As I continued to research my family history after the death of my first husband, I came upon a family letter an ancestor wrote in 1893 who had just lost her husband. My second great-aunt Annie Carson of Dubuque, Iowa wrote the letter. Annie wrote to the family back in Hamilton County, Indiana explaining that their brother (her husband) had died. Annie was asking for money to help her survive through the winter after the crops had failed.
Annie’s husband, my second great-uncle John Carson, had children from his earlier marriage. Uncle John’s children ignored Annie and refused to help her in her time of need. At the end of the letter, Annie told the family she would understand if they chose not to help her and would find a way to survive. Annie wished them a good life at the close of the letter.
After reading this letter, I realized I was not the only one that had to endure hard times after the death of a spouse. Annie taught me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get on with life. I felt close to Annie, even though Annie has been gone for over one hundred years. Annie’s letter helped me to overcome my feeling of grief, loneliness, and helplessness.