The Lindblad Family, Rita's neighbors and friends for 15 years. Photo provided by Jane Lindblad.

Rita often took the Lindblads camping on her family farmstead. Photo provided by Jane Lindblad.

"After one memorable hike, we all sat under her mother’s Mock Orange tree."

Photo provided by Jane Lindblad.

Remembering Rita Gross

By Jane Lindblad

 

Our family moved next door to Rita Gross over fifteen years ago. At that time, we had four very young sons plus a variety of animal family members. Rita had such a remarkable energy about her that we all felt welcome in her yard and enjoyed her expansive gardens.  Many hot summer days Rita joined us across the street, under a beautiful maple shade tree. We would watch the Chippewa River race by and the eagles fly overhead. Her trusty and faithful cat, Necko, would join us as well. We talked about anything and everything without any fear of judgment. What a gift!

 

Rita would share her travels and teachings with me while we sipped on tea, with the crackle of a fire in the background. Rita also shared her journeys at local assisted living centers where I worked and volunteered.  A couple of residents had actually audited classes that Rita had taught years before at the university. They were so pleased to have her spend time with them.

 

Rita was always willing to perform services for all of our animal family members, never dismissing the smallest life that had moved on. We had a variety for sure: lizards, rabbits, snakes, fish, frogs, turtles, quail, cats, and dogs. Words cannot express my gratefulness for the countless acts of love Rita provided. The boys have grown up to embrace death and be comfortable and unafraid with its process. We lost my mom to a devastating stroke a few years ago and Rita was so nurturing and supportive to us. She taught us all to embrace the now and keep in mind that nothing lasts forever.

 

The past several years we enjoyed rustic camping on her family farmstead. The land held a peaceful, calm, quiet beauty that we all enjoyed—acres of blackberries and thick forest retreats to explore and meditate in. The log cabin that she grew up in is still standing. Rita walked the land with us and gave us its history, as well as that of the beloved home and farm. After one memorable hike, we all sat under her mother’s Mock Orange tree. The blossoms smelled like that of no other; pure bliss! We ate a picnic lunch, laughing and visiting, while taking everything in.

 

Rita taught us about embracing life, love, forgiveness, acceptance, change, and religious diversity. We both worked and practiced on leaving things sit for a time if no solution seemed to work. It was comforting to have a comrade that continually worked at self-improvement and growth. We wish Rita an amazing full journey ahead.