The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl

Circle Letters: The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl - A Memoir by Aleta M. Schrock

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Was Born Loved

I was born loved.
Dengst du es is un Boo oder un Madel?  Do you think it’ll be a boy or a girl?” my dad had asked my mom when they were expecting their second child.
            “Aw, it’ll probably be another boy,” was my mom’s off-hand remark.
            “But wouldn’t it be nice to have a girl?” came his wistful response.
            And then I was born. At Schrock’s Corner (literally). The only daughter growing up between two brothers. My parents were members of the Old Order Mennonite Church in Rural Goshen, Indiana. We drove a horse and buggy. To church, to town, practically everywhere we went it was to the clip-clop of our horse, Nick’s, hoof beats.
            I was born my Dad’s Baby Girl. Shortly after I was born he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. According to my Aunt Emma’s diaries- when treatments left him too weak to work, he sat in the house and played with me for hours on end: reading, talking, playing peek-a-boo…
            When he was strong enough he worked at developing the business he had started prior to the cancer: Schrock Small Engine, Sales and Service. He sold and repaired lawnmowers, tillers, chainsaws… After the diagnosis my mom worked alongside him and by herself on the days when all he could do was sit in the house and hold me. One day, knowing the extent of the illness, he asked her, “When I’m gone, will you continue the business?”
            “Oh, I couldn’t,” was her quick reply.
            Mom told me that he looked her in the eye and quietly remarked, “You can if you want to.”
            That comment changed the course of history. When my dad passed out of this life and into Heaven, I was four and a half years old. It was 1968 and my mom became a widowed mother of three preschool aged children, the sole owner of a business and a mechanic in her own right.
The shop was located less than six steps outside the side door of our house. Mom sang us awake and fed us breakfast and was out in the shop by eight o’clock every morning five days a week. She locked the doors for an hour at noon while she cooked and we ate dinner. At five the doors closed for the night and we had supper, Mom often returned to the shop in the evening to finish the repairs. (While we were young an Old Order Mennonite girl lived with us and helped take care of us children and do housework.)
This is the atypical Old Order Mennonite world I grew up in. Watching my mom make her way in a man’s business.  A feminine touch in a greasy world.
My four year old mind, unable to comprehend why this Daddy that hugged and played and cuddled and loved me… suddenly disappeared, coped by blocking out all memory of loss and pain. Therefore, I had a marvelous childhood reading books and playing in my neighborhood playground of barns, railroad tracks, swamps, fields, woods, ponds, creeks, brothers, cousin’s and grossdauddy’s… and whenever I needed my mom I knew where to find her in the shop. In between customers she always had time to listen to my joys and sorrows. It was the ideal life. Almost.
For the first twenty-five years of my life, when people asked whether I remembered my dad, I informed them that while I remembered him, I was glad he had died while I was young, too young to experience pain and feelings of loss.
What I did not understand is that the pain I had buried for years was shaping my life. As a child. As a teen-ager. As an adult. For Good… and for not so good.
Yet I believe I have always been blessed. The Word says that the blessings reach down a thousand generations from those that love God and obey his commands. Only ten generations ago my ancestors living in Switzerland and Germany were willing to give their life for the gospel. My ten-greats-grossdauddy was imprisoned in Germany for his faith. He encouraged his adult sons to take their families and their mother and go to America where he had heard they could worship in freedom. Twelve years later he was able to rejoin them in Pennsylvania. That blessing, undeserved as it is on my part, lives with me.
My story is a journey towards finding my Father, in the natural and the Spiritual. A journey of learning to live by faith. A journey of overcoming. Learning to walk from victory to victory. Learning to live in the blessings that became mine two thousand years ago. Not only the natural blessings from Godly ancestors, but also my spiritual heritage through the linage of Abraham.
I was born loved and blessed. This is my story.


  1. I am truly enjoying reading your blog and think you should write a book. You have a God given talent. Keep up the good work. Love, Aunt Dot

  2. Thank you, Aunt Dorothy,
    I love writing and I appreciate the lovely compliment, especially coming from a creative person like yourself!

    1. I might be creative in some things but writing is not my specialty. Would you be interested in putting together a book about Grossmommy Alma? I started one and have a few notes that she told me of happenings and we have her diaries. But to get it all together looks like a big job! I had big ambitions and wanted to put together a book for her while she was still living but time ran out...

    2. I'd love to help work at it, but I'll need all of the Aunt's and cousin's help. Writing about someone else is more challenging than writing about one's self. Perhaps at the beach this summer we can have some great times remembering the past!