Anne Christine Gathman
As remembered by her son
Died Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Memorial Service Saturday, February 25, 2017
The original eulogy
My mother was a woman ahead of her time. She refused drugs giving birth, comparing the pain of childbirth to an extreme sport. She fed us raw milk, whether “moose milk” or goat. We raised chickens and geese from eggs and gathered more eggs. We carefully blew out the contents of goose eggs through pinholes to make omelet, and decorated the shells for Easter. My friends were freaked out by the occasional pin feather in hand plucked chicken and by goat stew. She effectively homeschooled us so that formal school was largely a formality. But when my dad brought home a portable teletype from work, she was spooked by the machine typing on its own.
Her decor was organic, favoring wood and fabric and eschewing glass and steel. She embraced the Japanese ideal of a garden – wild in appearance, but carefully managed. She knew the names of all the plants – even if the name “vitis vibenum” came up suspiciously often. She took us on hikes without bringing food – gathering it wild from the forest when we were hungry. We dehydrated vegetables from the garden and made jerky from meat to bring on other trips. She did successful surgery on a sheep in the bathtub. She never really understood physics, but successfully taught a high school physics class – by making the kids teach her!
When she played “Wonderful Grace of Jesus, deeper than all my sin” on the church piano, I wanted to hear the lively, almost militant rendition again and again. She sang us to sleep with “Oh how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.” Canaries flew around the house, singing along as she sang “I am Jesus’ little lamb, ever glad of heart I am”, the cat watching hungrily but never daring to attack in her presence – that aspect of the Disney princess never seemed fanciful to me. The bird poop was a little gross, so my dad eventually built her a greenhouse apiary. Many lovely afternoons and evenings were spent at the National Cathedral for her practices and performances. After wandering the mazes of the formal gardens in the late sun, I would listen to the music of the choir floating through the vast cathedral caverns and still echoing in the hum of the motor on the sleepy ride home.
She didn’t just read God’s word, she had us memorize it. Summer camp was conditional on reciting our assignment from memory.
More about Anne
She raised Angora rabbits, gathered the wool, carded and combed it, spun it into yarn, and knitted scarves. When I proposed gathering acorns to make acorn bread like the Native Americans, she helped make it happen. We shelled and boiled them (to reduce the bitter tannic acid), roasted and ground them, and baked that bread. (Some varieties of oak are edidible without the boiling treatment.) We served milkweed pods for dinner (boiled in several changes of water to mostly remove the bitter toxin). We even tried new pokeweed shoots in the spring (which also require changes of water). Daylillies were much easier, as they are directly edible. We served sumac punch to guests (no, not poison sumac which is a different species).
She made her own stained glass window, depicting the vine of John 15. She carefully leveled the back patio at our first long term home in Maryland, and filled it with water in the winter to create a skating rink. She trained grape vines to cover the walkway to the house, and you could reach up and pick a cluster for refreshment after playing outside. She enameled the basement floor, and cleared an area for roller skating.
On long car trips (including from DC area to California by herself with five kids), she did not stop for bathroom breaks. We had bottles for pee and a small kid sized plastic chamber pot. Our cats were named things like Nanki-poo, Ångström, and Phet Thong Aroon - each inviting idependent inquiry by her children. When a mother cat lost her litter (the kittens not claimed by a human met with a CO "accident" in the garage) she got an unwanted runt miniature collie puppie named Jennifer, and gave her to momma cat to nurse and raise. Jennifer was a dog the size of a large cat who always buried her business - proof that this behavior is learned.