Seventy-ninth installment from the diary of my great-grandfather’s sister Alise, written during the First World War. When the diary starts, she is living just a few miles from the front lines of the Eastern Front, and is then forced to flee with her husband and two young daughters to her family’s house near Limbaži as the war moves even closer. Her third child, a son, was born there in February 1916. The family has now relocated (again) to a home near Valmiera, and the Russian Revolution is in full swing. For more background, see here, and click on the tag “diary entries” to see all of the entries that I have posted.
If there is mention of a recognizable historical figure and event, I will provide a Wikipedia link so that you can read more about the events that Alise is describing. It is with this entry here that the calendar in Latvia changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.
October 29, 1918
There have been many hours filled with pain and tears. On Friday, we cried over Betty’s body, and on Saturday morning we got a telegram, which told us that my dear mother also fell into the eternal sleep at 5:30 on Friday morning. In her life, she had lived through so many troubles, pains, hurts and illnesses, and it had to be the Spanish flu that took her from us. Our one and only mother – everyone has one, and when you no longer do, your heart hurts so much. There is so much that I still wanted to do for her, so many words of love that I was not able to show… on Sunday night we arrived at Father’s house, by the veranda doors. No one came to meet us. The windows were closed, and through the white curtains we saw the light of candles, and I could feel that Mother was sleeping there.
We went onward to the second doors, where our sister met us crying, telling us that we no longer have our mother, who always lovingly and tirelessly cared for us, is now sleeping quietly and peacefully. Brothers are sick with the Spanish flu, they are sleeping with nightmares, no, I don’t know it for certain, but I can feel it… we went into the room to greet Mother, she was resting a white burial sheet on the turf, surrounded by firs, a candle was burning and it was lighting up also a picture of the Saviour, which Sister had put at her head. Mother was beautiful and smiling, as if she was happy about the guests. Thank God that her final suffering was short. She got sick on Sunday and then on Friday morning she suffered her last, though Father and sisters spent many terrible hours and sleepless nights during that time. Now they only had to worry about Mother’s journey to the cemetery. Everything important needed to be brought from the city house and carefully prepared. Even though everything is expensive and there are shortages, for Mother they got the best that they could, so that we can be happy with her final resting place. Even an honour gate was constructed, with black and white flags and firs throughout.
The last flowers of autumn – they all bloomed for Mother – are at the cemetery, where we brought her on Thursday, October 26. Now she rests with her parents in the old Lēdurga cemetery. My thoughts are there with them, lingering… If I had wings I would fly there… now I wish I could live in Lēdurga again, then I would be close to her. Rest in peace, dear Mother, maybe things are better for you now than they were here in this crazy world, for under the cemetery earth there are no worries anymore. And you so wished to live your better days again, to grow younger than your 53 years. And then darkness fell…
Everything that God does is good, I’m sure later I will understand. Maybe even more storms will pass through and destroy our land. It is good to think, that these will no longer bother Mother. Now Father has to worry about both of my sisters, that they grow up to be good people. It will be hard for them at home, where every handkerchief, every piece of cloth, even Mother’s coffee can will bring up old wounds and tears. It is easier for me to bear and forget, for with a loyal friend’s hand, with a heart full of love, it is possible to survive life’s trials, even when one is tired and consumed by sadness.