My earliest memory of Memorial Day is going to the cemetery with my mom to put flowers on the graves of my grandparents. I remember asking her, “Why are we putting flowers on their graves? They weren’t soldiers.” And she responded, “Memorial Day is for remembering everyone we love who has died.”
With that conversation in my mind this week, I went to a box full of old letters – correspondence that my mom had kept dating back to the 1920’s. I had wanted to share some letters between my mom and her brother in this week’s blog, but I guess the letters I’m thinking of are in another box. Instead, I came across a letter my mom had sent me, postmarked October 6, 1977, only 35 years ago. Mim and I lived in Chicago at the time. As I re-read this letter yesterday, I gained new insights into my mom’s attitude toward life, particularly in the context of the sermon I had just heard in church earlier in the day.
In the sermon, our pastor quoted Helen Keller. “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
My mom wrote this letter when she was 69 and my dad was 73. The letter is a snapshot of their normal routine in their retirement.
Tuesday p.m., October 4, 1977
It’s so long since I’ve written to you I had to look up your address – isn’t that awful? … Last week we had special meetings at church every night – and he preached about 1-1/2 hours each night, so we got home around 10. The week before was prayer meetings in homes every night. And we did get awfully tired.
I thought this week we could relax a little. Ha! Sunday we went to Richland Center [to visit a retired pastor in a nursing home] – got there in time to go to church. Got home about dark. Monday morning Nancy [my sister] and I went to the woods to pick hickory nuts. In the afternoon I made the deposit [my mom was church treasurer] and then dug carrots and juiced 4 pints of juice, and pulled weeds. This morning I went to a Women’s Aglow breakfast in Fort. This afternoon Stella Jarlsberg and I went to Verona to see Stella Lillesand [in a nursing home]. Tonight I’m going to get Sally and take her to the Women’s Society (I have to help her dress) to hear about Dagmar’s travels [a retired missionary]. Tomorrow I take Donna and her baby to Milwaukee to visit her sister who is expecting a baby any time. Thursday morning I take Sally to get her hair fixed. Thursday afternoon we are probably going to Stoughton to help look for a car for Danny [my brother]. Friday I may take Sally to Madison to the Eye Clinic so she can order another pair of glasses. Friday afternoon Nancy’s 4 kids come for the weekend. (My blood pressure is rising just writing this – maybe I’d better quit!) I do have to go now, but at least I got a start. Will finish it later…
Didn’t get home until 10:15 and then I didn’t feel like writing. Now I have half an hour before we go to Milwaukee… Daddy just came in now. I told him not to talk so I can finish this. But I guess I ask the impossible.
Well, we went to Milwaukee today – left at 10 and got home about 5. Then I went out and harvested some garden as it is supposed to freeze hard tonight. I picked some little tomatoes (red) for you. Are you coming to get them?
Sally called me tonight that she has an appointment to see a skin specialist on the Square in Madison (she had skin cancer once) on Friday at 11 a.m. So we’ll go there and the Eye Clinic. Evy Fossum is going along to help her as I know there’ll be parking problems. Then I have to take Evy to Fort when we get home to see her mother who is in the hospital…
It’s morning but I don’t have time to write more as I want to mail this. Daddy wants to go to Stoughton this morning before I pick up Sally. I got dinner in the oven – scalloped potatoes and meatloaf…
You should see the flies upstairs – hundreds! So I’ve got to clean up there today.
Next week I have Reading Circle here – we’re reading The Bible and the Bermuda Triangle.
See you soon, I hope.
Lots of Love,
My mom didn’t have a spectacular ministry, but she did what she knew she could do to help meet the needs of the people in her life. What a model for us to remember on Memorial Day.
As Mim and I walked Abbey this morning, we walked by the gazebo at Whispering Winds to check on the robins that hatched last week. The robin parents were out gathering breakfast for their babies, and the babies were eagerly awaiting their return. The adult robins aren’t going to change the world, but they can keep their babies fed. We all have our own ministries.