My father’s memoir started with two simple declarative sentences:
“This is my first attempt to bring together the many incidents of
my life, which may be dull and boring to everyone. However, my children or my grandchildren may see or appreciate a bit of humor or relate
a piece of my experience to their own lives.”
I read the pages with hunger, hoping to catch a glimpse of the long lost little
boy who grew up to be the man I now called Daddy as well as the woman he used to call Mother – my paternal grandmother.
Her given name was Ida Telsey and I learned that she loved cats and and filled her home with many of those furry wonders. She also suffered from terrible asthma, which ultimately led to her premature death at age 46. No one ever made the connection.
Apparently, she was soft spoken, well bred, and the smartest of all her siblings.
Yet she and her sister were not expected to attend college, unlike all
four of her brothers who would become prosperous professionals.
The brothers’ children took tennis lessons and later, following in their fathers’ footsteps, went on to attend Harvard or Cornell. Her children played stick ball, wore hand-me-downs from their rich cousins and sold home baked pies door-to-door to earn money.
I learned that my grandmother was as calm and gentle as my grandfather
was coarse and bawdy. And that my father, in many ways, took after his more
My grandmother bore four children: one daughter and three sons. She
never lived to see any grandchildren. She never lived to attain economic
security nor did she enjoy marital harmony or good health. My father’s biggest regret is that his success came too late to help his mother.
I reluctantly put the pages of the memoir down and drove to school to
pick up one of my grandsons for soccer practice. I figured, if asked, I’d
explain away my red eyes and wet cheeks with a casual remark about
My grandson didn’t notice my eyes or cheeks. He was too preoccupied
with wolfing down the brownies I had brought him. It’s probably for
the best. After all, how do you explain to a 7-year-old that you are crying
for a grandmother that you never knew – a woman who died without
ever knowing the void she would create in the life of the little girl who carried
Iris Ruth Pastor is a slice-of-life author, blogger and motivational speaker.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org