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Old 10-25-2013, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Ft. Myers
17,628 posts, read 11,177,890 times
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I grew up in the 50's, and, as with a lot of people back then, my Grandparents lived with us. But now that I am older I realize I never took the time to sit down with either of them and learn about their lives.

Probably that was because I was just a kid then, but I wish I had been smart enough to ask them more about where they came from ( all I know is that he came from Czechoslovakia , and she came from Wales. Beyond that I know very little about them. Now I would love to know about their lives before they came to America and what their hopes and dreams were.

I realize there are sites where you can research your family tree, and one friend did that for me, but I am talking more here about I wish I would have taken the time to sit down and learn from them one on one about their lives. Same with my Parents, I never really took the time to hear their stories either.

Has anyone else felt this way ?

Don
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Arizona
5,946 posts, read 5,302,666 times
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I think a lot of people feel this way. I was too young to think of those things while my grandparents were alive. I realize how fortunate I am that my grandparents came to this country. To be able to talk now to a person that was born in 1876 would be fascinating.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Harbor Springs, Michigan
2,292 posts, read 2,644,115 times
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My father was in the military and when he was discharged they found jobs in a nearby town so they settled some miles away from their home. They rented rooms from a lady who I grew to call Nana, she was a Canadian originally from Winnipeg who had met and married a Brit and moved to England.
I would spend hours with her, she taught me to knit and to crochet and later in life valuable lessons about how to behave in company, how to pour tea, stir without clinking the spoon off the cup and how to eat without crumbs going everywhere. Small lessons that today might be considered unimportant but to her manners were everything. During this time she told me about her life in Winnipeg, growing up in a city where the weather varied from hot summer days to freezing cold blizzards, how different her childhood had been at the turn of the century compared to our carefree days in the 60's. She had been a rebel in a way, she had gone to business college when most young ladies were content to find a nice man and settle and have children, she had trained as a stenographer and worked in some very high profile jobs before moving to England. That all ended when she married her love and after some time had a daughter, she was never able to have more children and she never returned to work.
At the time I knew her and spent most time with her she would have been in her 60's and could still take shorthand at an amazing speed. She lived till the ripe old age of 93, she was an amazing lady.

My own grandparents were miles away, my fraternal grandfather died when my father was 14 and my fraternal g/m died when I was 3, my maternal grandfather was a bear, hated children (hence my mother being an only child) and died when I was 9 my maternal g/m really didn't like having children around so we never really communicated. When she was older she had a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair she told us she only chopped the chickens heads off to scare us and to keep us out from under her feet !

My parents have also now passed and although I did talk to them about their lives and about family I really feel I don't know my own family, thank goodness for Nana Poole, she took the time to sit and talk with me and left me heading into the world knowing what is truly important and what is water under the bridge.
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Old 10-25-2013, 08:17 AM
 
1,420 posts, read 2,636,874 times
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I never knew my grandparents but I have my kids call my mom (90) every night. My dad 92 is in a board and care. We drive to see them about once every 4 to 6 weeks.

One thing I did do is film them with my kids. I interviewed them. (I also periodically interview my own kids on video). Neat to play this stuff back 20 years from now.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:23 AM
 
Location: California
130 posts, read 128,843 times
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I grew up very close to my grandparents, but like you I never really knew them as individuals; by the time I knew them they were older and sweet people.

I remember as I got older I'd ask my mom stuff about them and I feel she'd hide things about them from me, because I'd find out different things about them later from an aunt, uncle or cousin that Grandpa had left Grandma early in their marriage for another woman. Or that Grandpa though Aunt Olivia wasn't his daughter etc. I guess it's because my mom idolized my grandfather.
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Old 10-25-2013, 09:35 AM
 
Location: in the miseries
3,302 posts, read 3,579,794 times
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I grew up in the 50's, too. My mother's mother lived with us, but died
when I was 1 and a half. So no memories. Both grandfathers actually three with
the adopted one died before I was born. My father's mother wound up living
with us when I was a teen. She was quite the termagant.
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:10 AM
 
Location: NoVa
18,433 posts, read 29,491,820 times
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I was very close with my grandma and she lived with us a couple of times. I took care of her before her passing. I became closer to her than a person wants to be with anyone. She had to give up her pride and let me take care of her.

Before all of that, my grandma always told me all of the family stories. I think I was closer with her than any of the other grandchildren were, actually.

I have no regrets with her.

I never knew my grandfather, her husband. He died when I was 6 months old, and all that I know of him are the stories I heard from her and my aunts and uncles. So I have made up these stories in my mind and inserted him.

I will never know his personality or where he was from or any of that. I will never have had the times where he would have sat with me and told me the stories of his youth.

Those were my moms parents. My dads parents died long before I was ever born. I know nothing of them except that they were farmers. I know their names. My father never talked of them, I know they died tragically.

Whenever I come across an elderly person, I sit with them and talk to them. I listen to their stories. I have a couple right across the street who had their 69th wedding anniversary a few months ago. I had never met them and decided to go over and talk with them. About the 3rd time I sat with them, they told me of when they met. They both told their sides of the stories and I have a very imaginative mind. I could just see it all in my mind, everything they were saying. It was so exciting!

I tell my children that if they have the time to do this, do it. These older people have a wealth of knowledge. They were here for things we were not.

