With the birth of my mother, there were five generations of women alive in my family. My mom is shown here in the arms of her Great, Great Grandmother.
When I was born there were again five generations of women standing together. I am in my mother's lap and behind us are (from left to right) my Granny, my Granga and my Great, Great Granny.
My own daughter has come into this world to make up four generations of women in the family.
I'm thinking of this today because 11 years ago my Great Grandmother passed away. We called her "Granga" because my mother couldn't pronouce Grandma when she was little and so the name Granga stuck and was used by her siblings and all their children, my cousins, my brother and I. If she were still alive, Rooster Girl would have also had a five generation start.
It's too bad that Rooster will never know her Great, Great Grandmother. My relationship with my own was so important that my daughter is named for her. Great, Great Granny lived to be 100 years old, from 1886 to 1986, from horse and buggy to the moon and beyond. I spent my high school summers talking with her about her childhood, what it felt like to fall in love, how to know when you met the man you will marry and how she felt about pregnancy and childbirth. (BTW - you'll know when you've met the man you're going to marry when "it feels like the same kind of electricity is running through you both!")
My Granga - and Rooster's Great, Great Grandmother - was an amazing woman that I remember as a patient, good listener. She was the wife of a dairy farmer in rural Virginia and had seven children from 1929 - 1941. Her eldest daughter is my Granny and my stubborn streak comes directly from her. Three of Granga's seven children died while she was alive. One, an infant son, died at birth. An infant daughter, named after her mother, died at five months and another son drowned when he was in his early 30's.
I can't help but wonder how she survived the death of three children. Isn't it the worst fear of all parents? Doesn't it drive couples apart? I wonder how she coped, though I imagine it was with perseverance and hard work. As a farm wife she worked from sun up until sun down and later. She cooked three meals each day and the extended family would gather for each one around the huge farm house table and feast on country ham, biscuits, snap beans, butter beans, sweet corn, cakes, cobblers, pies and sweet tea. Granga waited on her husband and sons, she tended the chickens, fed the pigs... Still, I imagine the children she lost never really left her thoughts.
Granga died before I had children, before I would even call myself an adult really. I wish she had lived longer because now that I have my own children I wish I could talk with her about motherhood and parenting. Also, I wish my daughter could have known her.
I guess it is left to Granny, Mom and I to share stories about Granga and all the women of our family with little Rooster so that she'll know who she is by way of knowing who came before her.
We miss you Granga...