So. Things have calmed down a bit since Grandma’s passing and the coming and going of Thanksgiving. I spent Thanksgiving with my Mother and we both laughed and swapped Esther stories. What a life, what a woman. My Mom gave me my Grandma’s wedding band. It was in the original leather sachet with a teeny tiny note written by my Grandmother that read: “For Jenny. White Gold. My Wedding band. 1927.” She had also written “1986” as that was the year she took it off, two years after my Grandfather’s passing.
Let’s reflect a moment, shall we? Grandpa died in 1984. They were married 57 years. She went on to live another 29 (!) years after his death. What. The. Hell. I am currently wearing it in between my own wedding band and engagement ring and it makes me smile every single time I gaze at it. I can only imagine that Grandma decided to put that note in the ring case not ever dreaming that she would live almost 30 more years. Afterall, she was 77 when Grandpa passed. She wanted me to have it and she figured she’d probably drop dead sometime within the next year or so. Notsomuch, Grandma.
My Grandmother had many amazing stories but one of my favorites was her re-telling her journey in 1934 to my Grandfather’s homeland, Denmark. On a ship. For over two weeks, one way, two little boys in tow as my Mom hadn’t even been born yet. I can’t do it justice here but it was a fantastic tale of a strong willed woman traveling alone to a foreign land with two tiny ones and oh, did I mention she didn’t speak the language? My Grandfather did not accompany her on this trip as he had to keep working in Detroit but his family was desperate to meet his bride and their two grandchildren. They ended up pulling a worker out of the bowery of the ship to translate for her as she was feeding my uncles saltine crackers from the dinner table, unable to read the menu. It’s a fantastic story and one I made her re-tell many times to friends of mine over the years. It was that incredible that someone in those times would undertake a journey like that but I’m telling you, you’d have to know my Grandmother. Undaunted, she was.
So in going through her things recently, my Mother found this: Her passport. I’m going to give you a minute here before you scroll down to adequately prepare. I have never seen a picture of my Grandmother as a young Mother, only as a child. It is somewhat terrifying in that way that old pictures can be but it’s out-weighed by the awesomeness of her story, and this little artifact that she kept all these years. I present to you: Grandma, Uncle Bob and Uncle Bill.
See? I did you guys a favor there by letting the sheer force of that picture just take your breath away. THAT IS STRAIGHT UP THE GRAPES OF WRATH, YO.
Just kidding. That’s just my sweet (somewhat buggy-eyed and her arm is oddly sun-kissed) Granny and her two sons ( looking dirty, forlorn and somewhat despondent) about to go on an overseas adventure! I cannot stop laughing at the picture but knowing her voyage, pause in remembrance. C’mon, it was 1934. There wasn’t an Olan Mills. It’s just funny and really, really cool. My Mom found an actual timepiece from one of my Granny’s favorite stories.
Here’s to Esther. Life is one experience after another and then you find yourself on one amazing journey. Her journey started much before 1934, but here, I have documentation.
It’s not just a story anymore.
I miss you, Grandma. I’d love to hear this story just one more time, but I think the picture really delivers.