Mothers Story

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Gisela Malwina Benavidez had a full life which began in Konigsberg, Germany where she was born to Max and Emma Frenzel and became a sister to Helga in 1928. Gisela developed her love of water while taking long walks with her father and mother on the Baltic Sea.

In her early years her family moved to Bad Kreuznach, Germany where she flourished in music, sports and art. Despite being horribly dragged by a motorcycle at the tender age of about three, she survived her severe head injury to become an accomplished pianist by age twelve. This was a love and talent she carried with her throughout her life. During her younger school years, she was known for her gymnastics. Taught by her father, Gisela also became a strong swimmer which lead her becoming a lifeguard in her early teens for pools and rivers. She was so grateful for her strength and training when one day two girls were swimming at her assigned community pool and they began drowning. She immediately jumped in the water and saved both girls to the tune of Glen Miller music blaring over the loud speakers. Till the end of her life, she loved big band music and all the wonderful memories the melodies brought her, including saving the two lives.

During World War II, neighbors often took care of Gisela as her mother worked for the Red Cross. Her sister worked on local farms, and her father served in the German Army. In spite of all the suffering before and after the war, Gisela managed to graduate high school and become accomplished in everything from ping pong, skiing to fencing. She was the only young girl in her city allowed to be taught how to fly a sail plane. Sadly with all her talent in sports, World War II interrupted her training for the Olympics.

As the war progressed, Gisela learned the true meaning of kindness and grace as her friends and neighbors both German, Jewish and others shared food and looked out for each other. In her mid teens, she found refuge from war through playing the piano from classical to Boogie Woogie and dancing swing. She also admired American Cinema, especially musicals, and was touched by the protective kindness that some of the American soldiers demonstrated to her.

Gisela came to ballet relatively late in her teens, her many athletic skills opened the door for her to join a national German ballet troupe that toured throughout Germany. The highlight of her experience came at a time when her troupe joined up with the circus. Because most of the performance theaters had been bombed, her company performed their ballets under the Big Top. Her years in the circus taught her all kinds of dancing, trapeze work, tight roping, and bareback riding.

In her early twenties, she returned home to Bad Kreuznach to craft lenses in a factory that specialized in producing a variety of lenses and also as a model for a local photographer. One of her beautiful poses, showing Gisela dancing in a field, was on display in the photographer’s store window and caught the eye of a young American Army soldier, Gilberto Benavidez. Immediately smitten, his detective journey unfolded by finding where the beautiful dancer worked and lived. Singing Spanish and American love songs under her window, he won her heart and earned the respect of her family,to make her his bride. In 1954 Gisela Benavidez stepped off a military plane on the arm of Gilberto and traveled to their new home in Harlingen, Texas.

In her new community, Gisela learned Spanish as well, since this was other main language spoken in the Rio Grande Valley. In Harlingen, she gained new cooking skills which included a variety of Mexican dishes. In turn, Gisela shared with her new family and neighbors her wonderful German baked goods. While living in Texas, she became a nurse’s aide, sharpened her piano playing, enjoyed creative drawing, which she shared with the children in the iron lung machines at the hospital. She also gave birth to her eldest daughter, Cornelia.

Eventually better job opportunities drew the Benavidez family to Michigan. Gisela fell in love with the Great Lakes, the lush trees, and wildlife of the state. Work in factories for her husband brought her to Albion. In  the surrounding area, she loved swimming and/or boating in Duck Lake and Swains Lake. In Albion, she loved watching and feeding the ducks in Reiger park and strolling through Victory Park enjoying the rose garden that was there at the time.

At this point, Gisela and Gilberto (Benny) had their second child, Sylvia. Walking through the pine forests of Michigan brought her sweet memories of Germany and inspired her to share the folk stories and fairy tales of her original country with her children.

Even with two children to raise, Gisela kept stretching her abilities. Her past modeling experience served well, as she was offered a few guest appearances on the Martha Dixon show, a popular local TV show in the early 60’s. Fostering her children’s love of theater in the 70’s, she tirelessly drove them back and forth to rehearsal and helped them learn their lines as well as design and sew their costumes.  Yet, Gisela still found time to write her own classic piano compositions. Beginning in the early 80’s she participated in producing her husband’s radio ministry broadcast in and around Albion.

As her children grew up, she helped make ends meet by doing everything from working with a carpenter to design and build the family garage to driving the limo for Floyd Starr. Gisela also studied for and attained a manicurist license when her kids left for college.

The Benavidez family attended St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Albion. Over her 60 years there, Gisela made sure her children saw her faith in action. She was a trusted friend, loving mother and wife. Some of her quiet ways of service to the church included helping to drive Albion residents to kidney dialysis, organizing regular fellowship meetings, and supplying beautifully decorated cakes for various church functions.

