My Granny, My Dad and My Granddaddy
Both of my parents were adopted. So the grandparents I grew up with in my childhood were never actually related to me. They were influential though. The two people shown above often cared for me and my sisters over weekends. I think mostly to get us into their church, the Church of Christ, as contrasted with the church our mom was raising us in, the Episcopal church. My dad didn’t go to church at the time. He worked shift work in a refinery, often double shifts, and so was mostly asleep when he wasn’t at work, except for meals. Maybe he would watch a little TV or read a news magazine or the local paper.
My mom conceived me while she was still in high school and my dad had just started at the university out of town. I think these two people shown above made certain my dad quit his dreams of a higher education and married my mom and went to work to support his young family. Not that he didn’t want to marry my mom. They were married over 50 years until death did them part and they died only 4 months apart. My dad’s adoptive parents insisted I have a biblical name to save my damaged soul because of my illegitimate conception.
All of my grandparents had already died – and in fact my parents had already died as well – when I went in search of my original grandparents. Though I doubted I would ever know who my dad’s father was because his mother was unwed and he was given her maiden name at birth. I do now know who ALL 4 of my original grandparents were, their names and their ancestry. I didn’t expect, that in learning who my original grandparents were, I would in effect “lose” my grandparents (those people who adopted my own parents as infants).
But I did.
Though I know I have a “history” with these people who adopted and raised my parents, they no longer feel like my grandparents. And my true biological and genetic grandparents have taken their place in my heart and imagination, even though I have scant knowledge (but some) of these people whose genes are in me and helped create who I am at the level of physicality. I have connected with some cousins who share the same original grandparents and what I know of my original grandparents is thanks to anything they have shared with me about these people.
I don’t love the people who raised my parents any the less but they are so far back in my own past now. Though I had occasional interactions with them up until their deaths, as living people they are receding for me. They are fading . . .
My original grandparents didn’t lose my parents due to anything worse than poverty and a lack of family support. That doesn’t say much for my parents own original grandparents, who did not seem to care about my parents very much. I’ve only heard that my mom mattered to her dad, which was a happy surprise for me and quickly warmed my heart towards that man. My dad’s father probably never even knew he existed. His mom was self-reliant and he was a married man, so she just handled it alone.
It is strange. I was robbed of my original grandparents by the Great Depression, Georgia Tann and the Salvation Army. Both of my grandmothers eventually re-married. If they could have been sustained somehow, I know they would have raised their children because every indication is that they loved their babies and mourned their loss until they died.
Nothing makes up for these losses really but at least, I do know where I came from – which is more than my parents knew. They died completely ignorant of who their own original parents were. And that is very sad.