Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering Grandma

This weekend we cleaned out the garage. Found lots of junk the girls had saved. I opened a tote and found a bunch of art I had done in college, the girls were amazed.. Mom you drew that??? Oh my where have my creative juices gone. We also found photos of my grandma and grandpa on my mom's side.  This always triggers Little Miss Sunshine into asking 100 questions about our family. She is very focused on knowing everything there is to know about family.

Hubby found an interview I had done of my Grandmother in 1998. Back then I  read an article on how to do this and I decided hey what a great IDEA! She was in her 80's (I think) and still very lucid.  I didn't realize at the time of the interview, all those long pauses... like when she mentioned a step father.. she gazes off into space and you can see she is editing. Nope won't say that, nope can't say that, nope won't talk about that pain.
So If you haven't interviewed your grand parents, great Aunts and Uncles, I highly recommend it. After grandma died, my father admitted to me he thought the whole interview was kinda silly at the time. But now he realizes how much information she gave.  Every time she mentioned a name she spelled it, places and people, we carry our history around with us in our head. If we never get it out of our heads it dies with us. 

Her history is pretty traumatic, her dad dies when she is 5 (run over by bootleggers). She had 9 siblings and was pulled out of school at age 16 so she could help pay the families bills with her work. Working 11-12 hour days! Didn't go to school till she was 7, which later I put 2 pieces of the puzzle together and realize from age 5-7 she was in charge of the family cow Bossie and she peddled the milk up and down the neighborhood. Mom eventually gets remarried and then the family story gets very sketchy. She said very little about her step father and what she did say was "None of us kids liked him, and we paid him to go away after mom died."  Speaks volumes doesn't it? 

My kids were of course floored, all those long hours of work, not being able to finish school because food needed to be paid for. Only getting paid 1$ a day, and she got 7$ a week which means she worked 7 days a week. I think some of it must have sunk in because on Saturday when they were given their payment for chores, both girls contributed to the "new to us car fund."  A much better use for their money than stick on nail polish. 

My grandma went to Catholic School where the nuns were "strict" and she learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. That opened up her ability to work and do far more jobs than if she had never learned to read.  My grandma was not ignorant, and she lived a good long life.  I would have never known my grandma didn't finish high school if she hadn't told me. She was an elegant woman with a whole lot of class. 

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