Friday, May 05, 2017

Sometimes we just have it so easy

My role of Nana is so dear to me.
My oldest grand is on the couch right now, getting ready for a day of homeschooling at my table.

Two days ago I met with some of my distant cousins.
They shared pictures of a side of the family I knew little about.
On picture was of Grandmother Mary.
"She was always such a sour puss."
"Look! I think that is the first time I have ever seen a smile on her face."

So I did some leg work.
Mary was the wife of Oliver. Oliver was the youngest of seven (living) children. My great grandfather was his brother- 17 years apart. Unlike most of his sibs, he did not go on to university. His parents passed away before his teens.
Mary had been brought up by first generation Americans who worked for the railroads. My husband's family was brought up in the rail business. Tough, hard, dirty, underpaid work. She was one of ten.
Oliver and Mary lived with her parents for the first ten years (and three children) of their marriage.
Oliver was a steel man, before unions.
My understanding is that Mary and Oliver had ten children in their first twenty years of marriage (they were married at least fifty years).
Of the ten children: two were stillborn, two passed in infancy, six were raised to adulthood.
I cannot imagine. One miscarriage and I am a mess.
Oliver worked hard, but never seemed to make enough money to sustain them.
Their oldest daughter bought a farm in Northern Maryland. Oliver and Mary moved onto that farm and the two city folks began to work with the rest of the family to raise Christmas trees.
No nice and relaxed retirement for her.
Oliver passed away in 1955. I think this picture (with her best friend and her oldest daughter) was probably at her husband's funeral. One of those rare (although probably fake) smiles on her face.
She went from family to family until she passed in 1963.

Here is Sally. Oliver's middle sister.

She had ten children as well.  Four died in one week from the flu.  Two years later two more were killed in a car crash.  She passed from the flu that year.  Of her ten children, none lived to be adults.

I cannot even imagine.
I have it so easy!

4 comments:

Practical Parsimony said...

The last story brought a tear to my eye. We are so lucky.

Bonnie said...

I'm an avid genealogist, your pictures and stories are priceless. We never know what someone had to go through in their lives.

Kimberly said...

Oh my goodness. Sally must have really died of a broken heart. I'm with you - my one miscarriage devastated me. These women were of strong stuff. But no wonder her smiles were few and far between.

Tom Sightings said...

Thanks for the post. Sometimes in all our handwringing we forget how far we've come.