The Diary of Lizzie Dopps

 

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Chapter XIX*
I BECAME A MEMBER OF THE WASHINGTON VETERANS' HOME

 

In 1925 I became a resident member of the Washington Veterans' Home.  I had become a member, but not a resident member, some years before that, and came here for a sort of vacation a few weeks at a time.

I had a friend, Mrs. Fassett--now gone to her heavenly home a number of years ago.  Her husband and my dear Eli had been very close friends, comrades in the G.A.R. Soon after Mr. Fassett passed away, Mrs. Fassett became a resident member of the Home, and often extolled the pleasures and conveniences of the place.

After papa died and before I came to the Home to live, Jessie and I had an apartment together.  It was nice being with my girl, but no place seemed like home with papa gone.  Soon after Eli's death I was severely hurt.  Jessie and I were moving from one apartment to another and the drayman left the phonograph out of the load.  I ran after him (the first time I ever ran after a man) stepped in a ditch and fell (first time I was ever picked up out of the gutter too.)

They rushed me to the hospital, and the doctor said I had dislocated my shoulder, one of the worst dislocations he had ever seen.

I suffered tortures for months, in fact it was years before it was fully well, but I kept working with my shoulder after the soreness was gone and I am glad to say very little stiffness was left.

After my shoulder was better, I went back to Norton on a visit for a few months.  It was nice, people were so good to me and glad to see me, and I enjoyed it, but I was lonely, so many landmarks bringing back vivid memories of the life there with my loved one.  Ellen was gone too.  She passed away in 1914.

Upon my return to Tacoma Jessie and I again had an apartment together.  It was then that Mrs. Fassett urged me to become a resident member of the Home.  Why not?  I had always enjoyed my short sojourns or vacations there.  I was entitled to this.

I did not feel, and never have felt, that this was charity.  If one made a business contract to do some risky work for another party, no one would think it strange for that one to accept a big price for his risky work.

My husband with others went out in his youth in the Civil War and risked nearly his whole life that there might be peace, happiness and safety for others.  They didn't ask any pay for this, but why shouldn't they receive some compensation?

So now I feel that through his hardships in the army and the risk he was willing to take, all this is now being paid for by the pension I receive and this place in the Home he has provided for me.

My girls at first objected to me making my home here, and wanted me to live with them.  Even now they and my two dear sons-in-law would be glad to have me with them.

I am often with them making them nice visits, but they have, their own homes and own family life, and this little room I have in the Home, I feel like papa has provided for me is my own little niche, my own little home.

I am so comfortable in it with my own little desk, floor lamp, radio and all, although there are times when I am lonely.  Then I get out my old letters, cards and pictures and lose myself in memories--a silent visit with those who have passed on as well as those who remain here on this earth but cannot be with, and then my loneliness passes.

I have always my God with me, and He comforts me.

All my life I have longed to bring comfort to those who need it, but in my busy days I did not find the time to do all I wanted to do.  Here I have the time and my Lord has given me the strength to bring comfort and happiness to many.

Nearly every day I did go to the hospital and read to the blind and sick or hold some palsied hand or smooth some pain away, and oh, how I have loved this work.  I cannot go as often as I did a few years ago, but I still visit the sick in the hospital frequently.

My life has been full both of gladness and sorrow, but it seems to me life is like a flower that needs both sunshine and rain to bring out its fragrance, so life needs the sunshine of happiness and a few showers of the tears of sorrow to bring out its sweetness.

One day as I was sewing carpet rags for a rug, my daughter Jessie was to make, I felt very lonely and thought to myself, "Why am I left on this earth any longer?  My life's work is done and I am so lonely without my beloved one."  Just then I picked up a bright red piece and thought it would help brighten up the somber ones and I seemed to hear a voice as distinctly as could be say, "That is why you are left here on earth.  Like this bright piece of cloth, you can brighten up the somber lives of others by your visits to the sick and needy."  It made me feel so much better to realize my God still has work for me to do.

I repeat these verses over to myself nearly every day.

"Open mine eyes that I may see
The work Thou hast prepared for me
Unstop my ears that I may heed
The cry of hungry souls in need.

Guide Thou my feet
And may they never from Thee stray
Use Thou my hands in service kind
Use Thou my voice with Thee in mind.

If I can fit some heavy heart with wings of hope
And faithful be in little things
If I can simply smile
And see beyond the woe that seems to be
If I can fill my place in life and sing
I then have lived with God through everything."

 

*Chapter mis-numbered in the original document, should actually be Chapter 18

 

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  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