Sunday, January 31, 2010

Memories and Regrets

Bottom row – Uncle Nelson, Uncle Ernie (married to Aunt Marg), and Uncle Paul
Middle row – Mom (Jessie Armstrong – my great-grandmother), Herman (my maternal grandfather) with my mom, Polly, sitting on his lap, and Uncle Bob
Top row – Aunt Marg, and Ruth, my grandmother
My mom was about two or three so this picture was taken in about 1930.

My maternal family was a potpourri of personalities and they weren’t always close. I didn’t grow up near either my paternal or maternal aunts, uncles, and cousins. The one story that I remember my grandmother told me from when she was a child was that she convinced one of her brothers that he could jump off the barn roof with an open umbrella and float down…which he tried and promptly broke his leg. I do believe she got into a little trouble for that one LOL Uncle Nel was my favorite uncle.  Although we didn’t see him much, when we did, he was always very jolly and I thought he sounded just like Disney’s Jiminy Cricket when he talked.

Everyone called my great-grandmother “Mom”. I don’t think I even knew her given name until I was grown. She lived to be 95 and was a real fun person to be around – although she didn’t put up with any nonsense. I can remember her chasing my younger brother around the house when she was 87 trying to spank him for something he did. The few times we did go and visit her, all the best china would be on the diningroom table and we’d always have waffles – homemade in her old circular waffle maker. I still have a chair of hers that she got when she was first married. They were called ladies chairs and sat by the bed in the bedroom – where they could sit and put their stockings on, etc. That chair has to be over a hundred years old and is one of my most cherished possessions.

Herman, my maternal grandfather died when I was ten.  During our growing up years, my brother and I were lucky enough to be able to spend a week most summers with them.  After my grandfather's death, my grandmother Ruth, lived near the beach in a tiny duplex and loved the water so of course we spent a lot of time on the beach. She would fix our favorite lunch – homemade icy cold applesauce with cinnamon, and hot dog buns fried in butter then slathered with applebutter. Sometimes the tiny local grocery on the corner would have watermelon ice cream and we’d have that. I’m sure we ate other things – she was a marvelous cook – but those are the things that I remember the most. At night we’d walk on the beach with flashlights to look for sea turtles laying their eggs.

Precious memories but regrettably few of them. For you younger people out there, don’t let the time go by and think “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll ask my grandmother what it was like when she was a child, I’ll ask my mother how she felt on her wedding day, I’ll ask my grandfather how he felt on his first day at work.” Tomorrows go by very quickly, one person passes, another passes, and finally there isn’t anyone to ask. People generally love to talk about their lives. When my mom was dying and I was spending as many weekends with her as I could, I found out some family things that I never knew about and would never have guessed. In that short time though, there just wasn’t enough energy for her or time to start from the beginning.

One of my goals this year is to gather up all the little pieces of journal entries and history that I do know about my family and write it in a “Family Journal”.  Your greatest gift to yourself and your family would be to get a journal and begin writing down all of those things you remember about your kin and yourself. At some point it will be a very precious keepsake for someone.

PS If you have a favorite old picture that you would like displayed in a very unique way, contact
Sharyn at her Etsy shop.  She took my scanned picture and made this most exquisite soldered luminary. And if you’re wondering why the number 13 on the house? That’s a story for another time.

Untie a ribbon in your life – you might find an adventure!


  1. Magnifico

    I just love it..
    thanks for sharing

  2. What a sweet post, Jill! I love the story about your grteat-grandmother. :)

  3. what a cool picture!
    Yes, I'm so afraid that the stories will be lost future generations......such a great idea to start recording bits and pieces!
    Thanks for stopping by today!

  4. Although few those are some great memories Jill. I wish I had the time with my Nana to hear more of her stories. I did purchase a journal for my mom to write in and I have to get on her about it. I also bought one for my inlaws. These will be treasures for my children one day.
    I do love what Sharyn did with your photo ♥

  5. You are right, both my mother and father are dead, my mother when I was 16 and my father last year. So there is nobody left to ask all these things. Thanks for sharing this with us. On my blog you also can find some family pictures, I'll post more; Your post inspired me to continue.
    Thanks, Baukje


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