My Aunt Agnes

My Aunt Agnes is a gem…but let me start the story a little earlier.

In the early 1800’s my grandparents came to America from Sweden.  They came separately and came before they were married.  Grandpa came first and later Grandma came.  He came with his brother…she came with her sister.  Grandpa and Grandma married and Grandpa’s brother and Grandma’s sister married each other.  They settled in Pocahontas County in Iowa.  Four children later, my Grandpa and Grandma moved to New Richland, Minnesota.

At the time they moved my Uncle Harold, Aunt Esther, Aunt Agnes and my Dad had been born.  Dad always said he was one years old at the time they moved.  My Uncle Bert was later born in Minnesota.  Grandpa’s farm originally had a dugout home on it.  Grandpa and Grandma went on to build many out buildings and a nice craftsman style farm house.  In 1949 Grandma died….I never knew her.  In the early 60’s Grandpa decided to move to town and wanted my dad to take over the farm.

My parents had married by then and had three kids of their own.  They didn’t have a lot of money.  Then Grandpa died.  How they were going to get money for a down payment became the big concern.

All of my Dad’s siblings wanted the money from the farm except my Aunt Agnes.  She kept her money in the farm and that left my parents able to but the farm.  Over the years my Dad paid her the portion owed to her with interest but if it had not been for her, my parents likely wouldn’t have been able to buy the farm.  I spent all of my growing up years living on the farm and I partly have her to thank for that.

She’s always been the glue to the family.  If there was a get together to be hosted…it was Aunt Agnes that did it.  If something needed to be organized….she was the lady to ask.

Well yesterday was Aunt Agnes birthday.  She is 99 year old!


She’s still a gem.

She was the daughter that stayed home and took care of the family forgo-ing high school while her sister went on to be a nurse and my Dad went on to business school.  My Grandma was not is perfect health then and Agnes was the one to help care for her.

Grandma was a great example on how to be a farm wife and Agnes took after that example.  She went on to marry and have three kids working as busy farm wife and mother, active in church and always ready to help.


When my Mom died, it was Aunt Agnes who Dad called first.  It was Aunt Agnes who came to be with him.  Of all the people who he could call it was her.

My Dad and Agnes became close companions.  They went everywhere together from lutefisk dinners, to family get togethers to Sweden to see their parents home land.  She was wonderful to my dad and wonderful to all of my kids.  Being my Mom died so young, Aunt Agnew was their grandma figure.  I can’t thank her enough for that.  Being there for my dad and for kids was a priceless gift that only she could give.

This last year was a tough on her.  She ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and a hip fracture.  Up until then she was still driving on her own!  She still lives on her own in an apartment.

We had all laughed one year she attended a graduation party for my nephew.  She drove up in a new car.  We all mentioned it and she said, “As long as I’m still driving at 95 years old, I think I need one!”  It was so cute.

Even at her age, she is still a giver.  She sews quilt tops for the local church group for Lutheran World Relief.  One of her goals when she landed in the hospital was a want to get home and sew quilt tops again.  She is also very active helping her grand-daughter put together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Of all the people I know in the world, she is truly the most precious.  I so aspire to be like her.

Not long ago she wrote me a letter.  She apologized for not getting Christmas cards out this year…she also apologized for her “poor handwriting”.  WOW.  I surely hope that at her age I can do even half of what she can.

If I was ever asked who I most admire…She’d be right at the top of my list.   Happy Birthday Aunt Agnes….thank you touching so many lives from your immediate family, to your extended family, to the people across the seas that receive the quilts that you were a part of making.  She might think herself an aging old lady…to me, she’s what a true hero looks like.

18 thoughts on “My Aunt Agnes”

  1. That was beautiful! She reminds me of my great-grandmother. Thanks for making me think of her today, she passed away in the 70’s and was such a sweet person.

  2. Happy Birthday Aunt Agnes! You truly are the glue for the Johnson family! You made me feel welcome from the first time I met you your wonderful sense of humor and your constant dedication to our family will always remind me how to lead by example.

  3. Happy Birthday, Aunt Agnes! You are truly an inspiration to us all. You are a beautiful lady inside and out! Thanks for the family story, Jo, loved it!

  4. Would love an Aunt Agnes. The closest I have is an aunt by marriage who never forgets birthdays and anniversaries, and lets me know how other related by marriage family members are doing. None on my mom’s side..

  5. Richard (in Charlotte, NC)

    Your Aunt Agnes is indeed a wonderful, selfless woman. Bless her heart for all she has done through the years. Make sure that she gets a pneumonia shot for the viral form, there is not much you can do for the bacterial form but, it is somewhat easier to treat when you do get it. I do hope you have Aunt Agnes around for many more years. My Dad is 90 now and was just diagnosed with MDS – Myelodysplastic Syndrome – a bone marrow disease that can be a precursor to Leukemia. I am going to the Dr. with him later today for the installation of a PICC IV line. He will start chemotherapy shortly thereafter.

  6. Jo ~ Thank you for sharing this story of your very special Aunt Agnes. I have tears of joy from reading your tribute! Happy Birthday Agnes may you have many more!

  7. I loved my Aunt Aggie sooooo much I named my own daughter after her! Your Aunt Agnes sounds a LOT like my Aunt Agnes. Giving, caring people who selflessly put others needs in front of their own. Happy Birthday Aunt Agnes!!

  8. What a beautiful example of humanity! Thank you for sharing your family with us. I hope she has a very Happy Birthday!

    Take care.

  9. Hi Jo…………. just want to “Thank You” for your article about Agnes …I have known her all my life too and always thought of her as such a kind lady not afraid of work or helping others ……..She is a GEM <3 You did good !

  10. Jo – have you read the Red River series by Lauraine Snelling about the town of Blessing ? With your Scandinavian heritage you would absolutely LOVE these books. They are about Norwegian immigrants who settle in the Dakota territory – follows the families through three generations – it is one of the best series I have ever read and I think you would really enjoy them. I got all from the library as ebooks — not sure you could get them as audio books that you so enjoy. What makes the books so interesting is how much detail they show about how things were done in the “old” days – like how to make cheese, how to make bread in the wood stove. And especially interesting to us sewers is how excited the women get when the first sewing machine makes it to their town and how much it eases their meeting the needs of their families wardrobes. Plus the women of the town have a very active quilting bee – any new marriages get a quilt from the women. (does that sound familiar??) Please take a look at the series – I know you would enjoy it !!!

    1. I read them YEARS ago and loved them. I don’t know if I got as far as the third generation though. I might have to check them out again.

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