Grammy

As I said before, my grandmother was shuffled back and forth between relatives as a child.  Her mother, Greta, was too busy running the streets to be a mother.  Grammy told me that a couple of male relatives attempted to molest her as a child but she was able to fight them off.  Sometimes she was fed last so to make sure the others kids had enough food first.  She never had her own bed and her hair often went uncombed.  She felt ignored and like she was always in the way.  When her uncle (Greta’s brother) heard about how she was being treated he insisted that she come to California to live with him and his wife.  They had no children and a nice house. 

Grammy adores her uncle and has fond memories of him.  He was the only person who ever loved her and didn’t treat her like an inconvenience.  He actually wanted her.  He bought her new clothes and his wife taught her the delicacies of feminine hygiene.  She showed her how to do her hair in the latest hairstyles and how to apply modest makeup.  It was the 1940’s so you know the hair and fashion were VERY important.  When Grammy hit her teen years, she and Uncle’s wife started butting heads.  I don’t know if it was jealousy on one or both parts but Uncle was caught in the middle.  Grammy admits that she hated his wife and gave her a hard time.  She never told me why she hated her.  After years in what sounds like a safe, loving home, Grammy went back to Louisiana to live with her mother for the first time in her life.  I don’t know if this was her decision or Uncle’s.

Grammy tried living with Greta but that was a disaster.  Greta had no idea how to be a mother and Grammy had no respect for her.  Like a lot of young women back then Grammy looked to marriage as a way out of her mother’s house. So, at 18 she married her boyfriend, *Samuel.  He was recently discharged from the Army and had a good job as a hospital orderly.  Grammy had just completed nursing assistant training.  Their future seemed to be all figured out.

Before their first wedding anniversary Grammy and Samuel then had their first baby, my mother, *Trish.  Grammy quit working to stay home and be a housewife (an honorable thing back in the 1950’s).  But like all husbands do, Samuel wanted to make more money and buy a home for his family.  He decided to go to a large California city to look for work.  He had relatives there and they said he could stay with them until he found a job and place to live.  He left Louisiana and his wife and baby behind, promising that he would send for them soon. 

This is where the story goes downhill.

I know there are always 3 sides to every story (her side, his side, God’s side) but this is Grammy’s version.  She says that Samuel sent very little money home and she was unable to pay the bills and put food on the table.  Plus she was pregnant, again.  Whenever Samuel would call she begged him to hurry up and send for her and the baby.  Samuel would always say that he hadn’t saved up enough yet.  One of Samuel’s relatives finally took pity on Grammy and gave her the money to get to California.  She showed up unannounced and says Samuel was sitting very close to another woman on the sofa.  He denied having an affair but Grammy knew better. 

Well, things get choppy after this.  All I was told is that Grammy and Samuel had 4 children and  he cheated on her the entire time they were married.  He would stay gone all day and most nights he wouldn’t even come home.  When he did come home it was only to shower and change his clothes.  Then he went right back out.  For the most part he didn’t even live there.  Grammy had just given birth to their last baby and was put on bed rest due to a birthing injury.  She couldn’t stand or walk and had to crawl to the bathroom.  She had a newborn to care for and 3 other kids who were hungry and dirty and neglected.  They needed her but she physically could not take care of herself, let alone them.  When she did have enough strength she would crawl to the kitchen and grab any food or snacks within her reach and place them at a level where the kids could get to them.  At least that way she knew they wouldn’t be too hungry. 

She seriously considered suicide one day because the kids were crying from hunger and she was at her lowest point emotionally and spiritually.  She thought of turning on the gas stove and letting them all fall asleep together.  She said she didn’t want to leave her kids to be passed around like she had been as a child.  Then a neighbor who had befriended her suddenly showed up with a few groceries and some money.  Grammy was raised in the church off and on but had never been very religious.  But on this day she had cried out to God to help her and her children.  Then the neighbor showed up.  This is how she understood that God really did love her.  Finally one day Samuel moved out to be with a woman from his work.  He divorced Grammy and left her and all the kids to fend for themselves.  He didn’t provide any money and he never visited again.  He simply walked away from his life and started a whole new one. 

(To be continued…)

*Pseudonym used

Familiarity feels safe. People on the outside looking in just see unwillingness to change. Good read 🙂

Great-grandmother

There is no telling how many generations of women in my family have been plagued by tragic decisions of their own.  I think of King David and how God said his adultery and murderous ways would affect his family for generations (2 Samuel 12:11-12).  In Exodus 20:5 says that the sins of fathers affect their children to the fourth generation.  Well, I am four generations from my great-grandmother and I can tell you that certain curses are still with us. 

