniel’s disappointment. We visited the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory (and YES! I did go up to the top of that 447-foot monster and actually “observed”). We stopped at Historical Fort Knox and wandered around those sobering grounds for several hours, then headed out to see if we could find a “Fresh Maine Lobster” for a Certain Man. We found exactly that at a dubious looking place in Belfast. Young’s Lobster Pound plucked a living lobster from one of their watery crates and cooked it to perfection. Daniel was delighted with it and I enjoyed a bowl of clam chowder that had more clam in it than was necessary. From there we made our way on towards Massachusetts. We considered stopping in Salem to learn more about the witch trials, but the town was overrun by people, so we went on to Lexington where we visited the Minuteman National Historical Park. We walked one of the trails and then went to the North Bridge at Concord, where “The Shot That Was Heard Around the World” was fired on April 19, 1775. The bridge is modest and the grounds uncluttered and peaceful. The stories there, both told and untold, gave us a quiet sense of awe. Then it was back on the road again. All along the way, we stopped whenever there was a lighthouse that was accessible. By day or by night, these New England wonders drew us in and we were always glad. We stopped at an old timey diner in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on the next to the last day of our trip, had an impressive amount of food for an equally surprising small bill, and found our last hotel. Which is also a matter requiring some attention. We slept in some chain motels that were surprisingly good and others that were disappointing. We also slept in out of the way, little places that were absolutely enchanting. We made careful note of those because we really want to go back again. Will we go? We certainly plan to, because one of the places we had planned to see on this trip was Prince Edward Island, but it took almost an act of Congress to get into Canada, so we gave it up. In the months since, we’ve made new friends, Tim and Nancy Jacob and their family, who live in New Brunswick, Canada, and we want to visit them and P.E.I. before too many more years pass. But God knows our future, and we will see what happens.
Our children and grandchildren continue to give us much joy, as well as cause for prayer. Christina, Jesse and Charis still live down the road from us and we see them often. Jesse still works for Burris Logistics, Christina is a homemaker, Charis, a 7th grade student. Deborah is across the woods and is still a hospice nurse. She has done an impressive lot with plants and landscaping this year around her lovely home, Ambleside Cottage. Raph and Regina are still in Canton, Ohio. Regina is working part time at NuCamp as a receptionist while Raph is enjoying his promotion to Customer Experience Manager at the same business. The boys and Ellie (now 4) are growing and the personalities are diverse and interesting. Lem and Jessica have continued to work from home (in DC, at the same jobs as last year) while coping with Jessica’s serious health issues. A rare stomach disorder has taken a toll on the Jessica we knew, but in the last few months, there has been a marked improvement, giving us hope for better days ahead. Their little Stella, (also now 4) started preschool in September, and loves it. Rachel and Rob rented their own place (also in DC) this summer. Rachel continues as a therapist and Rob is working on his Masters’ degree. The two of them came for our annual cinnamon roll baking day, and Rob helped me roll, cut, fill, and bake, while Rachel got to help with one of her favorite childhood jobs- that of helping her Daddy deliver the finished product to neighbors, friends, and family. It was our best day ever for cinnamon rolls!
This year has been full of lots more, but my page is full, and I’m going to quit. We trust your Christmas had meaning, and that Hope for the New Year warms your heart and gives you courage! And in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, Everyone!”
We send our love.
Daniel & Mary Ann