Pauline Isabelle Ray 1870-1957
I have wanted to write you a letter since I was six. It didn’t seem right that Mom wrote letters to my other grandma but not you. I knew you were in heaven, and the TV commercial said if we used the Zip Code our letters could be delivered anywhere. So, I asked Mom what the Zip Code for heaven was, and I learned two things. One, no one (not even the new preacher) knew where heaven was. Two, adults don’t really know everything.
I returned to the family room to think about things (or as my dad would say, ‘to figure’). If no one knew where heaven was, then maybe it was right here, and we just couldn’t see it. Then it followed that maybe you were sitting right next to me, and that made me feel good. At that moment you became like a kindred spirit to me, and quite often I consulted you.
Everyone always spoke of your humble kindness. When I was a teenager Uncle Roy sent us all the letters you had written to him. They spanned from the early 1920s into the 50s. In reading them I really felt I got to know you in addition to the stories I have heard.
Some things I have learned from stories about you….You must have been made of tough stuff. What determination. A young widow with three surviving kids living on a farm at the turn of the century. Splitting firewood, doing field work with horses, plus the regular house chores, and yet your focus was to keep the family together and you did not become bitter or hardened. When I have gone through what I considered tough times, I have often stopped to consider the circumstances you endured, and my perspective is quickly shifted into thankfulness for your example, and I am strengthened to keep going.
But, I always wondered what kept you going, and how you retained your kindheartedness, joy, and sense of humor through it all. Those letters have been a wonderful gift, but what I would cherish even more would be to read (in your handwriting) the scriptures you went to for strength, comfort, and encouragement. I know it was your faith that sustained you and being able to read those would make me feel like I was getting wise and uplifting counsel directly from you.
That persevering faith of yours has inspired me to create journals that can be written, drawn, and filled in with scripture, quotes, gratitude lists, and sketches. Hoping they will serve as bridges of faith, love, and support through the generations.
The letters you wrote all those years ago are like seeds that you planted and are still growing and producing love today. Thank you for that.
With much love, your indebted granddaughter,
A verse I can imagine you relying on:
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13