Forty-two years ago this month my maternal grandmother Kathryn, who was born a Vandervort (with roots back to very early New Amsterdam), passed away. She died on April 4, 1973 at 70 years of age. After being notified, my paternal grandmother Susan twelve days later began to pen a letter to my mother. She was reaching out to comfort her, but it is obvious she was at a loss for words, as all of us are at a time like that. I enjoy the letter not only for its intent, but also for the descriptions of daily life in the transition months from winter to spring in Wisconsin -- on the old family farm.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because He trusteth in Thee.” Isa. 26:3. “The God of all Comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any need, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Cor. 1:4
April 16, 1973
Temperature 60 degrees F – Calm
Cloudy-Misty, 5:45 PM
Dear Precious Little Daughter and All,
My thoughts and prayers have been with you much during these days since you telephoned me of your Mother’s passing and, as I said, I have so wished I could take you in my arms and comfort you. (Breeze is starting up and guess it is going to rain again as it did this morning and all during the church and Sunday School hours – Yes, here it comes so will have to move to east porch as the wind is from the west or south west. The water is starting to drop off the eaves and the birds are singing spring songs in the rain.)
Here is Grandma, the writer of this missive, in the yard of their farm with the porches she is describing behind her. This photo was taken many years prior to this letter before Grandpa died, but as all in our family, she had pure white hair very early. in life. She continues:
Thought to write last Sunday but your newspapers, radio and television have told you of our “spring blizzard” and “winter again” starting last Sunday noon and it kept me busy trying to get food out for the birds and also preparing food for dog, cat and myself as I had to “start at scratch” as the saying is and grind corn and wheat since I had used up most of flour and it takes about an hour to grind enough in my hand grinder for a loaf of “quick bread.” (It is getting “breezy and cool here on the east porch so will have to go in).
Temperature 50 degrees F, West Wind, Sunny April 17, 1973It is a perfectly lovely, sunny day now at 9:00 but since I have not been up long don’t know whether sun rose under a cloud or in a clear sky, so can’t make any predictions as to the rest of the day. Am glad it looks to be a good day (except for some roads) as there is a district (or possibly State) Baptist Convention of some kind at the
Well, if the telephone rings many more times this letter won’t get off today either. It rang several times during the paragraph above. Anyhow I can not give the excuse of going to sleep today even though that has been a big part of the reason the last twenty four hours before this morning. One of the calls was from some one who knew I was having trouble getting some Social Security information necessary to apply for “Homestead Tax Relief” for low income elderly people. Had saved a little over $100 last year and should receive a little less this year since taxes are less this year, but so far have not been able to make application because of not receiving answer from Soc Sec office concerning one question on the application form. Listened to the program this person told me was on Tomah radio but that did not help me so now it is nearly time for the mail carrier so will have to send this without writing the things which I had hoped to be able to write in this letter.
The Milton and Janesville Webers will be up after their early church service Easter according to present plans and Selma Hutson has invited me over to her home and have accepted unless something of weather or otherwise interferes. Big drift in driveway to house here yet but probably will be gone by then.
Nearly time for carrier – will try to write soon the things I had hoped to send now. So much love and prayers with you and for you.
This letter was written so many years ago to my mother, who has also been gone now for almost five years, along with both her mother and her mother-in-law. Looking ahead toward Mother's Day, I am so thankful for Godly grandparents and parents who have passed on their values from one generation to the next.