Thursday, July 3, 2014

Family Matters

Pa and Grammie
In January I wrote of my paternal grandfather's passing. Grammie, pictured above, left to join Pa this past May, leaving me without any living grandparents. I do feel blessed, however, to have known all four of my grandparents, something not all get to experience.

Today would have been Pa and Grammie's 68th wedding anniversary.

It's difficult to really do either of them justice, there's so much that could be said, with much more that is felt and therefore impossible to put into words.

Grammie and Pa grew up in southern Idaho during the Great Depression, though both sprang from Southern and Midwestern stock. Their ancestry traces back to Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, and even Ireland, which, for the geographically challenged, is not in either the American South or Midwest.

Grammie was born in California, though her family had settled in Idaho some years before. There wasn't enough work in the Gem State, so they had gone down to southern California to pick oranges.

Pa left his boyhood home of Tennessee at age seven. The family moved on the recommendation of a doctor who was treating Pa's older, and only, sister for tuberculosis.

My grandparents and their families' were no strangers to hardships. Few in that so-called greatest generation escaped the effects of two world wars, economic depression, unemployment, famine (in the case of Pa's Irish grandma's family, who probably left Ireland because of the Great Hunger, or potato famine, but that's going back a wee bit), migration, and disease, and Grammie and Pa were no exception.

Both served in the US Navy during World War II, Grammie in the WAVES, stationed in Seattle, Washington, and Pa in the Caribbean and South Pacific seas. After the war, they married, raised a large family, created a successful business that remains in the family, and participated in local politics.

In many ways, they were the embodiment of the American dream. The lives they led and the values they represented suggest that notwithstanding hardships, even catastrophic worldwide economic, political, and social upheavals, it is possible to rise from humble beginnings, establish oneself, and pass on a legacy to be enjoyed by posterity.

Grammie and Pa's posterity, including five children, 16 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren (with at least one more boy on the way), are all beneficiaries of their hard won legacy.

One final thought: I can't recall many times that the family got together to celebrate Pa and Grammie's anniversary. I think we usually somewhat combined it with another important anniversary celebrated on the fourth. My thoughts today are filled with memories of hamburgers, root beers, fireworks, soft summer grass, orange Dreamsicles, aunts, uncles, cousins, and, of course, Grammie and Pa.


Whitney Hardie said...

Nate, this is awesome. I love family history stories like this one. Glad you recorded it.

Nate said...

Thanks, Whitney!