Thursday, July 16, 2015

An inheritance, my summer project: Sister T's life work

My great aunt, my maternal grandma's oldest sister, Theresina Greenwell, was a Dominican Sister of Peace. She devoted 70 of her 92 years to being a nun and serving others. She loved her family deeply, so much that she spent countless hours, months and years researching her genealogy and ancestors. All of her searches were prior to internet and the conveniences we have today.
She knew hundreds of her nieces, nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews. She knew our names, ages, were we lived, our spouses and the goings on of our lives because she cared and took an interest. She lived out of state most of my childhood, {she was almost 60 years old by the time I was born!} and into my adult life, but she kept up with my life because she cared about her siblings and called or wrote letters often to keep up with all of her family's lives.
There is many things I could say about her life, it's always been intriguing to me. Several years ago, she entrusted me with large binders of our family genealogy. A couple months before she died, she gave me her journal from 1940-1945 and told me she wanted me to have lots more daily journals from her life. After she passed away, July 1st, the sisters at the mother-house at St. Catherine's were kind enough to get her belongings out of the attic and I was able to get her remaining genealogy work, letters, newspaper clippings, journals and just many, many papers she saved over the years.
It's such a fun thing to inherit and I treasure it greatly! It's also very time consuming for this momma of 6. I've been staying up until 1 AM the past few nights, pouring over the stacks of papers and deciphering what can be thrown away and what I need to keep. Her handwriting is difficult to read, often very tiny, in pencil or very scribbled. Many of the people she mentions I do not know, whether they are friends, parishioners or family. I spend lots of time skimming looking for familiar names or detailed accounts of her life, among usually a daily log of her goings on. From watering her garden, preparing her meals, what she watched on TV or listened to on the radio, to who she went to visit or how long she washed windows, it's a bit tiresome. I'm realizing though that I'm learning more about who she was and her life than I thought at first.
So here are the details of my summer project, because I am piecing things together and I do think it's valuable, I want to share her life with others. I've started an instagram account specifically for this. It's an easy way for me to quickly post information I come across. This would make Sister Theresina's historical, family, genealogy, saving and savoring heart so very happy! I hope you'll download the Instagram app and follow along at Life of a Nun, it's super easy. If you are already on Instagram and follow me, I've linked to it from my sippycupsandfingerprints account too.

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