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Rated: E · Essay · Family · #2096201
Tied 1st: Writer's Cramp 9/12 prompt grandparents, Word count: 591
I never knew my paternal grandparents. I often wonder about them. What kind of woman would my grandmother, Martha, have been? Born in rural Mississippi at the turn of the 20th century, she was married to a hard-working man named Richard, who was her senior by a few years.

The need for lumber had cleared most of the trees along the Mississippi River, leaving the loggers to devise a way to get the fallen trees to the water to be floated down the river to the mills. Good ole American ingenuity came into play.

Aside from ships, the strongest mechanical muscle of the time was the train. Was it an enterprising man or a railroad executive that took advantage of the need for transportation into the these remote areas by laying their own track, cutting the lumber and transporting it back on the train?

The workers and their families lived in the rail cars. They lacked the rail comforts of today. No bathrooms, dining cars, memory foam bedding with air conditioning and heat. Yet they raised families and seemingly thrived. I cannot imagine they had much more than primitive bedding in these boxcars. The cooking and washing were likely done at the end of the day in the shade of the cars.

Carrying her eleventh child, Martha was in labor and distress. She was loaded on to a horse drawn cart and taken along a bumpy dirt road, if even that, to the nearest doctor. Despite the attempt of getting her medical attention, she and my uncle did not survive childbirth. She left behind my grandpa and nine living children, including my three-year-old father. The year was 1932.

In 1964, a year before my birth, my grandfather passed away.

Both of my paternal grandparents were gone before I was even thought of. Gone were the memories of a time before automobiles, houses with electricity and running water. Gone were the voices that told stories at night before a campfire instead of sitting glued to a television. Gone were the aged hands that would draw me onto their laps.

My maternal great grandmother was born in rural Georgia in 1884. The fondest memory I have of this soft skinned old woman is her making the best apple turnovers ever. Mama Sue, as we called her, lived to be 98, passing away in 1982, just before I graduated from high school.

When I look back on her life, I think, what an amazing period to have been alive. She saw transportation move from horse drawn carriages to automobiles to airplanes to Space Shuttles. Homes without electricity to microwaves. From radios to color television. From her grandfather's slaves to interracial marriage. The world changed so much in her time on this Earth. I would often ask if her childhood was like the television show Little House on the Prairie. I could never get an answer to my question as she would just laugh.

My father passed away in 1974 at the young age of 44. He was quickly followed by my maternal grandfather in 1975.

It is difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that my paternal grandmother has been gone for 84 years and yet my maternal grandmother is 93.

I am fortunate to have known three of my grandparents. Their stories and their successes in a time which I cannot imagine living, are inspiring.

Given it's grandparents' day, I'll make sure I call my only living grandparent. Maybe she'll tell me of the days gone by.
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