Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Generations

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.

J baby

My own daughter has come into this world to make up four generations of women in the family.

Four Generations

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...


Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Aw, that is sweet. I know you will keep her alive with your stories. I love those generational pictures. I have one of me, my mom and my grandma, and mine's a little freaky because I can see how I will age. EEEEEEK. It's still sweet though.


Panda said...

We have a four-generational photo with Spudly

I love the photo of you with Ruby and the Elders. Your mum is gorgeous.

Kevin Charnas said...

Wow...excellent post. I really loved reading that, it was poetry.
And, it makes me long...
I only had one grandmother and she died when I was six. I remember her eye brows tucked behind her glasses (VERY bushy - she was Greek)and I remember her teaching me how to count in Greek. That's really about it though. So, I'm envious.

Naeva - InsParenting said...

Very lovely.

Your post reminded me of my great grandmother. Thank you.

I also would like others to remember their great grandma or grandma, like I did. I linked you up in the post that I've just written in my blog, inspired by you. Hope that's ok with you.

Kate said...

What a rich and lucky life these women brought to you. People do live forever through stories.

Tuesday Girl said...

Family is the most important thing.
Ruby is a beautiful name.

Blue Fairy said...

A really nice post. Having lived away from my family for almost 20 years and missed so much, I really appreciate the value of these thoughts.

Grim Reality Girl said...

I have to say it is amazing to have a photo of 4 generations. In my family we barely made it to 3. Great post and great photos! It makes you appreciate the family you have. Love the name Ruby too!

Diana said...

Great photos, my grandmother passed when I was five and my mother wasnt even raised with her so I never got to take any photos that way. I should do it for my son with his father and grandfather...

Annie said...

Beautiful women, all.

Grim Reality Girl said...

I am so glad you linked back to this post. This was one of the first posts on your blog that I can remember reading. The pictures have stuck out in my mind as I experienced the loss of my mother... I wish my photos have more generations. Loved this post and the ones on flying... just beautiful. Thank you.

Karen said...

Great post & lovely photos.

I have four generations at the moment. We took a photo a few days ago on my great nans 90th Bithday.
Me, my mum, my nan & my great nan.
Its really nice and a lovely thing to do.