A Life Well Lived: Norita
I have such fond memories of my Aunt Norita! I recall how much fun it was to go spend a few days there in her and Uncle Chet’s house in Springdale. It seems like we spent quite a bit of time down in Arkansas at Chet and Norita’s place. This was partly due to our relative proximity, as we were living in central Missouri — but also very significantly, they lived next door to my grandparents, my Dad’s mom and dad.
I remember two things most about Norita:
- She loved to cook! And cook! And cook! In her house, you awoke to the smells of bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits, etc. Then, there was a good sized lunch, with lots of fresh veggies right out of her large garden. Top it all off with a huge and delicious, traditional country dinner. Then, this started all over again the next day. No one ever went hungry around Norita!
- Norita loved me! She was such a caring and loving person. Whenever I was around her, I never had a doubt that she cared deeply for me, and about me. As I grew older, I realized that Norita and I had very different belief systems — she and Chet were deeply religious evangelicals, while I was raised in a much more liberal tradition. Really, once I left for college, myself (and all my siblings) mostly left behind church going and structured spirituality. But, Rita never wavered in her love for us all. Her faith was a defining characteristic, but her love was never exclusionary. Whenever I was in her presence, I felt loved!
I remember one moment that really defined this all inclusive faith and love. We were at the celebration after my brother’s wedding. Aunt Norita was there, as were most of her kids and her grandkid. Ryan was quite young at the time, but SO cute. Rita’s faith did not condone dancing. Yet, she was so happy to see me sweep Ryan up and dance with him, out on the dance floor. (Melinda and Ken, Ryan’s folks, were also both deeply religious — and not in favor of dancing — but also seemed happy to see my interactions with their son. Of all her kids, Melinda most embodies the love and acceptance that defined Rita.)
Loving without judgement and without limits. This defined the way that Norita approached her life.