Thursday, February 21, 2008

Franciska - Chapter Five

This photo:

Back row: Frederick, Herbert (my grandfather), Helen, Rhinehold, HelmuthFront row: Franciska, Rudolph, Emma, Hermann

When we last left the Meyer family, they had just moved to Colorado where Hermann's brother resided and pastored at the Beebe Draw Baptist Church. Hermann filled in preaching when his brother, Ewald, was absent or unable to preach.

Hermann and Franciska were devoted Christians. They were consistent in their walk with God and bore testimonies of being honest and fair-dealing in the communities in which they lived. Though they lived all days of the week in this manner, Sundays were set apart as special for the family. Both parents saw to it that Saturdays were spent in preparation for Sunday so that the day could be enjoyed by all. The shoes were shined - 9 pairs - the children studied their Sunday School lessons, food was prepared and other work that pertained was done. Early on Sunday morning, the cows were milked and other necessary chores that had to do with the feeding and comfort of the livestock, but the rest of the day was spent at the worship services and at home relaxing.

The children and grandchildren remember that devotions were held morning and evening throughout the week in the household. The Bible was read and prayer was offered. After the last prayer, Hermann would rise and give Franciska a kiss.

Though Franciska enjoyed recording Hermann's poetry and acting as a "sounding board" for his sermons, she also found pleasure in many other activities centered around her home and church. She was very accomplished in many forms of needlecraft. She knitted socks and sweaters for the family on her own knitting machine. When a sweater or pair of socks developed a hole, Franciska mended it good as new. She also crocheted intricate fillet patterns in throws, doilies and tablecloths, obtaining the patterns for these pieces from Germany through mail order, as well as many of the supplies.

A garden was a necessity during this era and Franciska enjoyed tending to both the vegetable and flower gardens, naming her flower garden "Schwester", which translated means "sister". With her love for flowers, she made sure there were always some blooms in the house as well, adding beauty and grace to the home. She had no lawn. Instead what would have been planted as lawn, she planted in flowers. Even in her latter years, she enjoyed keeping her lovely pressed glass bowls filled with bouquets.

Franciska especially enjoyed reading frequently and expressively to her children and husband. The family also took great pleasure in singing together. To make the chore of dishwashing go faster and to distract from the tedium of it (since there were many dishes to wash three times everyday), Franciska would initiate singing as the family washed and wiped the dishes.

Though they were devoted Christians, Hermann and Franciska did have their faults. My father's sister, my Aunt Francis (named after Franciska) reported, that Hermann... "admired the legs of pretty girls and would say as much to Franciska, whereupon he would receive a sound scolding!"

And there were the little quirks also. Franciska thought it was important to enunciate English words clearly and would grow somewhat frustrated with Hermann because of his careless mispronunciation of words. He called tooth picks "two pigs". And when he took eggs from his chickens into town to sell, he, in broken English would announce, "I have dirty-six eggs today". Franciska would correct him, "Du muss nicht sagen 'dir-ty eggs, du muss sagen thir-ty eggs!" (You must not say 'dir-ty eggs, you must say thir-ty eggs!)

One granddaughter recalls her memory of Franciska.
"Grandma was good to me and very loving. The house was neat, and everything was spic and span. She was a very devoted Christian...president of the North American Baptist Missionary Society for 30 years. Sometimes she would say someone should not have bought something for her, but should have given the money to the missionary society. She saw to everyone's needs...Grandpa was the head of the house, but she had a strong personality - no shirking work."
Franciska also organized the Women's Missionary Society at the Beebe Draw Baptist Church, serving as its president for 25 years. The women involved in this ministry met often in her beautiful Schwester Garden, appropriately named for, as mentioned, in English it meant "Sister Garden". It was a place that was both restorative and motivational.

Many times Franciska acted in the capacity of a practical nurse. She cared for her mother-in-law while she and Hermann were still in Germany. Setting aside concerns for her own health, she frequently nursed people in South Dakota and Colorado with illnesses such as tuberculosis, scarlet fever and diphtheria, often leaving her own home to stay in the home of the ailing one. Amazingly, she functioned as a midwife, delivering the first babies of each her daughters, Helen and Emma, in her own home, following the custom in Germany for a daughter to go home to Mama to have her first child delivered.

My great-grandmother was a woman concerned with the physical and spiritual needs of others. She delighted in counseling younger women, living out the charge of Titus 2:3-5 for older women to teach and train the younger women. She reminds me of the woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, who, though a widow, had spent her married years loving her family at home and in the body of Christ: "...the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works...she has brought up children...she has shown hospitality to strangers...she has washed the feet of the saints...she has assisted those in distress...she has devoted herself to every good work". That was Franciska.

Chapter six of Franciska will feature the farm where the family finally settled and the work that was done there.

Newer Post Older Post

    Share This


Post a Comment