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I didn’t really get to know my Grandmother – my mother’s mother – until I was 26. It was my second occasion ever to see her. The whole story is quite complicated.

My Grandmother Ruby left her family when my mother was 6 months old. She abandoned her 3 sons and husband to run off with another man. She took my mother with her. This man and my grandmother robbed a train together and my grandmother was convicted of being an accomplice in the crime. She served 4 years in Federal prison in  Atlanta (See Tell the Story: Ruby ) and my mother was sent to an orphanage. My grandfather found my mother 6 months later, when she was 1 year old, and brought her home.

My Grandmother

But this story isn’t only about my grandmother and her choices, but instead getting to know this woman after hearing about her during my entire childhood years. The first time I met Ruby she came to visit our house for a week. I was in 8th grade and it was a big deal that she was visiting. I believe it was the first time that my mother saw her since her childhood. Ruby spent much time hugging my Mom and trying to caress her. My Mom was extremely uncomfortable with this show of affection. My uncle urged my Mom to get to know her mother. He had reached out to her and he said he didn’t regret it. It took years for my Mom to forgive her mother and invite her to stay at our home.

My Mom opened our door, but she kept didn’t completely open her heart. I watched my Grandmother with curiosity  – she was truly the one that I always heard stories about. Her previous antics were legendary. This woman who spent time in prison was a guest in our home. I also observed my Mom and saw a good sense of dignity and class, and forgiveness. I remember feeling compassion and respect for my Mom. But I had never seen my mother that uncomfortable.

Later, when I was first married, I received word from my uncle that my grandmother was in the hospital in Washington, D.C. Ruby lived in the projects in D.C. and during the night, she had been bitten by a rat. The infection in her leg was severe. It really bothered me that my grandmother was living in an environment that allowed this situation to happen. I didn’t have a relationship with her, but technically she was my grandmother. At my first job after college, I received a bonus check for Christmas. I decided to send this extra money to my grandmother. It seemed that she needed it more than I did.

Letter from Ruby

A few months later I received a letter from my grandmother thanking me for the gift. The letters were telling. She grasped for what to talk about. She knew what not to talk about. She thanked me for the gift and asked about my family. She remarked that I married in a Catholic church and that she grew up Catholic as well (which I didn’t know). She didn’t talk about the past, or the future – she stayed in the here and now. Most conversations between grandmothers and granddaughters are filled with expressions of affection. Ours were filled with expressions of wonder and curiosity.

A year later  my husband and I were going to the East Coast to visit my husband’s grandparents. We were driving and decided to detour through D.C. to visit my grandmother. My grandmother awaited our visit and was pleased that family was coming to see her. We parked the car outside her senior-living high-rise apartment and my husband, my baby boy and I nervously crossed the street to get inside. The neighborhood was marked with graffiti and some building had broken windows. We thought we might not see our car when we came back out, but ventured into the apartment building anyhow. We were all nervous, but not sure what caused us the most angst: the visit itself or the neighborhood. We only had 3 hours for the visit because we had booked a hotel out of town for the night.

Getting to know my Grandmother

I hadn’t seen Ruby in 14 years and she had definitely aged. Remarkably, she exhibited my mother’s mannerisms. She stuttered when she answered the phone and as a nervous habit, she rubbed her thumb and forefinger together in a circle – as my mother often did. Her apartment was sparsely furnished and she gave me the grand tour. The tour seemed to fill the space that existed between us. She showed me a china doll that she had kept through the years. It had a broken face and I remembered my mother telling me about a Christmas when she received a doll just like this and her older brother had broken the face. I wanted to ask if this was my mother’s doll.

Just as much as I wanted to ask her questions about her life and my mother, she tried to avoid the conversation. I wasn’t visiting to get a complete story from her, but, in the depth of my soul, I wanted to know why she left or really how she could leave. What was going on in her life to cause her to leave my mother and her family? But the question hung silently in the room unasked.

When it was time to leave, Ruby asked me if I would like to meet someone very special to her. She seemed hesitant to ask, but I could tell it was her intent from start. She called and invited her friend to her apartment to meet us. He was an older black gentleman who clearly had feelings for my grandmother. He treated her very kindly and he was nervous about being accepted. My son Scott helped us all get through the nervousness. He entertained us and helped us laugh together. We left a few minutes later and as I hugged her, I was fairly certain that it would be the last time I would ever see her. I left with the memories of a pleasant visit – what remained were the answers to all the questions.

