Margaret Holmes was my grandmother. Amy and I spent quite a bit of time with her the last four years, and she got sweeter every day. Here are some items of interest about her and from her.

Margaret and Allan's Favorite Scripture

Margaret's Favorite Poem

Margaret's Cold War Resolutions (from 1958!)

(Update in 1989)

Memorial for Margaret Holmes

Margaret's Favorite Scripture

II Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith;
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day; and not to
me only, but unto all them also that love His

If you knew Margaret, you see immediately that there could be no other scripture that was her favorite. I think she often worked phrases of this scripture into casual conversation.
My Grandfather Allan's favorite scripture:

Romans 8: 38-39

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor
life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of
God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romantic in spite of enumeration, Allan's favorite scripture looks forward to a future of steadfastness. Margaret looks forward to the reward that awaits her after her good fight.

Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods are these, I think I know,
His house is in the village though,
He will not see me stopping here
To watch the woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To see if there is some mistake,
Then only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods arfe lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles and miles to go before I sleep,
And miles and miles to go before I sleep.

Promises To Keep

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an incident that happened years ago in New York City. Robert Frost was giving a public reading of his poems, including that much loved one, "Sopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." It has become part of our American heritage and most of you, I imagine, are familiar with it.

The theme, you’ll recall is simple. The poem tells how Mr. Frost, driving home on "darkest evening of the year," stopped his horse and buggy to watch the woods "fill up with snow."

The sight was so lovely, the silence so healing, that he was reluctant to move on--even though his horse gave "his harness bells a shake" to remind the poet that to stop there, "without a farmhouse near," was an odd thing to do.

Finally, however, he pulled himself free of the forest’s enchantment by reminding himself that "... I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."

When Mr. Frost had finished reading this poem to his New York audience -- so the story goes -- one woman raised her hand abruptly to indicate that she had a question.

"Mr. Frost", she asked, when she had caught his attention, "what where the promises you had to keep?"

While other listeners caught their breath in amazed incredulity, the poet contemplated the questioner for a thoughtful moment and then gave what may well be an immortal reply: "Oh... promises I had made to myself, and promises my ancestors made for me.

It is the second part of the answer that has been much on my mind of late: "promises my ancestors made for me." I’ve been translating it, at this New Year’s season, to read, "resolutions my ancestors made for me."

For all my new resolutions for 1958 are, in fact, very old. They have their roots far back in our western tradition. They were made for me -- long before I was born -- by people of dedicated and creative insight who (now in one place, now in another; now in one century, now in another) who worked out certain great and generous hypotheses about human nature and society; shaped institutions in the image of these; and granted to "millions yet unborn" the privilege of living within these institutions on one condition: namely, that they would also, voluntarily, live up to them.

It is surly a platitude, now, to say that our western culture faces the greatest danger of its long existence. Nobody knows what 1958 will hold. It is certain, however, to be a year in which all free nations must make fateful, determinative decision[s] and commitments and must, therefore -- precisely because they are free nations -- ask for the common welfare, a creative sense of possibilities.

Therefore, I remember certain "promises" - or resolutions -- that my "ancestors" made for me, and that I am obligated to keep.

I think of Socrates, standing before his judges and speaking up for the mind’s freedom: "An unexamined life is not worth living."

Of Micah, asking, "What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Of Jesus, saying, "A new commandment I give unto you: that he love one another."

Of the signers of the Magna Carta who, at Runnymede, laid the foundations for liberty under law; of Jefferson, jogging along in a stagecoach and writing, on a portable desk on his knee, the "self-evident" assertions that "all men are created equal" and the governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed"; and of Lincoln stating, "As I would not be slave, so I would not be a master."

I think of these, and of others, and yet others. And I realize that to the extent that I get tingles up my spine when I think of them, the statements made by these "ancestors" of mine become promises by which I am voluntarily bound.

The old words, then -- the words loved and honored by many generations and ever new in the demands they make upon the human spirit -- become my resolutions for this year and danger and decision, commitment and reaffirmation: 1958.

Update - Reflections on this poem in 1989

This little poem is a favorite of mine for it has a message for me at my time in life. At the picnic I tried to read it to you but did not do it very well, so here is a copy. In my journey through life I often pause to recall and relive incidents and savor them. Growing up in a wonderful family, living with a wonderful husband for 56 years, raising two wonderful sons who with their lovely wives gave me twelve grandchildren and six great grandchildren, travelling in twenty-six countries of the world, was beyond my wildest dreams. Now I live in a beautiful place where I enjoy being with many friends and feel secure. At the age of eighty-five I can function well and enjoy life. What more could I ask?

