Faith & Doubt / Family / Montana / Relationships

A lasting gift

[Note: My dad died suddenly a few weeks after all this happened. It turned out to be my last story for him, my last gift to him…. a lasting gift.]

A Christmas gift, this Facebook story unfolding less than 24 hours ago: friendship unknowingly extended
from generation to generation,
Montana to Seattle, transcending time…

My parents' wedding day. She 21, he 25. (Dec 23, 1950 – Glasgow, Montana)

My parents’ wedding day. She 21, he 25. (Dec 23, 1950 – Glasgow, Montana)

 ∫∫  Ties… ∫∫

On December 23rd, 2011, I reconnected on Facebook with my Seattle friend, Nadine Siqueland, whom I’d first met by chance in a church Bible class 13 years ago.  We hadn’t seen each other in ages – over a year.  On Facebook I had just posted a photo of my parents’ wedding day, Dec 23, 1950, in tiny Glasgow, a small town tucked into rural northeastern Montana.

Nadine immediately posted a Facebook comment that her father was born in Glasgow. Her grandfather had been the pastor of the Glasgow Lutheran church; by chance the very one my grandfather helped found.  In multiple Facebook postings a story unfolded, intertwinings of our families…

∫∫  Ties That Bind… ∫∫

Unknown to either Nadine or me, in that obscure town of Glasgow, Montana it was Nadine’s grandfather-pastor, Harold Siqueland, who from 1936-37 looked after my grandfather, John Holter.  Grandpa Holter was severely injured – all but dead – in a Fort Peck Dam accident he was helping to build; he was confined to a third-rate government hospital for a year.  The Siqueland family helped care for the Holters – my grandparents, my dad’s family.

Later Nadine’s grandfather hired my permanently disabled grandfather as the church janitor for $1/week.  Our Holter family of seven was destitute, surviving on $13/month government disability.  In such hard times the Siquelands and Holters grew rich in their deepening friendships, family to family.

A proud milestone was Nadine’s pastor-grandfather teaching and Lutheran-confirming his star student, my father:  Art Holter.

∫∫  Blessed Be the Ties That Bind… ∫∫

 Fast forward to 2008 and two generations later:  With no warning, my then-husband stunningly demanded a divorce and disappeared, the beginnings of a marital and medical maze of mental issues  – mysteries to the man I married.  A few weeks later I needed surgery, yet found myself all alone with no one to assist me.  I was at a loss, humiliated. (Back in Seattle just a short time after several years living in Montana, I didn’t have time to reconnect with friends and ask for help.)  It’s hard not to keep score, but I’d nursed my husband through three surgeries and long recoveries, plus two serious illnesses.  I was never sick.

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It was Nadine Siqueland – a friend I’d met by chance at church – who offered to help me when I needed surgery, took me home from the hospital, and looked in on me – just as her grandfather had done for my grandfather 75 years earlier.

All these things were unknown to either of us until this day, Christmas Eve, 2011:  these intertwinings of God’s surprising grace, friendship, and mercy piercing time…
from generation to generation.

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