|Hillsdale United Methodist Church|
|Scene from downtown Hillsdale looking east|
|Downtown Hillsdale, MI|
We had to go to Jackson or Adrian to see the movies we preferred, like Remains of the Day. After Walmart moved into the area, other smaller retailers closed. I had to leave town to buy many clothing items, shopping at Jackson, Adrian, and at an outlet mall in Indiana.
Doctors did not stick around very long. Our family doctor left his practice after a lawsuit, and we left the pediatrician because of his inappropriate behavior; he later lost his license.
At least there was a hospital in town, which proved important when our son developed pneumonia in the winter of 1990 when he was three years old. I was up all night with him, resorting to cold baths, but his fever would not go down. In the wee hours of the morning I woke Gary and we took Chris to the hospital, just at the end of our street.
He was hooked up to an IV and almost immediately felt better. He was hauling it around after him, unable to stay in bed. He shared a room with a toddler who was alone most of the day, except for visiting time when his entire family came and sat in the room talking to each other. Chris and I ‘adopted’ the boy. When he stuck his finger into an opening for medical equipment and couldn’t get it out, I alerted the nurses and Chris and I comforted him.
After one night staying in the hospital with Chris, sleeping on a chair, I developed a cough. I was diagnosed with bronchitis and sent home. Jean Elliot, Dorothy Lape, and other ladies from the church came to stay with Chris, singing him hymns and teaching him a prayer.
Chris was angry when we left the hospital without his roommate. He had always wanted a brother, and believed that we had gone to the hospital to bring that baby home.
I was aware how lucky we were that we had medical care to cure our son’s pneumonia, especially since Gary’s grandfather died of pneumonia in 1939.
|Kite flying in the back yard|
|Sand box play|
|Me with the moth|
|Sledding in the back yard|
|Making snow men in the back yard|
|Chris and Gary|
The first fall I joined the choir and handbell choir, led by Janet Lee who had taught music in Clawson, MI; she had replaced my high school choir teacher Denzel Balmer after she left the position. I found I could not deal with handbells. First, I was not used to counting. As a choral singer I read music and noted where I came in by the other parts. And in the small practice room, the sound hurt my ears! I have always had very sensitive hearing.
|Janet Lee, me and Gary|
Children stayed in worship service until the Children’s sermon, after which they left for Sunday School. That first Sunday when Chris was in worship and he saw his daddy walking down the aisle to the front of the church, Chris called out to Gary. He was very upset when his daddy ignored him, complaining and making a fuss. It took some time before Chris accepted that his daddy had a public role and could not be ‘daddy’ during that time. I kept Chris busy by drawing pictures, but he was bored. When the worship committee did a survey several people complained that the pastor’s kid was too distracting. It was a sign that there were communication problems in the church. People did not talk openly to solve issues, but 'gunny sacked' and nursed grudges. As Chris grew older, he started drawing cartoons based on our dog Kili. Kili the preacher. Kili the superhero.
The parsonage was a long, huge ranch. When we moved in we painted it, getting reimbursed for the cost of paint by the church, and wallpapered a kitchen wall. We had brought our portable dish washer from our Philadelphia home, as there was none in the parsonage, and also our new refrigerator since the parsonage one needed replacing. (Looking back, we had saved the church money and yet my request for help on the air conditioning was rejected!)
The linoleum kitchen floor was hopeless. Not only was it ugly, someone had scrubbed it with steel wool and it could not be waxed. When my mother-in-law came to visit, she tried to wax the floor again. It was hopeless. When our son dropped a strawberry on the floor, it left a permanent pink stain!
|The detested kitchen floor!|
Meantime, the church had a beautiful, new fellowship room with a kitchen, grasscloth wall paper, and carpeting, because of a gift. It was nicer than the parsonage kitchen. A later gift was used to redecorate a Sunday School classroom used by the Fifth Grade class I was teaching. It was over-the-top, gaudy, and ornate because it the room was also used by bridal parties at weddings.
|The basement family room with my quilt space and a tv and play space|
Then I joined their unit of the Methodist Women, but I did not fit in well. I dropped out when I was asked to start a new unit for younger adults. There were about 8 or 12 women all in their 20s and 30s, and most were stay at home moms like me. We got to know each other and even had a Halloween party. After a year they decided to join the established groups with the older women.
|I was 'barefoot and pregnant' and Gary a Phillies Fan Mime for Halloween.|
I had a pillow under that apron. Really. And a blond wig.
Gary was in charge of the youth group. The kids loved to have lock-in overnights. One night the kids were running through the church when a boy put his hand through a door window. It was a traumatic experience and the young man was changed by it, becoming more focused and dedicated to his Christian walk.
