Last week I spoke of my pleasure in our children and grandchildren. I want to add that I sometimes watch the latter nine with a twinge of fear, because they have most of their lives ahead of them and who knows what will come their way?
Recently I was sent a photo of my grandmother Katherine (Quiring) Doerksen and her one-year-old daughter, taken in 1915, probably for her husband Johann, far away on the Russian front of the First World War, where he served with the Red Cross. I’m drawn to the face of my young grandmother, and what I see of both innocence and strength. I know what she didn’t know at the time of the photo, which is that the little girl will die at a year and two months, the husband and father still gone, the mother alone with her grief. I also know that she will get malaria, that the Russian Revolution is coming, that she will be poor, become an immigrant, bear another seven children, and lose a second child to death not long after arriving in Canada.
I’ve been reading Mary Pipher’s Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age. I’m liking it; it’s gentle with stories and encouragement. One word I’m especially noticing is resilience. We need resilience for new stages, new situations. We can learn resilience and we can draw on what we’ve learned already. Although I didn’t know my grandmother well, my dad spoke of his mother with admiration and affection. She was said to have a deep faith in God. This must have been the resilience that carried her through her circumstances. I hope for resilience too in the last stages of my life, and for my grandchildren beginning to learn it in theirs.