The difference between childhood and adulthood is that as an adult you have more of an appreciation for those you are visiting, than as a child when you are bored because you don’t know who they are and they are taking up precious play time.
The Grandparent I did have, that knew nothing for years and years and years, was actually my Mother’s Mother. If you asked her about family she never knew anything, ever.
When I was a little girl. I remember going with my Mother and Grandmother to visit some old woman. I remember she had a walker (which I had never seen before) and white hair, and walked slowly (thus the walker). She also had a slide outside her front door that was as hot as an oven and I burnt the back of my legs sliding down it (but I did it multiple times anyhow). What we didn’t do, was take a picture, because the old woman was my Grandmother’s mother and I would have loved a four generation picture. I am sure that my mother told me who we were going to see, but I didn’t remember. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I pieced it all together.
One Saturday afternoon, when my Grandmother and I lived in the same town I went to visit. I was furious with her for her disposal of the family silver. She told me in blunt terms it was hers and she could do what she wanted, even if she gave it to someone who sold it immediately. I reminded her that she actually had grandchildren, and that it would be nice if she remembered that once in a while and maybe, just maybe, they would like something to remember her by. She said she had nothing. I then went around her house and gathered all her music boxes, one for each grandchild and said there, you have something to give to everyone. They may be the ugliest music boxes you have ever seen, but my sisters and I still have ours, maybe because they are so ugly, but mostly because they are the only thing she ever gave us.
She surprised me then and said, you know, my cousin lived to be 109 years old. I was like really? (I didn’t actually believe her). She then went and pulled out a box with a newspaper clipping to prove that yes she did. Then she started pulling out pictures and there was one of the white haired lady with the hot slide. She goes, that’s my Mother. She was born in 1880 in the Dakota’s (there was no North and South back then). Her parents where from Canada and spoke French.
This was a seed planted in my brain, that became a fascinating story about this woman. She pulled out photos’ of her and her twin sister with their mother as infants (I have these photos) I never knew she had a twin sister and was fascinated. Here was a woman I had a love/hate relationship with and after I told her, her grandchildren would like a memento from her and gathered up ugly music boxes, suddenly started talking about her family. She told me about her sisters, and she told me about a relative also interested in family history and she put me in touch with her, though the woman would not share with me, so my Grandmother wrote her and she gave the information to my grandmother. She also put me in touch with my Grandfather’s Aunt ,who was still alive, and who happily shared with me what she could remember about the family. I have wonderful cousins in these family branches, who help put together the family history. From a music box, to family, it’s a treasure.
As children, we do not understand why we are dragged to see some old relative or someone who knew someone, but as adults, we wish we could go back and ask questions. That is why I search for my family through history, why I want to know stories, why I search every where for hints, and pictures, why I hope that someday, someone wants to know about me.