Family Ties.

So I just did a whirlwind visit to my Mom's mom, my Mom, and the rest of the family.  My Grandma is going to be 90 in May, and she suffers from fairly advanced Alzeheimers disease.  Grandpa died in September, and Grandma is just beside herself.  She does not recall him dying and anytime it comes up she grieves all over again.  It's really very sad.

   Grandma is pretty special (as are most Grandmas…) She has a very murky and unusual past.  Interestingly, all of us have made up stories about her past.  None of which are true.  I spent a small part of my visit looking over her birth certificates and other papers.  My Grandma was adopted when she was about 8 years old.  Apparently my biological Great Grandmother was an unfit mother in the 1920's…(I wonder what she did that made her unfit, but it wasn't in the papers.) Mrs White (My Grandmothers real mother) had immigrated from Ireland and had married a Mr White, and had my Grandmother, named Anna White in 1917.  Something happened, which no one seems to know about, and my Grandmother was adopted.  She grew up in Grammercy Park.  (OK, so not directly in the park.  Apparently in an apartment in 22nd st, near Grammercy Park.) She recalls being given the keys to the park often by her Biological Mother and being told to play in the park.  These days my Grandmother is not very restrained, and she does say "My Mother wasn't very interested in me, she seemed to always have some man about when I got the keys!" 

At any rate, she was adopted when she was about 8 and her adoptive parents changed her name to the name I know. 

Interestingly, at one point, her real mother somehow snuck into the apartments and took her away (Apparently on a trip to Chicago).  Her adoptive family was somewhat prominent in the NY scene so this made the news.  Luckily, Grandma was returned to her proper home safe and sound.  Apparently when she was married and had my Mother my Grandmother again was front page news, and was again contacted by her biological mother who recognized her even with the name change.  My Grandmother was not fond of her and wrote her a nice, extremely polite letter, but did tell her to not contact her again….But Grandma oddly, did later in life, do a desperate search for her real father.  It appears he was wounded "Severely" in the Service and most likely died, though the records are a bit scanty. 

So, her early childhood remains a bit of a mystery, and I think it was really very confusing for her.

As a young lady she studied and became a Registered Nurse.  Meeting my Grandfather (A dashing Military Aviator), she married and of course the rest is well documented. 

   When my Grandmother could recall who I was, she was extremely proud of me.  She loved the fact that I also had become a nurse, like her.  She was highly impressed with my position at the large Academic hospital (She never really understood the nursing shortage, as there was never one in the 1940's of course).  This week however, she did not know me.  When my cousin told her I was her Grandchild, it caused 2 hours of confusion.  Grandma accusing my Mother of hiding her marriage and children from her, and asking what horrible thing she had done to cause my Mother to cut her out of the family.  Now, of course, this is not true.  Grandma and Grandpa visited us often when we were children, and we used to spend a lot of time with them when they lived in NY.  So, now I stick to being thought of as Hired help.  Luckily she always knows my Mom, and that seems to help her.  I also feel lucky that my cousin stays with her so she doesn't have to live in a facility.  I do wish I could ease Grandma's distress, she clearly knows that she doesn't remember, and she tells me constantly that she is having trouble with her remembering….this causes her to get very frustrated and angry.  Nothing I tell her helps this, and I can't say I blame her.  She had a wonderful life, and now she doesn't even have her memories of it….

Here's a photo of Grandma, her daughter (my Mom) and Me…. I think you can see the resemblance fairly clearly…. the cakes are for my Mom who had a Birthday this week. 

So this wasn't well written, I apologize, but I can't quite put a wrap on it….

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6 thoughts on “Family Ties.

  1. Wow! What a story. It must be hard having a family member with Alzeheimers, especially one you don't get to see all of the time. It must be a frustrating disease for your grandmother as well as your entire family. Your grandmother's story of her past is interesting. It sounds like something a movie or book would be written about.

  2. Thanks… If there had not been the newspaper cut outs and documentation, I would have thought it was something made up! My own life is not at all this way….and a movie about it would be pretty bland!

  3. The things about which we feel the most emotional are often the ones it is most difficult to understand. I enjoyed reading this…I enjoy any family history. The picture is great.

  4. Yes there is a very strong family resembelence! Your Grandmother is beautiful and sounds like a fascinating lady! How frustrating it must be for her to not remember and KNOW there's something wrong with her memory. I would not want to know if I were in her shoes. This disease is so cruel…

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