Monday, October 4, 2010

Celebrating My Youngest Sister...

On this day in 1950, my youngest sister was born!  Our family at that time included an older brother and two other sisters who had followed my birth.  We were all hoping for a little brother and a name had been picked for him but instead God wisely provided another sister and I loved her immediately when she came home from the hospital with Mom about a week later.   

(This photo was probably taken the next summer.)
Fortunately for me that October (which is only clear in hindsight), I had missed being able to start first grade at Cross Ridge School by six days.  At that time the state of Wisconsin required a child to be six years old by Dec. 1st in order to begin school and my birthday fell on Dec. 7th.  Cross Ridge School was a one room building three miles from our dairy farm and I would spend eight years there starting the next fall.
(This photo was taken in June 2009 at a school reunion when I was able to introduce my family to the building in which I'd had my elementary school education.)

So when baby sister came home that October,
I was already Mommy's little helper and eagerly relished the opportunity to help care for Margelyn though it would be awhile before I could remember or pronounce her name correctly.  From the beginning we called her Marge.  Mom had selected the name and Dad finally gave in to her wishes for our family's fourth daughter.  It's such a pretty name and it's especially appropriate for a woman who is beautiful inside and out.

Our Mom faithfully kept a diary which we children were forbidden to read while growing up.  She told us she was unabashedly honest in her writing and feared that we or others would learn something that she wasn't sure we should know or she should share publicly.

It would be in Mom's 90th year before Marge and I would one day open the diary which was written on Margelyn's day of birth in 1950.  That was one year ago today. 

(The photo was taken of Mom, Marge and me at Marge's home on her birthday a year ago today.)

What we learned surprised, informed and endeared us to Mom even more than we already were.  At the time of our reading, Mom was in the last months of her life but we had no way of knowing that then.

The diary was a report of the work done each day on our farm.  We found little in Mom's diary that shared her emotions.  I had known that we did not have an indoor bathroom on the farm until I was nearly six years old.  I remember the path to our outhouse with its Sears-Roebuck Catalog for toilet tissue.  During the winter we used a pail indoors which was cared for by my Dad. 

The diary revealed that the water pipes to our house for indoor plumbing were laid in the weeks just prior to Margelyn's birth.  The bathroom with a 4-footed tub, a commode and sink were installed along with a kitchen sink which included a drain board during the week of her birth.  We also learned that the plumbing project was a gift from Dad's parents, our Grandpa and Grandma Groves who lived and worked in Chicago, IL at that time.

As I read these facts, I began to appreciate the difficulties which Dad and Mom lived with on our farm even more than I'd ever done before.  I knew Mom had carried pails of water in from the well to heat on our wood burning kitchen stove for our Saturday night baths in the washtub. 

(The photo shows my sister and me standing beside the old milk house where there was a water tank storing water from the well powered by the windmill shown at the top of the photo.) 

I knew she carried water to the basement where the wringer washing machine was and carried it back outside after the loads of laundry were hung to dry on outside lines or on the lines strung in the basement for winter or during a rainy season.

But I had not realized she had not had a kitchen sink until her fifth child was born.  I now recall the reason a dish pan was placed at the end of the table where I stood to wash dishes when I was as young as four (another revelation in the diary). 

I have gone down memory lane here instead of just celebrating my sister's birthday so I'll conclude with further tribute to her.

My sister is the embodiment of this verse:
Psalm 19: 14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

She is a woman of frequent, fervent prayer.  She has the gift of encouragement and uses notes, cards and letters to express to family and friends her care, love and kindness.  The warmth of her words provides inspiration and affirmation.  Those words, sometimes written and sometimes spoken, come from the richness of her relationship with the God whom she trusts and follows with deep gratitude.

Marge is also an artist with flowers. 
Her gorgeous boxes overflow each year with her carefully selected and tended blooms.  

And because of these qualities and many more, I am abundantly blessed to have this little sister.  

Happy 60th Birthday, Marge!


The Ex-Perfectionist said...

I loved reading this! What a beautiful window into your history. Happy Birthday, Margelyn.

Marge B. said...

Dear 'Big Sister',

As I told you in our phone conversation, I was deeply touched by your loving words expressed to me on my 'milestone birthday'. Your words 'warmed my heart' & were an embracing gift to me, as I pondered the reality of
'turning 60'. I'm still trying to register it 10 days later....but since you make 60 look so good, I think I'm going to be okay!

Fall seems to be a very nostalgic/reflective time of the perhaps it evokes even deeper feelings about missing mom. I am so very grateful you made a Wisconsin visit over the time of my birthday last year. Celebrating it with you and mom made it so very special. Our love and respect for her was enriched, as we read her 1950 diary entries. I am grateful for her honesty and have only gained more appreciation for her.

You expressed your love for me from the very start and all these many years're still expressing it to me. Thank-you dear sister!

With loving appreciation,
Margelyn ('Marge')