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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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May 22, 2008

Missing Aunt Hannah

The Lutheran lost another loyal reader this week when my Aunt Hannah Hanson died six days before her 95th birthday. And although I haven’t seen her for nearly two years, there’s a void in the Sevig family this week that I’m sure is being felt by my 21 cousins and Hannah’s three remaining siblings. With her death, the odds have tipped: now four siblings have died and three remain. It feels significant.

When we don’t live near our relatives, lives can seem so disconnected. We’re even reduced to learning things about them from obituaries: Hannah was a baker at the Piggly Wiggly in Minot, N.D., and a cook at Metigoshe Lutheran Bible Camp.

Hannah was the oldest daughter and remained single until age 44. My dad always said Hannah had to stay and help “Ma” and “Pa” on the farm. And since she and husband Carl had no children of their own, their Emmet, N.D., farm was a favorite place for nieces and nephews to visit for weeks at a time. Wtthout fail, she remembered the birthdays of those nieces and nephews—sticking a $1 bill in their cards every year until they reached adulthood.

My time at the farm was almost always spent with my cousin Judy. Judy remained closest to Hannah and held her hand as she took her last breath on Monday. As cousin Kathy reported through the family grapevine, “Hannah was looking into Judy’s eyes as she took her last breath. I figure she was letting Judy help her leave this world.” Oh that we could all leave this world so peacefully and holding the hand of someone who has loved us so!

Yes, The Lutheran lost a loyal reader and the church a faithful servant. For those salt of the earth people like Hannah—for those hands that worked the farms of North Dakota and baked bread at the Piggly Wiggly and Metigoshe Lutheran Bible Camp, and for a life that shaped mine in ways I’ll never know, I am grateful.

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