Receiving a small farm as a wedding gift seems like being born with a silver spoon in ones mouth, but this did not prove to be true for my parents.
South Dakota land was not very good crop land, since the state is noted for being dry, hot, and windy.
My father felt that he needed more acres in order to be able to care for his family, which at this time consisted of his wife and three children. Onas was the first child, Myrna, the second, and now the home had been blessed with another baby girl, Dollie Mae.
Dad found an 80 acre piece of land that he decided to buy, to be able to extend his herd of fattening cattle. He had a couple of years when the weather cooperated quite well with his plans and he was able to increase his herd.
Dollie Mae proved to be a very happy child, the joy, and greatest object in a day of play for Myrna and Onas. They loved chasing toys that Dollie Mae tossed as she squealed with joy, watching them retrieve each toy that she dropped from her high chair.
She was special to everyone in the home. Families were close in those years as there was no telephone, television, radio, or any form of electronics to interfere with family life.
Suddenly, Dollie Mae became very ill. This was in February. There had been many of the traditional South Dakota blizzards. Opening paths on the roads was nearly impossible, and horses had great difficulty in managing to even walk through the snow, let alone, pull a sled through.
At last a Dr. was contacted, as my father bridled up a horse and he and the horse maneuvered through the high banks to the Drís office. The weather was very cold and it began to snow again. The Dr. would not attempt the ride before morning.
Mother never slept a wink that night as the baby appeared to be in terrible pain, her stomach was swelling, and she hadnít had a bowel movement for several days. Mom tried everything to relieve the pain, to no avail. Dollie Mae was becoming weaker and very pale.
When Dad and the Dr. arrived the next morning, Dad walked right in to see Dollie Mae, and she weakly raised up her arm and pulled Dadís nose, which was the way she always greeted him. The Dr. did a quick exam, and said they must get the baby to a small hospital in Mitchell, which was nearly 50 miles away. They quickly got Grandma to be with Onas and Myrna, bundled up as well as they could, taking many blankets with them, and drove a team of horses on a small sled to the hospital.
Upon arriving, they were ushered directly to the meager operating room. Both of my parents were allowed to observe, and their hearts were broken as the surgeon opened the babyís stomach. There was a loud swish of air, and Dollie Mae had gone to be with Jesus. She had a telescoped bowel.
Both of my parents had tears in their eyes whenever they mentioned Dolly Mae. When I was old enough to know what had happened, many years had passed, as I was born almost exactly 13 years after Dollie Mae had been born. She was born just after midnight on May 22, 1918. I did not arrive until 1931, on May 21st, just before midnight.
All of my motherís life, (she died at 83 years of age) she grieved for her baby and searched back in her mind, trying to figure out if there was more that she could have done for her.
Disasters often affect people in many different ways. I think the loss made my mother overly concerned when any of us children were ill. She rarely left our sides, taking temps, putting cold clothes on our heads, reading to us, praying for us, straightening the sheets, making us special food, and just clinging like glue. None the less, no one could have had a more loving mother.
There was to be many more problems in those South Dakota years, but that will be another episode.
Praise God, each thing in our lives has a season, and we learn, even though It may be painful, to trust fully in our God. This is one lesson I have learned through my parentís lives, and throughout my own.
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