I’ve shared that my Great Grandma Nina was a hard worker and thought deeply.
We also discover she showed kindness to others as evidenced in the note she wrote shown below. I’m sure she was kind routinely, but her kindness must have been encouraged by the experience she recounts in this story written in the third person. And I can guess that she wrote it as proof to her children and others that kindness matters. I’ve typed it below for easier reading.
“Mrs. Hugh Vredenburg of Waukesha, Wisc. has just received word of an inheritance left her and children by Mrs. Nandynne of Nebraska. Years ago Mrs. Vredenburg and children had just came to their car with pails of blueberries where a car came gliding in with something broken. The driver, a young girl, was rushing her parents to a Duluth hospital from a _____ camp with gasoline burns. Mrs. Vredenburg and children searched their car for repairs to mend some broken rods and her sons, then Arthur and Robert, young lads under 14, mended the car. It seems the Nandynnes never forgot the act of kindness they received from the tired blueberry pickers.”
Also discovered in a box was an aged envelope that reads “My mother’s last words Jan 11 1921”, and inside is a portion of a sheet of paper with a list of full family names and birthdates – father, mother and their five children, a valuable record for all those to follow.
Below the dates, is a note: “Above was written the 23rd day of Nov or 11th month in the year of 1902.
Below that is a note stating the wedding date of her parents and then this:
“Written by their oldest girl but this is a true record. Signed Nina” She was 14.
I wonder whose idea it was to create this important record. Was it Nina’s mother at age 33?…or 14 year old’s Nina’s?
The other side of the paper looks like this:
It reads “Today is the 24th day of November 1902. One day later than yesterday which makes us all a day older.”
“I like to write or I would not of written this but I have written this because I like to write.”
“Remember me early. Remember me late. Remember me at the garden Gate.”
“I love all that has their names written upon this. N.M.T” (Nina’s initials)
“Please do not destroy this piece of paper.”
And what a bonus it is that Nina wrote a short biography and some last wishes:
“Nina May born on a farm near Glenwood City Wisconsin – April 1888.
Moved with parents at age of three (3) years to Iowa living there nine (9) years, receiving her education in the Progress School located n land donated by her father for the school. Was an apt pupil making the eight (8) grades in five (5) years. Was (12) years old when parents moved on a Homestead in Northern Minnesota.
In the year 1905, stayed with an aunt (Mrs. Pearl) Osage, Minn and was going thru the 8th grade the 3rd time expecting to graduate but owing to illness and sudden death of her maternal Grandmother, she didn’t graduate as she went to help with grandmother returning home with her mother after the funeral in May 1905. Was married to Hugh Mar 11-1906. Five children were born to them, 3 girls and 2 boys.
Was baptised a Methodist, but wanted children to study Bible rather than any certain denomination and encouraged them in their education. Was the eldest of five children, 3 girls and 2 boys. One sister passed on in June 1924 and mother Feb 26 1928.
My choice of songs: Sweet Hour of Prayer, Jesus Savior Pilot Me
I’ve tried to be a devoted wife and mother. Written by myself 4-1-38.”
It’s apparent that Nina and her family thought about the meaning of life and what comes after. They wanted not only to be remembered, but to be remembered kindly. I know that my grandpa loved his mother, Nina, dearly and remembered her fondly. All I’ve learned about who she was makes me wish I could know her now. I’m glad there are enough remnants of her life that give a glimpse of who she was and I’m glad for her influence on those who came before me, which helped shape who I have become.
Learning about Great Grandma Nina was fun and causes me to think about some things. Have I recorded important family names and dates? Have I noted memorable events and stories? Am I living in such a way to leave a meaningful and valuable legacy for those that will follow?
What about you?