Hate Mother’s Day Platitudes?

My great grandmother, Sophia Nielsen, is the undisputed matriarch of our family. She started in a log cabin and ended owning a 40,000 acre ranch. She worked hard and fought harder. Our favorite story is about how she brought a railroad to a stop–not just one train, a whole railroad because they owed her money. That makes her sound hard, but, in fact, she lived long and became greatly beloved, called “grandma” by everyone. It is said that a letter, mailed in Germany in the 1950s,  addressed only to “Grandma Nielsen, The Big Ranch, Idaho Falls USA” got delivered.

lauralindaAh, yes, but it’s Mother’s Day.

So I have to ask, what would my great grandmother Sophia say was the most difficult part of her life—stopping a railroad, building a ranch, or raising a family? Obviously, I can’t speak for her, but consider the following: 

  • Her first child was born premature because she’d contracted typhoid fever, which caused her to go into early labor. 
  • When a sister-in-law died, she adopted the baby that was left behind. The baby, a girl, died three months later.
  • She raised five children by herself, as a widow of the 1918 flu pandemic, and buried a grandchild the same week she buried her husband.
  • After age sixty, she assumed primary responsibility for two children that she raised as a single grandparent.

 The way I see it, stopping trains takes grit, building a ranch requires more than a little ambition, but raising a family will tear your heart out.

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3 Comments

Filed under Family Stories, Life Story, Mother's Day, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Hate Mother’s Day Platitudes?

  1. Mothers of the pioneers on the plains have been kicking it up so long… and the mother’s of the plains that were here and hauling everything they own chasing the bison before that… thanks mom for cooking with the pots and rocks and at the site of some hand print on a rock face! We are so lucky to be alive!

  2. What a strong, resilient woman! Your great-grandmother would feel at home in one of your novels, Jerrie.

  3. “They don’t made ’em like that anymore.” And that means us!

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