My great-grandfather built the house in 1872, in Stony Point, Michigan. My grandfather was a farmer. He worked his father’s farm, along side his dad, and they grew vegetables together. He made a meager living by selling the vegetables from the back of a horse-drawn wagon, going door to door in that small town.
My grandmother raised seven children, the first born in 1906 and the last, my father, born in 1922. Sixteen years, seven kids. Dad told me once that his mom had a beautiful singing voice and loved to play the organ.
Shortly after the birth of my father, my grandmother was institutionalized with what they referred to as a “nervous breakdown”. Back in those days, I suppose post-partem blues had not been figured out and there was no quick fix for depression. So my grandma lived out her remaining days in an “institution”. One can only imagine what that meant.
My grandpa loved his whiskey. He used to chop wood for firewood and sell it to the neighbors to earn “money for the drink”.
My dad was about seven when the oldest daughter took all of the kids, hand in hand, and went door to door, and found foster parents for each and every one of them. This way, they could “all stick together”. All of the kids lived within a stone’s throw of each other, and they remained close all their lives.
Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine? Siblings playing in the street and then returning to their respective foster homes for dinner? Unimaginable. Yet I have never heard one story about the sadness that must have dwell in those sweet kids’ hearts. Only good memories.
It is with this back story that I find it absolutely fascinating that these brothers and sisters grew up with a strong faith, boundless sense of humor, most of them with beautiful singing voices and hard-working dispositions. Yes, the drink found its way into the veins of a couple of them, including my father, but so did all of those wonderful qualities.
Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa. God bless you for doing your best during a time of incredible hardship. Thank you for bringing my dad into the world, and my Auntie E, and all the rest. Thank you for what I know must have been a few years of boundless love, lots of singing, laughing, and living life to the fullest. You planted the seed. It took hold, in spite of shaky roots! It mattered. You would be very proud.