I knew the woman pictured above with my daughter Maddy (then aged 7 months) as “Grandma Schutz”. She died yesterday morning. I believe she was a saint–even though, as a faithful Lutheran living a very obscure life, she will never be officially recognised as such.
As a young woman, she nursed my dying grandmother. Later, after gaining her nursing qualifications, and while desiring to take up a post as a mission nurse in central Australia, my Grandpa asked her to marry him and to take on the task of caring for and loving him and his five children, the youngest of whom was just an infant. When she was in her seventies, she told me that this was one of the most difficult decisions of her life–whether to go and fulfill her desire to work on the aboriginal missions, or whether to take this new road as wife and mother. She told me she never regreted her decision to marry. (Incidentally, she told me this while we were bushwalking in the Grampians and I was tossing up whether to accept a call as mission pastor in Hermannsberg or to marry Cathy!).
She returned to nursing later in life, and was the sister in charge at the Pinnaroo hospital when I was a youngster. All her life she cared for her new family, but never had any children of her own. She looked after my grandfather all his life, and was a rock of support for him in his final years of dementia. She and my Grandfather were the first residents of Hope Valley Lutheran Homes in Adelaide (where, in 2001, I was called to be chaplain but decided to enter the Catholic Church instead). They were leading members of that community, and after Grandpa died (I conducted the funeral on that occasion), she helped out at the nursing home in the centre until she herself needed to enter it.
She was never very affectionate–nor ever “casual”–but that was probably more to do with her upbringing in Barrossa Lutheranism than anything else. But she could be adventurous in her own way. I was telling the girls many stories I remember about her last night–including the day she decided to have a go at cooking a pizza and served us up a pastry with tinned tuna and cheese on top. She made the best ginger beer (her ceiling was pitted with holes from exploding bottles) and the best honey biscuits ever.
Mass was said for the repose of her soul in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne this afternoon.
Thank you, God, for Grandma Schutz. We loved her and we love her still. Rest in peace.