Thursday, November 10, 2005

Come live with me and be my love...

My grandparents on their wedding day, in 1905. I love the little dog sitting on my grandfather's feet, and the smile on my grandmother. I haven't seen a lot of pictures of her smiling...

We'll get back to some of my travel stories in a bit, but for now I'm heading back down the family memory lane. My father's parents were both born in 1877. For some reason that seems like such a long time ago, and yet they were so much a part of my life that I can't really believe it wasn't just the other day.

I don't know how they met or where. I do know that my grandfather's family lived in Mount Vernon New York (let's call him Poggy... I'm sure it was a nick name for grandfather... or something). My grandmother, Bonnie (as her last name was Bonnell), lived around that area. She was baptized in Brooklyn, and, later on, the family lived in that area for a while before coming to California.

They married late for their time. They were 28 years old. I'm sure that Bonnie thought she was an old maid at that time, as age was always an issue with her. I don't think we knew how old she was until very late in her life, if at all. She lived to be 95 years old. Poggy died at 86.

I think my grandfather was searching for the job at which he could excel. He had several before they landed in Florida, where my father was born. There was an 8 year difference between my father and his sister. She was the oldest. Poggy was a pharmacist at one time and became quite the banker while in Florida. It seemed a good match for his talents. He was a patient, quiet, serious man, with an ear towards listening that set me at his feet more than once. I find it interesting that both my brother and I worked in banks long before we ever knew he'd been a banker. The good match didn't stick. He 'came down' with Tuberculosis and eventually passed it on to his son (in his back and bones) and his daughter (her lungs), weakening both children considerably. It wasn't his intent, of course. He had to leave his job in Florida and went to institutions in several states before the family finally settled in California. My father basically 'carried' him from the time he was old enough to work. He adored his parents.

My memories of them when I was young were vaguer (spell check accepted that word, but it doesn't look or sound right (grin)). They were 66 when I was born, and 70 when my sister came along. I remember them as always being old. They dressed 'old' and were sedate, maybe due more to infirmities than age on Poggy's part. My grandmother, who took such good care of my father when he was ill, was the most patient person I knew... simple and sweet. She used to French braid my hair when I was young. I can still feel her long fingernails parting the hair and making tight, pretty braids on my head. This was a definite change from my fairly impatient Mom (who, if you recall, cut my braids OFF when I was 5 and sent me off to school one day (grin)).

The one thing I do remember about my grandparents was that they loved each other. Doted on each other might be the word. I never saw them apart, until he died. They had been through a great deal in their lives; illness, the depression, my father's condition. I'm sure they had their moments, but I don't ever recall seeing them yell or argue or even glare at each other.

Sometimes, the old ways are the best...



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