We sent each other several letters after that. She died 2 years later on my birthday. My uncle called me to tell me that she was gone. My grandmother left instructions for him to call me after she died.

Life is sometimes an unanswered question. But I know why families are created with all their imperfections.  It humanizes us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” In my way, I suppose I loved this grandmother that I never really knew.

———————–

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Our basement was an integral part of my childhood.  It was the place in our home that I could get away from everyone and experience solitude. It was my time in my childhood to figure out who I was as a person with some genuine thinking and reflection. It was also a place to have some fun with my friends. Our house an old farm house, was only about 1200 square feet and was built by a woman in the 1920s. The rooms were small and crowded – especially with 4 other siblings. I shared a room with all my sisters. We had a bunk bed with a trundle bed under it. The closet was only 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep – hardly enough room for all of our clothing and toys. Our house had one bathroom and it the size of a closet. The living room and kitchen were filled with the busy lives of 7 people. And while we had many fun times in our house with my family, (See: Twinkle of His Eye ), at times I needed to be alone. The basement was my refuge.

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My house on a hill

The piano that I learned to play was an upright piano, and it was located in our basement. I spent many hours playing the songs of the day. My favorites were songs by Hermit’s Hermits, Paul Simon, Jim Croce, Sebastian Bach, Rachmaninoff, and many Beatles songs. When I went downstairs to play the piano, I was alone and I could escape there for hours. The basement wasn’t heated, in fact it was ice-cold and my fingers weren’t very nimble. But I would warm them up on scales and arpeggios. And I wasn’t always totally alone. The mice and rats would sometimes be awaiting my performance. I went downstairs with the same mantra – which my Mom and Dad would mimic – “Get Mouse! Get Mouse.” The critters would scatter and then come back out after I started playing. It was a trade-off. I could find solitude in that basement, even if I had to share it with the basement creatures.

When my brother was in high school, we turned one of the rooms downstairs into a rec room. My Dad placed paneling on the walls and we painted the floor with a brick-red color. My Dad put a ping-pong table in that room, added an old sofa  and we now had a place to entertain our friends. I became quite good at ping-pong since this was the only place in my home to take my friends.

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My House on a hill - the Basement Side Exposed

My first kiss was in the basement after a ping-pong match. I won that match with Danny – and when changing ends of the ping-pong table, we met in the middle and kissed. The next time my boyfriend came over to play, I also won the match. But this time we met in the middle, and my boyfriend broke up with me. I had several slumber parties in high school in the basement. We turned the other rooms downstairs into a haunted house, complete with spider webs and hanging ghosts. It was inherently spooky in our basement with several dark rooms, so we didn’t need to do much to create the atmosphere.  I imagine that basement is still haunted with shrieks  of laughter and fright from teen-age girls.

The basement was not just mine. My Dad used the basement for his many foodie experiments (See: Schlumgolian ). The heavy crocks downstairs held the ingredients for the homemade sauerkraut made from our garden cabbage or ground home-grown horseradish. It was cool down there and the food from the garden stayed fresh for months.  We had  a freezer downstairs that held our side of beef that was purchased from the neighbor farmer – as well as my Dad’s stash of cash. My Dad set up a wine-making rig for making dandelion wine. After several months,  we tasted – and spit out – the new wine. It was awful!! We had a fruit cellar in the back room of the basement and had rows of canned vegetables in mason jars. We wrapped apples in newspaper and kept them in the fruit cellar for extra months of “fresh” apples. My sisters and I hated being asked to retrieve a canned good from the cellar. It was the darkest room in the basement with only one naked light bulb. We knocked down spider webs and avoided mouse traps to find the appropriate Mason jar there.

When I think of my childhood home and my memories there, I loved the boisterous kitchen and living room, the rooms where I mostly interacted with my family. But I also loved the basement. It’s where I could go to take care of my soul and find whispers of truth. It was the space where I felt least alone.

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For a family that didn’t have much money (See My Dad – the Original Organic Farmer ), we sure did have fun on Saturday nights. Friday nights were taken up with football or basketball (See Football Boogie ). Saturday nights were reserved for playing cards or board games, sometimes with just our family, my aunt and uncle, or family friends. Before I was 9, I learned the game of Pinochle and the special set of rules that my family played by. I don’t think it was an option NOT to play – but I enjoyed the shenanigans so I never tested what would happen if I didn’t want to join the game.

