Saturday, May 28, 2011

Date to Remember

May 29 is the anniversary of my biological maternal grandfather's death. I hesitated to write this post because I don't want to sound bitter. I'm not. I'm over it.

He wasn't a nice man.

My family remembers the better parts of his - his dog and his rose garden and all the damn Barbies he gave me.

They tend to forget the abuse, the knives, the police records with his name on it. The multiple wives, the army of young girlfriends (while he was married to the wives).

There was one wife in particular that stayed and put her life on the line for me once when I was 8. It's a bond she and I shared until Alzheimer's made her forget it; now I'm just another woman who sends her cards in the nursing home. I won't tell her exactly how I know her, ever. Dredging up though memories would hurt her more than enlighten her.

I found out about his death while I was at school. My mom came and told me. I was sad - for her, mostly. At his funeral, I sat like a rock. I wanted to stay and make sure dirt went over his casket, but a relative sort of led me away. Ive seen his headstone once - when we buried his brother, a WWII decorated veteran who kicked ass and took names.

I never called him Grandpa. It just didn't fit.

I'm sure he loved me. The best that kind of man can love anyone. He was an alcoholic and a gambler, which doesn't make him a bad person. He was just really messed up.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Promise I'm Alive!

I haven't posted much lately because of my health. Currently I have bronchitis, walking pneumonia (almost gone!), an ovarian issue and I'm in severe pain that they believe is my gallbladder.

However, I have been doing some research. I went to my second cousin's high school graduation, where I ran into several of my grandmother's friends and lots of relatives. One of them took me over to this big wall of pictures and started pointing out my relatives.

When he got to one picture, he said "There's Juanita." Staring at her was eerie - I look like her in many ways.

For those who don't know, Juanita is my "Flora" on my mom's side. She is my great aunt. There's very little information about her, she had a marrying problem, and I cant find a death date for that woman, not even through the SSDI.

I have a feeling that this woman was another serious secretkeeper.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Name Changes

Everyone called her Jaunita, but I recently found out that sometimes my great-aunt was listed as "Dorothy." She was married at least twice, once to a professional football player. She was a sweet woman from what I've been told.

I have the opposite problem with her than I have with Flora - I can't figure out Juanita/Dorothy's death details. She was listed as dead in her brother (my grandfather)'s obituary in 2003, but no one can tell me when she died and I can't find a record. No one can tell me anything.

The thing about my family that I don't understand is the secrets. We have plenty of them, I'm discovering. Babies born out of wedlock in the 1920s, babies that starved to death, women who treat their children terribly, bigamy, divorces, flat out murder in one case... And then the people who just disappear, like Juanita.

I've been spending my time in the hospital trying to find details of this woman's passing, but considering I can't even figure out what last name she died under, it's a bit difficult. I love challenges, but I wish my family was just a little bit easier.