5 Henrietta Martin

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Florence took care of our maternal grandmother [Elisabeth’s mother, Henrietta Martin], paralyzed and unable to recognize anyone for 9 years.  Always joyful, Florence would not back down from any inconvenience (sacrifice) imposed for the welfare of the well-loved invalid.  At night, to be the only one observing [Henrietta], she [Florence] would attach a cord to the invalid’s bell and at the least movement, respond [Florence tied the string to her toe, and the bell tied to Henrietta’s hand or palm].  At the least movement, she would run.

The poor received a generous hospitality from her.  Their clothes were washed, their school packs stocked with provisions.  When siblings left home, they were the “poor of God.”  For a long time, we all prayed together (as a family) for a local sinner, that he would have the good fortune to return to his Christian duties (become more God-like in his actions).  Each night, when the bells of a nearby priest’s chapel rang [this was next to the small schoolhouse where Evariste’s children, Nazaire children and Raoul’s children attended school] we would add new prayers, inspired by the generosity of our sister.

She had no other longing in life than to be a nun, even when her younger sisters could replace her.  Florence multiplied her Novenas [increasingly prayed harder] to the Blessed Virgin, asking if it was her time to realize her lifelong dream.  Each time she renewed her prayer requests, the reply from the Heavens was the same:  She was almost blinded.  Feeling it was the will of God manifesting itself to her situation, she resigned with no disturbance.  And this is how she survived, continuing to care for each of us.

Joyce

Joyce Derenas is a historical fiction author who writes stories based on the real lives of her French-Canadian ancestors of the Beauce Valley in Quebec.