Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Lying Grandmother

My maternal grandmother strung such a line of baloney. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.

I grew up in a world where I had no past. And I had no past because my parents divorced early which just left me with my mother and my mother had no past. And my mother had no past because her father left and her mother lived behind a moat of secrecy.

According to my mother my grandmother had only two vague memories:
  1. A dark lady with braids leaning over a cooking pot.
  2. An Irish man with red hair.
Just the kind of information any family historian would be thrilled to inherit.

The lies my grandmother told:
  • She was born in 1900.
  • She was part Cherokee.
  • Her first daughter was born in 1921.
  • She had only two vague memories.

Here's some truths:


She was born out of wedlock in 1899.

She was not even remotely Cherokee.

She lived with her mother, grandmother, aunt and 1st cousins until she married in 1919.

Her first daughter was born in January 1920, 7 months after she married. She hid her from the census-taker in March.

Her aunt's youngest child was born (also out of wedlock) when she was 15 but she didn't know anything about a man hanging around her house. Total blank.

When my mother, at age 10, asked her why her mother and her aunt had the same surname, my grandmother said they must have married brothers in a tone that told my mother to SHUT UP.

She was 20 years old when her grandmother died but her children never heard anything about this woman.

Her mother-in-law died when she was 31. Her children didn't know anything about her.  

The grandmother of her husband (also born out of wedlock) died when my mother was 12. My mother never met her or even knew she existed.

She had a close relationship with her father until she was 36 years old and he moved out of the area. My mother never heard of him.

It's been a long road but we know who he is now. And we've figured out some of this other bullshit. Rest in peace, Pearl.