Gisela Benavidez, 87, of Albion and Marshall, Michigan passed away with her loving family by her side on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Left to cherish Gisela’s memory are her husband, Gilberto Benavidez of Albion and Marshall, daughter Cornelia and (John) Benavidez Doyle of McMinnville, OR, daughter Sylvia Benavidez of Albion MI, and Gisela’s nephew Diedrich (Renate) Cornelius of Germany.  She was preceded in death by her father and mother Max and Emma Frenzel, and her sister Helga Cornelius.

Gisela’s family honored her at a private graveside service at Fort Custer in Battle Creek on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. A memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 100 Luther Blvd., Albion, Michigan on Saturday, October 8, 2016 at 2PM.

Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Gisela’s love of Albion to the Local History Room of the Albion District Library, Citizens to Beautify Albion, or the American Stroke Association.

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Four Sons of the Mother

Four Sons of the Mother

 

Who wishes to go a-seeking berries?

Asked the kind young man

Three boys’ heads turned

Fast as owl heads.

Jumping up as one,

“Where shall we go?” they cried.

Happy hands gathered pails

Running feet over meadows sailed

To forest and field this Lammas tide

As the sun made for its rest

Triumphant boys returned well spent

We picked blackberries and late cherries!

Mouths, hands and faces warrior painted

There is so much and more to come!

We will take a bunch home to Mom!

Oh the blessings of Lughnasadh

Corn and grain the fruits of love

Ripe and full in warm air you hovered

Then plucked and joyous gathered

By these four sons of the Mother

A blessing for the table

A blessing on the wood and field

A blessing on their household

A blessing I have seen

I am not the Windmill

    I have been assailed and
    I have been poked by a lighting mage
    Of guilt, self pity and universal rage
    Clawed by winds of mood misunderstood
    I am not the windmill
    I have been left in the eye of the storm
    The cold hail leaves me bruised and alone
    I beg the rain to wash away my sorrow
    That I might be free and warm tomorrow
    I am not the windmill
    When will you be free of that old horse
    That dark rusty chain-mail
    And that sword of stone
    I know you can your dreams for-fill
    I am not the Windmill
    I am not the Windmill
Cornelia Benavidez   2016

The mouths of today

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What is it about this election that has truly brought out the worst in people? I remember as a child comic’s poking fun at polities and my parents with their friends both joking and having deep serious discussions on the issues of the day and the platforms of the various people running for office. Crass and crude remarks were saved for the ears and minds of the beer swill in bars far from reach of children and teens. I really believe that because of the way adults have let it all hang out we are losing our grip on our kids and our nation.. Kids who of course gain access one way or another, now mouth off more then ever. They see a man who by being rich and having media attention gets away with not just being rude but crude as well so why should it surprise me then when these LA media boy stars who are still teens or barely out of their teens openly on a live show quip off “Oh, you just are looking to get you D… sucked” Why Not? I have watched grown people that I respect shed every ounce of dignity they have to say such things like stupid Pu..y to greedy whore on Clinton to casting both Obama and Trump as the minions of Satan. Oh and yes on the few occasions that this has been brought up on talk shows often people cheer and clap in support of this toxic vomit…..WTH….It’s no wonder I watch kids say no biggy at what comes out of their mouth at the least bit of a mood or feeling put upon. They rush to swear or even physically lash out. Adults are not behaving like adults but like teens themselves. Now so many indulge to roll around in the verbal garage till they can’t even think straight. Rome was not build in a day but if ultimately fell in about four. A society loses it’s grip upon itself when it allows it’s culture to degrade and forgets the most basic values of human conduct and manners.

All my Mothers

I was a lucky child and young women because of all the Mothers that I have had in my life. My own mother, my friends mothers, friends that were mothers to me and even the animal mothers. I think of all the women that stepped up.They filled holes and gaps in my life. They were my catcher mitts. They were huggers, kissers and finger shaking butt kickers. They were teachers, best friends and lovers of wisdom. They scooped me up and loved me when I did not know how to love myself. They taught me how to forgive and how to live. Yet, most important of all they taught me how to be a good mother not a wounding mother, but a eye-rolling quirky make you laugh mother. An oh dear what is she up to now Mutti who was and is not afraid to love. Thank you so much to all my mothers. Passing it on best I can….

May Day

May Day Blessing

 

Golden is the sun

Golden is Honey

Golden is the heart of Amber

Golden is the fire

Golden is the bee and

Golden are the flowers

Golden be the mead upon thy lips

Golden be that fiery kiss

Golden is a bright May Day

May all good things light your way