I recently told a story about my mother and her grandfather. When she told me that story, she told me a couple of other ones. I am guessing that this is all she has since she was only about four years old when her grandfather passed away.
My great grandfather and his brother immigrated from Sweden when they were young and eventually found their way to Western Oklahoma and helped settle that part of the country when Oklahoma was still a territory. They were not wealthy, but I believe that they did farm a large piece of property there. I cannot pretend to know my great grandmother’s thoughts, but my mother’s feelings and in a way, my own grandmother’s feelings were expressed to me on that day a couple of weeks ago.
My mother believes that her grandmother looked down on her mother, my grandmother. She treated my mother and her siblings different than she treated her other two grandchildren. Maybe it was because there was so many of them. I guess she blamed her daughter-in-law rather than her own son for the responsibilities of so many children.
Whenever my grandmother would take her brood to her in-laws, she always was sure that their little faces were scrubbed and their clothes were clean. Invariably they were kept separate from their only two cousins. They had to sit on one side of the room, apart from the other two.
Now I have seen pictures of these children when they lived in Oklahoma. They ran barefoot and their hair was generally in a mess. Maybe they were not as clean as their cousins were. However, these cousins were the only child in their homes. When my grandparents packed up their vehicle and moved to Texas, they had eleven children. I think that maybe my grandmother was just overwhelmed. She was an only child herself. Her mother passed away shortly before my mother was born. So, she really had no one that she could reach out to for help.
Just maybe these children weren’t the cleanest and they probably weren’t the best dressed. But, when I look at these old pictures, I see happy, smiling children.
When my Mom was telling me all of this, she told me this final story. She started it off with “I’ve never told anyone this.” She said that the night her grandfather died she wanted to get up on the bed and be next to him. She said her grandmother wanted her out of the room all together and may have even said something derogatory. But her grandfather firmly said, “Let the child up here by me.” She climbed up onto the bed by him and he patted her on the leg. She said just as hand stopped patting her she saw a ball of fire come across the room, across the bed, and out the window. No one else seemed to notice. She knew her grandfather was gone, because everyone in the room started to cry.
She said she never told anyone about the ball of fire because she didn’t want to be made fun of. She remembers it vividly.