Wedding photo of Jesse and Alice Sider, grandparents of the author of this article
I never knew my Grandpa Jesse Sider, who lived his entire life in Wainfleet, On. He passed away on June 21, 1948, less than two months after I was born on the other side of the world. Of course, my dad talked about him some, but I learned a lot more about the man I never knew from reading some letters to my dad that I found recently. They are short with maddeningly few details, but they return to the same themes almost every time.
Interest and concern about his oldest son and family: Grandpa’s letters indicate that he prayed regularly for my dad and supported him in his missionary service, first in Saskatchewan and then in Africa.
March 24, 1944: We received your letter a few days ago….We suppose that it will be quite a change for you to be left alone, especially when there are no other ministers near.
March 11, 1946: It will be nice to see you all again. This life brings many separations but God’s way is always best and we would not want to change it.
April 10, 1947: We received a letter from you lately also one from Walter Winger…. Walter says that if you folks keep on as good as you have started that he thinks you will be alright [referring to their first missionary assignments in Rhodesia].
Farm life: Reading Grandpa Sider’s letters reminds me of the difficult life of small farmers.
July 20, 1994: I rode the binder to cut the 19½ acres of wheat although I was at it on four different days.
July 19, 1945: We have our haying pretty well along…. Our wheat is good, about ripe…. We sowed oats on Mar 30 and forepart of April but had a lot of rain after that.
October 31, 1945: We have had a very wet time since about the middle of September. Our buckwheat and a great many other people’s is not cut yet.
April 10, 1947: We have had a late cool spring but the wheat is turning green now.
Church life: Grandpa’s letters are also filled with the names of relatives and church members, and the revival meetings and Bible conferences he attended.
January 31, 1944: Grace [daughter] was home only once since Christmas, a week ago last Thursday while our revival was on…. We had fairly good results the latter part of the meeting. Quite a number of the S. S. children were saved.
March 24, 1944: We are planning for our Bible conference tomorrow, and then special services all next week. Bro Henry Schneider is to be the evangelist. Uncle Ernie [E. J. Swalm] and Charlie Byers are to be the other speakers…..
July 20, 1944: I have been going to the camp every evening…. We are getting some rich holiness teaching.
March 11, 1947: George Sider has had a rather hard time, lost his cows [by disease] and house by fire this winter.
His health: In 1942, Grandpa was in poor health ever since his barn was struck by lightning while he was in it milking the cow.
July 20, 1944: It is a long time since I have written to you but as I was not feeling well…. I started with the stomach flu about the 24th of May and have not entirely recovered from it yet.
October 31, 1945: I’m not able to do very much work now but my heart is some better.
May 4, 1946, note added by Grandma Ada: Papa is not holding his own very good. Getting some weaker. Paralysis in both hands..
January 11, 1947, note added by Grandma Ada: Papa went to church this morning, but he hasn’t been very good….
March 11, 1947: Have not been very well lately but am still hoping God will answer.
July 20, 1947, letter written by Grandma Ada: Papa did his best to write a bit, not very strong this morning. Stomach bothering him lately. Appetite not very good.
The July 20, 1947 letter is the last one before his death. The final letter is from Grandma Ada, dated July 6, 1948. She describes the morning of his passing and the funeral, and continues: “We miss Papa so much. Imagine we hear him calling. Every place we go on the farm we see something Papa made or fixed, and it’s so hard on me.” When my dad read the letter, I wonder if he thought about what Grandpa said in his March 11, 1946 letter, “This life brings many separations but God’s way is always best and we would not want to change it.”