Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Flew Enza!

I had a little bird,
It's name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.
A children's playground song in 1918.
Back in the 80's, I watched a movie on VHS titled "1918". Matthew Broderick was one of the cast. This was back before he was thrust to fame in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. 1918 was pretty much a sleeper. I'm not even sure if it was released in the theaters. It wasn't a blockbuster sort of movie by any means, but it was good, especially if you like period films. It gives the viewer a sense of what life was like for our ancestors in the year 1918. WWI, also known as "the Great War", was coming to a close. It was declared by a character in the movie to be "the war to end all wars".
More people were killed by the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 than in all of WWI. It was known as "Spanish Flu" or "La Grippe", and infected one-fifth of the world's population. Unlike most flu strains, it was young people who were predominantly infected, the average age being 20-40 year olds. Death would sometimes happen within hours of the onslaught of symptoms. As you can imagine, the consequences to society were devastating!
Aunt Leona & Toby
This is my husband's Aunt Leona. She turned 90 this year. She's a pretty good looking broad for a 90 year old, wouldn't you say? She's been visiting for the past couple of weeks, taking turns staying at the homes of Mr.Studley's two sisters. We've had ample opportunities to spend time with her. She's amazing. Not only is her mind sharp and clear, but she loves the Lord, and loves to talk about Him. Her depth of knowledge and understanding of spiritual things, and God's Word, is astounding.
Aunt Leona, or as some of the relatives here in Texas pronounce it, Ain't Leona, was born in the year of 1918. My late mother-in-law was three years old, and her baby sister, Leona, was six months old, when their mother's life was snuffed out by the horrid influenza. Word was sent to the dead young mother's sister and mother that she had perished, and that the baby would be buried with her in the casket. They were told there was no milk to feed the baby who'd not eaten since midnight; and besides, they were certain it was only a matter of time before the babe fell ill as well. My understanding of this story is that this word was sent by the local midwife, who I assume had tended to the sick mother. I'm not sure where the father was in this picture. This little motherless baby, with no one to nurse it, and no one to tend to it (there were several other children in the home), was going to be buried alive!
Aunt Leona's aunt and grandmother immediately sent back word that they were not to bury the baby, but to hold off until they could arrive, that they'd take the baby home with them. Word was returned that it would be foolish to come there and expose themselves. They went anyway, and the baby was handed to them through a window, to keep them from having to enter the house. The baby had already been dressed in burial clothes.
It's hard in our modern day thinking to imagine such a horrific thought as buring a baby alive (though thousands are killed each day in the wombs), but we haven't a clue what life must have been like in that time period, and in those circumstances. People were dying right and left. Doctors and nurses were dying along with the patients. Entire families were wiped out from the influenza. It's such a testimony of the power of God that Leona's life was spared. The aunt and grandmother raised her on their farm in Kentucky. She shared some wonderful memories with us of her childhood there.
I'm not sure at what age, but Aunt Leona was later introduced to Jesus as her Savior by her older sister, Mr.S' mom. She shared with Mr.S and I last night how she and her sister (his mom) loved to sit and talk about the Lord together. She remembers one night while visiting her sister when they were adults, that they spent the entire night lying in bed, sharing with each other the goodness of God.
My late mother-in-law died a few years ago, at the age of 90. Numerous people approached us at the family visitation night in the funeral home and told us how it was Miz T---that first introduced them to the Lord. I can only hope to leave behind the legacy such as these two sisters have, one now with Jesus, and one still living here for Him; to be known as someone who was passionate in my love for Christ, and always bold to share it with others.
*I gathered my smattering of facts about the influenza pandemic of 1918 at this site.
If you'd like to learn more, click on the link. I only scratched the surface of the shared facts.
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For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
~Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified Bible

38 comments:

Isle Dance said...

What a beautiful young woman Aunt Leona is! I'm so grateful family rescued her! OMGosh, what a fright to imagine her precious future was assumed doomed, yet clearly it wasn't!