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Getting Ready for the Card Game

On Saturday nights, my parents either played cards with my Aunt Mid and Uncle Jim or Don and Jean Shulaw. They took turns going to each other’s houses and my brother and sisters enjoyed it wherever the games took place. Now, to be exact, the kids were not invited to play when we got together with another family. Occasionally however, I would be asked to come to the table and “take a hand” so that the host could get the food ready to serve, or tend to one of the kid emergencies. It was there I learned most of my first cuss words and slightly off-color jokes. I observed not only the game of Pinochle, but how my parents acted a bit differently when around their friends. If my Dad wasn’t getting good cards that night, he would declare the cards were sticking together. He would get up and go get the baby powder to coat the cards to make them shuffle smoother. My Aunt would often get upset at the teasing at the card table and throw down the cards in a huff. I heard “Dammit Fred” so often I thought my Dad had two first names. Almost always – though it wasn’t a sure bet –  they were all laughing again by the end of the night.

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Mom & Dad's Favorite Card Partners

While our parents were otherwise occupied, we could play at will and with slightly less supervision. Mom didn’t seem to care if we messed the house up a little more. My sisters and I built tents with sheets and blankets with our cousins or played basketball outside in the dark. To this day, I am a very good shot at basketball and it’s because I played  “H-O-R-S-E” for hours with my cousin Brian on those card-playing nights. Sometimes it was so dark out that he’d throw me the ball and it would hit my face because I couldn’t see it. We also played outside barefoot, engaging in hide and seek and freeze-tag well into the night. My parents would stop their game long enough to make sure that we washed our very dirty feet before we came back into the house. They returned to their cards and we returned to our cousins. There was no set bedtime on those nights.

One of the best things about having company over to play cards was the food that came with the get-together. We were never allowed to have snacks or soda pop otherwise. But if cards were involved, we could have Pepsi or root beer, accompanied by potato chips and home-made onion dip. Mom would make her orange jello with pineapple dessert topped with cream cheese and marshmallows. I still sometimes savor the taste of Pepsi on ice in a tall Tupperware cup. As the bubbles explode when I drink it, I have flashbacks of the memories of those game nights.

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My boyfriend

When I was in high-school, it was easy for me to bring my boyfriend to my house (See One Sure Thing) and have him join in our family card game.  There was a structure already in place that he could slide into that eased him into being a part of our family. He endured my Dad’s teasing about how inept his card-playing was. That was Paul’s initiation into my family and he passed the test. My father was endeared to him when Paul declared the cards were sticking together and jumped up to get the powder to coat the cards. Finally, someone understood my father and his solution to unlucky cards.

We varied the games through the years. We added a marble game called Aggravation, we became experts at Euchre, or we played a game called Shanghai. This game was a form of rummy that required differing combinations of sets and runs.  The game itself wasn’t the important thing. What mattered was just getting around the table engaging each other in some sort of activity. We just really wanted to be together. They say you must accept the cards that life deals you. I was dealt a very blessed childhood.

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I recognize fun. In the transition between a person’s thought and the first inkling that something spontaneous is about to happen, I am on full alert to participate. I’m drawn to it like a magnet. And if anyone else has that predisposition for fun, I can tell it in the first minute of meeting them. It’s an exclusive club and instead of a secret handshake, we greet each other with a twinkle in our eye. It’s one of the gifts that I inherited from my Dad.

My Daddy was a play-on-the-floor kind of Dad (See: Sharing our Family’s Memories: Knock-Knock ). He was my pony ride, my chariot, or super sports car –  or whatever I chose for the day. They say if you put two gifted kids together, the result of their work or play is greater than the sum of the parts. My Dad and I could create worlds of fun that didn’t make sense to most people, but to us it did. I might ask for a pony ride, but by the end of our time of play, we traveled to Oz, fooled the trolls by the side of the road, and shot predators along our way. All we had to do was open ourselves up to whatever situation presented itself.

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My Dad and I

Music seemed to provide the platform for most of our antics. My Dad and I couldn’t stand it if Lawrence Welk was on TV, and we weren’t moving to the music. I learned to dance standing on his toes. He was the zoot-suit-wearing jitterbug king and I was his flying-through-the-air partner. On the morning of my wedding, he played the song “Going to the Chapel” and we line-danced to the lyrics. He walked me down the aisle that day in the traditional way, but we both knew that at any moment, it could end up being a very impromptu dance to the front of the church instead. We smiled at the mere image of it.

