NW Horse Source Publisher shares tribute to “A Great Lady”
My mom, Esther Bell, was my first supporter of the idea of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine. She traveled with me to horse events, expos and gave of her time and resources sacrificially. Today, my siblings and I would be celebrating her 99th birthday. So blessed to have had such an incredible mom. Following is a tribute to “A Great Lady” that was read at her funeral written by my sister, Sharon Aller.
by Sharon Aller
I remember living down at Cedarhome next to the church where Dad was pastor, participating in weddings and funerals more frequently than the average child. They must have seemed commonplace to you, but when our turtle died you didn’t dismiss it as a commonplace event. In the midst of gardening, canning and cleaning the church, you took the time to compassionately help us find just the right box and cotton to make a soft coffin for our pet. You helped us pick flowers to grace the “altar” we had created from a crude apple box, and became the audience of one to validate our sense of loss. You somehow managed to maintain the appropriate sense of dignity as David and Bob carefully bore the casket to the area in front of the altar. You managed to ignore the piles of work in the house as Dan and I sorrowfully sang words of God’s comfort and Dick preached eloquently about the life hereafter. We knew you loved us and cared about what was important to us.
I remember all the picnic lunches and tea parties that magically appeared on the finest of china for crowds of neighbor kids that were a constant reality in our home as long as I can remember. With six children who each had three or four friends at all times the house was full. Somehow you managed to have cookies or cinnamon rolls that appeared out of nowhere to make our adventures special. We knew you were a caring person who loved to serve others.
I remember the way you would join us in our sense of fun and practical joking, helping right down to the last detail. There was the time we wanted to trick Mr. Knudson, our aging and gullible next door neighbor. You dug into a box of old dresses to find one the right size for Bob, and made sure it was filled out in all the appropriate places. You chose the right hat and handbag to match an old pair of heels to complete the outfit. All the time, you were laughing and alive with the anticipation of the moment we would appear before the neighbor to introduce him to our Aunt Nellie from New York. You stood with camera in hand to record the moment forever. We knew you had a great sense of humor and loved playing.
Then there were all those special performances and appearances that each of us made, and somehow you managed to celebrate with a sense of newness that made us feel like we were one of a kind. I remember my induction into eighth grade honor society. You stayed up half the night before that special event to sew a beautiful floral taffeta dress with a wide pink cumberbun. I walked up to receive my honors knowing you were the kind of mother who would rise to any occasion.
I remember when we were all in high school, five teenagers in a small three-bedroom home with one bathroom. You managed to find a way to make room for two more high school friends who needed a home away from home. This was great fun for all of us – more friends, more laughing and more excitement, but you were the one who did most of the cooking and laundry! You even agreed to take a homeless young man as your son when you had great reservations about the wisdom of our requests. You managed through the piles of laundry and your work with Dad for CEF to keep a smile and a sense of humor. You not only talked about the right thing to do, but you provided a pattern of loving, serving and caring.
Just when you were beginning to see an end to the organized chaos you seemed to thrive under, you discovered that another small blessing was on the way. We watched you embrace the unexpected blessing with enthusiasm and hope. When a baby girl was born, you were thrilled, and so was I. You suddenly had more help than you needed socializing the new addition to the family. Karen was an enthusiastic learner. The boys were at the stage of development where the female anatomy was foremost on their mind. Not thinking of the outcome, they taught Karen to poke anyone in the chest and say “beep”. It was all fun and games until Grama Bell arrived picked her up and placed her on her lap. When the inevitable beep occurred, prim and proper Grama Bell was mortified at the depraved state of such a young child and placed her on the floor in a huff. You properly reprimanded the culprits and somehow managed to keep your sense of humor through it all.
Time passed, we grew up, got married and started our families. You became “grama” to Mariah and Matt and a host of other grandkids. You loved your new role. You were always there when life with babies crying all night seemed overwhelming. You came to my side once again to nurse me to health through surgeries and medical challenges. Some things, I thought, never change, and I was truly grateful. You never seemed to tire or grow older. I knew God had carved out a special place in life when he made you.
Times changed, seasons passed and one of the greatest men I have ever known passed on as well. I can remember you at the memorial service in your gray wool suit singing, with tears in your eyes “It is Well With My Soul”. I knew your heart was aching, but in those moments, I saw a woman who could stand tall and graceful in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.
In the last few years I have watched you struggle to make sense out of your life that seemed to be half torn away. You have had to stand alone as never before. Yet you have managed to continue to grow and reach for new levels of understanding. I watched you let go in the midst of questions and fear to trust that somehow God was in the middle of each challenge. I watched you evaluate your ideas and search for new ways of looking at life right along with us. I knew you were a woman of faith!
In the past couple of years I have watched all that I experienced and observed over my lifetime come together in a new and meaningful way. In spite of it all, or maybe because of it all and your response to it, you grew stronger, your faith was tried and endured and your love for God grew deeper.
I can imagine you right now finding the kitchen in one of mansions up there so you could fix a sandwich for Dad and asking at least three times if everyone has had enough to eat except for Dad of course who I am sure you have back on his perpetual diet.
Today, as we celebrate your life, We are truly thankful that God gave us such a loving and nurturing mother!