The Diary of Lizzie Dopps

 

Back

Next

 

Chapter  XVII
OUR LIFE IN TACOMA; ELI'S PASSING TO THE GREAT BEYOND

 

When Eli and I came to Tacoma with Jessie after Nellie's marriage. Eli again took up carpenter work and later became quite a successful contractor.  I often nursed the sick.

But time was moving on.  Our girls were married and had homes of their own.  We were getting along in years, but we still  enjoyed life together in the quite nice home that papa had built.

In the meantime, his brothers Jake and Elsworth with their families had come west and located at Yakima.  We often went to see them and they came to see us and we had such lovely visits.

My brother, Charlie, had returned east, but my brother Tommy and family came west and located at Sequim.

Sister Stella and family were then living in Seattle but later moved to Sequim and still later to Port Angeles where they still live.

So, you see, we had many places to go to see our own people and we had such nice times visiting back and forth.

There was the G. A. R. that papa enjoyed and I belonged to the Relief Corps.  We often went to these state reunions and enjoyed them so much.

One time papa went to the National Convention at San Francisco.  He went by boat and talked of his ocean voyage long afterwards.  I did not go this time, but we had so many good times together.

Brother Jake, papa and I made a trip back to Norton, Kansas to see our people who remained there and our old friends.  We had such a good time, Eli's father and mother were gone then, though.  Mother Dopps passed away in 1900* and father in 1909*.  Yes, we were getting along in life but it was still good.

Then in 1917 papa was stricken with a form of paralysis.  For three years he was more or less helpless, but I was only too glad to wait on him.  He was always so patient and cheerful.  I do not know how much he suffered, he never complained, but I think now that he suffered more than we knew and disguised it with a smile.

When April the second came in 1920, our forty-ninth wedding anniversary, he figured it was our fiftieth and was so happy to celebrate his and my golden wedding day.  We were glad he had made the mistake in figures, and did not correct it.  It was surprising, too, that he should have made this mistake as he was always so correct in figuring, and his mind was so keen to the very end.

I have wondered if it might be that he so wished to spend his golden wedding with me, but knew he would not be here in another year and so took that way.  Who knows?  Anyway, I am glad we celebrated our golden wedding together.

Towards the first of September 1920, Nellie thought it would be easier on us if we came to their home.  Papa gradually grew weaker, though always cheerful.  It seemed as though he could not bear me out of his sight.

The evening of September 16, 1920, Jessie went to his bedside and said, "Daddy, do you know me?"  He had his eyes closed and did not answer at first.

"This is Jessie, Daddy. You know Jessie."

"I know Jessie Dopps."

"Well, this is Jessie Dopps," and then, "The best, best, Daddy that ever lived!"

With a flickering little mischievous smile he said, "Guess I'd better go before you change your mind."

He was like that always, ever ready with a humorous reply.

That night we fed him cream buttermilk, the buttermilk he loved so well, but only a teaspoonful at a time.  He was sinking fast.

Next morning we knew the Angel of Death was waiting in the room to carry him to the Great Beyond.  He knew, we were all there with him.

His breathing became a little fainter gradually and then his face seemed to be illuminated by some strange inner light, a little sighing breath and he was gone.  No, not gone--just passed on.

"I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead--he is just away.
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

 

And you, oh, you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and glad return,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same, I say:
He is not dead--he is just away."

               (By James Whitcomb Reilly)

 

He was beautiful in death, all lines of suffering had disappeared, and he looked almost like a young man.  He had just passed his seventy-fifth birthday.

His war-time comrades carried him out to the Oakwood Cemetery and laid him to rest by the side of his comrades who had gone on before.

Life, after he had gone, seemed to be so empty, arms empty, hands idle.  It seemed like a different world, such a sad, lonely world. The sunshine had lost its brightness, flowers their fragrance, song-birds their happiness.  I was just stunned for days, weeks.  After having had the care of waiting on him for three years, when there was no more of that, I was lost and bewildered.

But my God did not desert me.  He, Who had given me such a wonderful companion and husband for nearly fifty years brought comfort to me and pointed out the way for me to bring happiness to others and in so doing make me happy again.

Many years have passed since that lonely day.  Nearly all the loved ones of my younger days have gone on beforeó-father, mother, all my brothers, and all of Eli's brothers excepting David who is now in his eighty-fifth year; Ellen, Dave, all these besides my beloved husband and my three dear babies. Gracie, Jennie and Oscar, have all gone on.

But I still find happiness in this world and try to do my Lord's bidding until He calls me, too.

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why,
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skilful hand
As the threads of cold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
 

*According to her tombstone in the Norton Cemetery, Susannah Starr Dopps was born 20 March 1820, and died 16 August 1899.

*John P. Dopps married Anna M. Tanner on 16 October 1900 in Norton County, Kansas.  According to his tombstone in the Norton Cemetery, he was born 20 April 1821 and died 11 January 1909.  It is unknown at this time where Anna Tanner Dopps is buried.

 

Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20

 

 

 © 2006 Laurie Arnold.  All material presented herein was transcribed or otherwise provided by Laurie Arnold from the unpublished text of the diary, family photos and personal genealogy.  She and her family have graciously given permission for the diary to be posted to the Norton County Kansas GenWeb website, for the benefit of others who had pioneer families in Norton County, Kansas. This diary, photos and personal genealogy may not be reproduced, published or re-published for any reason, in any format, without prior written consent of the contributors or copyright holders.  web design © 2006 Ardie Grimes