Our mother, Evelyn Roepke Blumer, is the product of a two-story, stucco farmhouse near a wandering creek and nestled between fields of waving wheat and sunflowers in central Kansas. The brick church wasn’t far from the family homestead and wasn’t far from their lives and mom’s upbringing.
The word I have for mom is caretaker. Her dad was the first in the region to terrace farm land to preserve the soil. He cared for God’s resources and went from being the joke of neighbors to receiving national recognition for his innovative farming practices. Her mom was the caretaker of the kids and grandkids, but is probably best known for being the caretaker of amazing flower gardens.
Grandpa Roepke died of heart failure and, as mom says, would have lived much longer with today’s technology. I remember so clearly that mom was folding clothes in our living room, sunlight shining through the window on the laundry basket and mom was crying. When I asked why she said her dad had died, and he was 61. I thought that was really old – but I don’t think that anymore. Grandma lived until 102 and while her body failed her, grandma’s mind was sharp until the end.
Evelyn is a caretaker, born of caretakers. Here’s some things you may not know:
- She is an avid reader. I’d put up her list of books read against about anyone. Mom also likes to read the sequence of books from one author. Mom continues to have a pile of books checked out from the library. She never pushed us to read. She modeled and talked about books and created in us a desire to follow suit.
- Like many kids of her era, she lived in town with a family during the week to attend secondary school and came home to the farm on weekends.
- Mom graduated from Westmar College with majors in Religion and Home Economics. Guess she was destined to be to a preacher’s wife – involved in the church and prepared for potlucks. Pretty sure she also took choral directing.
- While attending a baseball game, a bat slipped out of the batter’s hand and found mom’s eye. She had pretty “colorful” face.
- She had a fear of snakes so we’d cut pictures of snakes and slip them into her books to hear her scream. Put plastic mice in the oven once. Preheating the oven made them more smoky than scary.
- Mom stepped in to care for grandkids of my siblings for some long stretches. Always looked forward to attending games or events of family, and they continue to drive miles to be part of all of our lives.
- She always hated letters that came addressed – Mrs. Rev. Blumer.
- The only job I remember her having outside the home was being a secretary in two school systems. She did have a weekly community column in a small town newspaper https://parsonageparables.com/2014/01/24/calling-around-the-community/
- Being a pastor’s wife is not easy. Caring for the family of a pastor is not easy.
- For a Home Ec major, mom never liked cooking much. Her egg pancakes (crepes) were always a treat. She still denies it, but mixing the ends of the cereal boxes and trying to slip in powdered milk led to mini-revolts.
- Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve had iris plants around the house. Original ones were from grandma.
- Evelyn has been quietly passionate about mission. They have hosted missionaries from around the world. Even into her 80’s she helps organize a mission kit program. She’s been very generous to mission from local to global.
- There has never been a time that we’ve doubted her love for us. That she is interested in our lives and supportive of our paths.
The caretaker born of caretakers has taken care of us and many others.