Monday, February 23, 2015

About Audrey Roth, Our Mom by Dale L. Roth

There has been quite a bit of discussion about various generations; i.e., "WW2 generation," "Baby Boomers", Generation X, Generation Y and the Millennials.  How the church is going to be able to attract and keep those of the millennials?  Is a major concern to many.  While some of this discussion is valid, there is a danger in the church trying to mold itself by the fads of future generations.  We must remember that the church's attraction to the lost is Jesus Christ and His word--Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place" (2 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV.)  Audrey Roth was a trans-generational Christian, meaning she did not care what generation you were from as long as you were a Christian following the New Testament.  That is what our focus needs to remain--being a Christian molded after Christ and His New Testament.  I asked Dale permission to print these reflections about his dear mother.  David R. Kenney
Cheryl (Granddaughter), Audrey Roth and Dale (Son)
About Audrey Roth, our mom.

The morning Mom died I wrote this in her honor.

Mom's foremost place in life was to see God.  When she was baptized at the age of twelve she believed she would see heaven someday.  She lived her life in a way that satisfied not only her husband but she believed it met approval by our Father in Heaven.  She feared God and lived a life of dedication to those who surrounded her.  She told me one day after some kind of argument we were having that the man sitting in the living room, "He is very precious to me."  She was speaking of Dad.  I never knew them to have cross words except one time when I was a child.  Dad and I were getting ready to go to Monroe County, Ohio, to haul home a load of locust fence posts.  She kept persisting by asking dad over and over as he proceeded from the house to the truck when did he intend on returning.  My father never liked to be bothered with something that would impede his honesty, and so he said, "When I get back." 

Dad always protected her from knowing things that would cause her embarrassment if someone did ask her about certain details pertaining to the church.  This became important when he served as an Elder.  He never wanted to jeopardize her position as an Elder's wife by telling her things that may dishonor her.  I know of men who tell their wives everything whether they be preachers or elders.  Not Dad.  He did this to protect her from telling a lie.  If she didn't hear it then she must be telling the truth as was his firm belief to protect her.  I truly believe he emulated Mom to how Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.

Mom believed wholeheartedly in what the Bible said about the older ladies teaching the younger women to become better wives to their husbands.  So often today this is not practiced as some go to the younger and inexperienced to get advice.  She often discussed certain issues with me after dad's passing.  She would see someone struggling with their life and pinpoint the problem, but only after some consideration on her part.  Then after a time of study and thought she would offer up some advice that sounded like it came directly from God.  She would share her idea of what must be done to solve the issue.  There were some who came to her door to seek counsel.  She would listen to them pour out their heart and, being a patient woman to those who sought her advice, waited until they were through.  And only when they asked for her advice did she then provide it.

One of her favorite periods in life was teaching four and five year olds.  Mom often made up her own Bible class material so it could be used over and over again after she completed a cycle.  It was such a joy to her that she would converse with me during a meal after she had taught her favorite pupils on Sunday morning.  Her eyes lit up as she described in detail about a particular character in the Old or New Testament.  One of her favorites was Zacchaeus who climbed up into sycamore tree because he was small in stature.  Some of her students would question if it was believable about a small man wanting to see Jesus.  Some got very excited as their hands flew towards the heavens as they wanted to answer during her inquisitive interview.

Mom was very patient with people.  She was not always like this until she worked in one family's home in Rittman, Ohio, who liked to entertain.  Somehow, she overcame her shyness by learning how to speak openly with people.  When Mom and dad started dating her bashfulness often got in the way.  She was very much afraid to eat in front of someone she didn't know.  And when he offered her an ice cream cone she refused to eat it.  Little by little she overcame this drawback and moved forward by going to people to get better acquainted.  It didn't bother her any longer as others were sometimes as shy with what she had struggled with for so many years.  Mom became a people person by listening first before speaking affectionately.  I never heard her say a bad word about anyone unless they upset her so - that afterwards she tested her tongue first before making a final comment.

