We knew it was coming. She declined treatment on the mass that didn’t belong in her body and she had long decided that she was going to go out on her own terms. At 88 years young she earned the right to call her own shot.
Like so many things in her life, she would make it work her own way. And it did. The last two months was a barrage of visitors, friends, and family. Each paying their respects to a living matriarch who had somehow, someway managed to touch their life.
Rosann Koenig was kind of a legend. She was certainly the most competitive person I’d ever met (I once saw her bid up a game of pinochle to a point that it couldn’t be won just so her husband wouldn’t win the bid), but that’s not what made her a legend. She made the best hand wrapped cabbage rolls I’ve ever tasted, but that didn’t make her a legend either.
What made her a legend was her gift of hospitality.
Rosann (and the Koenig family) welcomed everyone into their home on Alaska Street. I mean EVERYONE. Honestly, there wasn’t a time I showed up there when I couldn’t get a meal. There wasn’t a time I showed up there where I couldn’t get into a game of cards. There wasn’t a time I showed up there that I couldn’t get exactly what I needed. Rosann was a legend because she had the God given gift of meeting people exactly where they were at, and she was always okay with it.
This past week (when Rosann passed) was a huge loss for the community, it was a loss for the family, and it was a loss for me personally. Rosann was one of my favorite people. She always treated me like a grandson, and she always showered me with that legendary hospitality.
So, corporately and individually we mourn the loss of such an incredible woman. And in that mourning, we praise God for the 88 years of life and experience with her. While we are saddened for the void that will be left by her passing, we celebrate the lives she touched.
Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
I love the imagery – wordless groans. It feels appropriate as we search for words to mourn the loss of this matriarch.
The next two days will surely be difficult, but we will try to handle them the way Grandma Koenig would have wanted; with grace, playing cards, and eating good food.
With the wordless groans of our heart we rejoice for her life, we mourn our loss and celebrate together.
And while we reflect on the love that she had for so many we are forced to wrestle with our own questions: How will we continue her legacy? How will we move forward? What can we learn from Rosann Koenig?
I’d like to be so bold as to suggest this: Be hospitable. Show people what an unlocked door and an open mind might look like. It’s easy to think that Rosann’s gift was something that we could never do, but I think Rosann would be quick to dispute that. One time I asked her why she always showed such hospitality, her response was classic, “I don’t know. What else would I do?”
She defined radical hospitality, and I am hopeful that someday we can follow in her footsteps.