A tribute to Rae

There aren’t many perfect people in the world, if any. We all seem to have our faults.
But in my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege to have close connections to a few “near perfect” people.
The first one was my father, Nicholas Gingerich.
My father wasn’t rich or well-educated, but he was the gentlest, kindest person I could ever imagine. And he had a great sense of humour.
With my hard-working dad, every day was a fun day!
Then there is my aunt, Frances Zuercher Moser from Wooster, Ohio. My aunt by marriage, Frances is good-natured, unflappable, and always smiling.
A few years ago, I questioned my New York cousin, Ruthann: “Does Fran have any faults at all?”
“Not that I know of,” was her enthusiastic reply.
And then there is Rae Hackman, a life-long family friend from my years in Edmonton, Alta. (1957-66).
Rae passed away recently, thus this tribute.
I first met Rae Wenger in 1957 when my husband, Howard, served as pastor at a university church in Edmonton. The students were ready for Howard’s fresh theology and Rae always was involved in the discussions.
Two years later, Howard performed the wedding ceremony of Rae to Lowell Hackman. And in the ensuing years, Howard and I became fast friends of the young couple, and our children grew up together.
Like many women of that era, Rae and I were stay-at-home moms. So we had lots of time to talk on the phone, as well as plan picnics and parties.
During Edmonton’s pleasant summer months, we had supper in the park at least three times a week. In the morning, we would decide which of our friends to invite or just go by ourselves.
Rae, a nurse, was at the park when Howard took one last spin around the cement rim of the toddler’s pool on Alan’s bike before supper. Sadly, Howard crashed and broke his collarbone.
Rae was part of the “emergency crew” with Mary and Karl, a nurse and medical intern.
And it was Rae who called me one frigid winter morning and said, “You didn’t send Vada to school today, did you?”
When I said yes, she informed me that the wind chill was 80 degrees below zero F!
In the long winter months, we ice-skated and went sledding. Sometimes, we would build a fire on the ice and roast wieners for supper.
Other winter evenings, we had elegant buffet dinners with our adult friends–none more elegant than Rae’s!
Rae was a wonderful mother. She always had time for her children. Yet she was not a hovering adult.
When the oldest Hackman child, Kim, was about a year-and-a-half old, the family acquired a dog. A dog that our three-year-old daughter loved.
One time, our daughter came to the living room and reported, “Kim is eating the dog food!”
I immediately jumped up. Rae, on the other hand, just sat there and said, “I imagine he’ll survive.”
That same cool, collected way of dealing with a mini-crisis served Rae well when she became the CEO of a large retirement center for Catholic nuns.
When we visited the facility, it was obvious that Rae was the spark that made the place thrive and be alive.
What a blessing to have had a “near-perfect” friend like Rae!
Every person has some “near-perfect” friends in their lives. Who are yours?

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