Once again the shroud of death cloaks our family, as my dear sister-in-law, Carol, wife to Arnold, left this world for heaven at 5 am Sunday.
There are so many things I remember about Carol.
- Her beautiful smile when I first met Carol at Fresno Pacific College (now University).
- Trips we took together, both before and after her stroke. The meaningful conversations over meals as we saw new parts of our country and world.
- Her business sense as she owned and managed Decor Party Supplies in Hutchinson, Kansas for many years, until a life-changing stroke ten years ago led to the closure of the business.
- Carol made beautiful cakes, and taught cake-making classes at Decor. She made several family celebratory cakes.
- After my first husband, Jerry, passed away, Arn and Carol, Bob and Sheila came with me to a condo we owned in Mexico. We had fun trying Mexican cuisines from different areas. One night, at Adobe, I had my first chicken mole. Fabulous. Some mariachis came to sing a love song at our table and I began to weep, my head in my hands. Carol put her hand on my arm, expressing her understanding and love.
It took Arnold either three days or three dates to determine this was the woman with whom he wanted to spend his life. He’d dated quite a bit, so I had my questions about how serious this really was. And frankly, I was jealous. Arn and I were close, both at the same college at the same time. When I had a question or a knotty issue to untangle, I’d walk with my brother who gave a listening ear and wise counsel. Now he was enamored of this lovely woman and less available to me!
But Carol was a keeper. The first time Arn brought her to meet my parents, my father said something like, “Hold onto this one.”
There was a short time when both “Carol Froeses” (she and I) lived in San Jose and applied for work with a temp agency. Whenever the call came for Carol Froese, we’d ask “which one”? That’s kind of a tough question for an uncommon name.
She became mother to Nicholee and Jerram, and mother-in-law to Emily. Grandma to Coral, Calum, Diego, Izabella and Asa.
Carol had a heart for service, both to her community and to the world. For many years she coordinated the Sterling, Kansas Thanksgiving meal for the entire town. Carol was organized, efficient, a good leader.
She and Arn took several trips (taking students from his college classes) to Honduras, where they made deep and lasting friendships. They have continued to give support, especially in rebuilding after some of the past years’ devastating hurricanes. Their adopted family, Manuel and Flor, named their daughter Carol in honor of “Grandma Carol,” while Arnold tutors young Denzel in writing via email.
About ten years ago, Carol suffered a stroke. The doctor told Arn immediately that this was a life-altering stroke. Carol worked hard, with Arnold’s help, to regain as much mobility as possible and did very well with a walker for quite a few years before her health began to deteriorate.
Carol lost most function over the last year. Arnold was beside his wife of 55 years the whole way, feeding her, preparing her for bed, dressing her, managing her medications, and much much more.
Don and I visited Arn and Carol three and a half weeks ago, and were so grateful for our time together. Carol was quiet, head tilted to one side. A precious moment was when I gave her a long hand massage. Not much speech. Just love.
Carol is whole again. She was a loving and lovely gift to our family, and I will miss her. But I anticipate seeing her again when my call comes. There is an eternity awaiting us, and Jesus has offered us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through his death and resurrection, paying the price for our walking away from God.