The older parishioners were very friendly to us, and Chris talked about all his ‘little white haired grandmamas’ who fussed over him and sent him birthday cards. Dorothy Lape invited us to dinner in her home. She had a WWI souvenir handkerchief her father had brought home and asked me to make a quilt with it, which she framed.
|On the sand dune at Warren Dunes State Park|
On Chris's first camping trip he had an adventure he never forgot. He later dictated the story about his adventure to his preschool teacher.
After we arrived and had set up camp, Chris and Gary had gone over the sand dune to see the lake. When they returned, Chris was eager to show me all he had seen. As he ran ahead, leading the way, he slipped off the narrow path and into a dry stream bed. I couldn't reach him and had to leave him while I went back to get Gary. Gary was able to reach Chris and help him out. It was a frightening experience for a four-year-old!
|Warren Dunes State Park where Chris found a hiding place|
|At Old Man River on the Niagara River, Tonawanda NY|
|Lockport, NY, an Erie Canal lock|
|At Ft. Niagara|
|Grand Island, NY Fire Station|
|Gary with Mark and Ellen Hostetter at their retirement home.|
Mark had been senior pastor at Gary's first charge in Morrisville, PA.
|Chris and I at Longwood Gardens. Chris is in a jacket I made.|
|Kili sleeping on Chris' wicker settee|
Gary built Chris a sky fort for the back yard where there had been a garden when we moved in. We had a good garden for several years, but then the deer started eating it all, even the tomato plants!
|The sky fort Gary built|
|Dad and Chris playing Shoots and Ladders|
|Chris went through a dinosaur craze and we often visited a dinosaur park|
in the Irish Hills.
I joined a quilt guild in Jackson, MI, Pieces and Patches. They formed in 1990 and was still quite a small guild, but a delightful group of women. I took over as newsletter editor, and using my experience went after advertisers to make the newsletter pay for itself. When we moved I was told it took three women to replace me! We had a Christmas fabric exchange and I used the fabrics in the guild challenge to make a Christmas quilt incorporating a poem on fabric.
|Christmas Challenge Quilt by Nancy A. Bekofske|
|Dad, Chris and I at the Detroit Zoo|
|Gary's folks, Herman and Laura Bekofske, and Chris|
|Dad, Chris and Tom at Dad's house|
|Kili keeping me company as I quilt|
|Gary, Chris and Kili|
|Chris and Kili looking out the front door window|
The next day a woman from Staff Parish Relations Committee came to Gary’s office to tell him that they were requesting a new pastor. Gary was stunned. There had been no complaints, no discussion with him. He signed the paper in agreement. When the congregation heard about the request, some were incensed and wanted Gary to fight it. People were coming to me, wanting to tell me what so-and-so had said, while others stared at me to see how I was reacting. I would not listen to the gossip but knowing we were talked about behind our backs was hurtful.
Chris was having a great year. Having been jumped a grade in school the previous year, he was now socially settled in and he loved his teacher. Mr. Willoughby taught a unit on Great Lakes Shipwrecks, and Chris found a new interest, collecting and reading the many books written about the Great Lakes Shipwrecks. We kept our feelings and the church troubles hidden from Chris. We did not want him to know what was going on for fear it would turn him against church.
I knew from experience what it was like to leave the only world you knew, and it made me sad for Chris. We had to carry on for ten months, knowing we would be leaving, keeping up appearances. I broke down in the end. Knowing some people disliked us and talked about us was too hard. Plus, we knew the people behind the request had been cold and unsupportive since the beginning.
One of the quilters also turned against Gary. She had been very friendly when we were in choir together, but became cold and snippy. She was an unhappy person who turned against every friend. She felt Gary did not give her the recognition she deserved.
I made a quilt top that represented how Gary and I were experiencing these ten months, our family in crisis and isolated, surrounded by the broken church.
|The quilt top I made representing the broken church|
When Gary was notified that the Bishop and Cabinet had decided on where he would go next we were excited finally to be able to imagine the future. We had seriously considered leaving the ministry—again—but without a house or income and a child, we had no idea how to do that. We put ourselves in God’s hands. When we learned we would be in Lansing, MI, we were excited. We met the church and they were very warm and gracious. The parsonage was so nice and in an amazing neighborhood.
The pastor who had served in Hillsdale previous to Gary had left the ministry. I had heard some snide remarks about his wife ‘not doing anything’ or being a negligent mother because she had a home business. When we went to Lansing for the meet and greet, we met the pastor and his wife at we were to replace. They knew Hillsdale’s previous pastoral family and told me why they had left the church and parish ministry. I was amazed that we lasted seven years! Gary persevered and I just let things roll off me.
|Chris and me|
|Dad, me, Tom, and Chris. Easter Sunday.|
Clair Booth, head of The Quilters, with Gary, Chris and I
in front of the Biblical Sampler quilt Gary received at his going away party