My inner self rouses me to remember that I too have promises to keep. What are they? Most of them are silent, unspoken urges that bring me back to reality. My parents started me on a good life and expected me to carry on these precepts. Through the years I have made many promises to myself to do or not to do things many of which were not kept, long forgotten. As a member of society I have a duty to keep the laws, pay my share of government, and pay my debts. These are unspoken promises or obligations. I made spoken promises at my marriage to be faithful to my husband and most important promised to love my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and my neighbor as myself. So, many promises go on all through my life.

I have gone many miles on my journey through life but still have some to travel yet, I hope. God has given me a healthy body and I will use it for Him as long as I am able.


Memorial for Margaret Holmes

Margaret Holmes died on February 7th at the age of 95. She was born in 1904 in St. Paul, Minnesota, the first of eight children of the Reverend Franklin Beistel and his Canadian wife, Jennie, she grew up in Lutheran parsonage in St. Paul; Toledo, Ohio; Greenville, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Eugene, Oregon. Her life has been defined by four streams running through it: church, family, music and work.

Margaret Beistel 1906

As the oldest daughter in a parsonage family of eight she was in many ways a surrogate mother for her siblings, particularly the youngest ones. She met Allan Holmes at the Central Luther Church in Seattle in the mid-1920s. Allan's brother, Raymond, was the choir director, Margaret the organist, and Allan a member of the bass section. However, it was not until after she had graduated from the University of Oregon in 1931 with a bachelor's degree in Education that Allan summoned the courage to ask her to marry him. Her assent was immediate and they were married within a few weeks. Moving from Eugene to Tacoma she became a real mother in1932 with the birth of Frederick; now a physician in Kansas City, and again in 1934 with the birth of David, now a geologist in Denver. By the time of her death she was a matriarch with 12 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren, the latter number growing rapidly. They descend from her sons and daughters-in-law, Grace and Fely, to grandchildren Andrew, Beth, Cindy (deceased), David, Heidi, James, Julia, Lisa, Patti, Ted, Tom and Wendy; to great grandchildren Alex, Brittany, Caleb, Christopher, Cody, Hannah, Jennifer, Joey, John, Justin, Katie, Marin, Meredith, Quentin, River, Samantha, and Teddy.

Margaret is a musician of great natural ability. Equally at home at the piano and the organ she gained a wide reputation as an accompanist of singers and instrumentalists and particularly as a church organist. Starting as organist at Central Lutheran Church in Seattle when in her teens she played at United Lutheran Church in Eugene and then was the organist at Luther Memorial Church and later at Redeemer Lutheran Church, both in Tacoma. She was a member of the American Guild of Organists for many years. Over the years she had many music pupils at her home. To this day she plays the organ for Sunday services at the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community. Though her compromised vision makes it impossible to read music, she plays hymns stored in her large memory bank of music.

Margaret applied her keyboard skills to the typewriter and learned shorthand to become an excellent stenographer and secretary. She worked in offices in Seattle and Eugene from her teens onward and while attending the University of Oregon. She attained a position of responsibility at the Pacific Lumber Inspection Bureau in Eugene while in her early 20s before attending the University of Oregon. When her sons where of a suitable age she began as a substitute teach in the Tacoma Public Schools and was then recruited to teach commercial subjects at the College of Puget Sound when the wave of veterans inundated American colleges and universities after the Second World War. She transferred to the Bursar's Office there and eventually became the purchasing agent for the college which then became the University of Puget Sound. She retired after 20 years' service in 1967.

Margaret and Allan were a matched pair, different in many ways and yet complementary in every way. After their retirement they traveled the world, visiting 26 countries in all. They enjoyed a life of peace and service to others, being especially interested and directly helpful to those whom life had passed by. When Allan became enfeebled with age she cared for him with love and devotion until she was widowed in 1987.

Those who have known Margaret through her long and productive life will tell you that she absolutely scintillated when, with family and friends over for a Sunday evening supper at 3317 North 24th street, she played the intricate fugues of Bach, Shostakovich duets with her sister, Janet, and then encouraged all to sing, while she played, oratorios, hymns, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and even the popular music of the early part of the century, the time of her youth. The steams of her life come together when family members sat in the pews of various Lutheran churches seeing and hearing her play the great organ music of the church. Her small hands literally flew over the keys and ranks of the organ and her feet danced over the pedals to produce sounds of majesty and depth that would have delighted Luther and dazzled Bach.

Margaret had been an active member of the Emmanuel Lutheran congregation since 1974. During the earlier years of membership she regularly participated in the Bethel Bible study classes and she was actrive in the congregation's ministry to the residents of Jefferson House. She and Allan also served as members of the Board of Elders.

She [was remembered] at a memorial service at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 1315 North Stevens, at 1:00 PM, Saturday, Febraury 12, 2000. Internment [was] at Haven of Rest Cemetery in Gig Harbor. In lieu of flowers gifts may be sent to the Endowment Fund for Music and Liturgy of Emmanuel Luthera n Church.