Her name is Margaret Hildegard Schnell. Schnell means “quick” in German. She has a fast mind. She’s still fast in cards. She was deadly in ping-pong and horseshoes. She seemed to know what was going on at home, even when we thought we had effectively kept her in the dark.
She was born on October 21, 1926, the daughter of German immigrants. Her parents wanted to escape the wars of Europe and the horrible inflation of Germany in 1922. Her father had experienced first hand the horrors of the trenches and gas warfare in World War I. So, like many others, they risked everything, left their families and came to America. Their names are inscribed on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island.
Of the three children—all girls, Margaret was the youngest. Her parents opened a bakery in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. The family lived upstairs and the bakery was downstairs.
Her childhood sweetheart became her husband. When she started dating him, (he was a milk man who delivered milk to the bakery), she would leave bakery treats for his early morning run. And he would leave chocolate milk!
She had a wonderful spiritual heritage. Her grandmother was a godly woman. Her mother was a cheerful, spiritual dynamo with a strong trust in Christ.
Margaret made her own faith commitment to follow Christ in high school. Since then her life verse has been Proverbs 3.5-6. It is a verse she taught me when I was small. “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.” She was the first person to explain the gospel to me.
She married in 1947. This year she is coming up to her 63rd wedding anniversary. If you ask her the secret of her marriage it is that she and her husband are best friends.
She has been a committed mother, home maker, grandmother, and now great grandmother. She has been a huge pillar of stability in the home, especially when her husband served in a very public leadership role. She made the home a haven.
Children have always been a huge part of her life. Not only did she raise four boys of her own, but she has nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
What kind of impact did she have? Of her three sons who had children, each of them named one of her grand children after her. Humm. Let’s see. There’s an Erika Margaret, a Katelyn Margaret, a Julianna Margaret, and Isabella Renee Margaret!
As a stay-at-home mom, she was there when we needed her. Growing up as a teen I can remember her taking me out for lunch often, just to let me talk. And that’s important for a teenager.
If Oscars were given for grand mothering, her shelves would be full of them!
She still loves–gardening, cooking, hospitality , piano, serving in church, and baking. Her pies could win prizes. She never forgets a birthday or anniversary. She has been great game player. While she is a merciful person in real life, she shows no mercy in family games of Parcheesi!
She has often opened the doors of her home to others. Along with my dad, she has been the promoter and organizer of countless family gatherings and traditions—including three huge Summer picnics (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day). This still take place in her 80s!
She carries herself with a sweet, gentle, quiet spirit. She is not impressed by big names, famous people, money, new cars, or Presbyterian pastor-sons who wear robes! She still maintains a simplicity that stems from her German Brethren background.
She is the heart of our family. Her life can be summed up in a few choice words: Faithful, loyal, kind, committed, and available.
Besides all of that, she still prays for me every day and has long been one of my prayer partners.
In a day and age when committed motherhood seems to be headed for the endangered species list, I am thankful this Mother’s Day for having been blessed with a great mom!