I think her secret breakthrough was her smile when she made inroads in getting to know people.  She displayed her kindness in many ways.  She openly invited anyone into her home.  She loved to invite preachers in for a meal until she could no longer handle the chore of preparing a large meal.  Whether it bothered her to stop because of her weak arms and legs she just didn't say.  But it was always a feast to eat well and discuss with one another about so many important things that she loved.  She was always interested in the preacher's family and how well they were doing while he was away from them.  She had a great respect for preachers of the gospel.  And preparing this special feast would take her all day to get the meal on for the arriving preacher at five.  Once we were discussing this particular thing and she said, "I wished I had kept a book of every preacher who had visited us."

For years she made her own clothes.  I would hear her sewing machine whirling away to complete her desired find.  She loved to make colorful clothes that fit her personality.  And I think she did this to please the one she loved, her husband, our dad.  And to see Dad watch for his lovely bride march out in something new that she had custom-made with her own hands delighted him all the more.  There was that special gleam that appeared when she showed off her latest creation without being a majestic woman.

I think the Christmas holidays were her favorite time of the year.  Box after box was carried downstairs to be emptied of ornaments and doodads and then they were placed throughout the house which made it come alive with holiday cheer.  Sometimes it took two days to complete this yearly task, but she loved every minute of it as she labored to decorate while working all of her other chores into the lot.  Christmas cards had to be sent.  When receiving cards from others she marked it off in her special book to be reminded again of those who had sent cards from the year before.  I remember one certain address book having enough columns for at least ten years.

I was happy to take care of her after I moved back home.  It wasn't something I had chosen to do, but a preacher friend told me after the sad ordeal happened in my life, that maybe it was a God-send to go back home again.  And so it worked out in their favor when Dad took ill in 2009.  Yes, I was tied down, but that didn't bother me as my age kept me close to home.  Some days I would have to go out to get something she demanded, and I went.  There were times when the electric fence needed mending, or something else that drew my attention, and so I would be out for a while, not knowing where she would be when I returned.  Whenever I had to get some things which were needed for the farm my prayer was she wouldn't be out in the garden when I arrived home.  And usually the next day she would tell what she had been doing while I was gone.  She asked me one day how I liked her geraniums.  Since she didn't like how I weeded them she took pleasure in doing it herself, even at the ripe old age of 93.

She was a great mom who loved her position in life as a homemaker.  She looked forward to ironing clothes.  It was an obsession to her on wash day to get the clean washed clothes out of the basement and iron them.  I even questioned her why she had such passion for this dreary job.  To her it was pure joy to work for her family because of her willingness as a mother and a wife.  She wanted her family to have pressed clothes without wrinkles.  I believe it made her proud whenever I stood before the congregation to lead singing with a neatly pressed shirt.  I don't know to this day how she got four children fed and ready for church come Sunday morning since we were farmers.  Not a thing was out of place when we entered the meeting house to worship God.  She made her family into something perhaps so they could better serve God by being prepared with neat and clean clothes.  It wasn't the clothes per se, but the attitude of her heart.

She told me about her time of living during the Great Depression by draping a cloth over an orange crate in her bedroom.  Whenever her father brought home a crate of oranges and after it was emptied she would take it to her bedroom to use as furniture.  She was eight years old.  She always wanted things orderly no matter what was under the cloth.  To her it was making a home while being a child yet she continued the practice after she married, but moved on to better things besides an orange crate.

At one time her present home occupied over fifty potted plants known to those whoever visited and saw her African violets.  Just watering them sometimes took an hour or more.  The grandchildren brag about her many plants in that they refuse to die while being in her possession.  Just by the feel of one of her crooked fingers pressed lightly against the soft soil she knew how much water to pour onto and around the plant.  Every spring she formed new plants by breaking off a piece from an old one.  Her geraniums were always special to her as she wanted them outside come spring time.  Then when it came time to replant the geraniums in the garden they had to be carried from the house and put in holes she often dug herself, because no one other than her knew the exact spacing of her plants.  Along the lower edge of the small garden stood her red geraniums like suited solders standing at attention.

