What did my grandmother think when she met the man she would marry in 1916? Did she know right away he was “the one,” or did she already have a steady beau?
It’s hard to believe she didn’t have a flock of young men hovering around her, but anything is possible. Short of finding a diary lost for nearly 100 years, I’ll never know. The chances are improbable, and if it truly reflected my grandmother’s reticent personality, it wouldn’t help. The words would record the surface events of life, not deep personal thoughts.
What I do have, though, is an old pasteboard jewelry box. For decades, it’s been the repository of postcards, snapshots, newspaper clippings (mostly family obituaries for people I’ve heard of but never met), Sunday school presentation cards and the like.
Among these fragments are a handful of beautiful, embossed postcards. They are designed to look and feel like embroidery. The colors, though faded, still hint at how richly vivid they must have been when new. I try not to touch them, but the surfaces are tempting. The flowers feel like velveteen.
A couple are valentines sent to my grandmother by aunts and girlfriends. Three or four are birthday cards. Although all are addressed, none is stamped or postmarked, so there’s no way to tell when they were received.
One birthday postcard is from my grandfather: “From your friend Bill.” Another is signed with a different gentleman’s initial. “D.B.” Because they are similar in look and condition, why not assume they are from the same year?
Who was D.B.?
Imagination and my own heart say these cards survived because they were special. If they were special, they signify some emotional attachment. The novelist in me sees so many possibilities.
D.B. was her childhood sweetheart and he died young. Disease or accident? Or a casualty of trench warfare in France? Heck, why not go whole hog and say he joined the Lafayette Escadrille and was shot down? In any of these scenarios, my grandmother thought she’d never love again until Bill came into her life.
Or D.B. was wild and broke my grandmother’s heart by a.) “having” to marry another woman; or b.) refusing to give up the bottle. Or D.B. adored her, but she loved him like a brother and broke his heart by telling him they could only ever be friends.
Or did she repeat her mother’s story?
Family lore says my great-grandmother was engaged to a fine city man, the son of a mill superintendent, and jilted him when she met my great-grandfather, the carpenter, when he was hired to do some work on their house. Now that sounds like a love story.
I know how Bill’s story turned out – 61 years of marriage. But I don’t have much more than a date and a few facts that are just as bewildering. I’ll get to those next time.
Do you know your grandparents’ love story, or have you had to imagine one for them? I’d be thrilled if you cared to share it in a comment.
That’s sad that you do not know how your grands-parents met each others and fell in love.
I feel, once again, very lucky because my Mother’s parents love telling us their story 🙂
Both of them were in their mid-twenties, lived in Lyon, France far from their families in kind of foster family. They lived in the same building, on the same floor… Well, they were their-next-door 🙂
My Grandpa had always loved flirting with women when he was a young charming man. However when he met Grandma he suddenly became shy !!! Well, he had immediately known that she was HIS destiny !!
Although he loved flirting, showing his real and true feelings has been very tough for him.
My Grandma was (she still is 🙂 ) an elegant and classy Lady (whatever she wears, it always fits perfect) and a bit shy. She has never told us her flirt-love past before Grandpa but I am pretty sure all the young men of her tiny village were in loved with her 🙂
Now, you will ask me for telling how they met and how they became my Grands-Parents ?
Their foster mothers were two great romantic ladies, they had noticed that our two young friends, had a crush for each others. So they decided to do something for them.
As they had to take off their shoes before entering in the apartments, the foster mothers kept the doors locked until Grandpa talked to Grandma.
They introduced themselves and talked together a bit. Then the doors were unlocked 😉
That court lasted something like three weeks before Grandpa begun to date Grandma…
Then things got faster… They decided to live together without being married (very, very rare in the mid 1950s France)… After two years, things started to be a bit tough for them. Fortunately or not, Grandpa worked as a truck driver and had to leave home for 2/3 weeks.
At the same time, Grandma discovered she was pregnant.
She wrote a letter to Grandpa telling him that. She was uncertain of his reaction but she was ready to raise her baby alone (that’s all my Grandma, a strong woman).
But Grandpa is Grandpa, he knew she was his destiny and he came back home.
They got married, had 4 children and had a beautiful life, with up and down…
And after 58 years of relationship, 56 years of marriage, they still are in love with each others.
When people asked me why I am still single, I answer them that I want the same love as my Grand-Parents and it is difficult to find 🙂
PS: I looooooooove them so much 😉
Decca Price said:
What a wonderful story — thanks for sharing it! You’re lucky, also, that they are truthful with you. Of course, if they had the courage to live their lives as they wanted, it’s no surprise.
61 years of marriage is a wonderful thought. I’m amazed by how little we tend to know about our grandparents-my grandmother lost her husband whether son, my father, was young, and brought up three children in London, working as a seamstress. Our lives today seem so easy by comparison. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it very much.
Decca Price said:
Thank you for your kind words. My hope, as I try to capture the memories I do have and re-imagine the rest, is that readers like you will do the same — and reach out, either to still-living grandparents or to grandchildren, if you’re blessed to have them.
Charla J Schneider said:
I love the look of your blog. What a great post – I love finding out stories about my ancestors. At my grandmothers funeral I took a tape recorder with me and recorded the family sharing memories of the past. I think writing a family narrative is an important thing to do.
Decca Price said:
Thank you! That was such a smart thing to do, with the tape recorder. One thing I’m fortunate to have are a couple of letters my grandmother’s sister wrote to my mother before she died. The challenge with people’s memories, though, is that they’re not always right. My great-aunt gave me a terrific starting point, though, and I’ve found some interesting things in my research I wouldn’t have otherwise.