As you know, I lost my Mom on October 12th.
I'm profoundly thankful that I knew her well, and had a long time to say goodbye.
While going through her things, I found a rather precious letter written to my Dad's former landlady, Winnifred Higginson, with whom he lived after coming to Canada, and before marrying my mom. Winnifred passed away in the late 70s or early 80s and she lived quite a life, including mission work in Africa.
In this letter, Winnifred's mother has to say goodbye, as she is dying and won't even have the chance to become a memory for little Winnie, who was no more than 2 years old when this letter was written, in roughly 1900.
Grab a tissue, you might need it.
Mother's Last Words.
I have only a little while to live, and you are so young, you could not remember anything I might say to you, so I thought I would (write) these few lines and you would be glad to know how Mother wants you to live.
It cost me and I struggle to give up... and your father Winnifred, he has been the dearest and kindest husband that ever lived but God has seen fit to part us, and I feel sure he will take care of you. Above all things I ask you to be a Christian. Not in name only, but to walk with Jesus (so) that you can hear the smallest whisper.
I am dying so...Jesus is so precious...the (air) is filled with heaven, I am just longing to go. Oh Winnie, if you live right, you will find it just the same as I do.
If your father has a house and a new mother for you, oh be obedient to her...it's my wishes that your father should have a home again in order that he could keep you with him.
I know he will always be good to you when he sees your little face around.
If I had not dying grace I could never part with you but God will take care of you and I am sure you will come where Mother is some day. I leave you my wedding ring...when you look at it you will remember what Mother wants you to do...so goodbye Winnie until we meet in Heaven.
As a mom, I cannot imagine the strength it took to write this, both emotionally and physically. As you can see, the handwriting gets more open and loose as the letter goes on, and there were a few words missing that I had to add.
I cannot imagine her husband's grief, either, and the worry of losing his little girl because there wasn't a woman around to raise her. Remember, that was a time when society couldn't fathom that young husband raising his own child.
I like to think that when Winnifred Higginson crossed through the pearly gates, her mother was there, welcoming her into heaven with a big smile and a long embrace.