January 23, 2013
As each of us looks back over our life, there are people who rise up in our minds as having extraordinary influence on us, whether they know it or not. For me, one of those women is my Aunt Marti. She died this month, yet as I’ve written before, the way she lived spoke volumes about her character. At funeral services honoring her life, the minister beautifully referenced the Old Testament story of Elijah and Elisha, and confirmed that the greatest gift we could ask the Lord for in relation to Marti is for a Double Portion of her Spirit. She. Was. Incredible.
I delivered the eulogy for Marti on behalf of the Siegrist family…quite a task to represent the memories of 12 siblings and their families. I tried to honor her as best I could with the following…
Siegrist Family Tribute to Marti Rill
It is my honor and privilege to pay tribute to my Aunt Marti — my mother Joanne’s sister — on behalf of the Siegrist family. When you come from such a large clan, there are hundreds of memories that bubble up, especially of someone as beloved as Marti. We can’t do them all justice here, but there are themes that emerge from our memories of Marti…
The first is of Marti, the Intellectual
- Perhaps known earliest as a bookworm — even as a young girl, Marti was the attentive scholar, the daughter with glasses. She was the math geek early on, studious well beyond her siblings, with a desire for learning that lasted her whole life.
- From the moment she first wanted to teach, Marti did what it took to pursue a degree. And sure enough, she ended up teaching Math at Carlisle High School for 36 years, where her impact was felt every day by overachieving and lazy highschoolers alike.
- My brother Tim remembers how proud Marti was when he pursued a High School teaching career in Math. Marti mentored him, connected him with others, and gave him invaluable career advice.
- Of course, it is only fitting that it was in graduate school at Shippensburg University, among all the Computer Science elite, where Marti met the love of her life and her soulmate, Morris.
- Together, they not only geeked out, but they pursued a sort of renaissance life that fed that love of learning she’s always had — she continued to teach for quite some time, and they even farmed together. Who can forget all those chicken houses?! (And she never complained!)
- And when it came to art and culture, architecture, and design, Marti and Morris always had an interesting project on which they were working or had a trip story to share. Together, they truly lived life to the fullest.
- Morris, this Siegrist family is so grateful to you for taking such loving care of Marti. It is a powerful example to all of us.
Next, we remember Marti the Determined Trailblazer
- In thinking broadly about Marti’s life, we can’t ignore the trends she set and the way she, as a single woman in the 70s,unabashadly followed her dreams.
- Early on for Marti, career options were narrow and the road to college was not easy; however, it was SHE who broke the mold in the family, showing tremendous guts and determination just to get to college.
- She is the reason that Mary was both brave and able enough to do likewise. And Larry said it was Marti’s example and encouragement that gave him the confidence to attend college.
- Marti was a modern single woman. She wasn’t afraid to travel far from Pennsylvania. When she decided to study in Honolulu, Hawaii for a year on her own, brothers Clair and Larry, and nephew Jeff happily visited her. While Marti hit the books, the boys thoroughly enjoyed Hawaiian afternoons, hangin’ with the Sumo Wrestler on Waikiki Beach.
- And when she returned East with pounds of macadamia nuts and Hawaiian coffee, Marti was hands down the coolest person in the whole family.
- Today, her adventurous spirit — even her early missionary work – is embodied in so many of the next generation “Siegrist kids” – Jolene… Michael… Hannah… Heidi… Melanie.. who have been unafraid to travel the world, living lives for Jesus.
- As we think about Marti’s single life, a few things always make us smile.. Her funky attic apartment with the swinging chair and Billy Joel playing on the radio.
- And that sassy little white Toyota Celica… One of our most vivid memories of that car is of when Marti forgot to apply the emergency break on Les and Joanne’s VERY steep driveway. As she joyfully walked into the house, everyone saw that behind her, the car was picking up steam, rolling backwards down the driveway! We all panicked. And Joanne, in her take charge sort of fashion yelled “Les, get it!” Miraculously, there was ultimately NO hard done to any human — or Toyota — in that crazy escapade.
- These are little memories, little snippets, but we treasure them as we think of her.
- Even as she was on the vanguard in so many ways, Marti was never a rebel. She just had a distinct determination and independence — fueled by passion and talents. Marti’s abiding faith covered everything she did.
- And even when she assumed the role of a wife and mother, marrying another strong willed individual, Marti showed us how to gracefully balance many heavy loads, even how to choose her battles wisely. She ALWAYS chose wisely.
Finally…. We remember Marti as Kind, Thankful and Full of Grace
- Perhaps what comes to mind most when we think of Marti is her genuine kindness.
- There is a reason everyone speaks so highly of Marti — she always selflessly showed interest in others. Genuine interest. As a true left AND right brained person, she could move gracefully from holding all the babies to EVEN talking code and computer languages with my husband Rob. She had it ALL covered.
- As recently as last week, Marti held tightly to Jon and Kari’s baby Gwyneth for nearly 45 minutes, peacefully enjoying this new beautiful life. Although she didn’t say much, she whispered to them, “I wonder if Mim knows that I’m holding her granddaughter.”
- When Janet also became sick this year, she and Marti cared beautifully for each other.
- Gene, also struggling with his own illness, took special encouragement from Marti’s bravery and grace.
- As Irv and Lucy both noted, from the beginning of her diagnosis and ever since, Marti spoke of her dependence on God AND her thankfulness to God for each day He had given her.
- This past summer, shortly after she and Morris had much of the Siegrist family to their river house, I called to thank her. Of course, she was preparing to host guests yet again. Hosting, giving… even though that same week, the doctor brought the sobering news that call to Hospice might soon be a good idea.
