Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Finally meeting Grandma, sort of.

Back in September I shared that my once-lost-now-found grandmother had already died when my  mother confirmed where she was and was able to contact her family members.  And, as promised, my mom's newly found step-sister delivered - and sent my mom some pretty special things.  Included with many photo's were my grandmother's wedding rings, a hat she often wore, a bracelet, a pin and a few other items. 

I had never seen my grandmother's face until I went over to my momma's the night the package arrived.  That night, I finally met my grandmother.  Sort of.  I looked through the pictures with my mom.  I smelled the hat.  I wore her rings.  I tried to connect to this once imaginary woman who was now real. 

I've been pondering how to put into words how I felt that night.  To be honest, it's three months later and I'm still working through the emotions.  But as I process all of this, I am also really happy. 

Happy the rumors of her being murdered by my grandfather are false.  Who wants that skeleton hanging in your family tree?  
Happy to see the joy on my momma's face as she tells me all she is learning about her mom. 
Happy to know that my grandmother loved my momma.   

People who know the story are still asking me how I feel about her and why I have avoided putting it into words, since that's what I do.  I still don't know how to fully answer that. 

For my entire life she was a fantasy- now all of a sudden she is real. 

Initially there were doubts that she is the right Lucille, but they were gone the first time I saw her.  In looking at her, I see my mom.  I see my Aunt Linda and Aunt Mary.  I see me.   As the pictures continue to arrive a little more of the missing puzzle of my family tree is fitting together in front of me.  It feels good to say my grandmother and know she in fact lived.  

Since meeting Rex for the first time, I've heard many conversations about his grandmother. I have been privileged to pilfer through some of her things too.  I'm pretty sure I would like her.  And even tho' I've never met her either, I feel like I know her because I know her family.  I know Iris.  I know Rex.  They are part of her, and she is part of them.   I can know my grandmother because of knowing my momma. 

And, in all the finding,  we're finding out the why.  Why she disappeared all those years ago.  And lest I judge her, which would be really easy to do I have to remind myself that things were very different then.  There was no support for a woman to leave an abusive husband to venture out on her own with small kids. 

And so it seems, my grandmother loved her girls enough to leave them.  

And, she kept loving them, and telling her new family that she loved "her girls" until she died.  She loved them enough to look for them.  Unfortunately, her search was years before cell phones and face book and twitter.  Before you could google whatever or whoever you wanted to find.   

So, with all we still don't know, we do know a little more than before.  We know  
she lived.
she loved.
she laughed.
she cared.
she danced.
she never bore any more children.
she looked for us.
she died, surrounded by people who loved her.
we'll meet her in heaven one day.

People often ask, if you could have lunch with anybody dead or living, who'd it be? 

I used to try and think of really cool people.  People like Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Lucille Ball. (don't mock me) Now, without hesitation I'd be having lunch the grandmother's.  

I imagine I'd sit in awe as they reminisced about their lives.  I'd explain what on earth I was wearing. I imagine we'd laugh so hard we'd wet our pants and not even care.  Oh, what I would give to hug them, and smell them, and touch their wrinkled hands.  To learn from them the lessons grandmother's are supposed to teach their girls. 

The hardest part of not knowing her, was not knowing her.  Growing up without caring grandparents is tough.  So, for all you grannies and paw paw's out there- get busy and get involved with those youngins.  They really do need you.  You can't get the lost time back.   

So, without further delay, I'd like to introduce you to my grandmother, Lucille.  
I like to call her Grandma Lucy. 

Grandma Lucy.
My momma's hands look just like hers.

hmmm, quite the little black dress. 

my rings, her rings.
Grandma Lucy on the left.
You can't tell here, but when you see the picture up close, my mom really favors her. 
Grandma Lucy and my step-grandfather.  In this picture, I can really see my Aunt Linda. 

She was very involved in the VFW- red was her favorite color.

Momma with Grandma Lucy's VFW hat/pins.

I'd planned to go with Momma to the Bolton family reunion in Alabama in a couple of months.  I wanted to document the first meeting, put faces to names and enjoy my family. 
But we just learned it conflicts with the Powell reunion in Roanoke. 
So, I'm not sure how that's all going to work out, or when I'll get to meet my uncles and aunts and cousins. 
But I can be sure there is more to this story coming soon. 

Happy Wednesday y'all.

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