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My Dad playing guitar

My teen-age cousin visited from Indiana once and my Dad pulled out an electric guitar he was learning to play, grabbed my cousin’s long black Cher-like wig from her head, placed it on his head, and played his newest boogie. We were his back-up  and the best doo-op singers ever. What fun we had. I had two choices: I could shake my head at the ridiculous-ness of it all or join in. I did both, but joining in was the better choice.

My Dad died 28 years ago. He made an impact on me that transcends our short time together on this earth. He made sure that I would recognize this ability to have fun in other people. E.E. Cummings said, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” My Dad is my star. I live my life twinkle by twinkle.

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They say Ohio is a great place to raise corn, pigs, and children. I absolutely loved the way that I grew up. The neighborhood was our playground, and the plethora of neighbor kids – who ALL owned bicycles – were our playmates. We didn’t take Family Vacations during our summer breaks, but every summer day was filled with adventure. We didn’t need money to have a good time, just a little ingenuity.

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The Battle Field

One year, when I was 12, my girlfriend Deb and I – with my sisters – summoned all the neighborhood kids to my house to announce that were having a neighborhood water fight. The teams were chosen and the battle date set. We had 24 hours to plan our major attacks on the enemy. After a bit of scheming, we figured that 2 coolers filled with water balloons, the largest squirt guns we could find  (Super Soakers hadn’t been invented yet), and water hoses would be our arsenal. We really wanted to beat the other team, because my sister AND Eddie Fisher were on it and Eddie always gave us trouble. My sister and I fought most of the time, so it seemed natural that she be on the opposing team.

The secret weapon to winning the water fight, was the placement  and strategy of our water hoses. You see, all war is based on deception. We had one hose bib that didn’t work and a hose that have several holes in it. We connected the impaired hose to the malfunctioning water hose bib and make THAT water hose very visible to the enemy. Then we connected several good hoses to the hose bib that was around the corner of the house and hid the hoses behind the bushes. We figured we had 200 feet of distance with that piece of hose and the nozzle on it worked quite well to send quantities of water in the direction of our enemies.

It took all night to fill the water balloons and carefully place them in the coolers for safe keeping. Our team met late into the night to plan our first, second and third lines of attack. The war was going to be won with the element of surprise. After launching all of our water balloons and getting the other team to think that we were on the verge of defeat, my friend Deb was to run to the hidden hose bib and turn it on. I was to man the connected nozzle and drench the enemy.

We could hardly sleep the night before. It was going to be much fun to win the bragging rights of being the neighborhood champs. We could just see the defeated look on my sister’s and Eddie Fisher’s faces. It was going to be great. I also had gathered intelligence that the other team hadn’t planned anything at all. They were only coming armed with squirt guns.

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An Overview

The next morning around 10am, the neighborhood kids arrived on their bicycles, bathing-suited up, for the Great Neighborhood Water Fight. It didn’t take long for the trash talk to start. Our team was smug, confident, and prepared for battle. The rules for the battle were simple. We stretched a piece of rope across the side yard to separate the starting territories for each team. After the water fight started, there was no safe territory at all. When one team wanted to surrender, they would run to the center of the yard, grab the white flag and wave it to the other team. At the blow of the whistle for the start of the war, we all kicked our sandals off, and warfare ensued.

Well – the Great Neighborhood Water Fight didn’t turn out as we planned. First off, our water balloons didn’t break when we threw them. They merely landed at our enemies’ feet. The balloons were supposed to explode on contact and soak the enemy. Instead, we supplied the water balloons to our enemy, much like the time-delayed hand grenade. They were using our weapons against us! We eventually learned to throw them at their feet and they would break on ground impact to soak the enemy. Then to make matters worse, the other team stole our coolers filled with the remaining water balloons. We lost round one.

They ran to get the water hose that was visible from the battle field. But as we planned, they couldn’t get it to work. When they were trying to figure it out, it was time for us to pull out the big guns. On our prepared signal, Deb ran to the hose bib and turned the knob to open the flow of water. Ha! We had them. There was no escaping the torrential pelting from the hidden hose. Then my sister – from the other team – grabbed the hose and kinked  it to stop the flow of water. They continued to pelt us with their only prepared weapon – their squirt guns. Even though we had carefully prepared, it appeared that it wasn’t enough to win. We ran to the white flag and slowly waved it in the air. It was difficult for us to do, but we conceded defeat.

