The theme for the Gallery over on the Sticky Fingers blog this week is Grandparents.
This is Charlotte.
There is one Grandad in my house and he is my Dad. This is his grandmother and this picture is a photograph of a photograph which explains the poor image. However, I wanted to reflect on just how important grandparents are in this post. My Dad is 83 years of age and still has a picture of his Grandma where he can see it every day.
Charlotte was quite a fascinating woman. She was born on a barge and was the eldest child of many. She married Benjamin and had several children. In her forties she had a stroke and was left bedbound, paralysed and with limited speech. She lived into her nineties. Benjamin, presumably unable to cope and depressed, was committed to a lunatic asylum.
By the time she became a grandma to my Dad, Charlotte was living with and being cared for by my grandmother Harriet. Dad points out how he would be asked to leave the front room when she went on the commode. When television came along, she used to ask her daughter to cover it up when she was having a wee as she did not want the newscaster or whatever watching her.
I don’t imagine Harriet ever referred to herself as a carer or my Dad as a young carer. They just got on with life as it was looking after their family.
Dad remembers visiting his Grandfather Benjamin in the asylum and insists he was as sane as anyone. He died in the asylum years later.
Dad eventually brought my Mum home and she and Charlotte got on really well. Mum says she could not understand a word Charlotte said though. However, my brothers who knew Charlotte as their Great Grandma remember her with affection and could always work out what she was trying to say having known her since birth.
I think of Charlotte and Harriet, both relatives that I never knew. Strong women, real women.
They confronted various things which real mums today are facing too.
Mental Health Issues
Disability and Illness
They had various roles in life but one of the most important was to be grandparents.
Dad adores Charlotte to this day, speaking of her with huge affection.
My brothers loved Harriet in a similar way.
My other Grandma who died before I was born was called Sally Ann. Some of the issues she faced in life included.
Racial and Religious Discrimination
My brothers loved her too.
They say you don’t miss what you never had and my grandmothers did not play a part in my life. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge them as real and strong women who got on with things even when times were very tough indeed.
Finally, for completeness, there are my birth grandparents who did not know I existed although their lives and mine overlapped. So I do not know their story and they do not know mine.