Remembering Grace…

by DanWolgemuth on August 31, 2018

Yesterday would have been Grace Wolgemuth’s 102 birthday. Perhaps they celebrate them in Heaven. Certainly, they have reason to celebrate Grace. Her life and love tugged me back to a Fragment that I wrote shortly after her death in 2010…

It was typically the east side door on the Wheaton Evangelical Church where we would wait. My dad, sitting in the driver’s seat, my sister Debbie beside me, and a vacant passenger seat… reserved for Grace.

My dad traveled extensively, and while he loved our church, he was never one to hang around the narthex. He was often on relational overload by the time Sunday rolled around, so mingling just wasn’t a part of the mix.

To be honest, I’m not sure that I would consider Grace to have been an extravert; she was just vibrant, authentic, approachable, warm, sensitive… in other words, a magnet. A magnet that tugged her away from the passenger seat of the meticulously clean car that Sam had waiting for her. People loved Grace, and there was a price to pay for that love.

My father was many wonderful things, but waiting patiently outside the east door of the Wheaton Evangelical Free Church was a test for him. At a certain point he would look to the back seat and instruct me to re-enter the church building and “rescue” my mother. He was quite certain that she was aware that we were waiting for her, but her present “captivity” was something that would require outside intervention.

And so I would find her… most often surrounded; sometimes by the teenaged girls that she taught in Sunday School (that might have been why I volunteered to go search her out), or by a young mom who was looking for advice… but she was always surrounded. Always.

Always smiling. Always deeply engaged. Always oozing warmth. Grace Wolgemuth wasn’t perfect, but she most certainly lived in that zip code. Godly. Good. Winsome. Even naïve at 60, 70 and 80 years old. Always expecting and assuming the best. Always.

I would nudge her, just like a good sheep dog, toward the exit door; always respecting the fact that the circle around her felt blessed, and to some extent sacred. My father notwithstanding, I wasn’t about to interrupt what were clearly Holy moments.

Eventually we would press through the door at the side of the church, sometimes with individuals following us out just so they could wrap up one last sentence.

Grace would slide, ever so gracefully, into the passenger seat… and Sam seemed content now. Not bugged, not frustrated, just whole again because Grace was beside him.

On February 5, 2002 my father passed into glory… and quite frankly he’s been waiting by the east door for Grace ever since. On March 17, 2010 the wait ended.

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