Hospitality never met a stranger in our home.  When she knew company was coming frozen pies were carried up from one of the deep freezes in the basement and baked to perfection.  Those who visited often complimented her on her special pie baking.  Last year before the Thanksgiving holidays she had made close to a dozen pies and froze them.  When she wasn't making pies then she made time to bake cookies.  Mom and I loved to study over recipes and compare notes on what was best suited for the table.  Sometimes we didn't always agree on how a recipe is to be measured out.  While I didn't pay particular attention to detail Mom always used her measuring tools precisely to get what she so desired for the finished product.

At one time and this was early as we were living on the farm, Mom baked bread every Saturday.  It had to last seven days.  The kitchen came alive with fresh smells as it drafted throughout the house.  Her last specialty on baking day was her coffee cake.  It was something we always looked forward to Sunday morning.  The coffee was put on and each child gathered to their spot at the table.  Mom cut the coffee cake equally and passed the dish around before each of us.  We each took a piece and savored the moment to begin eating.  My brother and I were about ten and eight and only on Sunday morning were we allowed coffee to dip our coffee cake in to.  Of course, Dad had showed us how to squeeze out the coffee from the long piece of coffee cake by using a fork before eating it.  What a blessed time to be small, yet relish in a feast that brings about wonderful memories.

Mom looked forward to those who were tying the knot.  Traveling cross country to attend someone's wedding became tedious as she aged.  She never gave up because of her strong will to survive until she couldn't do it any longer.  She never seemed out of place and she always knew her place.  She once told me the story about her sassing her father during a meal before she married dad.  The man sitting next to her kicked her and said nothing contrary to her hurt leg.  This very incident happened before they married in 1941.  Dad truly believed in honoring your parents even if they sometimes spoke out of turn.  So, when she spoke against her father her leg got the message right quick.  Never again did she speak in such a way to dishonor her parents.  Although, I find this incident funny, our young people today need to take lessons from those who have received the hard knocks, and at all cost honor those who have given birth because of their love for them.  I believe it is a disgrace when young people forget about those who raised them to become adults.  Honor them now or regret the day you were born with shame.

Mom wholeheartedly believed in prayer.  She believed the Heaven Father was always listening.  During the days of the Vietnam crisis as my brother and I had been drafted she prayed nightly that we would not go to war.  After I returned home did she tell of this ordeal that kept her awake many a night.  Prayer was always close to her heart when Dad became ill.  She told me one morning as we headed to the hospital to visit him - she said this, "He will outlive me."  I knew the writing was on the wall that he wouldn't last, but in her heart he was her keeper for life.  What a great lesson to learn why we should never take life for granted, nor should we give up so easily.

Quilting being seasonal was usually set up during the fall and right before the Thanksgiving holidays.  Mom would get out her dilapidated frames which were over a hundred years old and place them by the dining room front window.  She would have a quilting day assigned one day a week by inviting others to help.  Then with age she couldn't do the job any longer because of her bad arms.  The crooked fingers didn't slow her down but her arms and shoulders failed her if she worked for long periods.  For two years my niece Jenny would be by her side learning the tight stitching that made a quilt beautiful.  My grandmother had a tight stitch of 12 stitches to an inch which made the patterns not so durable when handling or washing.  They constantly had to remind her about her tight stitching.

The following verses fit my departed mother to a tee.  Whether she read these verses during her life it is something probably hidden within her heart and not to be discussed by those who remain.  From the book of Proverbs 31 we start with verse 10 using the NASV,  "An excellent wife, who can find?  For her worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.  She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight.  She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.  She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household And portions to maidens.  She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong.  She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night.  She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.  She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy.  She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet.  She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple."  Continuing with verse 25 and 26.  "Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.  She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."

There are many other things I could say, but this is enough to get past the memories which will remain. 

I wrote this in case someone couldn't fill the spot I heaved upon Don Cooper.  I'm so glad he agreed to speak wise words to those left behind.  Hopefully, it will bring about results for the sake of Christ and His church.

Dale L Roth

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