Monday, February 5, 2007


Pictures & History 2: Mom's Maternal Grandfather and Uncle

    In case you're wondering why I'm not publishing pictures of her maternal grandmother, several exist but my mother has no memory left of her maternal grandmother except what she sensed from her mother's mention of her. The woman died when my mother was quite young. She has many more and many pleasant memories of her grandfather. She lived with him and one of her maternal uncles, the man pictured to the left, when she attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon Iowa. Her grandfather was a Methodist Minister, beloved, apparently, by all. When my mother lived with him and her uncle, her grandfather was officially retired but unofficially continued his community work not only as a substitute pastor but as a figure of social compassion within the community. "He was always going somewhere, seeing to someone, inviting people to the house." She remembers him as a quiet but commanding man, not easily ruffled, extremely easy going, quick to greet and listen to people, with a generous spirit. "That's probably why he outlived Grandma," she said last night as we looked through the pictures.
    Her uncle, pictured to the left, was the Director of the Conservatory of Music at Cornell. Mom speculates that the only reason she got in the college choir was because he was her uncle. "Yes," she said, in response to my query, "I had to audition. I don't remember it, but I do remember thinking that no one sang as badly as me. He let me in anyway." She thinks that it was probably enough for him that she loved music and wanted to sing. This man's intended was the woman I mention earlier in these journals who, with my mother, at her grandfather's request, cleaned up the attic, one day, and threw all his books and papers out the window for the garbage man to haul away. We talked about this again, last night. "Grandpa wasn't much for clinging to the past," she said.
    I have vague memories of her uncle and his wife. They were particularly adventurous after retirement, traveling all over Europe. They seemed to me warm, engaged, socially aware. I've been told that her uncle suffered from severe depression in his later years, although I've not been able to confirm this. When I mentioned it last night, my mother said, "That's possible. He was a deep thinker, but when I was at Cornell, he didn't seem depressed." I also have a memory of him, from some decades back, unofficially consulting with the man who was building the pipe organ in what used to be the Methodist church here in Prescott. Pipe organs were his specialty.
    These are the two relatives with whom she spends the most time in The Dead Zone; although her mother, her sister and her brother are not far behind.

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