I know how you feel, OP, Don. I have a feeling I really missed out on my grandparents but I am surely grateful for the one I did have.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Center of the universe
24,757 posts, read 33,965,965 times
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I really understand how you feel, OP. I didn't know my dad's parents at all because my dad died when I was a baby and his people lived many states away. My grandfather - my mother's father - was an immigrant, a short, stocky man, incredibly resourceful, a speaker of four languages who rose from being a sugar cane cutter to a contractor with his own business.

When I was growing up I didn't see him much because he and my grandmother, who lived with us, had been divorced for years. But one day when I was 12 he came by the house and took me riding around with him while he did his work. For some reason, he didn't take my older brother, just me. I sat there in his car and at his buildings just listening to him talk. I didn't speak his language too well, but I could understand OK. He told me so much about himself, his background, his beliefs, his likes and dislikes, that what he said in those few hours has influenced me as a man, a husband, and a father to this day. About 10 years later, I was away at college when my mom called to tell me that my grandfather had died. I didn't think it would affect me that much, but I cried for an hour. I think part of it was I didn't get to sit down and talk with him that much more. I had learned how to speak with him but hadn't had the chance. I think he would have been proud of what I had become and what I was trying to do with my life.
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Old 10-26-2013, 01:09 AM
 
95 posts, read 140,638 times
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I can relate. My dad's parents died when I was a kid. I was 9 and 17 when they passed. I have found out so much doing genealogy and talking to their siblings who have since passed. It is amazing what I missed. I found out my grandpa had to go to work in a coal mine when was 11 because he father died. He survived some horrible times in WWII and that is probably why he rarely smiled and always looked sad. He worked hard to provide for his family and did a great job doing that. But, he sat down at the end of each day, he looked sad. Grandma, the librarian, was a factory worker making war planes during WWII while living on the family farm. She and her sisters were helping keep the farm going while all the men were away at the war and they all had babies/toddlers at home. I was little when she passed and would have liked to known her better.

My dad is quite a bit older then my mom, so most of his family has long passed away. I am very lucky that my other set of grandparents are still with us. I have been able to talk to them at length about their childhoods. Several years ago I traveled with my grandparents to my grandpa's childhood home. It was a one room shack made out of ammunition boxes from WWII. Great grandpa worked on an army base and hauled enough wood to build a shack. 5 kids lived in that thing. No running water, power, or bathroom. Many of my grandpa's things were still there, where he left them in the outbuildings when he left home in 1950. I felt a little overwhelmed looking at that. We usually see them 2-3 times a year and my kids love them. We talk about family stories with the kids, I hope they will remember them. My grandma has a lot of traditions and superstitions from southern Italy. My kids LOVE to hear about the good witch that used to leave candy in my shoes at Christmas and the gypsies that will steal you out of your cradle at night, lol.
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Old 10-26-2013, 08:45 AM
 
Location: North Carolina
2,657 posts, read 7,185,972 times
Reputation: 4297
Quote:
Originally Posted by don1945 View Post
I grew up in the 50's, and, as with a lot of people back then, my Grandparents lived with us. But now that I am older I realize I never took the time to sit down with either of them and learn about their lives.

Probably that was because I was just a kid then, but I wish I had been smart enough to ask them more about where they came from ( all I know is that he came from Czechoslovakia , and she came from Wales. Beyond that I know very little about them. Now I would love to know about their lives before they came to America and what their hopes and dreams were.

I realize there are sites where you can research your family tree, and one friend did that for me, but I am talking more here about I wish I would have taken the time to sit down and learn from them one on one about their lives. Same with my Parents, I never really took the time to hear their stories either.

Has anyone else felt this way ?

Don
Child o' the 60s, here.

Kids are typically self-absorbed little varmints. Unless my elders had a really-really interesting story to tell; one that entailed ghosts, dramatic events or massive blood loss; I was more inclined to want to run outside and play. Certainly, in those days, the elders expected kids to go out and about; the adults had things to do and didn't want to be pestered. But, as an adult, I researched my family's history and realize that I missed out on knowing a lot. My Dad's grandmother was born before the Civil War. My grandfather's father came from Switzerland. My grandfather's uncle died in a plane crash. I found all that information online and said "dammit! all those people are dead! I wish I'd gotten a chance to find out this stuff!" But, for those people, that was just Life. I'm looking at those events from a viewpoint of modern sensibilities, finding the information fascinating. To them, it was "well, this and this and this happened. It's done. Move on."

Sometimes, a relative had a story to tell, but they framed it poorly. My maternal grandmother was a font of family history and loved to tell it. Unfortunately, she was also a bitter, vicious gossip who wanted to dwell exclusively on the bad, sad and critic-worthy aspects of life. When she got fired up, anyone who could escape, would. It was a case of "oh, yeehaw. Grandma has her bitchbox wound up. I'm outa here." If I'd known, 40 years ago, that I'd be the family historian in my own middle age, I probably would have stuck around and listened, trying to glean pertinent bits of information from her.

These days, I think it is easier to collect living family information. Goodness knows, all you have to do is go out to Facebook. But, it is also easier to record family history digitally. I do advise my nieces and nephews "don't dismiss what your grandparents have to talk about. it might be boring today, but you don't know that such information may be valuable to you decades down the road."
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