Thursday, June 9, 2022

My mom, Esther Denise Sobering, died on May 31, 2022.

Many of you on Instagram asked to know more about her.  I wrote her obituary the other day and maybe this will give you a glimpse into the woman, wife, mother, friend and professional my mom was during her life.  She, like my dad was such an inspiration, supporter and encourager in my personal and professional life.  

I could never sew like she could.  She made a new outfit for herself last fall (at age 92) using some of my Yoshiko Jinzenji fabric.  I bought her a vintage pattern and of course the instructions were missing so she adapted the pattern and sewed away until she had the pants and vest that she envisioned.  

You all surprised me on my last post. I truly didn't think anyone was reading any more. Now that my caretaking responsibilities and daily worries are over, I will have more time to put into this space. I think my mom would like that.  She was one of my faithful readers.

Our mom, Esther Denise Sobering, died May 31, 2022, at the Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community in Manhattan. She was born November 24, 1929, in Gretna, Manitoba, Canada, the daughter of Jacob and Anna Siemens.

She attended high school at the Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna and received her RN from St. Boniface School of Nursing in Manitoba. She did post-graduate work at Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City, New Jersey. She continued her education in North Carolina and revived her career when she moved to Manhattan. She was a pioneer in home health care and hospice and was the director of Riley County Health Homemaker Services from 1981 - 1986. We are proud of her legacy of providing compassionate and quality care through home health services.

Our dad, Fred, was the love of Esther’s life for 65 years. She told her granddaughter Anna that she was very lucky to have chosen Fred even though she was tempted a couple of times to pick someone more flamboyant. She and Fred lived their love story that continued until the day she died. We are happy they are together again.

Esther was proud of her Canadian roots even though she was a naturalized United States citizen. During her lifetime, she lived in over thirty homes following Fred from place to place as he advanced in his career. Esther was comfortable in an apartment in Armenia, on a bus in St. Petersburg Russia, or in her cottage at Meadowlark. She would tell you that the twenty-five retirement years at “White Oaks Farm” near Oskaloosa were the best. Esther maintained a home that was always open to friends and relatives. Neighbors and friends often became part of our extended family. Her Meadowlark friends made her years without Fred and the sudden death of her son, Barry, easier for her. She was strong-willed; tough in adversity, but tender when needed.

Fred, family, faith, and friends were the bedrock of her life. She had a strong and continued faith in Jesus Christ and was active in her local churches. Esther was always busy. She enjoyed crafting and painting especially with her grandchildren and though she never considered herself an artist, we knew she was. She was a prolific painter in the last several years and has passed on a legacy of art to her family. She loved music. She played the piano, sang in choir, and even listened to and pretended to enjoy her grandson Jon’s musical compositions, though they were far from her musical taste. She spent her last days working on a new home design for her daughter, Jacquie. She had her iPad and iPhone by her side until the end. They were her connection to her family and friends. Her son Tim and her grandsons Ian and Jake kept her tech savvy through her later years.

Esther had a gift for connecting with everyone she met, but she had a special connection to animals starting with her beloved Towser, a big black Newfie she had growing up. She loved and treated our dogs like her children, maybe even a bit better.

Her last years were challenging without Fred and with mounting health problems. Living near her son, Tim, gave her independence and yet a sense of security. We are forever grateful for the love, care, and time Tim and Kristine gave Esther in her final years.

She leaves to mourn her passing three of her children: Mike (Cindi) of Dallas, TX; Jacquie (Steve) Gering, Prairie Village, KS; Tim (Kristine) of Manhattan, KS; her daughter-in-law Teeny (Barry) Winter Springs, FL; and her brother Robert (Lynne) Siemens, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada as well as nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Esther was preceded in death by her husband Fred, her parents, her sister Arlene Dick (Siemens), her son Barry and her granddaughter Kendell.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers or cards, donations be made to either Meadowlark Hills or to the Good Shepherd Hospice House. Mom and dad loved their time at Meadowlark. Mom's history with Good Shepherd goes back to 1981 when she was the first Executive Director and they provided excellent care for mom at the end of her life.

Thank you for your condolences. This is truly the end of an era with Fred and Esther gone. We will never forget them.