It is a sad week for our family as we say a sad goodbye to Susan.
My cousin endured a terrible time of a very aggressive and angry cancer. And all along the way, her family members were the hands of Christ, caring for her with grace. Thanks to my cousin, Becky, who created this beautiful collage.
The truth is, Susan was the family member behind the camera. At every single family event, she would click, click, click until everyone around her was rolling their eyes and trying to avoid the camera! But she was determined to catch the memory.
"Okay everybody, get together and smile!"
Again. And again. And again!
I have a treasure chest of memories from my childhood. Her daughter was one of my besties growing up, so I spent a great deal of time on their farm. From her, I learned about wearing a sharp-looking blazer to work. I learned what a family calendar looks like. (In those days, most families were not busy enough to necessitate a large, whiteboard calendar, but Susan mastered the art of being busy!) I also learned to microwave cheese on tortillas for a quick snack.
As a grown-up, I got to know Susan in a new way when I moved to Dickinson over 9 years ago. She was working in Dickinson doing accounting for the detention center. She really lived in Sherwood on the weekends and commuted to Dickinson to work during the week, because Susan was fond of "running" to far away places like it was no big deal! "I'm just going to run over to Iowa this weekend to see Steph."
Truthfully, Susan was my saving grace when I moved to Dickinson.
Marcus was finishing up work in the Twin Cities, so Tom (16 months old) and me (six months pregnant with Sam) moved into the basement of his gracious parents' for a few months until we found a house. Susan' was a familiar face in the sea of unfamiliar that you swim into when you move. She knew our inside family jokes and we could talk about family and all the shared history that goes along with that.
We often walked laps together at the West River Community Center during the day. Funny story. I followed her lead every time we walked, so it wasn't until she couldn't meet me one day that I walked the track by myself. Such a faithful follower am I, I had not noticed the arrow on the wall that instructs people on the track to go either left or right. I had just followed her lead! So of course I would walk the wrong direction and of course I would be wearing my clerical collar because I had just done a funeral and of course Wilson would need to tell me from the level below me to go the other direction for the safety of everyone else.
But my fondest memory of Susan will always be resurrected whenever we have popcorn at our house.
This is a typical Susan story. I mentioned she was an avid photographer, snapping photos of family. She also captured beauty in nature and, well, anywhere she went looking. I have lovely photos of St. John that she took because of course she had her camera with her...all the time.
When we did move out of Marcus' parents basement and into a house, she gave us a housewarming gift a few months later. She had been taking a pottery class at the college (of course she had!) and gifted us with a large ceramic bowl. Around the bowl were two oak leaves.
She explained that she had taken some leaves from our front yard and worked them into the bowl, so we would always have a piece of our house with us wherever we went. Those of us who know Susan can easily picture her scouting out the best leaves, looking quite like a stealthy burglar in front of my house, moving suspiciously through the bushes!
She said something like, "Make sure you use that bowl, don't just let it sit somewhere to look pretty. Use it for popcorn or something."
So we do.
And I am sure every angle of beauty in heaven, particularly those no one has yet noticed, will be captured by Susan.