They say it doesn’t matter whether you win or  lose, it’s how to play the game. Losing the Great Neighborhood Water Fight was heartbreaking – we were razzed about it for the rest of the summer. But losing our sense of play would have been the greater tragedy. As I think back now about how we played hide and seek, had our summertime sleep-overs in the tent, arranged kickball tournaments, slurped on Kool-aid popsicles, and chased fireflies at night, we gained much more than we lost. When I was a child, play was the celebration of what is possible.

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Paul and Kim current Photo scan We knew each other before we were born. Or so it seems. The way we think alike, our inherent understanding of each other, our imprint on each other’s souls has been there since the beginning of time. Our families lived 3 miles apart from each other when we were growing up in a little farming town in Ohio. I met Paul when we were in 4th grade – or rather he was in 4th grade and I was in the 6th grade. I am one year older than he is, but was two years ahead in school. I was a writer for our elementary school newspaper and I was assigned to write about Mrs. Benson’s 4th grade class. My younger sister was in her class and so was Paul. Paul was going to be President of the United States, he said with certainty. I noticed and recognized him. He was the other part of me.

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Paul and Kim in high school

In high school, we were both trumpet players in the band. I was first chair and he was second chair, chairs we won by audition with the band director. Paul had an opportunity to challenge me for first chair, but declined to do so. He quickly became my best friend. I helped him find dates for the homecoming dance and he made me laugh. I was not too surprised when he asked me to the spring dance at our school. It was a bit weird to go with my best friend. But even though I was very young – and he was even younger, I knew I wanted to be with him as much as possible. He was my sure thing. He had answers to questions I hadn’t even asked yet. That school dance sealed our relationship for all time.

We married 6 1/2 years later on St. Patrick’s Day. Father O’Toole blessed our marriage that day – with an Irish blessing. The road did rise to meet us – but it was a rocky one to start with.

Our Wedding Photo

Before we left for our honeymoon, we opened gifts at the wedding, sorting them as we opened as to which ones would accompany us to Texas in our Plymouth Horizon and which ones would be stored. Immediately after the wedding, we left Ohio and headed for Texas for a 6-month internship job for Paul. I had already graduated from college, but Paul had two more years of school. On our wedding night, we stayed at a hotel one hour outside of our hometown in the direction of Texas. The next morning, we woke early to start the long drive and found that our car window had been smashed in and all of our packed wedding presents taken. We filed a police report, patched the car window and continued our journey.

We arrived in Houston, took a few days to move into our apartment, and then Paul started his job. In his first week of work, a car ran into Paul in our Horizon as he was turning right at an intersection. I walked over to the accident scene after Paul called me from a pay phone. He was not physically hurt, but our car appeared to be totaled. As our car was removed from the scene by a tow truck, Paul and I walked back to our apartment to figure out how to put the pieces back together. It seemed we needed to  cling to each other, as our few material goods were taken from us and all of our family was all back in Ohio. When Paul held me and we discussed our options, I knew we would be OK. What God has joined together, let no man pull apart.

A few weeks later, as Paul and I were getting ready for bed, we heard a man outside making quite a bit of noise. It seemed like an argument at first, then as we listened we could tell that someone was in immense pain. Paul ventured outside and I stayed by the balcony to our apartment to watch for his safety, but also to be close to a phone to call for help. Paul found two men and a 2-year old baby that had been in a motorcycle accident. The men, with the baby, had stolen a motorcycle and were traveling at a high rate of speed when an elderly gentleman pulled out at an intersection and clipped the bike. Both men were severely injured  – with body parts scattered at the scene. The baby was intact, but crying uncontrollably.

I went with Paul to try to figure out how to help. I tried to keep the baby still and assessed for injuries. Paul directed the emergency workers to the injured men and the older gentleman in shock. We returned to our apartment hours later, but didn’t sleep that night. We longed for the security of being with extended family and the comforts of home.

But all we had was each other and the faith that we could get through adversity together. Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us everything but the things that cannot be torn. God is still holding us in the palm of His hand.