It is amazing to think of how innocently we view The Flu now, considering the terror it's brought to so many.

I do understand this story a little bit. My Grandma (think Great-Grandma) woke up in the funeral parlor, on the table, as they were prepping her for the Ever After. No, I cannot imagine living through that.

Jennifer said...

What a moving story. It's hard to believe such stories could actually be true. How did people get through such horrific times. I'm so glad the family rushed in to save Aunt Leona.

Tins and Treasures said...

She does look amazing for 90. Enjoy her visit.
Natalie

Joansie said...

Such a touching story, Renna. I'm so glad you are able to share this time with this beautiful (inside and out) woman.

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing her story. So many of them (stories) are being lost with our grandparents. I am enjoying hearing the stories when my mom & aunt get together these last few years, but I don't think to write them down.

a friend to knit with said...

wow. that is some story. thank you for sharing.

your aunt is a beautiful woman!

Wool Winder said...

So glad Aunt Leona is here today to tell her story!

Nancy said...

Your post illustrates why we should all record and preserve our family histories. Your aunt's story is amazing. Give her a hug for me when you next see her.

Marguerite said...

What a story. How wonderful that you're able to share this time with your aunt to celebrate her long life and her love for the Lord.

Renna said...

Isle Dance, your grandmother's story is every bit as fascinating! How long ago was that? Before the days of embalming, or had they just not yet gotten to that stage?

Danaover40 said...

Renna, I love this story you've shared about this dear woman. It reminds me of my grandmother who in 1918 at age 18 went to the train station with her sister to meet Lula's husband's body being returned from war. He'd died from the flu. Lula contracted it, and died the week after. Their two children were raised by my grandmother and her mother. God bless those who stepped up for these children.

Becky said...

Oh my goodness Renna! What an amazing story. What an amazing legacy. Permitted to live and then to make a difference. Wow! I am so moved by this.

And thank you for your comment today. So sweet.

I wish you a blessed season indeed! And Ain't Leona too!

WhiteStone said...

I'm blessed by reading this post. Thanks!

Carol said...

Oh my gosh Renna!!! What a story! Leona is gorgeous! How sad to think of all the lives she has touched as never having happened were the plan to have gone forward.

Makes me cry to think of all the abortions, as you mentioned. The great things God had planned for these souls simply tossed to the side without a care.

Kudos to Leona's aunt and grandma who didn't stand by and allow such an atrocity to happen. You know they're sitting in a special place in heaven.

nikkicrumpet said...

She does look fabulous! What an amazing lady. And I was fascinated by her story. It seems so unreal that they were going to bury a baby alive...but I guess with so much death...one more seemed inconsequential. I'm glad those good women came to the rescue of a helpless child. Thanks for sharing her story!

Tea said...

I love period history, too, and I think the best and truest stories come from our ancestors.
Loved this one. :)

Amy, a redeemed sheep said...

What an amazing story, Renna!!!

Shannon said...

Amazing. The war was a bad one, too! It is hard to believe that they would have done that. Even more wonderful that she survived it and lived such a blessed life. Enjoy!

Brenda@View From The Pines said...

For someone who very nearly perished, or whose life would have been snuffed out, she certainly has lived a long and interesting life!
Brenda

Judy Temple said...

Renna-
That was such a wonderful story! My mil used to talk about that outbreak and how everyone in her house except her and another child were the only ones not sick. They still had to take medicine and the doctor came to the house each day. She also told me my great-grandmother was like a country doctor and went around to take care of people. When I was visiting her gravesite I realized that she probably died of the influenza. Her husband died within a year and left my grandmother who was about 20 to take care of the younger brothers.

cinnamongirl93 said...

Wow! I love this story. What an awesome plan God had for these lives. You are blessed to be part of their story!

cinnamongirl93 said...

Wow! I love this story. What an awesome plan God had for these lives. You are blessed to be part of their story!

randi said...

