July 31, 2001... Young Bill Krieger
This is a letter from a mother to a son dated January 8th, 1933.
"Mom" happens to be Anna J. McCall Gay, my grandmother's mother, that is, my great-grandmother... no, she's not alive. Crikey.
And "Son" is George J. Gay, my grandmother's brother. I guess he would be my great-uncle or something. And yeah, he's dead too... died in 1981 according to Gram Krieger's date book. Hey, when your 91 as Gram is, your date book holds as many death anniversaries as birth dates.
Anyway, below is a letter written from Mom to son. Mom is writing George in response to his letter telling her that he has decided to drop out of the seminary and not become a priest. I think one could describe this time in their lives back in 1933 as, oh, tense.
I threw the letter up here on the web site because I feel it is beautifully written and its honesty and caring really shine through. It's pretty short; the letter is four stationary pages long.
Keep scrolling and check it out.
I have munged together three versions of the letter for you.
Normal Font Version of the "My Dearest Lad" Letter
BTW, "Elinor" in the letter is my grandmother.
Page 1: Image of the envelope (39 KB) ~ Image of page 1 (107 KB)
|January 8th 1933|
My Dearest Lad,
Strange as it may seem, it is almost impossible for me to write this letter. Not that I am heartbroken about your decision altho like every Catholic mother to have one's son a good priest would be the supreme blessing; but one must have a true vocation to be a good priest.
To me it has always seemed that that was your vocation but in all great moments in life we stand alone, no one, not even your mother, father or anyone can live these moments for us and no one can make important decisions such as this except ourselves.
You have surely tried your very best to find out what your state in life should be. God grant you have found out and that you may attain that for
Page 2: Image of page 2 (120 KB)
which you were created. As far as I am concerned, I, in all humility, feel that I am not worthy to be the mother of a priest.
But with the help of Jesus, Mary and Joseph I will be the mother of an honest straightforward clean-living Catholic man.
Truly George I was not so much surprised, only I thought of a different reason, that you flunked in your studies. Well your father thinks you have used good judgment given yourself a fair trial and as a matter of fact seem to be glad you will be here to stay.
I did not do as you suggested about waiting till the 15th to tell Elinor Edna Margaret & Henry. Louise & Virginia need not know till later, but it happened that Edna was the one to get the mail the day The letter came as George's letter are always family
Page 3: Image of page 3 (104 KB)
property she opened it, but of course, did not read it when she found it marked (Personal) but you can imagine how curious she and Margaret were, so I told them and the others except the two younger ones. Elinor said she's glad and they all are of the same mind.
This sounds as if it we're not glad to have you home but you know that is not so, only I can understand what agony of mind you had to go thru to reach your decision.
Well let's get down to the practical side of it. Will it be necessary for anyone to go out to get your things or will you need a truck or how do you plan to get everything together? Tell us first what to do when you write. You will need more money won't you?
Page 4: Image of page 4 (109 KB)
We will make plans for the future when you get home won't we?
It had been decided to keep the Xmas Tree up till you came home but it was getting too droopy so we took it down today.
Joe and Agnes Brady were here Sat night and of course asked about you, how long you would be home etc. I told them the boys were usually home about 10 days so I didn't fib.
Well George I know there is one of the family going to feel abused and that is Louise. She never got a chance to go out to see you.
I guess I will stop for now we will have a nice long talk some of these days about everything until then I will say Goodnight son. Pray for your mother as I will most surely pray for you.
Hey you made it! Great letter, eh.
Man, there are some powerful forces at work here...
All these must have squeezed Anna pretty hard, but I think she emerged heroically and eloquently in support of her son, George. "You have surely tried you best," she writes. The family will "be glad you will be here to stay" when George comes home. She sounds like a great woman.
I don't really know any more details about the story. I mean I know George never became a priest, but I don't know why he left the seminary or how much heat he really faced when he quit. Details, schmetails.
For me, quote of the letter:
|In all great moments in life we stand
no one, not even your mother, father or anyone can live these moments for us and
no one can make important decisions such as this except ourselves.
Finally, I want to thank:
|Thanks to Dr. Susan Fournier, the chick to
the left over there.
Susan is one of my Fournier cousins, and Anna is her great-grandmother as well, if my math is correct.
Anyway, Susan is the fine person who found and scanned the letter and pictures for her ambitious Gay XXX family Photos CD. It's the best Gay photo CD that I own.
I think that Susan has a PhD in sociology or something... in any case, my grandmother often reminds me that she is quite smart and teaching at DePaul...
Hey Susan, sorry I called you a "chick"... just a smart ass like the old man, you know.