Swelling of the soft tissues

I don’t usually find humor in an obit. I do usually avoid them since they give me the heebie jeebies. I abhor everything they represent. They are so, final.

This one, though, discovered while researching my mother’s ancestors, gave me pause. OK, fine, I smiled…but I’m guessing you may too when you see why.


First, let me tell you about Marie Kaufman Kraft. She was an incredible woman.

kraft_marie kaufman_shared by janie smith

The second wife of my great, great grandmother’s first cousin Johan Georg Henry Kraft, Marie took on plenty.

Georg’s first wife Anna Catharina, while giving birth to their fourth child at harvest time out in the field, died soon after as did the baby. No time to bring her into the house, Anna died outside in her sister’s arms.

Marie married a man with four children and gave him eight more. My soft tissues would be swollen, too.

Marie Kaufman Kraft (Ancestry photo, credit Janie Smith)

Think about that. Marie married Georg–and became instant step-mother to four grieving children–only nine months after Anna’s death when Anna’s children were six, five, four, and one year old.

My heart breaks for Anna, for Georg, and for their children, but when I read this obit and imagined Marie’s life, it twisted my guts. I think I heard my heart crack.

Marie was born in Russia and came to the U.S. with her mother at age 26. The following year (1887) she married into the Kraft family. In 1908 she lost a daughter when Hannah was 15. I believe it was her faith that carried her through the difficult times:

“Her parents were members of the Church of the Brethren in those days when God’s people suffered much prosecution in Russia.”

“Sister Kraft was a true and faithful Christian, a devoted and patient wife, a kind and loving mother, willing to suffer and sacrifice for her family.”

“She loved the cause of Christ with all her heart, and had a sympathetic heart for the poor.”

Marie’s health began to fail six years before she died. Her heart weakened causing “dropsy to set in” which “caused her death.”

Huh? Dropsy? I’d never heard the term. Google helped me out:

“Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.” (https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13311)Β 

“Of course her tissues were swollen; the woman gave birth to eight children,” I reasoned. Dropsy, however, wasn’t about giving birth. It was about congestive heart failure and excess fluid in the tissues. Marie had heart disease.


While I smiled at the word dropsy and found humor in out-of-date jargon, I was taken aback by Marie’s incredible, selfless life. It was brave coming to America. It was brave stepping into another woman’s shoes. It was selfless to marry and take on a sad husband and four saddened children (she most certainly was a “devoted and patient” wife). It was heart breaking to lose a child.

Her earthly career came to an end sooner than was expected” but Marie set an example her descendants can be very proud of.

kraft_marie kaufman_obit_shared by rolinda russell and darrell kraft_1937 death

Obit shared by Rolinda Russell and Darrell Kraft, Ancestry

May we all live as selflessly as Marie; may we live with open hearts, and may we find joy and peace in the giving.

And, whatever you do, don’t get the dropsy!

❀ Happy Easter! ❀

  14 comments for “Swelling of the soft tissues

  1. April 3, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    What an amazing woman she was. Totally selfless and she must have been so strong to have endured all of that and still live to 77. Truly amazing.
    By the way, I left a comment on your most recent post which disappeared. It may have gone into your spam (where many of mine apparently seem to be landing lately). 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 3, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Yes, I read Marie’s obit and re-read it several times after. I can’t imagine what she lived through and then coming in after Anna, taking on four grieving children, must have been really difficult. To live to 77 must have been quite a feat. Your comment, this one, was in the queue. It didn’t show up because I hadn’t seen or approved it yet (but I did contact WP about that). πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. April 2, 2018 at 11:34 am

    What an amazing woman! She certainly set an example for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 2, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Wasn’t she, though? I kept thinking about both Anna and Marie long after I first read their stories. I’m saddened but very inspired, and am lucky to have stumbled on their stories. I wish I could hug them both. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy
    April 1, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Dropsy is also a term I learned since starting genealogy along with terms like apoplexy for stroke and grippe for the flu. Today when we say someone has the dropsies, we think of people who keep dropping their keys!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. April 1, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    What a beautifully tragic story of hardships we hardly encounter these days. 12 children is quite amazing! Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      I can’t fathom having 12 children, but, that’s how it was during that time in our history. Her story was tragic, but I think also typical. Wasn’t she amazing? Happy Easter to you, too! I’ve missed you. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm

        Typical? Oh darn. I’ve missed you, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm

          Typical meaning large families and the losses they faced. 😦 Have you moved?

          Like

  5. April 1, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I always wondered what Dropsy was but not enough to look it up. Thanks. She lived to be 77! That’s astonishing! My great aunt married my grandpa after his wife (her sister) died and my uncle died so she could help finish raising the last 3 or 4 of her sister’s children. There were originally 10. Crazy but no birth control. Marie had a hard life but it might have been even harder in Russia. Women are still desperate to find ways out of that country. When will it ever end. Grandma lost 2 in their teens. They just keep on going because the others need them. I don’t know if I would survive losing a child and glad I didn’t have to find out. That is quite some obituary. Thinking about writing my own and have one started. πŸ™‚ It says “she was fast, loose and crazy” That should make them talk. πŸ™‚ Happy Easter to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      My mother is 89 and she knew the term (no surprise). And, yes, Marie led a remarkable life; maybe dying at age 77 was quite an accomplishment in 1937. I had the same thought. It was crazy having that many children, but it was the way of life back then. My mother is one of six, and dad was an only. I found Marie’s obit quite interesting as well. I wish I could find out more, but what we do know about Marie is significantly more than what we know about others. I’ve been trying to learn more about her husband’s first cousin, my gr gr grandma. I’m in the process of expanding the blog to include more cousins. Hope it works. Happy Easter, Marlene! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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