Meeting Mary Etta

December 13, 2015
Baby Lisa (1)

Lisa Falk van Klaveren c. 1978

Have you ever felt like you “missed” the people you never met…your family that you never knew, either because they had died before you were born, or because distance and circumstances had kept you apart? I have felt this way my whole life. I suppose, I miss those from whom I have been separated by time.

When I was a young girl, in the 1980s, and “old time” music (read: written anytime before I was born) played on the radio, I always felt a little sad simply because it was from years gone by…years filled with events, people, memories, I wasn’t a part of.

Silly, perhaps…incredibly sentimental, yes.

A big part of this sentimentality has to do with my grandparents. I only ever met my maternal grandfather, Eric Ultimus Edstrom, Sr. and he died when I was 7.5 years old. I never met my maternal grandmother or either of my paternal grandparents, as they all had died years before I was born.

To have never known either of my grandmothers, especially, has always made me feel like some part of “me” is missing.

I know little things about them…but not very much. I know my Dad’s mother was very talented with sewing and embroidery, and my Dad greatly admired this about her. I like to think I am a little like her, as I wield my crochet hook.

My Mom’s side of the family I know more about because she always talked to me about them, especially when I was little and helping her bake. She’d tell me stories from when she was young, about herself and her brothers and sisters…about her mother and father and grandparents too. And we baked together a lot.

They say, “Home is where the heart is” and “The kitchen is the heart of the home”, so it follows that in the kitchen is where you learn to love the family you’ve never met (or don’t know well). It’s a chain of love, from generation to generation, from heart to heart.  And if you’re not close to them, well, then you just know you ought to be…and if you’ve never met…well, then surely someday you will.

Mary Etta CDA few months ago, my first cousin, Jim Edstrom (Professor of Library Services and History at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois), gave me some family history he has collected over the years. Among these records, is a personal cookbook belonging to my maternal great grandmother, Mary Etta Dowling Bone, and a few of her journals. She lived from 1882 to 1938 – a few years before my time.

To have this history is truly a dream come true for me! What better way to get to know my Great Grandmother, than to read her journals and spend time with her in the kitchen, going through some of her favorite recipes?

For the first time…meeting Mary Etta.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Nichole Boehm December 17, 2015 at 5:54 am

    How you touched my heart and spoke so clearly to exactly how we feel on hearing stories of our Opa’s family. How perfect your article . We understand the feeling missing someone we have not met”.
    What a beautiful article. Thank you.

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