Mildred and Mark Krentel endured many hard grief journeys in their lives. Their daughter Martha died suddenly at the age of six months. Their second daughter Melissa was born with Down’s syndrome. Because of their burden for children with Down’s syndrome, they began a ministry called Melmark that served children and young adults with disabilities.
In 1990 Paul was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s complicated by Parkinson’s disease and after taking care of him at home for 6 years, Mildred was thrust into the journey of widowhood on November 11, 1996.
In her journal Mildred wrote to Paul, “I have a new name. Widow. I roll that name around on my tongue to see how it sounds, but I simply don’t like the word…not one bit. Honey, you would laugh over the ideas propsoed to me now that I’m a widow. People seem to have forgotten how to comfort. Instead, they are all busy writing out prescriptions for my happiness. I often think about Job and the mess he was in and how his friends wanted nothing more than to accuse him and argue with him. I love it when Job says, ‘Miserable comforter are you all’.”
This book begins with several chapters where the author shares her story of all emotions and loneliness that she goes through during those years of caring for her husband watching him slowly slip away from her.
Later she shares the restlessness that she felt during the holiday season of the 2nd year without her husband – that time when she was trying to find a new identity – and how she decided to take her daughter and run away on an Auto Train from Pennsylvania to Florida for Christmas.
Shortly after her return home an old friend suggested that Mildred go to Africa as a short-term missionary. Not knowing what else to do, she applied and at the age of 76 became the oldest person accepted. She became so completely homesick that she was unable to complete her term before returning home. She began to ask herself if she had bombed out.
“For the last 8 years, I had become so entangled with my role as a caregiver that I failed to anticipate my own needs. I had expected my grown-up, married children to fill in the blanks. Now I know that God intends me to lead my own life, depending on Him. Even to the point of not allowing the opinions of others to disrupt what He tells me in the quiet of our times together. It is as though I experienced a new birth kind of thing. He was growing me up for widowhood. I had a new focus……Here I am–bound by my own frailties. A widow, not by choice, but by design. God’s! Does God know what He’s doing? In theory, I know the answer to that…….Every day there is a new assignment, an unexpected challenge but still and always….God!” says Mildred.
In the pages of this book you will be able to feel the heart of Mildred Kentrel and the highs and lows of her grief journey. She bares her soul and tells of her ups and downs and the questions she has of God. Her main purpose of her writings is to “show you what God can do with poor material”.
A very heartfelt thanks goes out to you, Mildred, for sharing your story with us!