[This is an email written on February 26, 2005, from Glen T. Nygreen to his immediate family.]


From: Glen T. Nygreen [mailto:glen@nygreen.com]
Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2005 11:41 AM
To: tnygreen@alumni.princeton.edu; kristinholiday@hotmail.com; kysa@nygreen.com; kataustin@hotmail.com; pnygreen@flash.net; rcash1@cflrr.com
Subject: My Mother's birthday - February 26, 1888

Emily Guinn Nygreen would be 117 years old today.  I find myself thinking about her this day, remembering her gutsiness, quick mind, devotion to her family.  How proud she would be in her progeny and their families.  I am filled with gratitude for her commitment and caring persona.

Yesterday I found this letter from her, sent on the setting of our marriage date, Beverly and I, in 1940.  It was written in pencil in her clear style.  Today the copy is somewhat blurred.  I copy it below.  It is a heartful biographical memoir.

        "Dear Glen,  I am writing this half sitting up in bed, hence the pencil, etc.

        "Don't think I didn't know what was coming, for I did - and if Beverly is your choice then I am happy for you.  If I have been the mother I've tried to be, then you are not far wrong in your choice of a life mate.  I wish I could make you understand some of the innermost yearnings of my life.  Of course you know that I practically never had a father or mother.  Sure, I had a place to sleep, enough to eat, something to wear, but I was never allowed to forget that it was because of my aunt's generosity.  However, before I was married, she was paid back, with interest, all she had ever done for me.  I left no debt there.

        "Every bit of education I had was bitterly fought for.  That is one reason that no obstacle that I have been conscious of has ever been been placed in your way.  I've only wished and prayed that it might be easier for you.

        "Then Dad and I were married.  Again I went against her wishes, but I felt that I had a life of my own to live and I didn't have to answer to anyone anymore.  You see, one engagement had been broken up - for no reason except when I married a source of income and a scullery maid in the summers ceased.  I tho't when I married that my mother-in-law would take the place of the mother I had missed, but again I was disappointed.  I failed to reckon nationality - and because I'm not Swedish, I'm still an outsider.

        "So you see, when I came to Bellingham I at last had something I could call my own and someone to whom I mattered.  Then, after four years, you came to us.  I'm just wondering if you will ever know that joy - yes and awe - that was ours that August Sunday when you came.  Again I had something my very own, and as the other three came you all seemed to have your own places 'till Ruth just seemed to complete the family for the time being.

        "I want my daughters-in-law and my son-in-law too when the time comes, to feel that they are one of the family circle.  I want Beverly to feel that she is one of us and that she can come as well as you.  I hope we can be "Dad" and "Mother" to her, too. 

        "I've been a possessive mother, I know, but I hope I'm big enough to share my sons and daughter with whomever they select for their life-mates.  I've made many mistakes in trying to raise my family but, when I saw them, I tried to correct them.  I haven't always been as tolerant or as far-sighted as I might have been, but you will have to forget or overlook that.  It's hard to tell you what is in my heart for you but I always bottled up my feelings and kept things to myself and now I can't find words to express what I would like to say.

        "I wanted to go to Seattle yesterday more than I've wanted anything for a long while but it just didn't work out that way.  Just another disappointment!

        "If you are sure your choice is the right one for you, then she is my choice for you, too.  It's very true you are not marrying her family and she is not marrying yours, however your lives are going to be pretty well mixed up in the families - it even going to throw the two families together in a relationship unknown now.  Both of you are going to have many adjustments to make and things are not always going to be easy, but I hope you both realize that love is not blind but can endure in spite of ups and downs.  And when you have been married almost 26 years you can look back and say "It has been worth it: if I had my life to live over again, I would still do it."

        "It is almost 1 o'clock so I'm quitting with this tho't,  God bless you, my children.    Mother."

I included a chapter in the 1999 Memoir I wrote at the request of Kristin entitle "The Outsider."  If any of you would like another copy of that chapter I will be glad to send it.  The title derives, obviously, from Mother's self-description.

As I look forward to turning 87 next summer, I am aware of how fortunate I have been in the seven women who have been central in my life.

            1.Grandmother Caroline Jonsson Nygren - who left  Sweden to make a new life in the New World.  That took courage, determination, commitment.  She and her husband prospered, reared a large family, and reared my father to be a principled,  competent, and socially aware person.  I met her only twice, to my memory, but I honor her.

            2. My mother, who in spite of illnesses and the Great Depression, gave me and my siblings the courage to overcome all obstacles.

            3. Beverly, my wife of 63+ years, mother of Ted, who unhesitatingly accompanied me as full partner in all our adventures all around the United States.  Whatever I have accomplished is due mostly to her perspicacity and sensitivity.

            4. Nancy Miller Nygreen - there cannot be a better daughter-in-law.  She and Ted have a happy and productive life together, share their careers and achievements,  They created, reared, and educated three granddaughters, each an independent personality, now pursuing socially responsible careers and creating their own family constellations. 

            5.  Kristin Nygreen Butler - now a vice-president at CitiCorp, and, with lawyer husband Patrick, committed New Yorkers, in all the right senses. She is truly making a difference in the lives many people, creating opportunities to meet the needs of many often overlooked persons.

            6. Kysa - this spring to be the fourth Ph.D. in this family.  Talented in so many ways, recognized with honors for academic achievement and creativity,  currently a Californian but hoping some early fall to return to the Northeast; she is a buoyant personality and an able writer.

            7. Kathryn Nygreen Austin - with her husband Andrew Austin lives in a Boston suburb and is a pediatric nurse in Boston's Children's Hospital.  She is taking graduate studies in nursing.  Husband Andrew, after  several years with Special Olympics, is completing MBA studies at Babson Institute in Boston.  They are a great team.  Like her sisters, Kathryn is a socially conscious, courageous, and administratively competent.

These are the seven women who make up my personal "Hall of Fame" and to whom I owe gratitude for giving meaning to my life.