an ugly anniversary

My mom passed away one year ago today. The rain seems appropriate. I don’t have much to say today but wanted to share some words that were written about her last year. I love you, mom.
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Obituary, by my amazing husband, Alex Goochey

Mary Kay Christensen, 54, of Nampa, ID, passed away Monday, April 22, 2013, peacefully at home of natural causes. Mary Kay was born in Dickinson, ND, on April 15, 1959, to Raymond and Geneva Schnell. She was the fourth of five children: older brothers Gary and Don, older sister Peggy, and younger sister Sheila.

Mary Kay met Ron Christensen in high school and married soon after in October, 1977. From this marriage came four children, twelve home towns, countless hands of rummy, and a reliable supply of coffee and cookies.

Mary Kay was a passionate and dedicated mom. Her creativity and thoughtfulness are rooted deeply in the characters, personalities, and humor of her kids. She was also a homemaker and attentive hostess. Anyone who came to her colorful home experienced the details with which she cared for people. In recent years she used all these gifts as a grandmother.

Mary Kay’s childhood in western North Dakota and her family’s involvement in the livestock industry gave her a lasting connection to the state’s culture and landscape. She was a North Dakota girl no matter where she roamed. She was also a chronicler of family lore — a reliable source when it came to laughter and reminiscing.

Mary Kay is survived by her parents, Raymond and Geneva; husband, Ron; son, Jared (wife Sara); daughters, Emily (husband Tim), Rachel (husband Alex), and Abby; brothers, Gary and Don; sisters, Peggy and Sheila; and grandchildren, Noah, Lucy, Miles, Alma, Kate, and Jasper, with another on the way.

Mary Kay was a light to the people who knew her. Her steadfast faith in Christ helped many others to be strong. She will be missed.

Gifts in her memory can be made to Home on the Range (hotrnd.com) in Sentinel Butte, ND, or Love INC (loveinctv.org) in Nampa, ID.

… but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
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Eulogy, written and delivered by my strong, funny brother Jared Christensen

My mom loved our family. She took care of us, she laughed with us, she cried with us, she gave us grace… and a fair amount of truth. She supported us in our endeavors and encouraged us in success and failure. She taught me how to tie my shoes despite my throwing them against the wall in frustration. She listened intently as the girls banged through piano lessons. She went to countless wrestling meets, even though they made her sick to the point she could barely watch. She remembered every birthday and was intentional in the gifts she gave, and in the creativity she displayed every day. She worked tirelessly to prepare meals, wash clothes, apply band-aids, drive us around and generally keep our house running smoothly. She loved Dad and made a point to kiss him in front of us often so that we could pretend to be disgusted by it.

Mom was renowned for being welcoming and hospitable. She and Dad had people over all the time for Bible studies and game nights, staying up late over endless pots of coffee. She made sure that our house was a place where our friends would want to hang out… and we did… all the time. She made sure the soda and tacquitos were well-stocked, and she put up with our loud music. She was a favorite “friend’s mom” and everyone knew she had the best sleepover snacks. As soon as she saw Sara’s sewing machine, she swooped in and invited her to work on crafty projects together. Their house in Visalia became a second home to our college friends. Of course, the pool may have had something to do with that. Mom cared deeply for people and she made them feel valued when they were in our home.

Each time we moved, Mom helped keep us together as a family, but she also made us venture out and make our own connections. She was a close friend to each of us, especially after the older kids moved out over time. Once we settled into a new place, it wouldn’t be long before she was inviting people from the church over for dinner or, more likely, kicking us out to find other kids in the neighborhood. It didn’t matter if it was August… in Arizona.

There were a few times when Dad had to move before the rest of us, and Mom stayed behind with us kids. During these times she reverted back to being one of the kids, and would often act as the ringleader. When we met up with Dad again he would inevitably be amused and a bit baffled by the abundance of inside jokes we had. One memory really sticks out for me, when we were moving from Idaho to Arizona. During a slap-happy night listening to music, one by one we each pulled out play clothes and put on costumes relevant to the various artists or songs. (I distinctly remember 6-year old Abby in a spot-on Axl Rose get-up.) Mom not only hit up the play clothes, but also donned a fair amount of make-up and hairspray. The girls and I cracked up as she showed off her dance moves that night, and to this day the song “My Sharona” makes me laugh… and it creeps me out a little.

In that same living room two years before, Mom and Dad were there when I committed my life to Christ. The prayer I prayed with Mom when I was 6 finally sunk in at 15 as I wrestled with what it meant to really live my life for the Lord. She stayed up many late nights with us in high school when we came home from doing stupid adolescent things and as we questioned our faith. She encouraged us to get in the Word and learn what God had to teach us. She challenged us to represent Christ and our family well and to stand up for things we believe in. She and Dad set a godly example in their marriage that the girls and I try to imitate. She welcomed Sara, Tim, and Alex into our family and treated them like her own daughters and sons. She prayed for our kids before they were born, and she poured out love on them each time they got to see their Grandma Kay.

As it says in Proverbs 22, Mom raised us in the way we should go so that we would not depart from it. However, she also respected decisions we made when they were different from ones she would have made. Whether it was a school or career choice, a decision with our spouse, or a parenting method, she would challenge us at times, hear our perspective, and then support us as we moved forward. No matter where we were, she came to our aid in times of trouble. She dropped what she was doing to take care of us in Fresno, Chicago, or Virginia. (She just wouldn’t help pay for tattoos or piercings…)

We are here because of my mom, and in a way she is heaven today because of some of us. The story goes that several members of Dad’s family prayed that my parents would not have a baby until Mom received Christ and Dad came back to the Lord. Grandma Pete, Grandma Christensen, Paula, and others were persistent in that prayer. Finally, as Mom was trapped on a kitchen countertop hanging wallpaper with my Grandma Pete, she responded to the Gospel and accepted Jesus into her life. Not long after, wouldn’t you know it, they were pregnant.

Mom loved my Dad, she loved my sisters and me, our spouses, and our kids. She loved everyone in this room and countless others across the country. Most of all, she loved the Lord. And today she is worshipping Him in heaven. Revelation 21:4 says that God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Mom is not sick anymore, she feels no pain, and her body is perfect. She is in her Father’s house waiting for us to join her some day.