My grandma on my dad’s side was not a very nice person, at least not to me. I only met her 3 times in my younger life and she didn’t say a word to me. Of course, the final time was her funeral so I’m kind of glad she didn’t speak to me then.
My dad, to his credit, never said a bad word about her. It was obvious she didn’t like him either, but he always took the high road and stayed respectful. He was only 12-years old when his father died and that was pretty much the last love he received until he became an adult. His mom remarried and his stepfather was a brutal tyrant to my dad and my grandma never said a word.
To give some background why my grandma wasn’t a very nice person might be necessary to move along with this story. Keep in mind that all of this is second-hand information, but she was born in the late 1800’s and I have no reason to doubt it.
My grandma was born on a farm in Iowa. She was not a very attractive person and I guess her parents worried they wouldn’t be able to marry her off. My grandpa somehow ended up passing through Iowa on his way back to Wisconsin from Arkansas. He had been married twice with both wives passing on before he made the Iowa trip. He had 8 children from his first wife and no children from his second wife. When he met my grandma’s parents (who were younger than he was) they were happy to marry their daughter off to him. She was only 18-years old and he was 55-years old.
He took his new bride and his 8 children to Wisconsin where he bought a farm. Then every two years or so, they had children. They had 13 children in addition to the 8 my grandpa already had and back then, when a child, or farmhand, grew up and left the farm, they needed to make another farmhand. Yes, my grandpa was responsible for making 21 children in all. He was 77-years old when the last child was born.
So here we have it. My grandma had to live with the fact that she was so unattractive that her parents married her off to a 55-year old man. He, in turn, had 13 children with her. 3 of her children were born deaf and 2 died in infancy. I imagine she didn’t feel very good about herself after all of that. She ended up despising the 3 deaf children, of which my dad was one.
The first time I saw my grandma I was about 4-years old. It was a family reunion and you can only imagine how many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and descendants of my grandpa’s previous marriages were there. All I remember was the mean old lady sitting by the desserts all of us kids were afraid of her. Just a look from her face scared us off.
The second time I saw my grandma I must’ve been about 6-years old. We were passing through the town where my grandma lived and my dad decided to stop by to see her. She was getting on in age and he knew she didn’t have much time. He probably also wished that she might’ve softened up a bit, but that didn’t happen. When we got to the door, she wouldn’t let us kids in so we had to sit outside by an old picnic table. After about a half-hour, my dad came out with some old cheese and stale bread for us to eat and a jug of water for us to drink. Yeah, visit grandma and get prison food we all thought.
The third time was the funeral. I was about 7-years old and it’s the first funeral I remember going to, but even I knew people were supposed to mourn. There wasn’t a wet eye present. It was almost like the family reunion where everybody joked and laughed and us kids avoided the old lady in the box. Thank God the desserts weren’t anywhere near her this time!
Years later a movie came out called “Throw Mama From The Train.” I kept thinking I had seen the actress who played the Mama. Then I realized, she looked just like my grandma, only a little smaller and better looking.
I know some of you might be thinking, “Dazeodrew? How can you trash your grandma that way?” I don’t really have an answer, but at least I didn’t suggest they throw her from a train, so there’s that…