Letter # 83 - This sad letter describes the passing of Jan’s beloved sister Marchien, the author of many letters in this collection. It also reveals the very conservative faith of these “old Reformed” Christians, daily burdened with their sin and unworthiness, seldom presuming to profess that God’s forgiveness had covered those sins so that they could call Him their Savior. Few would dare to take the Lord’s Supper. Finally, as you will see, Marchien on her deathbed claimed the assurance that Christ was her Savior. This last letter from the Netherlands is filled with tender love and is a poignant testimony to God’s love for the family of Jan Rubingh. One letter remains - from Jan’s widow (and my grandmother) Hendrikien.
Wildervank, June 10, 1920
Dear Aunt, Nephews and Nieces,
This is surely the first time you have received a letter from one of the children of your sister-in-law, and it has a sad reason.
When we received your last letter in March our dearly loved Mother was still healthy and well. She had said now and then, “Children, I must write to Uncle Jan’s wife”, because Mom and we all were so happy with your letter, but alas you will receive no letter anymore from the hand of our dear Mother.
On Sunday it will already be four weeks since our dear Mother departed from us through the Lord’s grace, and to our great comfort we can say that she has gone to be with our Lord and Savior, because our dear Mother departed from us in complete confidence. Her last testimony was, “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is so huge for us as the children left behind - that we might hear that testimony from her.
In Mom’s life she did not possess that assurance that characterized Uncle Jan. Mom told us so often how Uncle Jan actually lived that way and that he had such great knowledge of the Scriptures. Our dear Mother was always talking about it. But as for herself Mom dared to say “Your people are my people”, but then also to say “Your God is my God”, that she did not herself presume to take as her own. But our dear Mother did lead us as little children to Jesus and also she always spoke about it to us, and for Mom it was always such a great thing that all of her children walked in the way of truth.
But Mom always dwelt too much on her shortcomings and on herself to be able fully to possess it, and so now on her sickbed, which for our dear Mother became her deathbed, the Lord granted her that assurance of salvation so that she resolutely professed her Savior. Even though during her lifetime Mom’s life was totally taken up in her children, on her sickbed she was so freed from all that and gave everything over into the Lord’s hand.
For our dear Mother this was all victory, but for us a great loss. Mom was always so vigorous and hearty that we all had so much support from her. It is true that the last two winters Mom had a lot of chest problems. But last summer Mom was so vigorous and we hoped that this would remain. On Easter Sunday Mom went along to church once, and later Mom and my sis Grietje were together doing some cleaning, but then the Spanish flu came here to Wildervank. First Grietje got it and Mom a week later.
In Grietje’s case it lodged in her head and sometimes she was totally unconscious and that was precisely the most serious kind for my sister, for which Mom and all of us had the most concern. Then Mom got sick and it settled in her lungs. We can’t describe for you the anxious days that we lived through. First it was only my youngest sister who was there, because my other sister and her husband for years already had been on a barge in the Oude Meer, but then I quickly came home to help and had to watch over them each night. Mom lay on the one bed and Grietje on the other. When Grietje was so seriously ill, it went all right with Mom, but when Grietje became calm, then our dear Mother got sick. Mellene was also home with us for a week and Berend Geuchien was here once also.
The Friday after Ascension Day Mellene went home again and that day Mom became so ill that the doctor said she could not live two days more. Fortunately Mom was fully conscious right up to the end, but really exhausted. Fortunately when Mom became so seriously ill, Grietje had recovered so that she could carefully go to our dear Mom’s bed in order to give her a goodbye kiss. O, auntie, that was so touching! But the Lord has made things go so well that our dear Grietje is now so much better. She does, however, not have all her strength back, but we hope that that also will turn out well. Of course, this is naturally the worst for Grietje and Be because they miss our dear Mother the most since they were with her day by day, but for all of us it remains a great loss, but we will just beseech the Lord that he will make us more heavenly-minded. God’s Word teaches us that we should set our minds on things above where Christ is. He is worthy of all the love of our hearts for He purchased us with His precious blood and now has taken so many from us to Himself.
Now our dear Father, Mother, oldest sister, and her baby, with also a little sister and little brother are already there where no tears flow, where no sin and sadness are present, but there they may eternally serve the triune God in perfection.
Dear Auntie, Nephews and Nieces, we hope that you may receive this letter in good health and that we may yet receive a small letter from you. Aunt Griet has also been looking for a word for some time, and she will be happy if you send her a letter. Her address is Marwiesestraat 43a, Groningen.
Dear Auntie, receive our heartfelt greeting, from your dear nieces, Grietje Be and Alida Dekker