Tag Archives: Clint and Frieda Yoder

July 4, 1970

45 years ago, on a blistering Saturday in Delaware, a very young Clinton Yoder married an even younger Frieda Mishler.  Pictures of that day show a groom sweating so much that his hair is wet and not even properly in place. The bride is demure in a simple, long white dress There was no air conditioning in Greenwood Mennonite Church at that time.  I don’t remember much about that day except how hot it was.

These years have passed, as years are wont to do.  The young love gave way to carefully pondered choices that made for stability and strength and influence and opportunity.  Rocky at times?  Yes.  He was the proverbial stick in the mud and careful.  She was fire and adventure. But the bond they forged stood the tests of time and one hard day in late October, it finished strong.

Today he remembers.  This past week he has stirred around in his empty house and felt the sorrow heavy as his compounded grief settled hard on his heart.  Last night he went to his daughter’s house where he will be gathered to his family, loved on by the people who are his because of her, and they will talk of a Wife and a Mom and a Mimi whose first absence on this July 4th “Day of Celebration” will be keenly felt.

I don’t know why she had to go so soon.  I feel my brother’s sadness multiplied by the events of these past weeks, and hear a dirge rattling in my head that wants to quell the reminders of victory and joy and eternal life.

It’s not a blistering hot day Delaware today.  There is a promise of rain, and it feels like a good day to weep for losses and to do some serious grieving.  I sit at the counter in my well-lit kitchen, and talk to my sister and write and think and see the flowers outside my window moving in the breeze.  A Blue Jay lights on the woodpecker block and the blackbirds fight at the platform feeder.  I need to get groceries and the household is stirring around me.  Everyday banality in the face of grief that helps to occupy my hands and divert my heart.

There is so much to be grateful for in the mundane.

I will choose to be grateful, too, for the memories that comfort, the promises that sustain, and even the calamitous grief that won’t always hurt this much.  It is penance done for love.  And having someone to love is still a best gift.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Of Life and Hope and Frieda and Heaven

It’s the first Easter without her. Somehow the resurrection and the promise of The Eternal comfort me like never before. My brother was here this weekend, moving though our lives with grace, some tears, but also a determination to remember the good. He saw family, laughed and watched the activity that never stops when the Yoders are together, visited with Frieda’s family, fellowshipped with old friends, laughed with his cousins, comforted his aging mother with his presence and his tender care, ate pickled eggs and read old books. He was home, but he wasn’t. Never more than a breath away are the memories, drawing him to another time and another place. So many things to remember. He is a more pensive, gentler version of the man he has been, and though the grief has changed him, it hasn’t made him angry or bitter.

Saturday would have been her birthday. It is strange to mark the day without her. Even as I know that this is the way of LIFE, I hate this death business. Even stranger to me is how we mark a death and rejoice in a resurrection on the same weekend, but live as if we aren’t really paying attention to the fact that we have this hope within us. Most of the time, we don’t want to think about dying.

Tonight, I think of those who are already there, and wonder what they are doing. Has it been a split second for Daddy, these nine years since he crossed over? I just cannot comprehend. Sometimes I think I have to wrap my mind around it somehow. But how can a mere mortal understand Eternity, the very presence of God and His GLORY?

I stopped at my Daddy’s grave last week to think and pray and cry. In the next row, Freida’s gravestone, newly placed sat in its simple beauty. I hadn’t seen it there before, and in that moment I acutely missed the grace and honesty and fire that was my red-haired sister in law. I stepped over to her monument and touched the rough top of it, crying now so hard that I couldn’t see.

“We miss you so much,” I said. “I wish I had told you more often how much I loved you!” And then I went through the sharp Delaware wind to my van and came on home.

Home. My favorite place in all the world to be. Here are the people I love most. Here are the memories and the familiar. But even here there are scary things — medical issues, aging, auto accidents, bills, disappointment and reversal and loss. But when we get to THAT Home — ah, there will be nothing to disappoint, destroy, alarm or regret. There will be all the good and none of the bad. And I believe that the people I love most will be there, with good memories intact and none of the bad.

One time, in a desperately difficult time in my life, I dreamed that my Daddy came to me and he said, “Where I am, relationships are so easy because there are no regrets.” Sometimes that aspect of Heaven lures me more than anything else. And gives me pause to consider how to do relationships here with no regrets.

Brothers and sisters. In these days when we are so often bogged down with the things of living, may we fix our eyes on Jesus, believe His Words to us when He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die!”

And may we live like we believe it.

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. . . and she is Finally Home!

A call from my brother, and the words:  “Frieda is in Heaven!”

At 5:50 she winged her way Heavenward, easy and quiet, while her loved ones kept watch.  Brave, brave woman.  How very much she will be missed.

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Keeping Vigil/Cheering Frieda Home

Sixteen days ago, the voice was lilting and full of joy.  She eagerly looked forward to being in Heaven and was unafraid.  She is still looking forward to Heaven and is unafraid.  But she is very, very sick and that voice is almost non-existent.  She still knows her family and when she can, she has words for them.

