I know where to 'go' to bolster my commitment & courage ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One of the heroes in my life is my great-grandmother, Marguerite. She and her Army officer husband lived in Germany. When she became widowed at a young age, she and her three very young children emigrated to the US in 1892. My paternal grandmother was under age 3 and her siblings were not much older. Those were the days of long months aboard ships filled with other people and families who had hopes of a better life for themselves and their children. Not a trip for the faint-of-heart. What courage!

My great-grandmother and her little family landed in New Orleans. They traveled up the Mississippi River, fellow passengers disembarking in port cities along the way. Finally, they arrived in St. Louis and made a home with some relatives who had left Germany a number of years before.

My family introduced me to 'Oma' at when I was about five. I was fascinated by her composure and lovely soft voice. At that time she was living in an altenheim in St Louis (old folks' home) and had a second husband that she always called Mr. Koch. He had been with the railroad and unfortunately I know little of his story. I wasn't with this wonderful couple frequently but each time was special. My Oma died just before she was 101.

Oma always wore flat mary jane shoes, and loved to wear polka-dotted dresses - a fondness that her daughter, my grandmother, adopted. I myself have had a few polka-dotted dresses along the way. My husband's favorite dress was one I wore when we began dating. It was a hot pink shift with larger polka-dots than either of my forebearers would have worn! Don't laugh - it was the mid-1960's and very chic! (We never, ever wore white shoes after Labor Day so you know that my DH's and my dates began in the summer!)

Whenever I remember that I was working for women's rights in the 60's & '70 (and after), I often wonder where the idea came from that women were dainty and simple creatures who needed men to take care of them. At least in the history of my family females, the women were strong and capable and worked outside the home after being widowed early and even before.

I must keep this history in the forefront of my mind to reject being satisfied with the easy decisions or the less challenging path.

Anyone else have family heroes that have passed on special characteristics you feel bound to uphold?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • TEMPEST272002
    Thank you for sharing your Oma's story. I have met many amazing, strong women in my life. I often think of the courage & strength my grandmother must have drawn on when she crossed the Atlantic as a war-bride with a young child, leaving behind everything she had ever known. When she arrived in Canada, she thought her journey was over... but she had another 4500 km to go, by train, to Vancouver Island.
    3887 days ago
  • NANCYMT6151
    Don't you just love finding bits of your family history? I am going to a RS meeting tonight to learn about the at home missionary program that helps people with the new computer genealogy program from the Church. They have been doing it for almost 2 years now and she is now a trainer online for the program of new missionaries in the program.
    My husband had family that came across with Pres. Young and all. They really suffered on that journey.
    emoticon emoticon
    3888 days ago
    Yes most definitely. My mother comes from Amsterdam in Holland and she tells the story of when , during the German occupation of Holland and the famine was happening, my mother decided she had enough of eating tulip bulbs! so with her father's permission, she and her cousin went walking to find food. She walked a total of 70miles and would call into the farms on the way and get some food and off they would go to look for work and food.

    10 years ago my sister, daughter and I took mum back to Holland and she showed us where she walked and lived and worked during the occupation. She later got tuberculosis, and was in a Sanatorium for 2 years. After she recovered she travelled to Australia on her own to re-connect with my father. They had married by proxy. My mum met my dad in Holland before she became ill.

    My maternal grand mother died during child birth, hence the reason she got her father's
    permission to go looking for food. Mum was 14years old! emoticon

    I was born 10 months after she arrived in Australia! emoticon
    3888 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/14/2010 8:18:37 PM
    My mother had us in orange dresses with big polka dots when we were to little to argue with her. However we have pictures and my sisters and I were like triplets because we were so close in age. My great-grandmother moved from Pennsylvania to Montana to homestead a place in 1906 just her and 5 children. The youngest was my grandfather. He was only 3 months when they moved but her husband was killed by the mafia and she moved to hide. She was a tough old bird. Thank you for bringing back those wonderful memories.
    3888 days ago
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