Let’s Get it Done People! (In Memory of My Aunt)
Remembering my Aunt Mari whose birthday would have been today. Once she crafted the piece pictured as a Christmas gift for me…a few years later I wrote the following piece in her memory…
Mari Neuschwander was a hardworking person, a world traveler, a wife, a mother, an aunt, and I’m sure we could all say that she was our friend. If Mari had a motto in life, it may well have been…let’s get it done people.
Mari also liked to have fun, especially with her family. Since Mari was my Aunt I’m especially aware of the fun things she liked to do with her nieces and nephews. There were beach trips, annual walks to pick pussy willows at Easter, the camping expedition to Quappelle valley, long and exciting letters from foreign lands, blind-folded taste tests, the hold’em down and tickle ’em fests, she even did our hair. Mari was an expert hair artist. Well, I’d just like to take a moment to clarify a point. She did the hair of my female cousins and her friends. My brother and I were far too cool to bother with our hair. We still are…or so we like to think anyway.
Mari was always very helpful, even with strangers…one day she saw a poor man stranded at the side of the road beside his dead car so she decided to give him a ride to the nearest town, which was opposite to where she was going. However, the nearest crossover to the other lane was behind her. As she loudly expressed her hope that that there weren’t any cops around, she drove against the flow of traffic for just a little bit…The thankful man bought her coffee afterwards and he was as it turned out, a cop.
Mari enjoyed her adventures in South America, Australia, Texas, Germany, and even in the wilds of Toronto. After one of her trips, I remember her bringing a copy of the Farming Game over for us to try. It was quite a revelation to us that there could be a fun way to farm. I also seem to remember her telling my Dad a joke that he still pulls out on occasion. Do it with me now.
What do you get when you get to a green light?
If any of you said stop, please turn over your drivers’ license to one of the ushers before you leave the building. This is for your own safety. Thank you.
At one time Mari’s job required her to drive across Canada, making and selling crafts at various locations. It started annoying Mari when she was always asked out on dates by older men, so she bought herself a wedding band to ward them off…but once in a while a customer who might be a possible suitor would come along, and she would frantically try and pull off those rings under the table…it was a good thing that none of those possible suitors turned out to be the right one.
The right one turned out to be a lot closer to home. His name is Agabus Neuschwander. He and Mari were married on a very snowy November 18th, 1995.
A highlight from the wedding was acting out a segment of Mari’s favorite musical, Fiddler on the Roof. I wish I could say that I enjoyed the dancing, but my Mennonite side won’t let me. Mari enjoyed it though. That was the important thing for us. However, even more important than our little play was the fact that Mari had met Agabus, the love of her life.
As time went on in their marriage, we were introduced to some more special people, namely Zaphhira, Caleb, and Azaria. Mari became busy with her own family, but she still loved to organize and participate in family gatherings. Surprise parties were a favorite. I think everybody got one on their 40th birthday and Mari participated in them all. It would take far too long to go into the details of every one of those parties, but it is safe to say that a lot of fun was had. It wasn’t all about fun though. Even when we went through some difficult times we as a family could count on Mari to be there with us. Even if it was only through a phone call or a word of encouragement.
One my more recent memories is of Mari lying in her hospital bed a few months ago. She loved the feeling of having her feet rubbed so she asked me to rub her feet while we talked. It is good practice for you, girls like having their feet rubbed, she told me then. I remember laughing about it, but I do hope to begin studying that thought soon.
The thing is…love is a beautiful thing. It touches people. It is what brought us here today. It is what drove Mari to work as hard as she did for her family, her friends, and even for total strangers. I’m sure if she were to give us any advice today it would be to do the same. Work hard, live life to the fullest, take your opportunities to create beauty in the world where you live and for everyone you meet. Let’s get it done people.