I know that sometimes women are victims of circumstances put on them by selfish decisions made by someone else like their parents, husband, siblings, children, etc.  I’m not at all blind to that but my mission is to really look at how the decisions we make practically beg for us to be used, neglected, lied to, cheated on and worse.  The wolves are out there so protecting the sheep is a must.  Wolves eat sheep and that will never change.  So protecting yourself is the most logical choice.  That is just plain common sense.  But being human means that we get into trouble by leading with our emotions.

My great-grandmother, we’ll call her *Greta, was a very worldly woman by all accounts.  When I think of the stories I  heard about her I realize how things in the world really haven’t changed much.  At 18 she got pregnant with my grandmother and handed her off to be raised by relatives soon after her birth.  She wanted to get her party on and probably didn’t mean to get pregnant.  But she did.  My grandmother says that her mother was married to her father but my family research has shown otherwise.  Anyway, my great-grandmother smoked, drank and chewed tobacco.  I saw this for myself the one and only time I ever met her when I was 4 years old.  She cussed a lot and I thought it was funny.  I remember her dropping f-bombs when I used to talk to her on the phone.  Sometimes I couldn’t wait to talk to her because laughter was guaranteed.  According to my grandmother, Greta spent very little time with her and a lot of time sleeping around.  She had a bad reputation and back in the 30’s that was enough to make a whole family social outcasts.  Nevertheless, Greta did what she wanted and listened to no one.  Her own mother died when she was a little girl and only God knows what kind of life she had after that.  I am positive that not having a mother played a big part in her becoming who she was.  I think she had something like 6 siblings and I can bet she didn’t get as much attention as she needed.

Just to give you a clear picture of the consequences of Greta’s lifestyle choices, she only had one child and died alone in a raggedy, mouse-infested house in Louisiana.  My mom flew out there from California to take care of her.  Even though Greta was born and raised right there in the same town where she died, not one family member wanted to care for her in her last days.  They had watched her abandon her own child and chase men.  Most of them had a hand in taking care of my grandmother because her father didn’t take care of her either.  Grammy didn’t really talk about her father, probably because she didn’t know much.  All she knew was that he owned a lot of land and did pretty well for himself financially.  He died years before Greta did. 

It makes me sad to think about it because my own father is not a part of my life and my mother also left me and my sisters with my grandmother so she could spend years feeding her cocaine addiction and sleeping with random men.  The apple don’t fall far from the tree, and sometimes it holds on and just rots right there on the branch.

I see Greta in my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, and my sister.  We all have pieces of her, like me and my strong will and foul mouth.  The sad part is some have made the same horrible decisions and ruined their lives and the lives of their children.  My hope, my goal is to share my family history with my children and the fifth generation so that they can be aware and be cognizant of our family’s vulnerabilities.  Then they can stay close to God always and be mindful of who their choices will affect.

I am a prayer warrior, and I will spend my life petitioning God to stop these cycles from following my children and the entire fifth generation!

*Pseudonym used

cycle of the weak-willed woman.

The weak-willed woman is described in 2 Timothy 3:7 as “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth”.  And I think of the women in my family.

There is a cycle of children born out of wedlock and single-motherhood in my family.  Of course under that umbrella are fornication, promiscuity, lust, etc.  My great-grandmother bore my grandmother out of wedlock and left her to be raised by random family members.  Her father was not a part of her life, though she knew who he was.  My grandmother was married when she had my mother but later divorced.  Her father dropped out of her life.  I myself was born to a married couple (not the norm in my family at that time) but there was violence in the marriage.  My mother unfortunately coped by having a long affair with a convicted drug dealer.  When she got pregnant with me she wasn’t sure if her husband or her lover was the father.  Soon after I was born my mother knew I was her husband’s baby because I look exactly like him, but by this time her lover was emotionally invested in the idea of becoming a father.  He had spent tons of money on baby clothes and equipment.  He had told his family that he had a baby on the way.  Rather than tell him the truth my mother decided to cover her sins with a lie. She chose to tell both men that they were my father.  She also chose to tell me that I had 2 fathers.  That messed me up as a kid because I couldn’t understand how that worked.  In the meantime, my real father (the husband) had left my mother and started a new life elsewhere.  My mom’s lover became the only father I knew and had.

My mom was the picture of the weak-willed woman from 2 Timothy.  Always learning: she knew the negative family history and the impact that poor choices regarding sex had made on our family; but never able to acknowledge the truth: she was unable to see that she was setting me up to have a lonely childhood without my father, like she had.  The Bible talks about men who specifically target these types of women.  Why? Because these men know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in a lot of cases.  There are always exceptions ( I am one). 

And so, as a woman I pray that all my sisters in Christ will value their hearts and their bodies more and more each day and receive the gift of discernment.