Thursday, September 3, 2009

Then and Now and This World

This is my mother's grandmother.

Her name was Ada Chapman Henderson.

She married her husband, Joel Butler Henderson,

on October 4, 1882 at 4:30 p.m.

Ann married Steve on October 5, 2002 at 4:00 p.m.

That has nothing to do with this post and where I'm going with it, but I just realized that and wanted to write that down.
My thoughts went to her this week - it was one of those "Oh yeah .... " with a pause in thinking - then some pondering - so I emailed my sister for some "stats" regarding Granny's children - how many - etc. I've known this stuff but I get it all mixed up.
Mary Ann has the geneology books - family tree records - etc.
Now it's 2009 - and we are frightened regarding the S. Flu - There's a sense of being vulnerable - even for the healthy - not so confident regarding medications and the assumption that all will be well.
When this life presents a crisis that can involve the world and our culture my thoughts go to Mother and Daddy - knowing they lived through their own stuff and now are in heaven - then I go beyond that to my grandparents - and my mind landed on "Granny" - Ada Henderson.
She lived through the Tuberculosis Epidemic of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century.
I googled that TB crisis to get a feel of what that unknown felt like. This is what I got - the first was written regarding the Boston area - it's just what I happened to find.

Tuberculosis is something we don't often think about anymore. But 19th century Concordians were frighteningly aware of the symptoms: the flushed cheeks, the bright eyes, fever, loss of appetite, and most of all, the cough. It was feared, but regarded with a peculiar resignation because it was so unavoidable. It was dreaded, but at the same time romanticized. It was a disease that reflected the culture of its time: the victim slowly, gracefully fading away, transcending their corporeal body, their immortal soul shining through.

In reality, tuberculosis, commonly called consumption in the 19th century, killed more people in New England, particularly in the Boston area, than any other disease. It affected the poor more often than the wealthy, females more than males, and people of all ages. Anyone could be a victim, but it was especially prevalent among young adults, cruelly striking down those in the prime of their lives

And then another article:

In 1882, Robert Koch discovered a staining technique that enabled him to see Mycobacterium tuberculosis. What excited the world was not so much the scientific brilliance of Koch's discovery, but the accompanying certainty that now the fight against humanity's deadliest enemy could really begin.

The measures available to doctors were still modest. Improving social and sanitary conditions, and ensuring adequate nutrition were all that could be done to strengthen the body's defenses against the TB bacillus. Sanatoria, now to be found throughout Europe and the United States, provided a dual function: they isolated the sick, the source of infection, from the general population, while the enforced rest, together with a proper diet and the well-regulated hospital life assisted the healing processes.

Here's what I got from Mary Ann - Most I knew but I wanted dates and just how many children she lost to TB - what were the years? Wanted a recap of her age when certain things happened. - trying to get a mental picture - making her real and feeling the grief she had to experience - and others. and then the understanding of how she lived above the tragedies and hard times - because I've heard the stories - her unique personality - Ella(her youngest and my grandmother), told me about a friend who would come to visit Granny and Ella could remember hearing them laughing so hard - that laughing gene goes WAAAAYYYY back in our family.

I know she must have had a hard edge - because my sweet, soft, gentle mother absolutely adored her - but my aunt who had a bit more - hmmmm - not really rebel - perhaps a good bit more spirited than mom - well she didn't speak as endearingly of Granny as the others did. I think Granny challenged Florence and Florence must have crossed Granny. Or vice versa - We have heard so many Granny stories over the years - I want to meet her.

So this is the truth about what happened.

She was 19 when she married Joel Henderson in 1882. They had 8 children.

Probably first pregnancy(twins) was in 1883 and I know she had her youngest in 1897. That was my grandmother, Ella.

Granny was 34 when she had her 8th child. and then 7 1/2 years later her husband died of TB. That was October 7, 1904. He was 46. Ada was 41 when her husband died. Her oldest sons were probably 21. Ella was 7 1/2 when her daddy died. I don't know the ages of the others, in between - anywhere from 10 to 19, I suppose.

10 years later her son, John, died - we think of TB.

In 1923, 9 years later, her daughter, Francis(Fanny), died of TB.

And in 1945 her son, Joel, (always called "Honey") died with TB.

We always heard about "Honey" and his death because the fam built a small dwelling in the back of Ella's house - way in the back - to isolate him from the rest of the family - to nurse him and treat him - but he didn't survive. He died March of 1945 and 3 years later Granny died at the end of 1948.

Mary Ann told me something else. Mary Ann plays the piano at church and our aunt, Mary, plays the organ. That's the same church which Granny attended, and Ella and Elbert - Mary Ann said that according to Mary, Granny's favorite hymn was "Jesus Savior, Pilot Me". Recently the two of them played an arrangement of that hymn for the offertory.

During my college years when I was so involved in Campus Crusade and that whole thing about sharing the gospel, using the 4 Spiritual Laws developed by Bill Bright - (I never did get the hang of that - not ever - with much unnecessary guilt to carry around) Mother and I had a conversation regarding Granny - Mom said, "she didn't have the 4 spiritual laws or any of that Campus Crusade Material - but she had a faith that was strong and real - she knew what it was about." That's how Mom told me.

Jesus, Savior, pilot me,

Over life’s tempestuous sea;

Unknown waves before me roll,

Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;

Chart and compass came from Thee:

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
As a mother stills her child,

Thou canst hush the ocean wild;

Boist’rous waves obey Thy will

When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”

Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,

Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore,

And the fearful breakers roar

’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,

Then, while leaning on Thy breast,

May I hear Thee say to me,

“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”


LB said...

of course I loved reading that, since Ada carries on her name. Ada saw me reading this post, and she saw the picture. She said, "who's that?" And I said, "that is someone named Ada." And she said, "Ada?" I am sure that is confusing to her. to read and think about.

Mary Ann said...

Oh, Liz, so so good. It's great to read it all in kind of a story form, and in chronological order. I love that picture of Granny.