- She shared with me that that the whole situation seems very surreal at times.. simultaneously planning your death…and remodeling your house…one day feeling strong… the next day unable to keep anything down.
- Yet as I heard from the entire family, Marti always thanked God for the life he gave her. It didn’t take her long to move from asking God “why me?” to — amazingly — “Why not me?”
- Somewhere during Marti’s illness she gave the devotional book “Jesus Calling” to each of her sisters and wrote a little note in the front. The book’s single emphasis is on listening to Jesus and trusting his words to us.
- The book particularly lifted Mary’s faith after her mother-in-law Betty’s passing.
- And the impact has even moved beyond the “in-laws.” Carole has passed the book along to her family and close friends.
- And Don, who picked up the book one day out of curiosity, found the signature verse of that day to be the very one to which Mim clung during her illness a decade ago. The verse: Phillippians 4:6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in all things, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, now, it’s our turn. We — her family, all of us – honor Marti best when we learn from her example AND apply it to our own lives. Fully Trusting God and his faithfulness. Embracing each day as a gift. Walking with Jesus…Gracefully. Beautifully. Unashamed.
We love you Aunt Marti. And we cannot wait to see you again.
January 9, 2010
Both before and since I’ve had children, few things have driven me as crazy as the debate over “motherhood VS. work.” Seems that our polarized nation of Democrat/Republican, stay at home/work outside the home, feminist/NOTfeminist language forces us too often in one camp or the other. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve felt alone on one side of the discussion around women’s roles.
Post college, I could not get enough Naomi Wolf and Katie Roiphe, not because I agreed with everything they preached in their new wave of feminism, but because they were talking a language that was relevant to my generation. They had a refreshing honesty about female independence. Yet it seemed completely devoid of any faith perspective.
Then I met Lilian Calles Barger. Not only did she bridge the world of intellectual feminism and faith together for me, but she refused to be trapped into all the big church-based questions that so many in my world got stuck on — “Can women lead in the church?”, “What is their proper ”role’?, etc. She rightly pointed out that so many in the faith community are navel gasing and talking amongst themselves — yet have nothing to offer to the broader academic community when it comes to feminism and its tenants. She dared to ask, “Why would (or should) we recommend wholesale rejection of feminist ideals without engaging thoughtful feminist academics on the basis of ideas?”
It’s Lilian who’s worked tirelessly to create a third way of feminism and faith discussion that avoids preaching, platitudes, and easy answers. Classic Lilian….in one of her blog entries from the summer:
“ Why can’t we get beyond this dicotomy between motherhood and work? Women, like men, have been created for two God given purposes, relationships and creative work. They are NOT mutually exclusive.”
Since she founded the Damaris Project in 1997, she has launched salons across the country to create forums for open, honest discussion about culture and feminism. Lilian has also gone on to write books on our view of the body and the role or experience of Christian feminism. I love her unending quest for Truth.
August 1, 2009
It’s pretty tough to write a blog post on something as sobering as cancer while listening to the Black Eyed Peas “Alive”….BIDIA (But I’ll do it anyway), as I document what’s going on in our family on my mother’s side.
Thought her ovaries are now gone, thanks to a scheduled hysterectomy, my mother has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will begin chemo in three weeks. My aunt Marti was diagnosed earlier this year with a form of abdominal cancer. And my aunt Eva was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year about this time…All of these different forms, each of these various stages and all discovered in different ways. Not since my Aunt Mim’s illness and death roughly 6 years ago has something like this hit our family so directly, yet never so frequently.
Genetics? Environmental? As of now, we don’t know. We’ve asked all the questions and will continue to ask more as my mom’s, my aunts’, and perhaps even my own path unfolds. We’ll study the disease, meet with the specialists at Johns Hopkins Ovarian Cancer Center, pray for healing — for all 3 women I mention, and seek peace amidst suffering.
The only thing I know for sure right now is that grace can sustain these women, all followers of Christ, all deeply loved not only by us (their family), but by the Creator of the Universe. My friend Sara Sicks, who wrote so beautifully and honestly on suffering last year as she was going through chemo for breast cancer, has summed it up in one of her posts…she says, “It is through the crucible of suffering that we can change and slowly become more beautiful ….. May God have his way with us so that we turn into the people we were meant to be, people who are joyful and satisfied with our place in God’s family (we are his beloved!).”
May we truly feel ALIVE… Indeed, ” I’ve got so much love….I’ve got so much love..”
December 26, 2008
Happy New Year! It’s the day after Christmas and for me that is New Years day. My birthday. The day that feels less like a birthday and more like starting fresh day, cleaning up from the Holiday (even though it is still the height of the season) and taking stock in my last year of life, planning for the next. This year i turn 38. That is officially late 30ths; certainly not early and no longer borderline mid-30ths. Late 30ths. Big deal? No, just a fact.
So, let’s get right to the point…Why a TonyaKlause.com? Probably a bit narcassistic? Perhaps…But how is this really different from a Facebook page? If you already know me, you’ve probably followed House of Klause, launched in 1999 long before more people knew the meaning of the word blog….as our family has grown, it turned into something much different than my personal blog — it now, rightly, feels more like a family album/documentation of growing kids. TonyaKlause.com — a more well-suited forum for my expertise and interests. In these pages you won’t get away from the occasional kid picture — but you’ll hear ad naseum about the other loves of my life – God, Rob, Graham, Mia, coffee, Louis Vuitton (read: style search), all things digital, girlfriends, work, and whatever else might emerge through our conversation…