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, in 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; 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 – 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 after several years living in Montana, I didn’t have time to reconnect with friends.)  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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