Submitted by Pastor Murray Wittke
Valley Christian Assembly
Grandma and Grandpa Johnson were married on Groundhog’s Day 1915 near Edmonton, Alberta. She was 19. He was 27. They travelled by horse-drawn buggy to Grandpa’s homestead 12 miles south of Provost, a tiny community near the Saskatchewan border. There, out on the open plains in a small wood frame cabin, they settled down and began a family.
Their first child was born before the end of the year. A second followed in the spring of 1917. Grandma cooked on a wood stove, fetched water from a pump in the yard, tended a large garden, raised chickens and milked cows. She made a few pennies selling eggs and cream. Grandpa plowed fields and did rough carpentry for extra cash. With their neighbours they built a simple country church. Sunday after Sunday they gathered to give thanks, praise the Lord and pray for God to bless their families and crops.
On Sunday January 26, 1919, folks at church noticed the Johnsons were missing. The next day Grandpa’s brother rode over through the snow to check on them. Everything was quiet. Peering in the window he saw Grandma and Grandpa in bed with the kids. Everyone was burning with fever and Grandma was in labour. The deadly Spanish influenza, which swept across the prairies like a grassfire killing 50,000 Canadians in weeks, had come. Later that day Grandpa helped Grandma deliver their third child. Neighbours came to their aid. The baby survived and everyone eventually recovered.
The following years brought more children and challenges: drought, dust storms, grasshoppers, the great depression, World War II and a move to B.C. to start all over living in a chicken coop. Through everything Grandma and Grandpa continued to love their neighbours, love God and love each other. In the summer of 1968, after fifty-three years of marriage, Grandpa said goodbye for the last time. In 1984 Grandma was laid beside him. Though many years have passed since we were together, their courage, faith and love inspires me today. We don’t know what tomorrow holds but the lives of many of our grandparents encourage us to trust God and take care of one another in dangerous times.