Historic Papers, Journal Entries From 1942

My great great grandmother Neola was born in 1888.

From a very young age she began keeping a journal. These journals, kept year after year have been preserved by my grandmother and handed down to me. I now treasure these historic papers. I was reading through one of them randomly…just exploring..I do that sometimes, rather than read them in order.

Granny Kiser born in 1888
My great great grandmother, Neola Kiser.

This time I chose 1942
The first thing that caught my attention were the four entries in a row when my great great grandmother spent digging potatoes, doing wash, and canning green tomato mince. One day she dug 15 bushels! She certainly was a hard worker. I remember that about her, even later in her life.

The Old Ways
I remember as a little girl visiting her and she would be doing laundry on the back porch with hand crank washer and a wash board, along with that she tended to a huge garden and then cooked us a homemade meal during the visit! She was an astonishing woman and a great cook! No wonder she lived well into her 90s!
I’ve found some particular entries that I want to share from 1942.

Jan 23rd 1942  Neola Kiser Diary entry. Weather fair. I washed, Jake helped Jonnie Rief husk corn and shred fodder. President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met at Casablanca in Northern Africa to make war plans.

March 1, 1942  Partly fair, some snow. Point rationing book number two began. 40 points per month.

May 6th, 1942  Windy and partly fair. Betty (my grandmother who is now 84) went to get beginners driver’s license.

May 15th, 1942  Rained most all day. Went to Bluffton got a new permanent and a new hat. Breiners were over.

July 6, 1942  Very hard rain at night. We plowed up the strawberry bed and planted pickles. Jake mowed hay. Midge and Floyd here.

July 8, 1942  Fair weather. We plowed the sweet clover field. The twins were here in afternoon. We planted potatoes in the garden. French’s here in the evening.

July 24th, 1942 Fair weather. We went to Bluffton in the evening. Rex came home (from the service) at 3 in the morning. I washed Rex’s uniforms and ironed them.

Just rereading these short entries gives me a sweet reminder of what my great, great grandmother was like. I hope these historic papers offer you a glimpse of what life was like in 1942 in the Midwest. It was my great, great grandmother Neola who inspired me as a writer with her writing and journals.

How Do We Move Beyond Pain That Feels Greater Than We Can Bear?

I was Touched by the Raw Pain
As I watched My Sister’s Keeper I was touched by the raw pain of Kate’s own struggle to make sense of the changes her family faced through her illness and the devastation  of her loss as they watched her die. At one point in the movie Kate’s sister asked the judge how it felt when her daughter died. I could answer immediately, having faced the loss of my daughter and my parents as well as others near and dear to me in the last decade.

For me their loss feels like life has ended. It feels like all the blood has drained from my heart; I’m standing and breathing, yet feel empty and dead. It feels like my life is over. Lisa Overman

Handing Grief Differently
I was touched by the honesty of what this family faced and how they each handled it so differently, yet in the end when Kate passed they found a way to honor her memory with a yearly family vacation to a place she loved; the wide open spaces of Montana.  For each of us how we bear our grief and find our way through our pain differs. Yet honestly no matter who we are, what we do for a living or where we live we each feel the depth of our losses deep in our soul. No matter if we reach out or go within we must take steps, baby steps forward, coping with our grief and loss.

Yes, our life as we knew it is over; the life we desired blown to bits and we’re left to take one tiny step at a time into a future  we really don’t understand or care for. Our loss is deep and lasting. With time and effort our healing will begin.

Nate Burkus and His Healing
I heard Nate Burkus say on Oprah recently that after his partners death he didn’t want to do much of anything for four months, that he was living but felt dead. He often thought, what’s the point of it all. He would often stay in bed grieving. It’s true as we are coping with our grief and loss many of us have those times, I certainly had them.

Moving Through a Loss That Devastates Us.
I had days when dying felt easier than living, when my mother’s loss felt like the end of my life. How do we move beyond the loss that devastates us? We take small steps. We find support whether it be talking to a grief therapist, our family or friends or a healthy combination of all three. Maybe we talk to a minister or we take comfort in silent prayer. The important thing is to take a step toward coping with our grief and loss. Each small step will lead to a bigger step when we’re ready, until we reach a place where we can take a breath again without feeling pain.

Many Small Steps
With many small steps we will reach a day when we wake up and feel a smile cross our face; when for so long there was nothing to smile about. There is no magic that will heal us. Somehow, with time after living in our pain we realize we can honor the memory and love of the one’s we’ve lost better by living joyfully. As many, myself included can attest, when a loved one is dying they usually express their desire for us to live fully. They want our happiness. They don’t want us living daily in pain or living empty lives, wishing for them. For me the best way to honor my loved ones is to touch other lives and show people through my example that there’s a way through the pain and loss.

My Life Looks Different

My life looks different than I expected. I’m actually laughing as I write that statement. It’s as if a bulldozer destroyed my life and one block at a time, through a sea of tears I began to rebuild it. Did I want this life? Not so much really, but clearly God did. I now focus my life teaching, writing and maintaining a website that supports and inspires others in grief or loss. I treasure those I love deeply. I’ve learned life is short, pain is very real and we are best served living life with as much joy as our hearts can hold. It happens one step at a time. Take that first step with me.

Departing For Kenya

Missionary Work
Soon my Aunt Judy will depart for another two years in Kenya as a missionary. She loves her work in Kenya and feels called to be there. She has been on home leave since the first of July. It seems to have flown and I have seen her far less than I expected to do. It’s odd really that we live in the same city yet we only talk via phone most of the time, meeting for lunch or a BBQ occasionally.

Her time at home has been packed with events and activities and must do’s. Doctor and dentist visits, speaking at visiting churches who may like to become one of her mission supporters, time for family, time for old friends, a bit of time to travel, mission conferences and suddenly seven months is gone in the flash of an eye. It’s startling and sad. I know she has enjoyed this time back at home with family and friends and her church. It’s been good to see her, to know a bit more about her life in Kenya.

Her Life in Kenya
She talks fondly of the people and the events her church in Kenya has sponsored and the children and families that are helped with her mission work. I understand her desire to be in Kenya probably more than anyone else in my family. I too feel a calling, to life overseas. I too have spent years living overseas. I understand and even with understanding I am sad that she will soon leave again. We will miss her.
Sunrise with Giraffes

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Movie Review: Lorenzo’s Oil

Ever wonder just how many mountains love can move? This film starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon features an exceptional set of parents who take on the international medical community.

Their son afflicted with a debilitating rare disease, these two people with no prior medical knowledge organized symposiums, took on a resistant parent-run foundation, collected data and more in a relentless pursuit of a cure. The result? A medical miracle in record time.

But that was only the first half of the problem. Next came the rebuilding of the myelin to reverse the impact of the disease. This turned into a new collaborative effort called The Myelin Project, something that will positively impact multiple illnesses beyond ALD that launched their family’s odyssey into the arena of medical research.

How have they done it? Sheer will and the pure love present in the parent-child relationship. Worth checking out.