I was truly blessed to have had a mother who personified
the meaning of unconditional love. It took me years to
truly appreciate her kind and gentle ways, because she
moved at a quieter, slower pace than I. But I am thankful
to say I realized many years before she died just how
remarkably wonderful she was and I got to tell her so.
was known for her friendly smile and welcoming manner.
She loved people and was endlessly interested in them,
always remembering not only the names of everyone she
had ever met, but also the names and “stories”
of all their near and dear!
she died unexpectedly in 1999, over 400 people stood patiently
in line for hours on a hot, muggy July evening. They were
there to pay their respects to this unassuming, little
lady (5’2”) who had none of the credentials
– initials, big job titles or other worldly accomplishments
- that are deemed “important”. Everyone from
the check-out ladies at the local supermarket, the mailman,
the Avon lady and the newspaper carrier to town dignitaries
and countless “ordinary” and extraordinary
people told us how she had brightened their days just
by being herself. .
for that lesson, Mom. Got it!
- Raymond Francis Hetzel 7/10/23 - 3/11/81
“Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate,
still achieving, still pursuing,
learn to labor and to wait.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Dad was bigger than life to me and since we were a lot
alike, he was the one with whom I was constantly butting
heads. Tall, dark and handsome, Dad was quick-tempered,
quick-witted, strong yet caring, loyal and a true perfectionist,
who was known for saying, “If you are going to do
it, do it right.”
was also a soft-hearted collector of poems and inspirational
sayings and a lover of music, who was apt to dance at
the drop of a hat or break out in song at any moment.
He could and did sing all 4 parts in his barbershop group
and around the piano at Hetzel’s Happy Hollow, the
family gathering place in his brother’s basement.
know that I get my confidence and sense that anything
is possible if you believe it from my Dad, who also instilled
in all of us his strong belief in the importance of family
sticking together no matter what. One of the greatest
things he ever told me was that while he and Mom might
not always like some of the things I did or approve of
some of the choices I made in life, they would always
love me and I could always “come home”.
I was 30, his sudden death at 57 from a fast moving cancer
left a huge hole in my life. I still miss him, but his
passing drew my brothers, sister and I even closer to
each other and to Mom.
Carla (Cooper) and Mark & Dee Hetzel – my sibs
a child, I often thought that my brothers and sister were
the biggest pains – that old love/hate thing. It
took going to college and getting some perspective/homesickness
before I started to appreciate the closeness we shared.
This continued despite our seeming differences, which
were most especially apparent during my “yuppie”
styles aside, there is very deep, abiding love and respect
between us – instilled by both my parents and honed
over the years as one or the other of us has faced adversity
and needed “back-up”.
were there for me most recently when I got divorced, helping
me pack up and moving me into my little house on the pond.
We made it through the sad, upsetting proceedings of closing
up the family home after Mom’s death - an acid test
many families fail. Then, when Michael’s 42 year-old
wife, Mary, died in her sleep at 42 and left him and the
children (Holley, 2 & Nick, 5) bereft, we rallied
‘round again and are now closer than ever before.
am also blessed with a very special sister-in-law, Denise,
Mark’s wife and best friend from high school days.
Dee has held a very important place in our family since
she was a teenager and is my sister-in-heart, as well
& Christa Cooper, Nick & Holley and Leah Hetzel
These are the children of my heart, the dearest ones in
the world to me. I am very proud to have actually helped
the first two of them come into the world, as I was my
sister’s Lamaze coach. Lucky for me, her husband,
Jack, is a bit squeamish about certain things.
believe each one knows that “Auntie Gail”
will always be there for them, whether it’s scoring
cool concert tickets and helping them decide on and get
settled into college to going for “joy rides”
with the sun roof open and getting silly – dancing
around the living room after having an indoor picnic on
fully expect the “Hetzel/Cooper Cousins” to
make it big as a singing group a few years from now!