A Celebration

Henry and Margaret Froese, a couple in my and Albert’s Life group, threw a fortieth wedding anniversary bash last night.  The group commissioned me to record a few memories we’ve made with Henry and Margaret through the years so that we could present them as a reading at the celebration.  So I wrote it.  Then we nabbed Albert to read it.  We always make Albert do the scary stuff.

With Henry and Margaret’s permission, I’m sharing it here as well for the benefit of those who know this wonderful couple and to introduce them to those of you who don’t.

 

Hello, my name is Albert Wall.  I, together with my wife, Tina, Pete and MaryAnne Harms, Maria Froese, Jake and Nettie Thiessen, George and Hilda Peters and Dave and Esther Dyck make up Henry and Margaret’s life group.  The purpose of a life group is to get together about once a week to study, pray, fellowship and eat together.  And that’s what we do.  Some of those things aren’t always easy for all of us, like sharing the stuff we struggle with or praying out loud.  We’ve got the eating thing down pat.

As the years go by, we find ourselves spending more and more time together.  One evening a week is rarely enough for all the things we want to do.  This shows itself when an odd assembly of motorcycles with everything from Goldwings to sport bikes to CAN AM Spyders in it go tearing up #3 highway on Sunday afternoon, or when a few hurried text messages exchanged at seven on Friday can round up the group for ice cream at Studers by eight.  Outings like this, along with stories we exchange throughout the week which turn into inside jokes give us lots of precious and funny moments with Henry and Margaret along the way.  We’d like to share a few with you.

Henry Froese

Dr. Froese

We all know that Henry’s a truck driver, but not many would guess that he moonlights as a cosmetic surgeon when he’s not on the road.  In the morning after breakfast on our last camping trip, he proposed a treatment for the warts on my hands, which, he assured me, would fix the warts for good.  I agreed, so Henry disappeared into his motor home, then reappeared wielding an electric grinder that he’d borrowed from Abe Froese for this very purpose.

He applied the grinder to the warts and bore down.  The grinder screeched and groaned; Tina looked as though she might pass out, but the warts refused to budge.  He laid the grinder aside and went to them with a pair of shears.  Once blood gushed freely from my fingers and pooled in the grass below, they were ready for Henry’s special ointment.

For this, he ushered me round to the side of Pete and Maryanne’s motor home and removed the panel to the battery compartment.  Then he poked a twig into the battery acid and applied it to my sawed-off warts.  Once they bubbled and turned black, Henry declared the operation a success.

Had Henry been a licensed physician, Tina might have been tempted to sue him – the warts grew back bigger and tougher than ever before.  Fortunately, she knows that Henry performed his unorthodox surgery with the best of intentions, even if he enjoyed it just a little too much.

Hilda feels a special connection to Margaret.  They share gentle, peace-loving personalities, but they’ve also experienced something that you and I may not have: that baffled feeling you get when the lawn mower is running and the wheels are turning, but no grass comes out.

Margaret Froese

Margaret Froese

This happened most recently to Margaret.  She set out to mow the grass like any other day.  As the tractor rumbled along, however, she noticed a strange difference.  The lawn was of a good length to be cut, yet only a few blades of grass blew out from under the deck.  She drove on, considering this.  She turned to look behind the tractor.  She turned again to look in front.  There was no discernible difference between the lawn she had cut and the lawn she had not!  She bobbed along, pondering the dilemma this presented.  To keep driving when almost nothing seemed to happen seemed unreasonable, but where to stop?  What if the mower had shaved just enough grass to make the yard look patchy if she stopped?  By the time she made up her mind, she had driven over almost every square foot of lawn.  Then she glanced down at her gears and noticed a subtle difference from the way they looked when she normally mowed:  the mower, although fully engaged, had never been lowered to meet the grass.

She thought about starting all over again, then decided against it.  She drove the tractor to the shop, parked it and chalked the whole shemozzle up to old age.

George claims that he and Henry also have something unusual in common: they’ve both dined on cuisine that most people wouldn’t dream of putting in their mouths – knowingly at least.

Henry came indoors one day, looking for something to eat.  Margaret happened to be in the middle of a project, so she told Henry to take some food she had prepared for him out of the fridge for his lunch.  Henry obliged and began to eat.  He chewed thoughtfully for a while, then asked,

“Why does this food taste funny?”

“Hush”, said Margaret, absorbed in her work.  “Just eat it.”

Henry, rarely one to let food go to waste, obeyed his wife and continued to eat.

Margaret happened to glanced over at Henry’s plate.  Her work forgotten, she jumped up, crying, “Don’t eat that!”

“Why not?” asked Henry.

“Oba Mensch”, said Margaret, “you’re eating dog food.”

 

************

We’ve laughed lots with Henry and Margaret through the years, but we’ve witnessed their hearts breaking, too.  When Ellie died five years ago, the group rallied around them.  We were helpless to carry out the thing we wanted most to do, that is, to take away their pain, but we wrapped them in as much love and care as we could.  Perhaps no one was better equipped to do this than Pete and MaryAnne, who also know firsthand the pain of losing a beloved daughter.

Henry and Margaret, we thank God for blessing you with forty precious, jam-packed, love-crazy years of marriage.  We thank you for allowing us to celebrate them with you.  May the Lord grant you many more as you walk with him.  May your love for him and for each other grow sweeter with each passing year, and may pet food in the fridge always be clearly labeled.

We love you.

Henry&Margaret riding

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