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.
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)
“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.
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! ❤