Secret Pal Revealing and Remembering Sister Susan

My husband Joe and I and son Kevin spent last weekend at daughter Susan’s house.

Our community sets up “secret pals” for widows, widowers, people with disabilities, etc. This means Susan has had a secret pal since December. Secret pals send gifts to their receiver for a year. Usually they go from May to May, and then they reveal themself. Last weekend, they had a secret pal revealing for this past year’s 30-plus secret pals. They said Susan could bring someone along to be with her, so she asked me if I would. Around 8:30 a.m., Susan and her children, Jennifer and Ryan, and I were picked up by an Amish driver, along with others, and taken to a family’s home. We were served a delicious meal that was prepared by all the secret pals. The menu consisted of barbeque chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, various salads, cheese, various pies, ice cream, coffee, and punch.

Before we ate, there was singing, guessing games, and door prizes. After we ate, we played bingo until the gifts were all gone. There were games for the children to win gifts, as well. Then the secret pals all revealed to their receiver who they were and gave them a final gift. It was very interesting. Bless the heart of the givers to send secret gifts to a person for a year. It can be hard for it to stay a secret at times. At 2:30 p.m., the drivers all came back to take us all home. Susan was the only widow in her 20s, reminding us of how early in life she lost her dear husband. God’s ways are not our ways, and someday we will understand why.

Joe and son Kevin did outside work for Susan while we were gone. Her garden was tilled, grass mowed, etc. We all stayed the night again on Saturday night. Then on Sunday we were all invited to daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house for a brunch in honor of Mother’s Day. On the menu was scrambled eggs, sausage patties, sausage gravy, biscuits, cheese, hot peppers, and grape juice.

The rest of the day we played games and visited. Then Tim grilled brats and hot dogs before we headed home. Our house felt cold, so sons Benjamin and Kevin came home to do the chores and start the coal stove. By the time we got home, it was much warmer in the house.

On Friday, sons Joseph and Kevin and nephew Steven were asked to go along on a fishing trip on Lake Erie to catch walleye fish. The group included Joseph’s boss, his son, and another boy, and all expenses were paid. They left here at 2 a.m. and came back by early evening. With Kevin and Steven having a handicap, this meant a lot to them to be able to go out on that big boat and catch their limit of walleyes. Joseph and Kevin came home with their walleyes filleted and bagged.

The family lit solar flowers “planted” in cowboy boots in memory of Sister Susan.

On Monday was dear sister Susan’s 45th birthday, so in memory of her we went to sister Verena’s house for the evening. Also there were daughters Verena, Susan and children, daughter Elizabeth, Tim and children, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend), sister Emma, Jacob and sons, Crystal (nephew Benjamin’s special friend), niece Elizabeth and Manuel, and niece Emma, Menno, and children. We all pitched in mowing Verena’s yard, weeding her flower beds, etc. My sister Susan had a collection of cowboy boots that she would plant flowers in every year. Since sister Verena isn’t able to keep the flowers watered, we put solar flowers in each boot in Susan’s memory. After dark it looked very nice with the flowers lit up and changing colors. We all took supper in.

Verena was so thankful for everyone’s help. Before we left for home, paper lanterns were flown in the air in memory of a dear sister/aunt. Rest in peace, dear sister. You are missed so much. Another person was deeply missed that night—dear son-in-law Mose. Daughter Susan misses him so much. May God help us through the heartaches. God bless!

Deep-Fried Morels

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil for pan-frying
12 to 15 large morel mushrooms

Stir the flour, salt, milk, and egg together in a large bowl. Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet until sizzling. Dip the mushrooms in the batter and place in the skillet. Fry each side until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Serves 6 to 8.


Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.