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My grandmother with her husband's family

My paternal grandmother Edith married when she was 14, on October 4, 1911. Her husband – my grandfather, Harry – was 38, 24 years old years older than his bride.  My grandfather is the in the front row on the left. My grandmother, his new bride – is in the second row standing, second from the left –  the short young girl. I have spent a fair amount of time trying to imagine what my grandmother’s life was like and what was going through her mind at this time of her life.  It sound atrocious that my grandfather took a child bride. But the way the story was told to me was that my great-grandmother, Edith’s Mom, died when Edith was 1-year-old. Her father re-married and put her out of the house when she was a teen because his new wife didn’t want her there. She was essentially an orphan and there weren’t any homes for 14-year-old girls then.

A close up of my grandparents after they were first married.

My grandfather Harry had been married before and he had 2 children from that marriage. Their son was reported to have some affliction, perhaps Down’s Syndrome. My grandmother Edith was hired to take care of this son. It might have resulted in a marriage of convenience, but I believe my grandmother loved my grandfather and that he cared for her too. I have spent some time looking at this photo and my grandmother’s face. 14 years old. Alone and no one to turn to. Pregnant. Bound to a much older man. Finally having someone to take care of her financially and a home. Her expression looks blank. She doesn’t look scared. She has no idea how her life is going to be. Bewildered might be the right word to capture how she feels. Hardened might be another term that best describes her. I think she looks remarkably confident and resilient at 14 years old.

Laundry with 14 children

Her first son was born March 29, 1912. That was 5 months after she was married. The baby reportedly weighed 13+ pounds. Her midwife or doctor told her that she wouldn’t have any more children. She had 13 more after the first one, 10 boys and 4 girls total. (See Being a Middle Child, #7 of 14) Her husband would be ill most of his adult life and she would be required to provide for the family AND care for her children. They survived the depression by my grandmother taking in laundry for others and for farming out her 10 sons to area farmers during those times. But somehow she provided a happy home. The bond between my aunts and uncles was close and real. My aunt’s account during this time that their Mom “somehow” scrapped enough money together to buy the material to make them suits for Easter. Another remarked that she received a watch for a graduation present. She was sure that my Grandmother made payments for a year to be able to purchase the watch for her. After dishes were finished after the evening meal, they would play rummy at the kitchen table or my Grandfather would help his kids with homework. It is astonishing to me that my Grandmother was able to create this great childhood for her children – with only a little help from her husband.

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My Dad's family in 1939

This photo was taken in 1939, 3 years before 4 of her sons would go off to war. She is here with all of her healthy children and her 66 year-old husband. I found newspaper articles about my Dad in some newspaper archives that describe a very active family. Most of the boys and some of the girls played high school sports. My Dad was on the tumbling, volleyball, basketball, and football teams. Other uncles were also on the teams, making all-area honors. I have several photos of the younger uncles playing in the yard and by the creek. It appears to be a pretty wholesome family.

4 sons in WWII

In December 1942, my Dad enlisted in the war and reported to Camp Wheeler, Georgia.In October 1943, my Dad arrived in Africa for duty in WWII and joined his older brother Frank in the region. In December 1943, my Uncle Jim was the fourth son to enter the war. I have telegrams that were sent to my grandmother telling that my father was missing in action and then seriously injured and hospitalized during the war. I can’t imagine getting these telegrams with little information. It was another serious sacrifice that she made when her sons served their country. I remember when my grandfather died. I was six years old. We visited him at my grandparent’s house and my grandfather was in a hospital bed in the living room. I remember the tender care that my grandmother gave to my grandfather. She truly cared for him – it didn’t seem to be a duty.

My grandmother realized the importance of family. It was perhaps because she didn’t have one that supported her when she was growing up. Without having the rich family experience herself, she crafted a wonderful household for her 14 children, even in dire economic times. When her children married and had children of their own, there were over 80 people in the immediate family, too many to gather in one home. In 1956, My grandmother started an annual tradition of our family reunion, held at a park where each family would bring a covered dish to share. There were games for the kids to play and a whole afternoon where all of her children could gather and celebrate their family. This reunion is still a tradition even though my grandmother, grandfather and most of her children are now gone.

Some people are given a birthright in form of money or an inheritance. No one in my family passed down any material goods for sure. My birthright comes instead from my grandmother doing the best she could with the little that she had. “Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

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