Posted by wlebolt
Short, sweet, and to the point. Very German, some would say. And I expect they would be right. Mary Catherine was my maternal grandmother, and had been Grandfather Rilling’s helpmate and companion for nearly 30 years at the time of this writing. Not to mention the mother of his three children. Talk about dedicated! Doesn’t she deserve more than a “To Mary Catherine”?
It was his way, and their way. Not effervescent, not ebullient, not over-flowing, but spare. And what they had, they gave first to the church. Not only Dr. Rilling but also his wife. I imagine the life of the wife of a pastor would be spent at functions and entertaining guests, keeping the kids quiet because “father is working” and generally managing the household so he could attend to “bigger” things.
How different those times were 🙂 When women’s rights debates hadn’t set us to quarreling about the harder task, the bigger contribution, the working in or out of the home. But this dedication, to his wife, certainly signifies to whom – apart from God – he felt indebted.
These days, book dedications are generally more than a name; they are accompanied by a description or a reason why this (or these) were foundational or inspirational or set the tone for the writing of this book. Today there is enumeration that books of that day didn’t have, not because it wasn’t deserved, but because it wasn’t the practice. The name was enough.
And so, as I enter this book, I take this under advisement. It is is my tendency to look through the eyes of my own age and evaluate according to the standards of my day. I want to read, “to My Sweet MC” … “who supported me completely” or “whose dedication to our family has ….”.
Looking back through my “today” eyes, I might be dismissive and prone to judge unfairly. I can hardly help myself because, after all, I do bring me with me whenever I read. And with me comes what I know, what I’ve done, whom I’ve met, what I’ve heard and read, what I’ve been taught and the many layers of cultural biases of my day and age. I don’t apologize for this. But I must recognize it and try to suspend it, or at least apply it responsibly.
Was Dr. Rilling being dismissive to dedicate such a book, the collection of his lifelong work, just “To MARY CATHERINE”? I don’t think so. As I look back into his time, through softened lenses, I read the dedication more like the simple card you attach to a beautifully wrapped gift. Dear Mary Catherine, this is for you.
And so it is with gift cards. I just needed to look at this one through the eyes of love, which seek to understand by standing for a moment in the other one’s shoes. Big shoes, these would have been. Plenty of room for me, the little girl trying on Grandpa’s big wingtips, clonking and stumbling about just trying to keep my balance.
That I hope to do as I advance through these pages.