It has now been fourteen years that my family and I made the move to South Dakota. I had taken a call to Peace Lutheran Church in Rapid City here in the area that they call the Black Hills. For my wife, this was sort of a move back to the Black Hills area, since she grew up in Spearfish–her father was the pastor at the Lutheran church there when she was a girl.
The people at Peace Lutheran were so friendly when we had made our visit during the period of time when we were deliberating on this call back in late 2007. At a dinner that was supposed to be just the elders, the two retired pastors here, and ourselves, I think that probably half the church showed up that night to meet us. It made a huge impression on us both, if not a little overwhelming.
We were also treated to exceptional hospitality by one of the retired pastors and his wife. And again, when we first moved here and the parsonage was not quite move in ready yet, they showed us wonderful hospitality once more.
Little did I know that in the congregation were two German Ladies in their seventies, twin sisters, who would become such a precious part of our lives.
Both of them talked about me as the best pastor they have ever had–a little too much for this introverted soul to take in–and spoke with such wonderful words and kindnesses about my family all the time. Lucie and Danita, “the German sisters” as my family and I often referred to them as, became quite precious to us as well over the years.
Lucie used to bring me lunch quite regularly from what she had cooked for her family. And oh could she cook. My goodness, gracious, that woman could cook. And as it is, I love to eat great cooking. A match made in heaven, some might say. Perhaps not my doctor or my personal trainer though. Neither are happy about my weight, and wouldn’t have liked me eating Lucie’ s rich, delicious food.
I always enjoyed also how both sisters would get so tickled when I would write them THANK YOU notes in German. They got a charge out of my broken German, but assured me that it was close enough for them to understand what I meant, and that they each appreciated my efforts to do so for them.
Lucie was like a mother to me from the time that we arrived, and her sister Danita was like an aunt to me. They were like family.
The week of Thanksgiving, we lost Danita unexpectedly. That was a rough funeral to do, and her twin sister Lucie was devastated by the loss. Not long afterward, Lucie would find out that she had a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer–fourth stage. It was another shock for us all.
I have dealt with other parishioners before who died from this devastating disease, of this particular type. I kind of knew what to expect. Still, nothing can prepare someone for it. To see someone kind of waste away to nothing is not something you would ever want anyone to go through. It is truly awful.
For years, Lucie has made Rapid City a home away from home for us, for me. She has been like my mom away from home since day one. And I don’t want to make this about myself, as I am thinking about all of her family and what they are going through, and her husband of almost 65 years (a week from today), and what he is going through right now.
But on a personal note, Lucie was the epitome of the word caretaker. A humble servant to anyone and everyone, and I would have to get on her about caretakers needing to take care of themselves too…I would know.
It will be hard for this pastor, and even harder for Lucie’s family members to lose that kind of servant and caretaker from their family, and mine. It is rare to find such a jewel of a person as she. I know that full well.
Tonight, after ministering to the family yesterday upon hearing of her death, and today planning at the funeral home with two of her family members, I find myself sitting here at the computer typing out some thoughts as I myself grieve the loss of such a special lady in my life. One who has been like a mother to me for 14 years now.
I am thankful for the good that she was able to give and receive in this life, and that I was part of that for this short time. I am tremendously thankful that I was blessed by God to have our paths cross with this wonderful woman. And further blessed to be a regular recipient of her cooking.
Lucie, you now get to rest in the arms of Jesus from all your labors. I can’t really picture that, (you resting from your labors that is). But I can picture you in Jesus’ arms and loving every second of that!
I will miss you terribly. But as we like to say, “Until later, my other mother!” You have truly made this place a home away from home. Not sure what I will do without you here.
Thank you Lucie, for all the love you have shown to me and my family these past 14 years. We love you and will see you again!
In Christ Jesus, our Lord,