Let me introduce you all to Dinah. Dinah is one of my most prized possessions. She belonged to my grandmother's sister Rhoda. Rhoda was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings and she was adored by everyone. She was a beautiful young woman and died at the age of 16 during the great flu epidemic of 1918.
This is a picture of her a couple of years before her death if my memory serves me correctly. My grandmother was the middle child of five. She grew up in a poor farming family in Orillia, Canada. Buying a doll for a child at that time was very hard to do as money was tight in a big family. I think they must have got Dinah on sale as she was bought without any clothes and if you look closely you can see that her feet are on backward. My grandmother made the clothes and necklace for her beloved little sister's doll. My grandmother was older when Rhoda came along, she got called back from nursing school to tend to her ailing siblings when they caught the flu, Rhoda and her older sister Maggie, died just two days apart.
This photo is of my grandmother and her older sister Maggie and brother Bill. She must have been around three in this photo. Can you imagine nursing your siblings and then having them die so close together? After the worst of the epidemic was over my grandmother returned to nursing school and became a nurse much to the dismay of her family. She was a very independent woman back when that was not well thought of. She remained very independent all of her life and died at the age of 92 when I was 20.
When I was a little girl and was staying over at my grandmother's house she would reach up high on her closet shelf and bring Dinah down to show us. She was wrapped in a plastic bag, much like an old dry cleaning bag. It is a wonder she is preserved as well as she is. We would be told the story of Rhoda and how precious she was.
I received Dinah a few years after my grandmother's death. I kept her wrapped up to save her from the humidity in Florida until I could afford a nice glass case for her. She sits on the top of a music stand in my bedroom that also belonged to my grandmother's family. I keep all the blinds shut in my room and she is away from the sun so she stays nice and dry and doesn't seem to age a bit. I have to admit I was scared to death of her when I was little, I thought she would jump out of that closet at my grandmothers and get me! My boys have always thought she is a bit creepy, but when I tell them the story of her life and that of Rhoda it helps to make her more precious.
As best as I can guess Dinah is over 100 years old. It is so sad that my grandmother lost her sisters, both of whom had so much to live for. So many people lost loved ones during that time, farm accidents, childbirth, the flu, it was a way of life for them. My grandmother never got over the loss of her sisters, especially Rhoda who was the light of her life at that time.