Letters from Aunt Dona

Kindex is thrilled to have a guest post from family historian Katie Farnsworth. Katie has dabbled on and off in genealogy for the past 20 years.  Besides researching her ancestors from Ohio and Indiana, most recently Katie has focused her efforts on adding richness and texture to her ancestors through researching pictures, personal histories, newspapers, letters and journals.  Katie lives in Centerville, Utah.

As a young girl growing up in a small, rural community in central Utah, I was fortunate to live close to relatives.  I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s home.  And the house next door belonged to my great aunt, Dona Sandberg.  Aunt Dona, as I called her, was compassionate and loved me just as much as her own grandchildren.  She was tall and slender with a full head of perfectly coiffed, brilliant, white hair.  She dressed elegantly and loved to talk.  She was a homemaker and “beauty operator” as they were called back in the day.  As she aged and lost her strength and stamina, I mowed her lawn during the summers and cleaned her home.

When I was 21 years old I left the small, rural community of central Utah for New York City.  I was a missionary for the LDS church and my assignment was for 18 months.  After arriving in New York City I grew desperately homesick.  Phone calls were far and few in between but letters—they were my life blood from home.  One of my most faithful writers during this period of homesickness was my Aunt Dona.  Each week she would send me a four-page, single spaced, handwritten letter.  I looked forward to each letter and the temporary relief—and love—it brought.

I recently discovered this box of letters from Aunt Dona in a spare closet.  I had forgotten all about them!  As I re-read each letter I could hear Aunt Dona’s voice speaking to me. Her words of encouragement, advice and love are just as relevant today as they were back then.  I’m no longer living in New York City but I’m experiencing a situation in my life that is foreign and creates a sense of sadness similar to homesickness.

I determined these letters needed to be preserved, indexed and shared with her posterity.  As I transcribed her words I learned new things about family members.  Information she wrote about family members have taken on added meaning now that those people have passed on as well.  And as these letters are being shared with her posterity, they too, are being enriched by her words of encouragement, advice and love.  They can be shared and re-shared again and again for generations.

I’ll end with a few of Aunt Dona’s encouraging words:

“That you find you have another mountain to climb just when you felt you were reaching the top, darn it has to be hard.  But, Katie, not too hard for you.  You are strong and faithful, you have courage or you would never be where you are.  We will pray in force for the strength you need and that feeling of defeat will have to leave you and you can get on with your work.  Please keep believing you will do whatever you are called to do. I guess some of our tests are harder than others, just as in our schools…I do know you can do it!”

I know her words would be the same to me today.

Dona Letter

 

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