The breaths are ragged and disorganized.  They catch my brother’s heart and wrench it.  He tends to her lovingly and tries to pray.  The words stick in his throat, and he feels so helpless.  If a heart breaking could be measured in decibels, the atmosphere would be shattered.

Ah, dear friends, how  very much he needs your prayers.  They all do — Clint, Shana, Doug, Juliana and Steven, Chip, Susan, Hannah and Clinty.  And Frieda.  Pray that her faith will soon be sight; that her suffering could cease; that she would hear the Angels singing and that death could be swallowed up in Victory.   Soon and very soon.

. . . and this for my beloved brother.

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Living with October Grief

Three years ago today, my cousin, Merlin Yoder had a terrible farming accident and passed away two days later.  That October was a terrible time for me, and some days I didn’t know if I would ever be happy again.  In Daniel’s family, we had a suicide early in the month, then my uncle, Vernon Zehr, passed away mid month, and then a week later, Merlin had his accident.

Today is the ninth anniversary of Old Gertrude’s death, also the ninth anniversary of the death of Carolyn Swartzentruber, five year old daughter of friends,  Harvey and Judith.  I went to Old Gertrude’s grave today, as I often do when I have a class at Stockley Center, and the weather was wet, the sky so grey and the wind was whistling through the trees around that graveyard for indigents.  I thought about my sister in law, Frieda, and about the journey we all must make some day, and about how much I love living, but how hard things are sometimes and how knowing Jesus doesn’t make the parting “easy.”  I know that Jesus conquered Death, and that Death is to have lost its sting, but the crossing is still not easy and the unknowns are still so glaring. What we know about Heaven is so intriguingly wonderful.  What we don’t know about the crossing is what we hate so much.

All this pondering made me go back to try to find something that I had written the morning that we got word that Merlin had crossed over, that he was “done with troubles and trials.”  This post says a great deal about what I’m feeling now.  I know from experience that we won’t always be this sad, and that it won’t always hurt this much.  And I know that Clint and his family are not alone, and that the prayers and the love and the concern are helping to hold them steady.  But it is hard.  And time grows short.

Ah, dear friends.  Please pray for us . . .

*******************

I was sitting in my chair, in the corner beside the fire on this chilly Monday morning.  I kept trying to wrap my head around the ache in my heart.  I just could not really believe that Merlin was gone.  He was so vibrant, so healthy, so alive!  The usual things have been said, and I believe, I believe!  He IS more alive than he has ever been.  He IS in the presence of the LORD, and he would never have wanted to stay in that broken body.  I’m sure he has seen The Father, I’m sure he has seen his Dad — and mine.  But it all seems so surreal.

I was working on a letter to my kids when the morning quiet was interrupted by the phone.  It was Certain Man. His quiet strength and understanding have helped to hold me steady in this last week.  Sometimes I see him watching me with a calculating look, sometimes worried.

“I don’t know if you can see it or not, Hon,” he said, “but the sunrise is spectacular this morning.  Go look to see if you can see it.”

Almost four decades with this guy tells me to never ignore such information, and I got up and looked towards the east.  “What do you see, Sweetheart?” I ask, looking at a gray horizon, and seeing nothing of significance.

“I just came across the bridge at the swamp,” he says, “and the sun is hanging over the swamp like a big ball of fire.  You may not be able to see anything because of the trees, but it is simply gorgeous.”

I look and look, and don’t even see a glimmer of the fire.  Just gray horizon with an area that is a bit brighter where the sun will probably appear after a while.  I don’t doubt that he is seeing it — and that it is breath taking, but I just can’t see it.  Yet.

“I’m sorry, Daniel, but it isn’t up far enough yet.  It sounds wonderful, though.”  We exchange a few more bits of conversation and then I am back into the morning routine with my ladies and laundry — busy stuff to keep my hands occupied while my heart weeps.

And then, fixing a cup of coffee, looking listlessly out the side window where the summer flowers escaped frost one more night, I keep thinking about the morning and the sunrise I couldn’t see.  I keep thinking that there is something nagging at edge of my conscious thought.  I keep thinking about Merlin and how they said he often would call one of his brothers in the early morning hours to “go riding.”  He was an accomplished biker, and loved to cycle, too.  I got to thinking about what he might tell us this morning if he could call back.

“Come.  Ride with me!  You can’t see it yet, but the Morning is glorious!  The Son is like a ball of fire, and all the air is alive with His presence.  You can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet, you can’t see it yet . . .”

And the fact that I don’t see it yet — don’t begin to understand it yet, doesn’t change the fact that I believe it is for real, and that someday, The Son will come for all who look for him, and it won’t carry the grief of this day, but rather the promise of a Glorious reunion and an eternity without the pain of separation.

“Ah, Merlin!  The ‘if only’s’ and the sadness of this day crowd out the the things my head wants to say.  We will miss you, and you will always be thought of with good memories in the hearts of so many.  May God grant healing to your family, and may this “seed sown in the mortal body” rise to everlasting life.”

(Lord Jesus, forgive my questioning heart, but WHY did it have to be him????)

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