I find it interesting to talk with family members about my maternal grandmother. She was an only child, who married a man 12 years older than her and had 13 children. She was outspoken, opinionated, and loved her family. What I have found is that she has told different people different aspects or areas of her life. She talked to me a lot about the early days of her marriage and the adjustments of living with a man who had been on his own for awhile. She also talked to me about her life after the birth of her two oldest sons. She actually talked to my sister about her sex life. Now there’s a conversation I’m glad I wasn’t privy to.
But as my own mother has started to age, I have found myself listening to stories that I have never heard before. Some of the best conversations are when she is in the company of her sisters. Out of the 13 siblings there is now only 6 remaining. It’s sad to think of the stories that have gone untold and forgotten. I really need to start recording these get togethers of the ones that are left. I know the day will come that I will regret not having anything but my memories.
I have lost tract of my Dad’s family to a certain degree. But thanks to Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with most of them. I hope that one day soon we can get together and share our memories of our childhood and maybe stories that were shared by our parents and grandparents. I think it’s important to stay connected and share these things with our children and grandchildren. I know there are lots of stories there that I haven’t heard yet from that side.
Last Friday I had lunch with my mom. She told me about her wedding day and how nervous she was. She married my dad about 3 months after she graduated high school. After being around my own 18 year old daughter and a couple of nieces, I can truly understand now just how young she was. If she had told me the story 30 years ago, I don’t think it would have had the same effect or understanding.
My dad had served 4 years in the army and had not been back too long from Berlin when he asked my mother to marry him. I think he asked her the night she graduated from high school. He was best friends with my mother’s brother Charles. When my dad left for the army he would write my uncle. My uncle would get my mother to write my dad back as if the letter was coming from him. Eventually she just started writing her own letters to him and that is how their romance bloomed. She still has his letters bundled up somewhere in the attic. I read one once where he wrote “if I have to I would get in a bathtub and use an eggbeater to get home to you.” Of course her letters to him are gone, men aren’t romantic enough to bundle up letters.
Anyway when my mother became engaged to my father she got a lot of flack from the older women in her church and around town. My dad’s father was an alcoholic and my dad was raised by his grandparents. I actually remember several conversations with my dad, usually around their anniversary, about how people in that town didn’t think their marriage would last. A lot of the good women of the church thought my mother was making a mistake and felt it was their Christian duty to let her know.
As every couple does, as the day of their wedding drew near, they both became nervous. My mom’s apprehension intensified by the church ladies and my dad with just plain old cold feet. The night before they married my dad told my mother that he wasn’t sure he would show up. He said he might just jump a freight train and head north. They lived in Roanoke which had a main track running thru it. My dad use to hop trains all the time when he was young.
My mom told me while we were having lunch, that while she was getting ready for her wedding that day, she heard the train whistle blow and thought to herself: “I sure hope he’s on that train.”