Letter # 60 - Janís mother is writing once more and her handwriting is more firm and better than ever. Jan has been in America eighteen years and is living with his second wife Hendrikien on their farm near Graafschap.
Wildervank, January 25, 1887
Dearly Loved son and Daughter and children,
Through the undeserved goodness of the Lord we have received your December letter in reasonably good bodily health and from it we noted with joy that you all are also in good health. Since then the one year has been exchanged for a new one. Dear ones, in the past year so many of our friends and acquaintances have been snatched away by death. Among others also your nephew Jan vander Borg. He was busy cooking potatoes and wanted to get a couple pails of water from the canal behind his house, and pitched forward and drowned. No one noticed it until at least an hour afterward, and then they hauled him out quite dead.
We see that the word is true that death beckons every hour. Kriene just wanders around here in the valley. He has absolutely no real home. Kier Bos gives him jobs and keeps him straight. They left the farm and also lived in Groningen and there his son Remmelt was a clerk in an office and embezzled so much money and has been in prison a long time. Jaantje and her daughter just wander around in Groningen.
Dear ones, I would like to relate many changes and alterations but Iím not always aware of them and so I canít do that anymore. Okke Pronk also died. He was committed to the earth last week.
Itís been really cold here the last day or two, but now itís somewhat milder. Everything here is so cheap just as by you, and the seafarers also earn very little, and so the land and houses are also much cheaper. Hendrik and Griet are docked in frozen Amsterdam. They have a load of corn and receive dock fees daily. The children go to school every day. They were all well. Our Griet had a cold and I hope that sheíll soon be better. We must greet you for her when we write you. Our other dear ones here at home are well. They will be writing you. Your dear Mettje writes that she would so much like to see us all; that would please her. Yes, dear ones, as I sit here writing I wish that the Lord may spare me from getting into this so deeply because then the relationship (longing) is too great (to bear).
The Lord rules. Dear ones, I wish you the Lordís blessing in this new year for soul and body. May He grant us that we may daily take refuge at his gracious throne to ask him for that which is necessary for our temporal and eternal well-being. After all, he says in his word, all that you lack I will give you in abundance if you ask. May the Lord grant that we acknowledge our dependence on him. May he grant that your children at an early age may grow up to honor him. If you write us you must tell us how it goes with you in the winter, in you can be so warm in the cold as you can here with the peat. Often I canít imagine it.
Does Harm Vonk live near you? Do you have neighbors nearby? How about those old people with whom you associated so much formerly? We heard that Dominee Kuiperís wife lost her speech. Is that so?
Now dear ones, Iím asking you many questions, hoping that itís not burdensome. If you canít answer everything precisely, thatís all right. I wish, dear ones, that you may receive these letters in the best of health. If you can manage, write us back soon and then, dear Mettje, you put in a little letter, too. Give your children a kiss from us. May the Lord be our Counsel and Guide on all our ways. After having wished for you the indispensable blessing for body and soul, I name myself your loving Mother, M J Boer
Be greeted yet once more from me and our Heigiena. You must overlook my poor handwriting.