What an amazing story of what God can do in a person's life. Really, I can't even imagine the story of her mother's death and her possible burial. So crazy. CRAZY!

And, yes, she looks amazing at 90. What a lovely woman!

Liz said...

This is such a moving post. Wow. I can remember my grandfather talking about my great-grandfather catching the Spanish flu right before he was shipped overseas to fight in WWI. It nearly killed him. I'm always amazed that we know so little about things that happened, in the grand scheme of things, so recently.

Karen said...

What an amazing and beautiful story! Aunt Leona is a beautiful lady. I love this time period, but I do tend to romanticize it. The movie sounds like something I would love. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I've missed visiting over here.

Debra said...

What a story! And what a sweet and beautiful 'broad!'
It is wonderful to have older women we can look to for direction.
~Debra

lindanuts said...

The auntie is beautiful!
I am so glad, despite my sometimes disregard for the profession, glad that medicine has made such strides to protect us from the fear of the plague and smallpox and infuenza........

Sharon said...

RENNA, what a WONDERFUL testimony of God's Divine intervention, and what a LOVELY servant the Lord KNEW He had in Aunt Leona. She is very lovely, but, you know, the LORD has preserved her - not only when she was faced with a hideous death as an infant, but He's preserved her very well, to His Glory. She's yielded herself to Father, for His service and His Glory and He's just kept her so very well...her youth has really been renewed, hasn't it? LOL I LOVE IT.
That God for such a heritage that is passed along in your family and what a impact it has surely made to all the lives she's touched. FOREVER AND EVER!!! Hallelujha!!!
Thank God for His FAITHFULNES.
Give a squeeze to Aunt Leona for me!!! :)

Patty H. said...

What a wonderful story!! Your Aunt Leona is a beautiful lady.

Tipper said...

Wow! What a life story Aunt Leona has. Just amazing. I've read about the flue pandemic-and always been amazed at how that many people could have died. I've only had the true flu twice-and the last time, about 5 years ago, I did lay there and think what would I do if I didn't have Tylenol for the fever.

Farm Chick Paula said...

What an awesome story!! And "Ain't" Leona is a gorgeous lady!! What's her secret?

A Servant of the King said...

What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing! You have quite a legacy in your family.

MSM said...

Leona is beautiful; and her story is amazing.

This was a great post. Thanks so much for sharing.

Linda said...

What an amazing story!

Tea Time and Roses said...

Hello Renna!

How beautiful your precious Aunt is, and what a story she shared. It is true that a woman only becomes more beautiful with age.

Smiles...

Beverly

Isle Dance said...

Renna - It was in the days of embalming - early 1900's - but they'd not gotten to that yet. They left her alone for a while and then she started moving and seriously scared the man there. She was scared herself, waking to the dark morgue curtains. Then she was taken to the hospital. (They'd decided that she was dead and so never bothered going to the hospital first. We can only imagine how many people have been buried alive. I think I need to pray for them.) Life is amazing and precious. :o)

Lea of Farmhouse Blessings said...

What a story! Thank the Lord for those dear ladies who risked their lives to have a tiny child. And yes, Aunt Leona is still a "looker"!

Smiles,
Lea

Toby Parsons said...

Aunt Leona's story is beautiful! She is beautiful! Her story reminds me of my grandmother's story. She was born in 1894, and passed away when she was 86. She had 9 living children and numerous miscarriages. Grandma was born very prematurely and was only around 3 pounds at birth. Her grandmother kept my grandm and her mother alive. The story is amazing. And, bless grandma's heart, she loved the Lord, and me and my 36 cousins all loved and adored her dearly. One of my cousins shared with me about a year ago, that someone told her when she was an early teen that she had grandma's hands. She told me that until then she had not realized that and how 'proud' she was to have hands that looked just like grandma's. How sweet is that?!

I'm glad I found your blog via Lea @ Farmhouse Blessings!