I have 79 cousins.
I know that sounds a little insane, but it’s true!
My Mom was from a family of 17 kids…and most of the cousins are from there – a whopping 63 of them! My Dad came from a family of 6 kids – a mere 16 cousins from there. Add in the 6 kids in my family and I think we officially define the term “brood”.
My Mom used to tell us a few of the stories from her youth. And my cousin Randy has filled in a few blanks.
Mom and her siblings were brought up literally in a tar paper shack before they moved into their modest home. Randy talks about how he used to sleep over and he’d wake up with snow on his sleeping bag where it had gotten in through the cracks in the house.
I think the term “back in the day” takes on a whole new meaning when I hear these stories.
Mom used to tell us how she and her siblings were sent to the “bus” to sleep at night when Grandma was giving birth to another sibling – which was delivered by Grandpa. They’d come in in the morning and there would be Grandma – new baby asleep and she’d be baking bread for her crew.
I cannot imagine…
She also used to tell about how they’d walk to school, sometimes emptying their lunch pails so that they could catch minnows in the stream…or pick strawberries. I can just imagine her walking or skipping along in her cute little dress that Grandma made…with her sisters and brothers to the one room schoolhouse a couple of miles away.
She said she was at the top of her class for spelling…and you could tell that she was so proud.
Mom’s family story was truly a remarkable one. You see my Grandpa married my Grandma’s sister first. She had 4 children and died in childbirth. That’s when my Grandma stepped into the picture. You see, this was back in the day when if something happened to a spouse…if that persons sibling was unmarried, they would step in and help. And the rest is history.
Grandma went on not only to raise those children, but also add another 13.
I think they were Catholic, but I guess I’m not positive. I know my Mom had two Aunts that became Nuns. And my parents were Catholic. And with all those children…well, I could make a joke, but I won’t. 🙂
They hunted for their meat. They gardened their vegetables, and they baked all their own bread.
This was the day of incredibly hardy women and men.
My Grandpa died when I was very little, so I didn’t get a chance to know him.
My Grandma died when I was pretty young too. I remember her with such love and fondness. She was a little lady, gray-haired with glasses. And I remember her old housedresses.
There wasn’t anything fancy about Grandma.
I also remember a time when we went to the grocery store with Grandma. It was at Easter time…and she took me by the hand and bought me chocolate Easter candy…just for me.
Considering how many grandchildren she had, I felt so special!
Somewhere along the line, the saying “Grandma liked us best because we lived so far away” became a fun quote. I don’t remember if she said it or maybe my Mom and Dad. Either way, we could imagine it to be true.
Mom used to talk about how Grandma would yell “You little shitasses – get out of here!” when children were being naughty and underfoot.
Now there’s a Grandma that tells it like it is…a Grandma that’s HAD it with children (can’t blame her there!), and yet you know there was love under that holler.
She was a peach, that Grandma of ours.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these stories as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them down. Now go – grab a notebook and do the same with your family stories. Lest they get lost in time.
And love and appreciate each other, while you can.