We hyave moved ahead to 1944. Dave has now joined the ranks of Uncle Sam’s Army and is in training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Dick is at Forteliza, Brazil, working in a liaison capacity between the Army and the local employees. Ced remains in Anchorage, Alaska, repairing planes and going out to repair and retrieve downed planes. Dan is now stationed in London and working with the topography unit, although I do not know if they are yet working on maps of France in anticipation of D-Day. Lad and Marian have recently arrived in Texarkana, Texas, where Lad will be training mechanics for the Army
Trumbull, Conn Jan. 23, 1944
Grandma (Peabody) died last Tuesday at 11:30 AM, having been unconscious from the night before. She passed away quietly and peacefully, and if the expression may be permitted, happily, with her loved ones near. Death is, at best, a lonely adventure and is made more so when none near and dear are close by. Helen and Dorothy were there; Burton and Anne arrived later, as did Ced who was in New York and happened in about 11:30 to see them all. At Grandma’s request no funeral service was held, which, all with the exception of Kemper, met with the approval of the family. She was cremated Wednesday. Dorothy expects to continue living in the same apartment.
Grandma’s life span marks an era in American history which is fast becoming legendary. Born in Sweden, she came to this country as a young girl and with her parents settled as pioneers in what was the raw Far West in those days. Battling fierce Dakota winter storms and summer’s heat and drought, life was lived under the most primitive conditions. With Grandpa frequently away from home for days at a time, with the constant fear of marauding Indians, often facing periods verging on privation and want, she raised a family of seven children, never for once lowering her ideals of honor and integrity. Not knowing what the next day would bring she still carried on. In the light of these struggles when your mother was a baby, the words of that beautiful old hymn take on for me a greater significance:
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on,
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet! I do not ask to see
the distant scene; one step enough for me.
I like to think of Grandma going to join Grandpa and your mother — going home, as it were, after a long and useful journey:
So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
the night is gone;
and with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost a while.
In the intimate service which we hold each in the stillness of our own hearts at her passing, I am reminded of a little prayer which years ago as director of the church boys club (The Brotherhood of St. Andrew) was customarily part of our closing service: “Guide us all the day long, oh Lord, through this troubulous life until the shadows lengthen and the evening, and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in thy tender mercy grant us a safe lodging and rest in peace at last with Thee.”
So passes from this earth one whom it has been good to know and who can set for us all an example of courage and faithfulness to ideals which can be a treasured memory, and an inspiration.
Tomorrow, the conclusion of this letter.