Granny Pearl Confesses

I thought I’d pen a little more about my grandmother. I was embroidering just now and had some tremendously strong thoughts about her. I don’t know why, but I just thought I’d go with it. I felt like she was hanging around, so maybe this was my way of spending some time with her.

She was put into an orphanage at an early age….sadly, it wasn’t early enough. No, she wasn’t handed over as an infant, she was around 12 years old. Now, this is the fascinating thing about a family like mine. We know of things, but prefer not to talk about them. It would be rude….

I’ve always thought that was nonsense, so I asked Granny, “Why were you given up for adoption? It’s an unusual age.”

Georgia pines were racing by. I was sitting in the passenger seat of her Grand Marquis as we sped up the highway to have lunch with my mother in Waycross. Those pines….Should you find a time to hit a rural road near the Florida Georgia line, look when you can on either side of you when you’re driving. The perfectly lined columns of Georgia pine will play with your mind. I promise you.

She remained motionless while driving, spilling the words, “My parents couldn’t afford to feed me. They wanted to save me from starvation.” She never looked at me, never flinched, was almost emotionless. She was a very matter of fact woman. Confessions don’t always need tears and sadness. Her hands still delicately holding the steering wheel.

You could say I persisted, but the truth is, she volunteered.

“What happened next?” I had to ask. No one seems to want ask about her life because of….what? Shame?

You must understand, that by every measure I was disrespecting the wishes of everyone in my family by even bring up the issue. DO NOT EVER TALK ABOUT BAD THINGS IN THIS FAMILY…..

You know? In an alarming way it seemed as though she had been wanting to say it for decades. “They said they would come back for me later, once I had some supper. But, I never saw them again.” There was no moment of pause, no deep breathe of confession, no tone of liberation. It was a cold delivery. Very, very factual, on point….

“They left me….and never came back.”

I was about 25 at the time and stupidity was still an infection I was plagued with. So, I asked her. “Do you hate them? I would!”

This is where I saw that shift in her face, that beautiful face that had seen so much of life, finally caught a glimpse of what it meant for her to find inside something joyous, something to strive for. With a lilt, then maybe a tilt in the corner of her mouth shifting brightly in to a smile, she said, “Of course not. I’m actually hunting down their graves right now. I have NO idea where they are buried and….I have a lead my mother is in Waycross.”

20210530_142056“Is THAT why we’re going all the way to Georgia for lunch?”

“Well, yes….and I thought you might like to see your own mother while she’s alive….”

While everyone stayed silent, I wanted to know more. Maybe that’s why she told me so much. I asked about her unusual life.

Yes, it is true that she had been handed over to an orphanage at the age of 12. However, within just a few years she would meet my grandfather, marry him the day they met, and would be living in Okinawa learning how to sew kimono.

I was so anxious to know more. I was hell bent on asking anything I could….She answered my question! I have to know more!

“We’ll talk later,” she said.

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6 comments

  1. Oh my! This is going to be a book, isn’t it? I feel as if I know her when you write about her. ❤️

  2. There are so many responses I in my mind. First, I know the feeling and fragrance of seeing and smelling Georgia pines. There’s nothing like it for me.

    Second, kudos to you for breaking the family silence. Your grandmother had a story to tell. Perhaps no one wanted to hear the sad tale. However, your description sounds like Granny Carter wanted someone to know her story before she passed this life. I think all the stories in a family, good and bad, tell the story of a family’s life from generation to generation. These are important things to know as much as is possible.

    My mother’s family is all about keeping skeletons firmly hidden in the closet. The night before my grandmother died an uncle told a cousin and me we would be expected to continue the feud grandma had with her step-children. Now, cuz & I were adults. This feud had fascinated us since we were children, but it was a Deep, Dark Family Secret. I wouldn’t continue the feud without knowing the origin of it. That popped the lid off.

    Dad’s family had a very different attitude. There are no skeletons. Everyone knows the faults and bad behavior. In his family the skeletons have pride of place in the front room. I’ve always thought this is a healthier attitude.

  3. My goodness… I cannot even begin to understand the heartbreak her parents went through at having to give her away. And their knowing that they had to so she could survive. Heartbreaking… If they had not though, would you be here now?

    My own Grandmother never spoke much about her childhood either. I learned years after she died that she had been left on the steps of a church when she was an infant. Her mother was unmarried and her father was a traveling salesman who got his jollies and didn’t marry Great Grandma. My Grandmother’s name was Marguerite Anne. She was adopted by German immigrants who changed her name to Gertrude May. As a nod to what her name was before she was adopted she gave my mother the name Marguerite, everyone called her Marge. I have Marguerite as a middle name and my youngest is named Marguerite, we call her Maggie.

    It is amazing when we ask and dig what we can find out about our family and ourselves.

  4. A true gothic Southern tale. My family also came from Florida and southern Georgia. We also had things no one talked about. I was a grown girl when I found out my mother had married a pilot and he died in WWII as well as my dad had a wartime marriage as well. So many skeletons … I wish I knew the stories. Can’t wait for more of your life stories.

  5. when my youngest uncles (twins) were born, my oldest uncle moved down the street to live with his grandparents. There was just no room in the house for him. If my greatgrandparents had not been there he likely would have been sent to an orphanage. There were many of them back in those days. (1930s)

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