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Busha’s Birthday

Mae Jabus

LAKE MACBRIDE— My grandmother was born on June 24 or 25, 1898 at home on the farm, west of the Catholic church in Wilno, Minn. The official record is unclear as to the precise date, and the clerk in the recorder’s office in the county seat told me that often births were not directly reported, but only when someone from the farm made it into Ivanhoe.

The church records show she was born Salomea Nadolski on June 25, 1898, and baptized on July 10, 1898 by the Rev. J.F. Andesejewski. Her godparents were Ladislaus Kuzminski and Maria Nadolski. I believe this version of the truth is closest.

The certified copy of the birth record I got from the county seat in Ivanhoe listed place of birth in Royal Township, Lincoln County, Minn. as Soluma Nadolski on July 10, 1898. Parents listed as Frank and Katie Nadolski.

Her certificate of death lists June 24, 1898 as the birth date of Mae N. and then Selmae M. Jabus, and those names and date were provided by my mother. The newspaper listed her as Mae M. Jabus in the obituary. Whatever may be official, we called her Busha after our daughter was born.

She told countless stories of life on the farm near Wilno and those stories came to life when I visited the home place, the church and the county seat after she died. If I am a story teller at all, it is because of her.

Her birthplace was still standing when I visited, and the owner kindly let me look around inside. I think he and his wife were looking to tear it down and build a more modern home for their growing family, although he didn’t say it. By today’s standards, the house was very small. There were shirttail relatives everywhere I went, including a gent who lived across the road from our home place. He was not doing well so we chatted only for the briefest of moments. He was connected through my great grandfather.

Like many descendents of Polish immigrants, my grandmother was fully assimilated. She still spoke Polish, but only with her sisters, and to the occasional wrong number who also spoke the language. There are stories about that for another telling.

Despite all the stories that have been and might be, I’ve been thinking about Busha’s life as I knew it the last couple of days. When I last saw her, she had moved to a nursing home where she used to work. She was mentally alert, and worried that the staff was stealing from her, even if there was not much to steal. She fumbled with her hearing aid so she could pay attention to what I had to say.
She got it to work, and we talked as we always had.

It has been 115 years since she was born, plus or minus a day. I feel so lucky to have known her for so long. The memory of so many things we did together persists as the sun sets over the Iowa prairie. I’m glad for that.