Tuesday, October 6, 2009
my grandmother and her daughters
My grandmother was a most influential person in my life. (She taught me to cook! T thinks she was influential in HIS life too!)
She spoke not a word of English and when we first met and I was five years old, I had no idea what she was talking about! Though my mother crooned to me in French when I was a baby, by the time I was five she was constantly and only speaking English to me.
To me my grandmother smelled wonderful: face powder talcum and 4711 Eau du Cologne with that indistinguishable something else that smelled like "family".
She wasn't anything like my mother, but I loved her full laugh and her total attention when I said anything. (In hindsight she was probably trying to understand what I was talking about!)
My grandmother was born in 1895. She married in 1920 and had two daughters. My mother was the youngest. My aunt, married and stayed near her family. My mother leaped away into void of the big world with her marriage to an American G.I.
[my aunt and my mother in a field of wildflowers circa 1933 ==>]
Living in Belgium was difficult after the War. Many areas of Brussels were bombed, though not too badly to live in; food was scarce but people planted in their back gardens.
The biggest difficulty for my mother was the narrowness of opportunities. My mother had a fair amount of ambition, but that was not rewarded by the Belgian culture. Success and opportunity in Belgium were very much determined by class and economics.
[my mother, grandmother and aunt]
My aunt married a nice Belgian friend of the family, and stayed at home to take care of her husband and raise her son.
[my courting parents ==>]
After the War, my mother married my GI father and they moved to the States.
It was very difficult for my grandmother and my aunt to lose her, but for my mother- she only looked into the future.