Looking back

To the editor:

Our ancestors survived wars, famines, epidemics and other disasters. Their survival is why we are here.

My father, Alex, born in 1908, was a boy during the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu epidemic. His family was very sick on their Sturgeon River area farm south of Chassell. He was the only one able to do the work.

He survived WWII in the Philippines in 1944, and Okinawa in 1945, one of history’s most violent battles. My parents married after the war, in 1946, and my dad died at 81 in 1990.

His parents were born in Finland: Kaisa in 1865 and Viktor in 1866. They survived the 1867-1868 famine in which 8% perished. Grandpa Viktor was the only survivor of the 30 people in a relief station for famine victims. His mother, Alfertina, died at 23. He lived to be 87 and Kais was 78 when she died.

My mother, Viola, was from Ripley and was born in 1919, during the epidemic. Her mother, Tyyne Marie, was in poor health and it was a difficult birth. She died at age 56. My maternal grandmother was 19 when she and my grandpa, Malakias, were married in 1918. He was 40 and lived to be 90. My mother died 5 years ago at age 95.

A cousin in Finland sent me a genealogy of my mother’s paternal ancestry, starting with Ivar. He survived the 1696-1697 famine in which 30% of Finland’s people died. He lived to be 104.

I quoted Rev. 21:1-4 at my mother’s graveside service in 2015. Verse four tells what God will do: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more… for the former things have passed away.”


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