In college Rosie wrote the skits, worked in the kitchen and at the front desk switchboard, studied French, and kept us all laughing most of the time. Sally, one of our suite mates, wrote me last night: “We have so many happy memories, don’t we? In some ways it just seems like yesterday that we walked the hallways of East Hall and trekked through waist-deep snow until curfew, only to be stopped by the night watchman in our attempt to get back into the building. I just remember that Rosie was laughing so hard.”
By the end of her junior year, the foreign language chair told Rosie she had learned about as much French as she could in the classroom. So the girl with the fierce Brooklyn accent headed to France that summer to work for a pittance at a rustic camp’s kitchen. I remember her letters telling about the French girls who thought her the strange one for using deodorant and heading for the stream to take a bath every night. When she reported to the kitchen the first day, the head chef told her roasted chicken was the evening meal — and then gave Rosemarie two chickens with necks wrung but heads and feathers still attached. My roommie, the next Julia Childs!
After graduation Rosie moved from the camp in France to the classroom where she taught French and English classes. As you can see from the photo, she later moved easily into her grandma role.
Inside her soul, and despite all the rules at Houghton, Rosie never got caught up in the pitfalls of legalism. Take, for example, her college view of eschatology and the rapture that fueled many a college debate! When we roomed together for two years, she told me that if she awoke in the upper bunk and saw me missing but on my way upward, she’d grab my foot and ride into heaven hanging on! “What are you talking about?” asked the Presbyterian? Rosie knew her loving Jesus would receive her and take her home to heaven on His timetable. Why worry about the details?
I just read a Tim Keller quote that speaks to Rosie’s viewpoint:”Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy based repentance males us hate the sin.”
God would use Rosie’s upbeat personality to carry her through mission field disappointments, her daughter’s childhood battle with leukemia, and her own “gloves off” encounter with the cancer. How many years did Rosie battle with this disease? Somewhere in 40 years of letters, emails and Christmas cards, I lost count. But I do know that she endured not one, but two bone marrow transplants at the Mayo Clinic.
Autumn’s canvas of colors calls me to remember some of the most beautiful people God has allowed me to meet here on earth. So while Dave turns over the soil in the flower garden in preparation for next season’s brightly colored flowers, I’ll just keep turning over the memories of Rosie. If you knew her, you’ll laugh; if you never knew her here on earth, I pray her life will inspire you to look to her Jesus, the one who carried her through the hard times right into His loving arms.