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Obituary of Brigitte Lieselotte Mondt
Our mother: Brigitte Mondt (8/11/40 – 3/21/21)
“It’s been a long life, done a whole lot of working
Had a hard time, but I’m always learning
It's been a good life, but there’s still that yearning
That’s my song,
That’s my song.”
- Esther & Abi Ofarim
That was our mother’s favorite song. One of many – she loved to sing – but that’s the one we heard most often since we were children.
Brigitte Lieselotte Dietrich was born in Olfen, Germany at the start of the war. She met her father for the first time at age six, after her mother let go of her hand to run into the arms of a stranger at the train station when he returned from the war. Until then, she had her beloved “Mutti” all to herself.
After living in a house crammed with relatives in the post-war devastation, her parents built their own home down the street. At barely 18, Brigitte had her first child, Gabriele, whom she delivered in the living room at home because she was too afraid to go to the hospital.
The marriage didn’t work out, and a few years later she met Robert Mondt, an American GI. Together, they managed A&W drive-in restaurants. Seven years after that, Andrew was born.
A year after Andrew’s birth, we left Germany to move to suburban Chicago. Bob’s first job back in the States was as a milkman, after which he began managing fast-food restaurants and later became a long-haul trucker. All the while, Brigitte worked sometimes two jobs as a waitress until she settled at a steakhouse, where she was a hostess/manager for decades. Eventually, she started a highly successful consignment boutique, which she sold two decades later.
In the interim Dad had passed away. Five years later, she met another man, with whom she lived for 16 years. They retired to Arizona but then he too passed away. She entered assisted living, met another man, then lost him too. So much love; so much grief.
Our remarkable, marvelous mother lived the American Dream: immigrant, ranch-style house with two-car garage in the suburbs, two kids who both went to college, then comfortable retirement to Arizona. She was ever stylish, had impeccable taste, insisted on good manners, and loved the finer things in life.
And she was hilarious:
“Hindsight’s always 50/50.” “That’s 20/20, Mom.” “Oh right! Well then I’ve been way to generous.”
In preparation for Hurricane Sandy, she told us, “Don’t forget to stock up on vodka.”
The tip of the iceberg.
She was mischievous and irrepressible and fun-loving and, particularly in the last ten years of her life, infinitely kind and generous – toward us, yes, but toward everyone she met. She said “I love you” freely, including to her caretakers at the end. Disarmed, most people joyously uttered the words with an open heart in return.
Bedside in her final days, we got to laugh and look at photos together and reminisce. We sang together – old German songs, country western, folk, rock. At the end, after she talked to her Mutti, we sang to her as she peacefully sailed into the next world.
“I wish I knew, where I am and where I’m going
Tried my best, but I still ain’t made much showing
All I know, when that freight train whistle’s blowing
That’s my song
That’s my song.”
Wrong! What a life you lived, Mama! What an extraordinary showing you made!
All our devastated, unerring, and undying love! Until we meet again.
- Your children
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