What My Grandma Knew (Part 1)
If my grandmother were alive today, I think she would be shocked to see the way the world has changed. Perhaps you are thinking, well, of course, she would. Anyone who was born in 1901 wouldn’t recognize 2017 any more than I would recognize 1000 B.C., though I can study it’s history and try to imagine what life was like then. But back to my grandmother. She lived through a lot of social change. She was eleven when the Titanic sank. She was a young wife and mom during the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition and kept her family from starving and a roof over their heads during the Great Depression. My grandmother was probably a feminist in a Baptist dress, though she wouldn’t have known the word feminist, nor admitted it. She was strong-willed, and made decisions for other people. We might call her a control freak today, but she wouldn’t have heard of that phrase either.
She took in an infant her first year of marriage and raised her for a year after her father died and her mother needed surgery. She took in borders and sheltered her family when they needed her during World War II. She lived through the deaths of two brothers-in-law – one during World War I and the other to alcoholism. She planned the latter's funeral on Christmas Eve, and took in her mother-in-law when she needed care.
Grandma saw the first car created. She rode streetcars in Detroit and allowed my grandfather one beer after a hard day’s work. She wasn’t about to let her man end up like his alcoholic brother with no money to feed her family.
She saw the suffragette movement, though I don’t know if she ever exercised her right to vote. She saw the Supreme Court cases that brought evolution to the classrooms and abortion to the masses.
She lived through the Cold War and Vietnam and the Korean Conflict and was widowed by about the age of 60. She lived through many presidents and industrial revolution changes, saw a man land on the moon, and watched her new son-in-law go off to war to save this country that had undergone more changes in her lifetime than I’ve seen in mine.
My grandma lived in Detroit at a time when people didn’t worry about being shot in their homes. When neighbors came in different nationalities and everyone went to church on Sunday. Families gathered for dinners, whether they got along very well or not. Grandma used to fight with her sisters but she sure missed them when they were gone. Love might be hidden behind criticism or even underlying bitterness, which Grandma knew, but in the end, love always mattered more.
And truth mattered as much as love.