Thursday, July 3, 2014

Communing With My Ancestors, Part 2

The CABIN! was everything it was supposed to be. 
It was relaxing and perfect in every way. 
There was a unique layer added to this year's time which stemmed 
from the blog post I wrote before I left. 
This idea of "communing with my ancestors" was deeply felt during this trip. 
It felt like everything I did was connected to that deep, safe part of me that is reserved for the "bigger than me" aspect of my soul. 
Besides the "normal" parts of the CABIN! that I connect with,
 I found a treasure that absolutely changed me. 
When my grandma died in 1977, my grandpa was devastated. Someone suggested that he write a book about his life to help him grieve and pass the time at the CABIN! He was born in 1903--so he experienced the transformation of a new century. One of my cousins took the spirals he wrote in, made photocopies for the family and put it in book form. I think I got a copy when I was in 5th grade. I have referred to it several times-- I even did a report on the Great Depression using some of my grandpa's stories about that time period. 
He had some of his stories printed up his local newspaper 
but it is mostly just a family treasure.
He wrote this story in 4 spirals and I found these spirals at the CABIN!
 I held, in my hands, the actual spirals he wrote in. The ink, the impressions his words made on the pages, the stories that he 
wrote right there in that space were before my eyes. 
"This cabin has been a place I hope the grandchildren have liked to come.
We have 15 now and we love every one of them."
This made me bawl. Yes, grandpa, yes. We have liked to come here...!

I read the spirals cover to cover. 
I read about how his father left Germany at age 19 by jumping a cattle ship bound for the U.S. and escaping his duty as a member of the Prussian Army.
I read how he met my grandma and the controversy of her being Norwegian and him being German and how he had to wait over a month to hear the "yes" from her after he proposed because it was so risqué! 
I read lots of stories about his farming life and the struggles he and his family had and overcame. 
I read about my uncles and aunt and the various shenanigans
 they got themselves involved with. 
I read about my dad's near death experience when he was almost 2 years old and he fell into a well and almost drown. He was unconscious for 3 hours!
I read about how diphtheria and TB wreaked havoc on his community and how he lost many, many friends and family because of illness. 
I read about the importance of horses and how the
 automobile changed absolutely everything.
I read about when women got their hair "bobbed" or when they started wearing "slacks" it was a sign of rebellion and those who did it were "hussies"! 
 I read about how my grandpa bought the then, fixer-upper CABIN! for $2000 and how my grandma "took one look at it, walked out and sat in the car".
I read about how my grandma eventually came around and embraced the CABIN! and how planting her peonies there were a turning point for her.
I read about his last time with my grandma and how he felt like 
"the earth swallowed him up" when he found out she had died.
I read story after story after story and with each one I felt something
 that cannot be put into words. 
I am so grateful for the many gifts my grandfather gave me in these pages. 
I feel different.
I feel connected to a wider scope of life through these words 
and I am truly, truly grateful. 

1 comment:

  1. So unbelievable! I can just imagine the shock, the wonderment, and the joy you must have felt when you discovered this treasure. I can see you pouring over all the words and pages in the beautiful setting of that lake. Kari, you know that finding these spiral notebooks at this time in your life was absolutely not a coincidence. You were meant to find them. At that exact moment. Look for the message in your grandpa's words. It's there, and I know you will find it.