By Crystal Farish
My great-grandmother Christina Carlson left her home and family behind in Sweden and traveled to Utah with her younger brother when she was just a teen. Six months after arriving in Utah, her brother was killed by a train, which must have been a devastating loss.
A Young Woman Doing Hard Things
After her brother died, Christina worked as a servant for the Werner family on Freemont Island on the Great Salt Lake. They were the only people living on the island at that time. One night, the father of the family died, and Christina had to help carry his body to the ice house to wait for the weekly boat that came to deliver goods. I can’t imagine having to do such hard things when just a girl, but these trials prepared my great-grandmother for even harder losses when she became a mother. She later lost four of her eleven children to illness and tragic accidents.
An Amazing Mother and Friend
Despite all these trials, my great-grandmother carried on and was an amazing mother and friend to those who knew her. She opened her home to all and shared her talents, which were passed down to me from my grandmother Hazel Cecelia Carlson.
Christina loved to cook, and her recipes are always a part of extended family gatherings. The stories of her life were shared around the dinner table as we ate Carlson Coleslaw, and Christina’s Swedish Pancakes.
I Can Press on Because She Did
I remember trying to imagine what it was like to travel on a boat with strangers and come to a foreign land, not knowing the language, and to be alone on an island. I knew as a little girl that Christina was brave and strong and managed to find happiness and give love despite the trials of life. Even though we never met, I felt as though I knew her well.
I don’t think my grandmother had any idea of the impact that sharing the stories of her mother would have on my life. But those stories have sustained me as I have suffered loss and faced hard things. I know that I can press on because Christina pressed on. I know that I can forget myself and serve others because Christina forgot herself and served those around her. I can find happiness because Christina found happiness, even when life was hard.
The stories of Christina continue to be passed down any time my extended family gathers together around the table. Even the kids know about the grandmother who lived on the island and made Swedish pancakes. I hope they too will find strength in family when they face challenges in the years ahead.
Discover Inspiring Women in Your Family Tree
Are you curious about the women of faith who helped build your heritage? Learn about your relatives who influenced the Relief Society, went on early Church missions, were pioneers, or helped build the Church.
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