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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Grandma Rowe

old woman with baby on her kneeYes, the baby is me. No, I didn’t spend the whole time distanced from this person that the original picture suggested. But it is a day of mixed feelings for me. I promised to tell you the real story that goes with the picture from the April writing contest. Here we go.

This is my earliest memory, and although I have many early memories, even I am a bit astounded that I can recall this day. I was just over a year old. I don’t know the exact date of the photos other than Spring 1949, but because of their location in the photo album, I am guessing May. That puts me at 13 months of age.

Great Grandma Rowe was my mother’s paternal grandmother, her father’s mother. Now that I’m writing out this story, I don’t even know her first name. I’m sure it’s written down in my genealogy file, but it doesn’t really matter to this story, and since it’s my point of view she was just Great Grandma!

It’s amazing how many pieces of the big picture small children never collect, and how they zero in on the important things anyway. My grandmother must have brought her to visit, but I have no idea where she was brought from. (Her son, my mother’s dad, had died several years previously.) The house is ours and I remember the car in the driveway. I remember how my mom and dad helped her into the lawn chair. I still own that chair, and it’s in my stack of projects for re-furbishing.

The factual story isn’t nearly as interesting as the tales that some of you wrote for the contest. But it’s important to me because I do remember it... and not just the pictures of it.

Great Grandma Rowe was in her late 80's by then, and was quite frail. The part that I remember was a discussion about whether I was going to be allowed to sit on her lap. She wanted to hold me, but I was known throughout my childhood as the quintessential wiggle-worm that no one really wanted to hold on a lap, being all elbows and knees. I don’t know which adult, but someone clearly thought that I would hurt her if she were to try to hold me.

As you can see, those who wanted her to hold me won the day. I have no idea how long I sat there, or if I did hurt her in any way. But... as if in prediction of my natural abilities with human interactions, in all six of the pictures taken that day, never once am I actually looking at this person whom I only saw this one time in my life. She died a year or so later.

Is this a sad story? I can’t say. But since it’s my earliest memory, it is a part of who I am.

See Fourth Place Winner of the Birthday Contest- if you want to read the stories and see the original picture, you can start here and work your way back.


RNSANE said...

So you were a wiggle worm, Joan?
At least you got to spend some time with your great grandmother. I didn't know any of my grandparents! They all died before I was born. That's pretty sad. Even sadder is the fact that I have only picture of my mother's mom and none of any other grandparents.

Secondary Roads said...

What? In my story, Kay's grampy is based very loosely on Ezra Theodore Rowe of Oceana Co, Michigan. My great uncle Ezra Rowe died 16 Sept 1918 of disease in WWI. Perhaps we should compare notes?

Secondary Roads said...

You are truly amazing if you can remember when you were 13 months old. Come to think of it you are amazing.

Ann said...

Even back then you were always on the go huh?...lol
I like your story. How wonderful that you have the memory

spinninglovelydays said...

I thought you might be the baby in the picture! That's a really early memory, but it's awesome that it stayed with you.

Rick (Ratty) said...

It doesn't sound like a sad story at all. You got to meet your great grandma, which is something most of us only get to ever do once or twice. Some don't get that honor at all. It sounds more like a good memory.

Ferd said...

It's great to know details, any details, about our family's past. It's part of the story that tells us who we are.

Gail is working on her family tree right now. She longs for details like that.