Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A legacy of love in 10 words May 19, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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TEN WORDS IN A TELEGRAM. Ten words of love. Sent seven weeks prior to their December 7, 1945, wedding.

She saved the creased and partially torn slip of paper for 73 years, a reminder of the love they shared until his death a dozen years ago.

On Thursday that love letter, wired by my Uncle Glenn from Camp Patrick Henry in Virginia to his betrothed back in Minnesota, was shared at his beloved’s funeral. There, among all the family photos and remembrances, this piece of my Aunt Elaine’s life held the sweetness of young love and evidence of an enduring love between husband and wife.

“You don’t think of your grandparents in that kind of way, in a romantic way,” Glenn and Elaine’s granddaughter said as we stood (after the funeral dinner) reading the romantic words of Kim’s grandfather: DARLING. ARRIVED SAFELY. EXPECT TO BE HOME SOON. LOVE = GLENN.

Darling. That single word holds such love, such sweetness, such promise. I can only imagine the joy Elaine felt in receiving that October 19, 1945, wire from the man she was about to marry. While he served in the US military, she was back home on their native southwestern Minnesota prairie working as a nurse at the Marshall Hospital.


Elaine Borning. Photo from the Sunset Funeral Association website.


What a gift Elaine left to her six surviving children, 24 grandchildren and 47 great grandchildren by saving that telegram. Love of family threaded throughout her funeral day. In between comforting Scripture, we sang “I Was There to Hear your Borning Cry,” a hymn sung at every Borning family funeral. Song connecting generations, even in death.

I was there to hear your borning cry, I’ll be there when you are old. I couldn’t make it through that song without tears releasing at the death of my godmother, in the emotion of gathering in a small town Lutheran church to grieve and to celebrate Elaine’s life. There, on a May morning as perfect as they get in Minnesota, our voices rose in love and sadness and hope. When the evening gently closes in, and you shut your weary eyes, I’ll be there as I have always been with just one more surprise. I was there to hear your borning cry…

After the service, vehicles in the long funeral processional trailed clouds of dust through the under-construction gravel Main Street of Echo as we passed the grain elevator and boarded up buildings toward the cemetery. As I stood on the lush grass a tombstone away from Elaine’s gravesite, I took in the scene. Family gathered. Clenched tissues wiping tears from eyes. My cousin’s head bowed in sadness. A Spee-Dee delivery truck passing by. White clouds hung in a deep blue sky, farm fields just across the highway. And then, as the pastor led the graveside service, the noon whistle blaring, loud and clear across the land. So small town. So fitting. A moment to laugh within, to think, Elaine would have appreciated this.



Just like she would have appreciated the homemade chocolate mayonnaise cake served at her funeral dinner. She had a fondness for sweets, was known for the chocolate mayo cake she baked. After her death, her family found candy bars stashed in her freezer alongside bags of neatly-stacked homemade buns.

And they found, too, her life story written just for them. I can only imagine the comfort my cousins and their children and their children’s children will find in reading those words. Just like the ten words written in that telegram 73 years ago. Words that leave a legacy of love.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


27 Responses to “A legacy of love in 10 words”

  1. bev walker Says:

    Tears again this morning as I read your post about Mom. Thank you for the beautiful words! Love and hugs to you.

  2. Wyonne Long Says:

    Oh, Audrey! I am so blessed to have you in my life! Yes, we’ve never met. I’m from rural Minnesota living here in Norway for 30 years and it feels like you are my sister sharing “our” lives. Rural Minnesota is near and dear to my heart even thousands of miles apart.Family means a lot – thanks for sharing family, too. Peace, love and blessings from Wyonne

  3. You should bind all these memories in a book Audrey. It would be a beautiful testament to your family and future generations.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    What a beautiful legacy she left family and friends. Her “sweetness” will carry on. I love this post, Audrey. Your words were like a lilt of breeze passing over wildflowers. What we see, feel and experience remains with us.

  5. Mel Pete Says:


  6. my deepest sympathy! Cherish the memories made! Love the candy bars in the freezer — sounds like my kind of lady! Once again, Audrey, your words are so beautiful.

  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    I love this story…the telegram saved for 73 years…the word Darling…so sweet! What a gift.
    The hymn “I was there to hear your bourning cry, I’ll be there when you are old” was sung at my mom’s funeral too.

  8. OOOOOOOOOO, my heart.
    And the mayonnaise cake made me smile.
    beautiful. xxxx

  9. A beautiful and touching piece. So sorry for your loss, Dear Friend. ❤

  10. Oh So Beautiful – Truly a Celebration of Her Life! Take Care (((((loveandhugs)))))

  11. So sorry for your loss. What a lovely lady and sweet story of love.

  12. Bella Says:

    Well this previous comment below was so eloquently put I can only say well said!!!
    Littlesundog Says:
    May 19, 2018 at 10:48 AM
    What a beautiful legacy she left family and friends. Her “sweetness” will carry on. I love this post, Audrey. Your words were like a lilt of breeze passing over wildflowers. What we see, feel and experience remains with us.

    Great tribute you wrote Audrey

  13. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    That is one of the neatest things I have ever seen. I’m sure she treasured that reunion. What a blessing to have her life story to share for generations to come.

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