Cold rain for the funeral of a warm hero

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

By Steve Stricker

“CHARLESTON, MO  – Gertrude Cecilia Renaud Stricker, 95, died peacefully at 7:20 p.m. Feb. 10, 2008, at her home lovingly attended to by her children, Mary Ann, Pat, Paula, and Stephen.

“Born Feb. 6, 1913, in Perryville, MO to the late Henry Louis and Appie Unterriener Renaud, she was a graduate of Charleston High School and St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Cairo, Ill. She was a respected and loved registered nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital and Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston until her retirement in 1978. A member of St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Charleston, she was an active member in numerous church organizations, including the Legion of Mary, founding member of the St. Henry’s Quilt Club, Texas Bend Extension Club, volunteer for RSVP and taught first aid classes for many years. On Oct. 20, 1937, she married Paul Bernard Stricker, who preceded her in death on July 25, 1964.”

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This was part of the obituary I wrote for my hero mom, “Gert” who died four days after her 95th birthday on February 6, yesterday – she would have been 111 years young.  Taking her for lab work and tests a few years previous to her death, a lab tech said, “Pray for her genes!”  I do, every day as my dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 54….

Grandpa and Grandma moved to Charleston from Perryville where they had a small farm in Texas Bend, a few miles outside this small southern Missouri town within sight of the Levee containing the mighty Mississippi River where the soil from flood after flood deposited what we cousins called, “Gumbo” because it was so thick it stuck to your boots like glue and was some of the richest dirt in the world.

My dad was born on Tuesday, August 24, 1909 in Charleston, second born of nine siblings – three brothers and six sisters.  His dad, who he would work for, my grandaddy, born Thursday, June 6, 1878 emigrated from Muenster, Germany as a boy to Charleston and established the first Ford Motor Company and John Deere agency, was president of the Chamber of Commerce for 26 years, very active in the Boy Scouts until his death at age 76 in 1954 a troop I was a member of.

Then after coming close to getting me raised “Gert,” died, four days after her 95th birthday, and two days with me sitting alone with her, holding her hand day and night, not sleeping. 

The funeral was on February 12th.  It was bitterly cold, windy, with freezing rain and falling snow.  The conditions were so severe that the funeral procession could only drive by her grave site to wish her well.  I was in a vehicle with my sister Pat and brother-in-law, Larry.  To say it was “surreal” is a mild statement.  But to me, it was quite fitting as my mom always did things her loving way and I think Mother Earth was protesting that she was gone.

Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary sang – “All we are is dust in the wind…”  On Ash Wednesday, this February 14, Fr. Mark will make a cross of ashes on our foreheads from burned palms of Palm Sunday and say, “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return…”

How do you want to be remembered?  Be aware that me/you are just dust in the wind, gone – be kind, loving, giving, live and teach God’s love!  Never forget that there are four last things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell…for all eternity….

Happy Birthday yesterday, mother – I love and dearly miss you each and every day….

Steve is an Oxford resident and received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (Counseling) from Ole Miss.