Edgar Streufert was a former pastor at a Church I previously attended, St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights, Minnesota. A few years back before his death, he wrote his memoirs, entitled “As I Remember: Memoirs of Sixty Years in the Ministry” (a third edition).
Here is a moving excerpt (p. 2,3) from the “Introductory Family Information”, under the sub-heading “Stricken with Grief” I am eager to share:
“It was Saturday evening, January 8, 1927. Saturday evening is bathtime. Mother takes the two younger girls upstairs to the bath-room to give them their weekly scrubbing. Little 2-year old Hildegarde is, as usual, in a very talkative mood, and that evening she, for some reason, or other keeps on saying: “If I would die, I wouldn’t be afraid.” After her bath, Mother tucks her into bed and prays her usual evening prayers with her and kisses goodnight. But Hildegarde has something yet to say. Again she says: “Mother if I would die tonight, I wouldn’t be afraid, because Jesus would take me into heaven.”
Mother comes downstairs and finds the Seminary student, Mr. Stahlke, sitting in the dining room, since Dad was in the study working on the next day’s sermon. Mother mentions the little 2-year-old’s repeated conversation about going to heaven. They talk about the faith of a little child, and the miracle of faith even early in life. This was the last conversation with Mother. Being very tired, Mother bade Mr. Stahlke a good night, and retired to her upstairs bedroom.
The next morning Dad got up early to study his sermon, as he does every Sunday when he preaches. At about 6:45 a.m. Mother picks up the 3-month baby Victor to nurse him. Gertrude, sleeping in the second bed in her bed-room, hears a strange noise in Mother’s bed and finds Mother stooping over, and thinking that Mother had fallen asleep while nursing the baby, calls Mother but gets no response. She quickly jumped out of bed, touched Mother to arouse her. No response. Gertrude called out loudly to Dad in his study. Dad heard her call and came running up the stairs. They did what they could to awaken Mother, but to no avail. They phoned her doctor in Howard Lake, who could not come immediately because the roads were blocked due to that morning’s blizzard. He arrived several hours later, but by that time Mother’s body was cold. We knew Mother had died from a blood-clot, resulting from a bleeding varicose vein during pregnancy, having suffered much with poor legs.
Pastor Ernest Stahlke was always very close to our family, having been with us as a seminary student at the time of our great sorrow. In later years, when Rev. Stahlke was Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in northern Minneapolis; my folks joined his church after Dad’s retirement. Thus our family made frequent contact with the Stahlkes, and especially, since I was Pastor in Columbia Heights. He told us often of his last conversation with Mother, and he and we concluded that the Lord used little Hildegarde’s last conversation with Mother on that Saturday evening to prepare Mother for her impending death. Needless to say, we were all in great shock over Mother’s sudden and unexpected death. And so were also the members of our congregation, who soon on that Sunday morning came to the parsonage to lend a comforting hand.” (italics mine)