Sludging through the snowy street under a gray sky, I tried to conjure up something to be grateful for. A squirrel scurried on a branch above. Thank you, God, for that reminder of your creativity. A leftover leaf clung to the bare branch, a vestige of the prior season, unwilling to let go. Thank you, God, for reminding me that seasons change.
I was trying to reenact what my family calls, Rosie’s Gratitude Walk, named after Rosemarie Boykin, my mother-in-law who passed away on January 4 from complications due to Covid 19.
Yes, I said mother-in-law, not mother. Ours was not the stereotypical relationship of a meddling mother to the woman who had the nerve to marry her son. Rosemarie was accepting, generous, funny, wise, supportive. She made me feel loved and treasured, as one of her own. In those early days of parenthood, when I struggled to manage my colicky firstborn, Rosemarie calmly modeled how to soothe Jared, while telling me what a great mom I was (which we both knew was hardly the case!) For over 30 years, we laughed together, shared stories and meals, and doted on Jared and Alex, her treasures.
Rosemarie also modeled for me a life of gratitude – in spite of the fact that she had endured much suffering in her eight decades. She described her morning walk as an offering to God. It went like this.
First she said out loud the words, Thank you, Father. (This phrase touched her heart in a deep manner as she had not known her earthly father.) Then she sang a hymn – usually, How Great Thou Art. After that, she thanked God for His creation, always a marvel whether in winter drab or budding spring. She went on to pray for each family member by name, asking God to shower blessings on them – spiritually, physically, financially.
Now Rosemarie was home, with her heavenly Father, perhaps belting out How Great Thou Art with joyful abandon – but leaving us, her children, her grandchildren, her daughter in law, with holes in our hearts. We can no longer pick up the phone and hear her laugh, listen to her wisdom, giggle over family stories. We will not hear her say, God bless. I love you.. as she did after all conversations. It was hard to imagine a world without Rosie.
Looking at the overcast sky, I noticed that my leaf had decided to give up its quest and let go, a wintery gust getting the best of it. I whispered into my mask the words of Rosie’s favorite hymn, Oh Lord, My God, How Great Thou Art. You gave me the gift of Rosemarie- a mother, a friend, a sister in Christ. May I learn to walk through this fleeting life, as she did, with daily tributes to squirrels and leaves, family, and faith.
God bless you, dearest Rosemarie, as you walk now on streets of gold.
We love you.
This post is dedicated to Brett and Tricia, Jared, Alex, and Kathleen, Margot and Grace – Rosie’s beautiful legacy and a testament to a life well-lived.