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.
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.
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!